January 22nd in history:
From “beautiful downtown Burbank,” the first episode of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in” aired on NBC on January 22, 1968. The fast-paced mix of one-liners, slapstick and political humor lasted five-and-a-half years, making stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin, and inspiring the even longer-lasting imitator, “Hee Haw.”
An early feature of “Laugh-In” was “Sock It to Me Time.” The night of January 22nd, 1973, was “Sock It to Me Time” for heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier, as he was knocked down repeatedly by George Foreman in a title fight in Jamaica. Foreman won the championship when the fight was stopped in the second round.
Foreman is best known today for selling the George Foreman Grill on TV. Hosts of popular food shows on TV who were born on January 22 include Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet (1934), Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet (1939), and Food Network personality Guy Fieri (1968).
“United States” was chosen as the official name of the 13 American colonies by the Continental Congress on September 9th, 1776. The newly-independent nation had been known as the “United Colonies” before that.
Exactly 15 years later, on this date in 1791, the new nation’s capital along the Potomac River was named “Washington,” after the incumbent president.
Esther was the name of the first child of a president to be born at the White House. She was born September 9th, 1893. Esther’s parents were President Grover Cleveland and his wife, Frances.
People in the audience at the Fox Theater in Riverside, California, didn’t know the name of the movie they were about to see on September 9th, 1939, after the scheduled showing of “Hawaiian Nights.” Therefore, they didn’t know they would be the first regular audience to watch a much-anticipated picture. One witness said the crowd reaction was “thunderous” when the movie’s title appeared on the screen…”Gone With the Wind.”
People watching NBC on September 9th, 1967 didn’t know they were going to see a TV show that would become the #1 prime-time series within two years. “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” debuted as a comedy special leading into the broadcast of the Miss America pageant. Performers on the special who would become regulars on the “Laugh-In” series included Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, and Jo Anne Worley.
July 24 in history:
Someone’s in the kitchen with Nikita…and on July 24th, 1959, it was U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon. He and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev met in the kitchen area of an American home exhibit in Moscow and, through interpreters, debated eastern culture vs. western culture. The videotaped discussion became known as the “Kitchen Debate.”
Fifteen years later, Nixon had moved up to the job of president, but his presidency would soon come to an end. On July 24th of 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Nixon would have to release secret tape recordings to the Watergate prosecutor. Nixon resigned shortly after the release of one tape showing that he wanted to use the CIA to block an FBI probe into Watergate.
In the 1999 Watergate comedy “Dick,” President Nixon was played by actor Dan Hedaya, born July 24th, 1940. Hedaya is better known as Nick Tortelli, the ex-husband of Carla on “Cheers” and its spin-off, “The Tortellis”.
During his 1968 campaign, Nixon made a brief appearance on the TV comedy show “Laugh-In,” saying “Sock it to me?” Ruth Buzzi was a “Laugh-In” cast member for the show’s entire six-season run. She was born on this date in 1936.