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.
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.
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.