August 13 in history:
On August 13th, 1889, German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin received a patent for a “navigable balloon,” which would later become known as a blimp or a “zeppelin.”
Germany was divided into East and West by 1961, and on August 13th of that year, work began on a physical barrier to separate East and West Berlin. The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years until the border between the two halves of the city was opened in 1989.
East Berlin and the Cold War figured into the plot of the 1966 movie “Torn Curtain,” the 50th film directed by “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, born on this date in 1899. Hitchcock’s 51st movie was another Cold War thriller called “Topaz,” set partly in Communist Cuba. That movie featured a cameo appearance, through archival footage, of Cuban premier Fidel Castro, born August 13th, 1926.
In Hitchcock’s film “North By Northwest,” Cary Grant is mistaken for a spy who doesn’t really exist. The phony spy was invented to keep a female agent’s cover from being blown. The cover of real-life CIA agent Valerie Plame was blown by a newspaper columnist in a public scandal during the George W. Bush administration. Plame was born on August 13th, 1963.
June 26th in history:
The first portion of the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, opened on June 26th, 1870.
At the Coney Island amusement park in New York, the “Cyclone” roller coaster operated for the first time on this date in 1927.
President Kennedy made a famous trip to Berlin on this day in 1963, where the West German audience cheered upon hearing Kennedy proclaim “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
Singer Terri Nunn was a “Berliner” in the ’70s and ’80s, as a member of the musical group Berlin. Nunn was born on June 26th of 1961 — the year the Berlin Wall was built. Nunn performed lead vocals on the Oscar-winning song “Take My Breath Away” from “Top Gun.” She also acted in the movie “Thank God It’s Friday,” which won the Oscar for Best Song in 1978 for Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”
June 12th in history:
Nelson Mandela was expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars, when a South African court sentenced him to prison on June 12th, 1964. Mandela and others were imprisoned for sabotage and other actions against the system of apartheid. Mandela was freed in 1990, and became president of South Africa a few years later.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” during a speech at the Berlin Wall on June 12th, 1987. The wall came down less than three years later, during the presidency of Reagan’s vice-president, George Herbert Walker Bush, born on June 12th, 1924.
And on this date in 1971, President Richard Nixon was father of the bride at the Rose Garden wedding of his oldest daughter, Tricia. It’s the most recent wedding to be performed at the White House.
“Who D’king of the whole wide world”? It could be Bun E. Carlos, the long-time drummer for Cheap Trick, who wrote the song “Who D’King.” Carlos (real name, Brad Carlson) was born on this day in 1951, along with another rock star named Brad: singer Brad Delp of the band Boston.
November 9 in history:
Germany has had its share of political upheavals on November 9th…
Kaiser Wilhelm II stepped down from his post as German emperor on November 9th of 1918, ending a 30-year reign. The armistice to end the first World War was reached two days later.
The new German government that replaced the monarchy did not please one Adolf Hitler. He and hundreds of Nazi party members attempted an overthrow of the Bavarian government in 1923 with an uprising known as the Beer Hall Putsch. The revolt was put down by police in the streets of Munich on November 9th.
The Communist government of East Germany which came after Hitler’s reign during World War Two was starting to fall apart in 1989 when it bowed to pressure from the public and allowed people to pass freely through the Berlin Wall. After that announcement on the 9th of November, Germans began breaking down the wall which had divided the free and Communist portions of Berlin since the 1960’s.
The 1967 military comedy “How I Won the War” featured John Lennon of the Beatles as an English soldier serving in WWII. A photo of a short-haired Lennon in his soldier costume appeared on the cover of the first Rolling Stone magazine, issued on this date in ’67.