January 16th in history:
Prohibition became the law in the U.S. when 36 states ratified the 18th Amendment. That threshold was reached on January 16th, 1919, when five states approved the amendment in one day. The actual ban on alcohol took effect one year later.
The beer-brewing Busch family has its name on the home stadium of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Two famous players for the Cardinals were born on January 16th…Jay “Dizzy” Dean (1910) and Albert Pujols (1980).
“I get no kick from champagne” is the opening line of the song “I Get a Kick Out of You,” introduced by Ethel Merman in the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes.” Merman was born January 16th, 1908. She originated the roles of Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun” and Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” and played Mrs. Marcus in the movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”
Ethel Merman turned down the chance to star as Dolly Levi in the original Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly!” The musical version of the play “The Matchmaker,” starring Carol Channing as Dolly, opened in New York on January 16th, 1964. When that production closed in 1970, Merman was playing Dolly.
A more recent Broadway star was born on this date in 1980. Lin-Manuel Miranda is famous for creating the hit musical “Hamilton,” and for originating the title role. Miranda is also featured in the 2018 movie musical “Mary Poppins Returns.”
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..
October 8 in history:
Famous fires broke out on the shores of Lake Michigan on October 8th, 1871. The deadliest of those fires occurred in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, along Green Bay. As many as 2500 people may have died in the forest fire that destroyed Peshtigo and other communities. The better-known fire of October 8th was the Great Chicago Fire, which claimed about 300 lives and destroyed four square miles of the city.
Minister and political activist Jesse Jackson, the founder of Operation PUSH in Chicago, was born October 8th of 1941. Jackson shares a birthday with comedian Darrell Hammond (1955), who impersonated him and dozens of other celebrities during a 14-year run on “Saturday Night Live.” Hammond occasionally imitated SNL announcer Don Pardo on the show, and in 2014, was hired to succeed the late Pardo as the program’s new announcer.
Chevy Chase played President Gerald Ford in sketches during the first two seasons of SNL. Chase, born October 8th, 1943, went on to play Clark Griswold in the “Vacation” movie series, and returned to TV as a cast member of “Community.” He co-starred in “Deal of the Century” with Sigourney Weaver, born this day in 1949. Weaver played Ripley in the “Alien” movies, and appeared in “Avatar” and “Ghostbusters.”
Live from New York, baseball fans saw and heard history being made on October 8th, 1956, when Game 5 of the World Series was broadcast from Yankee Stadium. Don Larsen of the Yankees became the first man to pitch a perfect game during a World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0.
October 5 in history:
The city of Anaheim, California, was founded in 1857. It would become the site of Disneyland, and the home of the Angels baseball team, which won the World Series in 2002.
Another nearby franchise, the San Diego Padres, has played in the World Series twice without winning. The first time was 1984, the same year Padres owner Ray Kroc died. Kroc, who earned a fortune after buying the McDonald’s hamburger business from brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald, was born October 5th, 1902.
Another popular comedy team made its debut on October 5th, 1969, when the first episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was aired on the BBC.
John Cleese of “Monty Python” has appeared as spy gadget expert Q (or R) in two James Bond films. The very first 007 film, “Dr. No,” premiered in London on October 5th, 1962. This is also the birthday of Donald Pleasence (born 1919), who played the villain Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice”…used as an inspiration for Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” spy comedies.
September 29 in history:
Pope John Paul, formerly Cardinal Albino Luciani, died on September 29th, 1978, only 34 days after being elected. John Paul was immensely popular during his short reign as pope, prompting his successor, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, to choose the name John Paul II.
Construction on the Washington National Cathedral began on September 29th, 1907.
On that same day, “Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry was born. Autry was famous for his movies and Christmas recordings, and later in life as the founder of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team.
September 29th was the last day of the regular baseball season in 1957, and two franchises played — and lost — their last games as New York teams on that day before moving to California. The Giants, headed to San Francisco, lost their last home game at the Polo Grounds to Pittsburgh, and the Brooklyn Dodgers were beaten in Philadelphia in their final game before moving to Los Angeles.
A Martian had to settle in Los Angeles after his spaceship crashed, on the sitcom “My Favorite Martian,” which debuted September 29th, 1963 on CBS. Ray Walston was billed as “The Martian,” but he was called “Martin O’Hara” and “Uncle Martin” while living with a newspaper reporter played by Bill Bixby.
Jonathan Harris of “Lost in Space” played the voice of Uncle Martin in a 1970s cartoon show based on “Martian.” On this night in 1963, the same Sunday night that “Martian” premiered, Harris appeared on NBC’s “Bonanza” as author Charles Dickens, visiting the Ponderosa. Harris was a regular cast member on another NBC series that aired that night, “The Bill Dana Show,” in which Dana’s popular character Jose Jimenez worked as a hotel bellhop.
July 16th in history:
Yankees slugger Joe di Maggio got three hits in four times at bat against the Cleveland Indians on July 16th, 1941, extending his record hitting streak to 56 games. The streak would end the next day in Cleveland.
Ohio native Neil Armstrong would become the first man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft when it lifted off in a ball of fire from the Kennedy Space Center on this day in 1969.
The comedy “Ball of Fire” earned an Oscar nomination for Barbara Stanwyck, as did “Stella Dallas” and “Double Indemnity.” Stanwyck helped sell a lot of popcorn during a 60-year career in movies and TV. She was born on July 16th, 1907 — the same day and year as another person in the popcorn business, “gourmet popcorn” grower, Orville Redenbacher.
One of Barbara Stanwyck’s later movies was called “Jeopardy.” Will Ferrell played Alex Trebek in several “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketches during a seven-year run on “Saturday Night Live,” before starring in movies such as “Elf” and the “Anchorman” comedies. Ferrell, born on this day in 1967, performed with the Groundlings comedy group in Los Angeles, as did Sherri Stoner, born July 16th, 1965. Stoner has written movies and cartoon series, provided the voice of Slappy Squirrel on “Animaniacs,” and was a body model for Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” and Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”
May 5th in history:
Carnegie Hall in New York opened on May 5th, 1891, with a concert conducted by the composer of “The Nutcracker,” Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
The hit musical “Damn Yankees,” about a middle-aged man who becomes a baseball star through a pact with the devil, opened on Broadway on May 5th, 1955.
The first perfect game in modern baseball history occurred on May 5th, 1904, when Cy Young pitched the Boston Americans to a win over the Philadelphia Athletics.