September 15 in history:
September 15th of 1901 was Theodore Roosevelt’s first full day as president, after the assassination of William McKinley. Roosevelt had been vice president for only six months before succeeding McKinley. It was the 44th birthday of William Howard Taft, who would follow T.R. into the Oval Office eight years later.
Taft is one of only two U.S. presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The other is John F. Kennedy. Two men associated with the 1991 movie “JFK” were both born on September 15th, 1946: the film’s director, Oliver Stone, and actor Tommy Lee Jones.
The Hollywood star most closely associated with JFK filmed what is probably her most famous movie scene on this date in 1954. Early that morning. Marilyn Monroe stood over a subway grate on Lexington Avenue in New York as air from the grate blew her skirt above her knees, for a scene in “The Seven Year Itch.” The actual New York footage was not used in the movie. The scene was re-created on a Hollywood lot.
September 2 in history:
“The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” expanded from a 15-minute newscast to a 30-minute program on September 2nd, 1963. In honor of the occasion, much of that night’s broadcast featured a Cronkite interview with President John F. Kennedy. Oddly enough, despite Kennedy’s support of NASA and Cronkite’s reputation for covering space flights, the topic of space exploration did not come up during the on-air interview.
On this date in 1970, NASA cancelled its original plans for the Apollo 15 and 19 moon flights, in a budget-cutting measure. The Apollo 19 flight was never re-scheduled, but a revised Apollo 15 mission took place the following year.
On the TV show “I Dream of Jeannie,” fictional astronauts Tony Nelson and Roger Healey went to the moon on the Apollo 15 mission. The theme song for most episodes of “Jeannie” was written by composer Hugo Montenegro, born on this date in 1925. September 2nd is also the birthday of real-life shuttle astronaut and schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe (1948).
August 2 in history:
President Warren G. Harding died suddenly on August 2nd, 1923 in San Francisco, less than two-and-a-half years into his term. The 57-year-old Harding became ill while on his way back to Washington, D.C. from a visit to Alaska. The cause of death was thought to be a stroke at the time, but many experts now believe that Harding had a heart attack.
John F. Kennedy was another U.S. president who died less than three years after taking office. Twenty years before his death, Kennedy had a close call while commanding a PT boat in the Navy during World War II. The Japanese destroyer Amagiri smashed into the PT-109, on August 2nd, 1943. Lt. Kennedy was able to save most of his crew.
After Kennedy became president, Warner Brothers decided to make a movie called “PT-109.” Studio head Jack Warner (born August 2nd, 1892) reportedly wanted Warren Beatty to play the young JFK, and so did First Lady Jackie Kennedy. The president had the final choice, and picked Cliff Robertson to play him.
June 26th in history:
The first portion of the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, opened on June 26th, 1870.
At the Coney Island amusement park in New York, the “Cyclone” roller coaster operated for the first time on this date in 1927.
President Kennedy made a famous trip to Berlin on this day in 1963, where the West German audience cheered upon hearing Kennedy proclaim “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
Singer Terri Nunn was a “Berliner” in the ’70s and ’80s, as a member of the musical group Berlin. Nunn was born on June 26th of 1961 — the year the Berlin Wall was built. Nunn performed lead vocals on the Oscar-winning song “Take My Breath Away” from “Top Gun.” She also acted in the movie “Thank God It’s Friday,” which won the Oscar for Best Song in 1978 for Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”
June 20th in history:
On June 20th, 1840, Massachusetts native Samuel F.B. Morse received a patent for his telegraph.
Another form of fast communication was the Hot Line between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, installed June 20th, 1963, during the presidency of John F. Kennedy (from Massachusetts).
In New Bedford, Massachusetts, on June 20th, 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the ax murders of her mother and father.
And June 20th is the birthday of Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis (1931), a Massachusetts native and cousin of former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Olympia Dukakis won her Oscar for the 1987 movie comedy “Moonstruck,” and shares a June 20th birthday with two other stars of that film: Danny Aiello (born 1933) and John Mahoney (1940).
“Moonstruck” also features the Dean Martin song “That’s Amore,” introduced in the Martin and Lewis movie “The Caddy.” Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were among the guests on the premiere of the CBS variety show “Toast of the Town” on June 20th, 1948. The series eventually was renamed “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and ran for 23 years.
May 29th in history:
A National World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on May 29th, 2004, nearly 60 years after the end of the war. The monument was built on the National Mall, between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
Two famous Americans who have had U.S. Navy ships named after them were born on May 29th: President John F. Kennedy (1917), and comedian Bob Hope (1903). It was during World War II when Kennedy commanded the boat PT-109 in the Pacific, and Hope began a long tradition of taking USO shows to American troops overseas.
Shortly after JFK’s assassination, his widow Jacqueline compared the Kennedy White House to King Arthur’s Camelot. The musical “Camelot” was based on the “Once and Future King” series of books about Arthur by English author T.H. White, born on May 29th, 1906.
Bob Hope’s partner in the popular “Road” pictures, Bing Crosby, starred in a movie version of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” On this day in 1942, Crosby recorded his biggest hit, introduced in the movie “Holiday Inn.” His version of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” was recorded in just 18 minutes.
Edmund Hillary and his guide Tenzing Norgay reached the white, snow-covered summit of Mount Everest on May 29th, 1953. While there is speculation that other climbers reached the summit years before, Hillary claimed credit as the first one to come back from the summit alive.
March 14th in history:
Warren G. Harding made history on March 14th, 1923, as the first president to file an income tax report. This was 10 years after the 16th Amendment was ratified, legalizing income taxes in the U.S.
Harding died of an illness later that year, the third year of his presidency. John F. Kennedy also died in his third year as president. Just after his assassination, Kennedy was buried in a simple grave at Arlington Cemetery. On this day in 1967, Kennedy’s body was moved to a more elaborate gravesite. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and two Kennedy children also are buried at the site, with the graves of Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy nearby.
President Kennedy set a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s. Astronauts Frank Borman and Eugene Cernan both orbited the moon on different Apollo flights, and Cernan actually walked on the moon during the last manned lunar mission, Apollo 17. Both men were born on March 14th…Borman in 1928, and Cernan six years later.