Tagged: Billie Jean King

LEADERS OF THE WORLD

November 22 in history:

On the last day of his life, John F. Kennedy was thinking about the 1964 election.  President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, were making a political trip through Texas on November 22nd, 1963.  The president had appearances scheduled that day with Vice President Lyndon Johnson in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin.  Kennedy only got to attend the breakfast in Fort Worth.  Gunfire broke out as the president’s motorcade was leaving downtown Dallas on the way to a luncheon.  Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally, riding with their wives in an open car, were hit by bullets, and taken to Parkland Hospital.  Within a short time, Kennedy was dead, Johnson was president, and the world was in mourning.

While in Fort Worth, Kennedy made a phone call to wish John Nance Garner a happy 95th birthday.  Texas native Garner served two terms as Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt.  French President Charles de Gaulle turned 73 on that Friday in ’63.  The following Monday, de Gaulle was in Washington to join other world leaders at Kennedy’s funeral.

A future “King” who became a queen of the tennis court turned 20 on the day JFK was shot.  Billie Jean King was still single, and known as Billie Jean Moffitt, in 1963.  That summer, she had reached the finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, finishing second in the women’s singles at Wimbledon.

A few hours before the Kennedy shooting, “The CBS Morning News,” anchored by Mike Wallace, aired a story about a new rock-and-roll band creating a stir in England.  That may have been the first time many Americans heard about the Beatles.  The story on CBS coincided with the release that day of a new album by the Fab Four in the UK, called “With the Beatles.”  An album with most of the same songs was sold later in the US under the name “Meet the Beatles.”

In later years, the Beatles recorded songs with references to politicians such as British Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.  The first English woman to serve as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, stepped down because of a political power struggle on November 22nd, 1990.  Thatcher had held that post for 11 years.

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YOU DON’T MESS AROUND WITH BILLIE JEAN

September 20 in history:

Explorer Ferdinand Magellan left Spain on September 20th, 1519, on a voyage to reach the Spice Islands by sailing west to reach the Pacific Ocean.  Magellan’s ships were the first ones to reach the Pacific from the Atlantic, and eventually, one ship, the Victoria, became the first to travel around the world to return to Spain.

Lewis and Clark were headed back from the Pacific Ocean toward the Mississippi when they reached a white settlement in Missouri on this date in 1806.  It took them another three days to reach St. Louis, ending the exploration of the Louisiana Territory which lasted more than two years.

The famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King took place on September 20th, 1973 at the Houston Astrodome, before a crowd of 30,000 and a worldwide TV audience. King was the defending women’s champion at Wimbledon. Riggs won the men’s title at Wimbledon 34 years earlier.  The female pro defeated the older male pro in three straight sets.

On the same night that Billie Jean and Bobby dueled in Texas, singer Jim Croce and five other people died in the crash of a small plane headed for Texas.  Croce had just performed that night at a college in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and the plane crashed shortly after take-off from that city’s airport.  Croce’s song “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was a number-one hit that summer, and his follow-up, “I Got a Name,” was released the day after he died.

Pop singer Ricky Nelson died in a Texas plane crash in 1985.  His twin sons, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, formed the rock band Nelson.  They were born on September 20th, 1967.  This is also the birthday of another set of rock-and-roll twins, Chuck and John Panozzo of Styx, born in 1948.