December 18 in history:
The President of the United States got married on December 18th, 1915. Woodrow Wilson’s first wife, Ellen, died a year after moving into the White House. Widower Wilson met widow Edith Bolling Galt in 1915, and they wed just nine months later. Edith Wilson is sometimes considered America’s first female president, for assuming some duties of the presidency after Wilson had a stroke during his second term.
At the time of President Wilson’s second wedding, he was about to run for a second term using the slogan “He kept us out of war.” The First World War began in 1914, in response to the assassination of an Austrian archduke and his wife. That archduke, Franz Ferdinand, was born on this day in 1863. Future Soviet leader Joseph Stalin also was born December 18th, in 1878. Stalin was not allowed to serve in WWI because of a bad arm.
In the 2008 movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” the title character, who ages in reverse, is born on the last day of World War I. Button is played by Brad Pitt, born December 18th, 1963. Pitt also has starred in “Moneyball,” “Fight Club,” and “Ocean’s Eleven,” and is known for his marriages to Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.
The WWI drama “War Horse” earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination for its producer and director Steven Spielberg, born December 18th, 1946. Spielberg has won two Oscars as a director, for two films about World War II, “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” He’s also had big hits with “Jaws,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and the Indiana Jones franchise.
November 10 in history:
The 10th of November is known for some disasters on the water…
A passenger ship called the Stephen Whitney was wrecked on this date in 1847, when it struck an island in the fog off the coast of Ireland. Only 18 of the 110 people aboard the ship survived. The captain apparently had mistaken a nearby lighthouse for a different one. A new lighthouse was built in that area as a result of the disaster.
A huge explosion destroyed the USS Mount Hood on November 10th, 1944, in an island harbor near New Guinea. The Navy ship was carrying nearly four thousand tons of ammunition. None of the approximately 350 men aboard the ship survived the blast, and the cause of the explosion was never determined.
Perhaps the most famous shipwreck to occur on November 10th claimed 29 lives, when the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior during a storm in 1975. A year later, on the first anniversary of the sinking, Gordon Lightfoot’s ballad “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was number 3 on the Billboard chart in America, behind “Rock’n Me” by Steve Miller and “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees.
November 10th is the birthday of two actors famous for playing passengers on ill-fated boat trips…”Jaws” star Roy Scheider (1932), and Russell Johnson (1924), Professor Roy Hinkley from “Gilligan’s Island.”
The mountain-peak logo of Paramount Pictures is one of the most familiar Hollywood symbols. Paramount was founded on May 8th, 1914.
Explorer Hernando de Soto traveled through the mountains and prairies to the Mississippi River on this date in 1541. De Soto was on the east bank, in modern-day Tennessee. It took a month for him and his traveling group of 400 to cross over to what is now Arkansas.
It’s the birthday of one man who made people afraid to go near the water, especially the ocean. Peter Benchley, the author of “Jaws,” was born May 8th, 1940. Steven Spielberg’s film version of “Jaws” was the number-one movie of 1975. Benchley was born on the same day and year as singer Toni Tennille, who with husband Daryl Dragon (billed as the Captain and Tennille) had the number-one record of ’75, “Love Will Keep Us Together.”