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.
November 25 in history:
The British occupation of New York City, which began in 1776, ended on November 25th, 1783. That was several weeks after the Treaty of Paris was signed to end the American Revolution. New York became the capital of the U.S. for several years, through the inauguration of George Washington as president in 1789.
President Dwight Eisenhower had a stroke on this date in 1957. Although it was a minor stroke, the health scare was serious enough for the president to write a letter authorizing Vice President Richard Nixon to assume power, if Eisenhower was unable to carry out his duties. The crisis was one factor leading to the creation of the 25th Amendment, which also permits the appointment of a vice president if that office becomes vacant.
An amendment dealing with presidential succession was discussed again after the John F. Kennedy assassination. President Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25th of 1963 — the day his son John Junior turned three years old. Film footage shows young John saluting at his father’s funeral procession.
Two other presidential children — twins Jenna and Barbara Bush, the daughters of George W. Bush — were born on this date in 1981. Their grandfather George Herbert Walker Bush was in his first year as vice president at the time.
November 24 in history:
A one-of-a-kind crime in the sky happened on this date in 1971, aboard a Northwest Orient jet. A passenger who bought a ticket under the name “Dan Cooper” hijacked a flight between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, suggesting that he had a bomb inside a briefcase. Cooper was given parachutes and $200,000 in cash after the plane landed. He then jumped out of the plane after it took off again. Investigators have never figured out what happened to the hijacker, who became known as “D.B. Cooper,” but some of the ransom money did turn up in the woods years later.
Millions of Americans witnessed a real-life crime on live TV when tavern owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald in front of reporters and television cameras at the Dallas jail on November 24th, 1963. It was just two days after Oswald was arrested for the assassination of President Kennedy.
The three major networks suspended all regular programming for four days after Kennedy’s death. One of the cancelled programs that was scheduled for the night of November 24th was a special recapping the 1963 Grammy Awards, at which the Album of the Year award went to the Vaughn Meader satire of Kennedy, “The First Family.”
Marvin Hamlisch won four Grammys for 1974, including Best Pop Instrumental Performance for his recording of “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin, from the movie “The Sting.” The film’s ragtime score led to a revival of Joplin’s songs. Many musicians celebrate November 24th of 1868 as Joplin’s birthday, but now it is believed he was born sometime in 1867.
November 22 in history:
On the last day of his life, John F. Kennedy was thinking about the 1964 election. President Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, were making a political trip through Texas on November 22nd, 1963. The president had appearances scheduled that day with Vice President Lyndon Johnson in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin. Kennedy only got to attend the breakfast in Fort Worth. Gunfire broke out as the president’s motorcade was leaving downtown Dallas on the way to a luncheon. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally, riding with their wives in an open car, were hit by bullets, and taken to Parkland Hospital. Within a short time, Kennedy was dead, Johnson was president, and the world was in mourning.
While in Fort Worth, Kennedy made a phone call to wish John Nance Garner a happy 95th birthday. Texas native Garner served two terms as Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt. French President Charles de Gaulle turned 73 on that Friday in ’63. The following Monday, de Gaulle was in Washington to join other world leaders at Kennedy’s funeral.
A future “King” who became a queen of the tennis court turned 20 on the day JFK was shot. Billie Jean King was still single, and known as Billie Jean Moffitt, in 1963. That summer, she had reached the finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, finishing second in the women’s singles at Wimbledon.
A few hours before the Kennedy shooting, “The CBS Morning News,” anchored by Mike Wallace, aired a story about a new rock-and-roll band creating a stir in England. That may have been the first time many Americans heard about the Beatles. The story on CBS coincided with the release that day of a new album by the Fab Four in the UK, called “With the Beatles.” An album with most of the same songs was sold later in the US under the name “Meet the Beatles.”
In later years, the Beatles recorded songs with references to politicians such as British Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. The first English woman to serve as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, stepped down because of a political power struggle on November 22nd, 1990. Thatcher had held that post for 11 years.