September 23 in history:
Senator Richard Nixon had to give the biggest speech of his political career on this date in 1952. Nixon’s role as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate in the presidential election was in jeopardy, because of questions about a fund used to help him pay campaign expenses. In a live, televised address, Nixon claimed that he would keep just one gift to his family: a dog named “Checkers.” The speech saved his spot on the Republican ticket.
Nixon went on to be elected president in 1968, the year that protesters rioted outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Eight organizers of the protests went on trial, starting on September 23rd, 1969. When the judge ordered a separate trial for defendant Bobby Seale, the protesters became known as the “Chicago 7.”
Bobby Seale’s name was used in a punchline in the college-reunion movie “The Big Chill,” which opened the New York Film Festival on September 23rd, 1983. That was the 36th birthday of “Big Chill” cast member Mary Kay Place, also known for her role as a country singer on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
July 15th in history:
The middle of July is a popular time for political parties to choose their presidential candidates. President Harry Truman accepted the Democratic nomination on July 15th of 1948, and Jimmy Carter gave his acceptance speech during the 1976 Democratic convention on the 15th. Bill Clinton won the nomination on July 15th, 1992 at the Democratic convention, and Republican Barry Goldwater was nominated on this day during the Republican convention in 1964.
Goldwater’s nomination happened on the 26th birthday of his son, Barry Goldwater Jr., who was born in Arizona and later served as a Republican Congressman from California for seven terms. Another Arizona native, singer Linda Ronstadt, was born on July 15th of 1946.
Linda Ronstadt is famous for recording rock songs and Spanish-language albums. A language barrier was broken on this date in 1799 when a rock known as the “Rosetta Stone” was discovered in Egypt. The stone has the same message printed three times, in hieroglyphics and two other languages, allowing experts to translate Egyptian sign language.
Some folks might need a Rosetta stone to figure out abbreviations used in messages on Twitter (LOL). The internet service limiting messages (“tweets”) to 140 characters was launched July 15th, 2006.
July 9th in history:
On July 9th, 1850, Zachary Taylor became the second U.S. president to die in office. Taylor became sick after eating at a 4th of July celebration – and, to this day, some historians believe he was deliberately poisoned. His body was exhumed for testing in 1991, but the coroner did not find sufficient evidence of poisoning.
Another man who wanted to be president made a famous speech on this date in 1896. William Jennings Bryan delivered what was known as the “Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, opposing the gold standard. Following that oration, Bryan became the youngest presidential nominee in Democratic party history at age 36, and earned the nickname the “Boy Orator.”
Tom Hanks became a first-time Oscar nominee at age 32 for “Big,” in which he played a boy suddenly stuck in a man’s body. Hanks, born on July 9th, 1956, won back-to-back Oscars for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump.” He has also played astronaut Jim Lovell in “Apollo 13,” commanded G.I.s in the WWII drama “Saving Private Ryan,” and romanced Meg Ryan in “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
“Big” was released in 1988, the same year that 11-year-old Fred Savage played a grown-up suddenly stuck in a boy’s body in “Vice Versa.” Savage, born on this day in 1976, also played Peter Falk’s grandson in “The Princess Bride” and starred as Kevin Arnold on the TV series “The Wonder Years.” As a grown-up, Savage has shifted from acting to directing.