December 14 in history:
The last of the Apollo astronauts to walk on the moon blasted off from the lunar surface on December 14th, 1972. Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt completed three walks outside the lunar lander during the 75 hours they spent on the moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission.
The Saturn rockets that launched men to the moon were developed at the Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville, Alabama. On this date in 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state to join the Union.
The Alabama state quarter issued by the U.S. Mint in 2003 features a portrait of author Helen Keller on the tail side. Actress Patty Duke, born Anna Marie Duke on December 14th, 1946, won an Oscar at age 16 for recreating her stage role as blind and deaf Helen in the movie, “The Miracle Worker.” She later starred as “identical cousins” on “The Patty Duke Show.” Prior to her death in 2016, Duke wrote and spoke widely about her experience with bipolar disorder.
Patty Duke played Martha Washington in the 1984 TV miniseries “George Washington.” On December 14th, 1799, George Washington died at his Virginia estate, Mount Vernon. Medical experts know that Washington had soreness and swelling in the throat, but some believe the doctors’ practice of bleeding hastened his death.
Another famous George who died on this date was Notre Dame football star George Gipp. He was 25 when he died on December 14th, 1920, apparently from a throat infection. Future U.S. president Ronald Reagan played Gipp in the 1940 movie “Knute Rockne, All American,” in which the character urged Coach Rockne to “win one for the Gipper.”
September 11 in history:
Since 2001, the date of September 11th brings to mind images of the terror attacks which occurred during one day in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. As for other events in history on this day…
The U.S. ambassador to Libya was among four persons killed in an attack at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. The Obama White House and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been accused of trying to cover up the true circumstances surrounding the attack.
The Pentagon was hit by one of the airplanes hijacked on 9/11/01. September 11th was the day construction began on the Pentagon in 1941.
One of the airline passengers killed in the Pentagon attack was political commentator Barbara Olson, whose husband Theodore was Solicitor General at the time. Ted Olson was born on September 11th of 1940…the same day as movie director Brian de Palma, who opened the movie “The Bonfire of the Vanities” with a long single-take shot inside the World Trade Center. De Palma’s other films include “Carrie,” “Scarface,” and “The Untouchables.”
September 11th was the day in 1609 that Henry Hudson sailed in what would become New York Harbor, and discovered the mouth of the river eventually named after him.
New York is where Tom Landry began his coaching career in pro football, on the staff of the Giants. Landry, born on September 11th, 1924, left the Giants to become the first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He shared his birthday, and a habit of wearing distinctive hats on the sidelines, with another legendary football coach, Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant (born 1913).
March 27th in history:
Two Easter season disasters on this date: March 27th was Good Friday in 1964, when Alaska was hit by the most powerful earthquake ever in the country’s history. It measured 9.2, and caused more than 100 deaths. In 1994, Palm Sunday fell on March 27th, and a Methodist church in Piedmont, Alabama, was struck by a tornado which killed 20 people.
March 27th of 1513 was Easter Sunday, and explorer Juan Ponce de Leon first sighted a mass of land which he later named in honor of Easter, “Pascua Florida.”
A Florida resort was the main setting for the cross-dressing comedy “Some Like It Hot”, written and directed by Billy Wilder, who died on March 27th, 2002. Actors Milton Berle and Dudley Moore also died on the same day as Wilder. Berle made a habit of dressing as women on his hit TV show “Texaco Star Theater,” and Moore wore a nun’s habit during part of the comedy film “Bedazzled.”
Another of Billy Wilder’s major hit movies was Sunset Boulevard, which represented a comeback for Gloria Swanson, playing fictional silent-film star Norma Desmond. Swanson was born on March 27th, but the year is in dispute (1897 or 1899).