March 31st in history:
The battleship Missouri, where the Japanese surrendered to the U.S. to end World War II, was decommissioned on March 31st, 1992.
President Lyndon Johnson called for peace talks with North Vietnam in a live TV address on this date in 1968. Johnson surprised the nation when he ended his speech that night by declaring he would not seek another term as president.
Johnson’s withdrawal from the ’68 race may have helped Richard Nixon win the election that fall. Nixon’s future son-in-law, David Eisenhower (Ike’s grandson), turned 20 the day of LBJ’s speech. So did future Vice President Al Gore.
Many famous movies about the Vietnam War were not made until years after LBJ and Nixon left office. The Deer Hunter (1978) was the first Vietnam movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Christopher Walken, born March 31st, 1943, won the supporting actor Oscar for his role in Deer Hunter. Walken also has appeared in the movie musicals Pennies from Heaven and Hairspray, and as a frequent host of “Saturday Night Live.” He shares a birthday with fellow Oscar winner Shirley Jones (born 1934), best known for musical roles in Oklahoma! and The Music Man, and as singing mom Shirley Partridge on “The Partridge Family.”
Walken’s Deer Hunter co-star Robert De Niro won the Best Actor award for Raging Bull at the Oscars on March 31st, 1981. The ceremony had been delayed by one day because of the assassination attempt against President Reagan.
February 8th in history:
The U.S. has had three vice-presidents named Johnson. The first one was Richard Johnson, who served under President Martin Van Buren. Johnson was chosen for VP by the Senate on February 8th, 1837, when no candidate could get a majority in the Electoral College.
Lyndon Johnson was vice-president in the summer of 1963, when Ted Koppel began his journalism career as the youngest reporter ever hired by ABC Radio. Koppel was only 23 — born on February 8th, 1940.
Koppel was anchoring the late-night news show “Nightline” in 1984, the year actress Cecily Strong was born on this date. At the time of her birth, Strong’s father was head of the Associated Press Capitol bureau in Springfield, Illinois. Cecily co-anchored “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live” for one season, and emceed the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner. She’s well-known for her SNL impersonation of First Lady Melania Trump, and her character “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.”
Actor Jack Lemmon played Chicago newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson in the 1974 movie remake of the play “The Front Page.” Lemmon was born on this day in 1925. He won Oscars for “Mister Roberts” and “Save the Tiger,” and is also known for his roles in “Some Like It Hot,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and several movies with “Front Page” co-star Walter Matthau.
A session of the U.S. Senate was broadcast for the first time on the radio, on February 8th, 1978, during debate on a Panama Canal treaty. And radio made its way into the White House for the first time on this day in 1922, when President Warren Harding brought the new invention into the mansion.
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.
November 3 in history:
It may be the most famous wrong headline in newspaper history…”DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.” Based on the early returns on election night in 1948, the Chicago Tribune published the first edition of its November 3rd paper with the Dewey headline. Later in the night, incumbent President Harry Truman won a full term by defeating Republican Thomas Dewey. Shortly after the election, Truman happily posed for a picture, holding up the incorrect headline.
We know for a fact that presidents elected on November 3rd include Franklin D. Roosevelt (second term) in 1936, Bill Clinton defeating President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and Lyndon Johnson winning a full term with a victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964.
“The Andy Griffith Show” was a top 10 hit in 1964…and in every year that it was on CBS. Two cast members of the Griffith show and its spinoff, “Mayberry RFD,” both were born on November 3rd in 1933. Aneta Corsaut played Mayberry schoolteacher Helen Crump, who dated and then married Sheriff Andy Taylor. Ken Berry was brought in to play town councilman Sam Jones, who became the main character on “Mayberry RFD” when Griffith ended his own show in 1968. Berry also starred on “F Troop” and “Mama’s Family.”
August 27 in history:
August 27th is the only date which is the birthday of more than one Vice-President of the United States. Three V-P’s actually were born on this date: Lincoln’s first V-P, Hannibal Hamlin (1809), Coolidge’s V-P, Charles Dawes (1865), and Lyndon Johnson (1908), who later became President after Kennedy’s assassination.
Dawes is the only U.S. vice-president who wrote a number-one hit song. His tune titled “Melody in A Major” was turned into “It’s All in the Game,” and the Tommy Edwards recording topped the charts in 1958. On this date in ’58, it looked like the game of major league baseball would be leaving Washington, D.C., when the owner of the Senators ball club said he would probably move the team to Minnesota. President Eisenhower even weighed in that day, urging the Senators to stay in D.C.
Another town got a professional sports team on August 27th, 1921, when the Green Bay Packers went pro and joined an organization which would soon be renamed the National Football League.
August 6 in history:
The Japanese city of Hiroshima became the first community destroyed by an atomic bomb in wartime on August 6th, 1945. About 80,000 people died in Hiroshima that day, when the American plane Enola Gay dropped a bomb on the city.
Protesters marking the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing stood outside the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on August 6th, 1966. They gathered there because President Lyndon Johnson was attending his youngest daughter’s wedding inside the church. Luci Baines Johnson was marrying Patrick Nugent.
Another famous “Lucy” had a birthday on this date. Lucille Ball, the star of ‘I Love Lucy,’ was born August 6th, 1911.
June 13th in history:
The “Pentagon Papers” appeared for the first time in the New York Times on June 13th, 1971. The papers were a classified report on American strategy in Vietnam. The Nixon administration said publication of the papers was treason, and tried to have it stopped. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to try to keep the documents out of the newspapers.
A Supreme Court ruling on June 13th, 1966, led to the famous phrase, “You have the right to remain silent.” In Miranda v. Arizona, the high court ruled that Ernesto Miranda should have been informed of his legal rights before he was questioned by police about a series of crimes.
One year later, in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. Marshall was the first African-American justice, and for 24 years was the only African-American on the nine-member court.
In 1967, Paul Lynde already had started a long run with a popular group of nine, as a celebrity panelist on the game show “Hollywood Squares.” Lynde, born on June 13th, 1926, occupied the “center square” for most of his years on the show, while also appearing on “Bewitched” and his own comedy series.
Richard Thomas was the most famous of the seven kids on “The Waltons,” as the oldest son, John-Boy. Thomas was born on this date in 1951. And Ban Ki-moon, born June 13th, 1944, also belongs to a small select group. He’s only the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations.