December 12 in history:
The presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was finally settled by the U.S. Supreme Court on December 12th, 2000…more than a month after the voting. The court decided 5-4 to accept Florida’s certification that Bush had won the state, giving him one more electoral vote over the 270 majority. That ruling came a few days after justices halted the Florida recount which showed Texas governor Bush and Vice President Gore only a few hundred votes apart.
Frank Sinatra knew a few presidents, including John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and in his later years, fans of the singer and actor knew Sinatra as “Chairman of the Board.” Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on this date in 1915.
Like the Chairman of the Board, “The Boss” — singer Bruce Springsteen — also was born in New Jersey. During a concert on December 12th, 1975, Springsteen recorded a rock version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” which has become a popular holiday song on the radio. The concert was performed on the Long Island campus of C.W. Post College, named after the founder of Post Cereals.
The 1960’s TV cartoon show “Linus the Lionhearted” was based on characters from Post cereal boxes, with the title character, a lion king, voiced by actor Sheldon Leonard. The characters Sheldon and Leonard on the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” are named after him. “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik, who starred in the ’90s series “Blossom” and earned a PhD in neuroscience, was born December 12th, 1975.
December 5 in history:
George Washington became America’s first two-term president in 1792. On December 5th that year, the Electoral College unanimously chose Washington to continue as president. John Adams was re-elected as vice president.
Adams and his son, John Quincy, both were one-term presidents. On December 5th, 1831, John Quincy Adams took office as a Congressman, two years after serving his single term in the White House. Adams was chosen as president by the U.S. House after the 1824 election, when he lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson.
Al Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential race, but lost in the Electoral College to George W. Bush. Gore’s father, long-time Tennessee Senator Albert Gore Sr., died on this date in 1998. George W. Bush served two terms as president, four years longer than his father, George Herbert Walker Bush…the most recent president defeated after a single term. A state funeral for the elder President Bush was held in Washington on December 5th, 2018.
The first single-term U.S. president who was not named “Adams” was Martin Van Buren, born on this day in 1782. Van Buren was the first U.S. president born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
James K. Polk was Speaker of the House under President Van Buren. Polk also became president for just one term, and is credited with setting off the California gold rush during his last months in office. In his State of the Union message to Congress on December 5th, 1848, Polk announced that gold had been discovered in the California territory earlier that year, and he claimed that most male residents of the territory were busy searching for gold.
March 2nd in history:
Just days before President Ulysses S. Grant was scheduled to leave office in 1877, Americans still didn’t know who the next president would be. A dispute over electoral votes ended March 2nd, three days before the inauguration ceremony, when a special commission declared Rutherford B. Hayes the new president by just one electoral vote. Samuel Tilden had won the popular vote in the 1876 election.
It took just three ballots to choose a new pope on March 2nd, 1939. On his 63rd birthday, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli became Pope Pius XII. Pacelli was assigned to Rome for most of his priesthood, and he was welcomed to the Vatican in 1901 by Pope Leo XIII, born Vincenzo Pecci on this day in 1810.
Leo was the first pope to appear in a motion picture, and to have his voice recorded. That pope shares a birthday with a “Carpenter” who was famous for recordings: singer Karen Carpenter, born March 2nd, 1950. Teamed with her brother Richard, Karen sang lead on several hit songs in the 1970s, including “Close to You,” “Superstar,” and “Top of the World.”
Wilt Chamberlain was already a basketball superstar in 1962, as the NBA’s all-time scoring king for a single game, but he was on top of the world on March 2nd of that year. On that day, Chamberlain became the first (and so far, only) player in the league to ever score 100 points in one game, leading the Philadelphia Warriors to a 169-147 win over the New York Knicks. The game played in Hershey, Pennsylvania, was broadcast on the radio, but not on TV.
February 8th in history:
The U.S. has had three vice-presidents named Johnson. The first one was Richard Johnson, who served under President Martin Van Buren. Johnson was chosen for VP by the Senate on February 8th, 1837, when no candidate could get a majority in the Electoral College.
Lyndon Johnson was vice-president in the summer of 1963, when Ted Koppel began his journalism career as the youngest reporter ever hired by ABC Radio. Koppel was only 23 — born on February 8th, 1940.
Koppel was anchoring the late-night news show “Nightline” in 1984, the year actress Cecily Strong was born on this date. At the time of her birth, Strong’s father was head of the Associated Press Capitol bureau in Springfield, Illinois. Cecily co-anchored “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live” for one season, and emceed the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner. She’s well-known for her SNL impersonation of First Lady Melania Trump, and her character “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.”
Actor Jack Lemmon played Chicago newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson in the 1974 movie remake of the play “The Front Page.” Lemmon was born on this day in 1925. He won Oscars for “Mister Roberts” and “Save the Tiger,” and is also known for his roles in “Some Like It Hot,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and several movies with “Front Page” co-star Walter Matthau.
A session of the U.S. Senate was broadcast for the first time on the radio, on February 8th, 1978, during debate on a Panama Canal treaty. And radio made its way into the White House for the first time on this day in 1922, when President Warren Harding brought the new invention into the mansion.
February 4th in history:
The Electoral College met for the first time to choose a U.S. president on February 4th, 1789. Electors unanimously chose the man whose face is on the dollar bill, George Washington.
You can probably find the faces of many friends on the Facebook website, which was founded on this date in 2004. Mark Zuckerberg started the social web page while still a student at Harvard, and it was originally meant to be used only by other Harvard students.
You may not know her face, but Janet Waldo was a familiar voice in the cartoon world and February 4th was her birthday. Waldo’s most famous characters include Judy Jetson and Penelope Pitstop, but she also played Alice in an animated version of “Alice in Wonderland.”
It’s also the birthday for a famous “Alice”: rock star Alice Cooper, born Vincent Furnier on February 4th, 1948.