March 22nd in history:
It can be used to perform surgery, or play a DVD. It was even used as a deadly weapon against James Bond. The laser beam developed by Arthur Schawlow and Charles Townes was given a U.S. patent on March 22nd, 1960.
James Bond doesn’t usually work with a partner, but TV secret agent James West had a regular partner on “The Wild Wild West”: master of disguise Artemus Gordon, played by Ross Martin, born March 22nd, 1920. Early in his career, Martin was part of a comedy team with a partner named West — Bernie West, who wrote for “All in the Family” and was co-creator of “Three’s Company.”
Born the same day and year as Ross Martin was Werner Klemperer, who played Col. Klink, the commandant of Stalag 13 on “Hogan’s Heroes.” “Wild Wild West” and “Hogan’s Heroes” aired back-to-back Friday nights on CBS for two years in the 1960s.
One “Wild Wild West” episode featured an audience watching a motion picture in which Artemus comically impersonated President Ulysses Grant. The story was set years before the Lumiere brothers actually projected a movie on a screen in Paris, on this day in 1895. That event is considered the first-ever private screening of motion pictures for an audience.
Several people who have won Oscars for their movie work were born on March 22nd: actors Karl Malden (born 1912), Haing S. Ngor (1940), and Reese Witherspoon (1976), “Forrest Gump” screenwriter Eric Roth (1945), and composers Stephen Sondheim (1930) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948).
January 12th in history:
Just a month after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt took action on January 12th of 1942 to prevent major industries from shutting down. Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board, to stop strikes by workers at businesses supplying vital materials for the war.
It wasn’t Roosevelt that Archie and Edith Bunker wanted to see again, but Herbert Hoover. Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, as the Bunkers, praised Hoover in the song “Those Were the Days” to open the first episode of “All in the Family” on CBS, January 12th, 1971.
January 12th was the premiere date for “Batman” on ABC in 1966. For most of its three years on the air, “Batman” was seen twice a week, with a story beginning on the Wednesday episode and building to a cliff-hanger ending to be resolved on Thursday, “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.” Many stories began with Bruce Wayne/Batman (Adam West) receiving his assignment over the “Batphone” from Police Commissioner Gordon of Gotham City.
For 23 years, Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the commissioner of bats, balls, diamonds, and all things related to baseball in the US. Landis, a federal judge, was elected the first commissioner of baseball on January 12th, 1921.
And happy birthday to Mr. Freese…not a “Batman” villain, but saxophone player Jason Freese, born on this date in 1975. Freese has performed with Green Day and other popular rock bands..
December 27 in history:
Raise a glass of wine (or milk, if you prefer) to toast the birthday of scientist Louis Pasteur, born December 27th, 1822. Pasteur lent his name to the pasteurization process of reducing organisms in food, especially dairy products and wine. He also developed a rabies vaccine.
Another scientific pioneer began an important journey on this date in 1831, when 22-year-old naturalist Charles Darwin boarded the HMS Beagle at Plymouth, England. During a five-year voyage around the world, Darwin’s studies of plant and animal life led him to develop his theory of evolution.
America’s favorite beagle, Snoopy, appeared atop his doghouse on the cover of the December 27th, 1971, issue of Newsweek magazine. The “Merry Christmas” cover drawn by Charles Schulz also featured Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Woodstock. Other pop-culture figures to appear on Newsweek’s cover during ’71 included Mick Jagger, golfer Lee Trevino, and the cast of “All in the Family.”
An operatic parody of “All in the Family” was featured on the premiere of “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” on December 27th, 1971. The show had been revived after a successful six-episode run in the summer. Famed tenor Robert Merrill played Archie Bunker in the “Family” sketch, with Cher as Edith, Sonny as Mike, a then-unknown Teri Garr as Gloria, and the “real” Archie (Carroll O’Connor) as a CBS censor.
July 28 in history:
Until the September 11th attacks of 2001, perhaps the most famous case of a plane crashing into a skyscraper was the accident at the Empire State Building on July 28th, 1945. A B-25 bomber headed to Newark slammed into the building at the 79th floor level on a foggy Saturday morning. The three men on the plane died, along with 11 people inside the building.
A mining disaster in Pennsylvania was coming to a much happier end on this date in 2002. Nine coal miners were brought to the surface at the Quecreek mine, four days after they were trapped below ground by flooding. Many Americans spent Saturday night of that weekend watching live TV coverage of the efforts to rescue the miners.
Two women who became familiar faces on Saturday night TV in the 1970s have birthdays on July 28th. During the ’70s, Sally Struthers (born 1947) played Gloria on “All in the Family,” and Georgia Engel (1948) was Georgette on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Georgette married Minneapolis TV anchorman Ted Baxter, whose boss was news director Lou Grant. When the Lou Grant character got his own spinoff, he became a Los Angeles newspaper editor whose staff included reporter Billie Newman, played by Minneapolis native Linda Kelsey, born July 28th, 1946.