February 14th in history:
James K. Polk posed for photographer Mathew Brady on February 14th, 1849, less than a month before leaving the White House. It appears to be the first time that an incumbent U.S. president posed for a solo photograph. President Polk had been photographed earlier in his term, in a group shot with members of his cabinet.
Television cameras came to the White House on Valentine’s Day, 1962, for a prime-time tour of the mansion, hosted by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The tour was shown on all three major networks.
George Washington never slept in the White House, but George Washington Slept Here was the name of a popular movie starring comedian Jack Benny, born February 14th, 1894. Benny had a weekly show on radio, and then TV, for over 30 years, built around his character of a cheapskate who played the violin badly and always claimed to be 39 years old. Benny’s hometown of Waukegan, Illinois, named a school after him in the 1960s. The sports teams at Benny Middle School are nicknamed the 39ers.
Jack Benny was born in Chicago, not Waukegan. On his 35th birthday in 1929, seven men were shot to death in a Chicago garage, in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the most famous gangster-related murders of the 1920s. The victims were associated with the “Bugs” Moran gang in Chicago. Rival gang leader Al Capone was blamed for the killings. In the 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon escape Chicago by posing as women after witnessing the Massacre.
January 21st in history:
In 1899, the Opel Company of Germany made its first automobile. Before that, Opel had specialized in bicycles and sewing machines.
The first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, was launched by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower in Connecticut on January 21, 1954.
Six years later, in 1960, a female monkey named “Miss Sam” was launched into space from a base in Virginia, in a test of the Mercury spacecraft.
A different way to fly was introduced by the British and French on January 21, 1976, when the two countries began supersonic passenger flights by the Concorde.
And the father of “The Flying Wallendas” high wire act, Karl Wallenda, was born on January 21st of 1905.
October 26 in history:
The route for the Pony Express mail service between Missouri and California was roughly two thousand miles, which could be covered by horses and riders in about 10 days. When telegraph lines finally extended from coast to coast, there was no more need for the Pony Express. The service shut down for good on October 26th, 1861.
A spacecraft has to travel several days from the earth to reach the far side of the moon. The Soviet craft Lunik 3 took the first photographs ever made of the moon’s “dark side”. The U.S.S.R. released those photos on this date in 1959.
Two women born on October 26th in the 1940s have come a long way, taking vastly different paths to fame:
Hillary Rodham (born 1947) was a student commencement speaker at Wellesley in 1969, and was featured in Life Magazine as a result. Married Bill Clinton, became First Lady, elected U.S. Senator, was appointed secretary of state, and ran twice for president, winning the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Jaclyn Smith (born either 1945 or 1947) appeared in magazines in her twenties, as a model for Breck shampoo. She was the only one of “Charlie’s Angels” to stay with the original series for its full five-year run. And she also became a First Lady…playing Jackie Kennedy in a TV movie biography.
June 2nd in history:
The first “First Lady” of the U.S., Martha Washington, was born on June 2nd, 1731 – making her a few months older than George.
Frances Folsom became First Lady on June 2nd, 1886 – the day she married President Grover Cleveland at the White House. Cleveland was not the only president to marry while in office, but he was the only one to have the ceremony at the Executive Mansion.
Britain’s “first lady” since the 1950s, Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated her coronation on this day in 1953. It was the first coronation of a British monarch to be televised.
She was not a “First Lady,” and some might not even call Bridget Bishop a “lady” at all. Somebody claimed she was a witch – and on this date in 1692, she became the first defendant in the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. Bishop was convicted, and hanged eight days after the start of her trial.
And it’s the birthday of “Saturday Night Live’s” “Church Lady”…but that was no lady, that was comedian Dana Carvey (born 1955). Carvey also is well-known for his impersonation of President George Herbert Walker Bush, and as Wayne’s buddy Garth in the “Wayne’s World” sketches and movies.