November 8 in history:
Two Roosevelts were elected president on November 8th — 28 years apart. The first was Teddy Roosevelt in 1904, winning a full term after filling out the unexpired term of William McKinley. And Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932 for the first of his four presidential wins.
In other famous elections on November 8th…John F. Kennedy narrowly beat Richard Nixon for the White House in 1960, Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966, and Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential race over Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Trump may be the only U.S. president who inspired a board game before becoming Chief Executive. “Trump: The Game,” a real estate contest, was introduced by the Milton Bradley Company in 1989. Inventor Milton Bradley was born on this day in 1836. The company is known for “The Game of Life,” “Candyland,” and “Chutes and Ladders,” as well as for home versions of popular TV game shows.
The panel show “What’s My Line?” inspired a couple of U.S. home versions, neither one made by Milton Bradley. Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen was a regular panelist on “Line” for 15 years, until her sudden death on November 8th, 1965, a few hours after appearing live on the Sunday night program. Conspiracy theorists have suggested someone murdered Kilgallen for knowing too much about the JFK assassination, or UFOs, or something else. By coincidence, Kilgallen’s death was announced on CBS just after her pre-taped appearance on the November 8th daytime episode of “To Tell the Truth.” On that same day, the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” made its debut, beginning a run that continues today.
October 22 in history:
On October 22nd, 1962, President John F. Kennedy made a televised speech publicly revealing the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. In the speech, Kennedy announced a quarantine on ships that might be carrying offensive weapons to Cuba.
By coincidence, Kennedy’s address fell on the same night that JFK impersonator Vaughn Meader was recording a comedy album about the president, to be called “The First Family.” Meader later said that the actors knew about the speech before the recording session, but the studio audience did not. He thought the audience members would not have laughed as much, if they had been aware of the missile crisis.
Appearing on TV that October night in ’62, besides the president, was the game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” created by song-parody writer Allan Sherman, best known for “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.” His record “My Son, the Folk Singer” lost the Grammy for album of the year in 1963 to “The First Family.”
Actor Bob Odenkirk has done parody sketches on “Mr. Show” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” October 22nd of 1962 is when Odenkirk was born. He may be best known for playing attorney Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad,” and its spinoff series “Better Call Saul.”
September 27 in history:
Pope Urban VII (real name, Giovanni Castagna) died on this date in 1590. He had only been the pope for 13 days, the shortest papacy ever. There was no controversy about the cause of death: Pope Urban died of malaria.
The assassination of the first Catholic president of the U.S. led to a government investigation that concluded on September 27th, 1964, with the release of the Warren Commission report. The Commission led by Chief Justice Earl Warren concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy. TV networks did live programs about the Commission findings at the hour the report was released to the public.
A live late-night program called “Tonight!” debuted on NBC on this date in 1954. Steve Allen was host for the first three years, succeeded by Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno again, and now Jimmy Fallon. Steve Allen’s first night as host was also the 34th birthday of his wife, actress Jayne Meadows.
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.”