January 8th in history:
Entertainment royalty born on January 8th includes “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley (1935) and the “Thin White Duke,” David Bowie (1947). And Graham Chapman (1941) played King Arthur in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.
According to legend, many early Americans wanted George Washington to be a king, and he turned down the offer. As the first U.S. president, Washington delivered the first State of the Union message on January 8th, 1790.
The ocean liner Queen Mary 2 was christened on this date in 2004. It was the largest passenger ship ever built, up to that time.
October 5 in history:
The city of Anaheim, California, was founded in 1857. It would become the site of Disneyland, and the home of the Angels baseball team, which won the World Series in 2002.
Another nearby franchise, the San Diego Padres, has played in the World Series twice without winning. The first time was 1984, the same year Padres owner Ray Kroc died. Kroc, who earned a fortune after buying the McDonald’s hamburger business from brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald, was born October 5th, 1902.
Comedian Larry Fine was born the same day and year as Kroc. Larry teamed up with the Howard brothers (Moe, Shemp, and Curly) to form a successful comedy franchise: the Three Stooges.
Another popular comedy team made its debut on October 5th, 1969, when the first episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was aired on the BBC.
John Cleese of “Monty Python” has appeared as spy gadget expert Q (or R) in two James Bond films. The very first 007 film, “Dr. No,” premiered in London on October 5th, 1962. This is also the birthday of Donald Pleasence (born 1919), who played the villain Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice”…used as an inspiration for Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” spy comedies.
August 31 in history:
The King of England died in France on this date in 1422. King Henry V was 35, and had been on the throne for nine years. Henry died of dysentery while leading a military campaign in France.
The Princess of Wales died in France on this date in 1997. Princess Diana, formerly Lady Diana Spencer, was 36, and had been divorced from Prince Charles for just one year. Diana and two others died after their car crashed into a pillar inside a Paris tunnel, as the car was trying to outrun photographers. Despite conspiracy theories suggesting Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were murdered, official inquests concluded that the car’s driver was negligent and apparently drunk.
Alan Jay Lerner wrote the lyrics to popular musicals about a king (“Camelot”) and a “Lady” (“My Fair Lady”). Lerner was born August 31st, 1918.
The Lady of the Lake is the leading female character in the musical “Spamalot,” based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Sara Ramirez won a Tony Award in 2005 for originating the role of the Lady on Broadway. Ramirez, born August 31st, 1975, is known to television viewers as Dr. Callie Torres on “Grey’s Anatomy.”