February 26th in history:
On February 26th, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from exile on the island of Elba, off the coast of Italy. He soon returned to power in France before being defeated at Waterloo that same year.
Napoleon sold the Louisiana territory to the United States in 1803. Louisiana became the home of Dixieland music, and on this date in 1917, the Original Dixieland Jass Band made the first jazz recording for the Victor Company.
Musician Fats Domino, a New Orleans native, was born on February 26th, 1928. It’s also the birthday of Minnesota Fats from the movie The Hustler, Jackie Gleason (born 1916). Gleason’s most popular character was Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden from “The Honeymooners.”
Jackie Gleason starred in the movie Gigot as a Frenchman who could not speak. French actor Jean Dujardin won the Best Actor Oscar on February 26th, 2012, for playing a star of silent films in the mostly-silent film The Artist. The French movie, shot in Hollywood, also won the Oscar for Best Picture.
February 24th in history:
There was celebration in England on this date in 1981, as 32-year-old Prince Charles announced his engagement to 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer. The royal wedding happened that July, making Diana the Princess of Wales.
The duties of many festival princesses include riding on floats in a parade. There were no floats in U.S. parades until February 24th, 1868, when a float was introduced at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.
Mardi Gras is celebrated on the day before the start of Lent. The Gregorian calendar, announced on February 24th, 1582, made changes in how the dates of Lent and Easter are determined every year. The calendar also declared that some years ending in “00” would not be leap years.
French actress Emmanuelle Riva saw 22 leap years come and go before she received an Oscar nomination for the film “Amour.” Riva celebrated her 86th birthday at the Oscar ceremony on this date in 2013, but lost the Best Actress award to 22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence.
The record for oldest nominee for best supporting actress is held by Gloria Stuart, nominated for supporting actress at age 87 for “Titanic,” in which she played Rose as an old woman. Billy Zane portrayed young Rose’s fiance Cal in “Titanic.” He was born on this date in 1966.
August 29 in history:
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S. on August 29th, 2005, leading to massive flooding in New Orleans when many levees on the Mississippi were breached. More than 18-hundred people died because of the storm, while over 20,000 people took shelter in the Louisiana Superdome.
A made-for-TV movie called “Superdome,” broadcast in 1978, starred David Janssen from the 1960s series “The Fugitive.” The final episode of “The Fugitive” aired on August 29th, 1967. Almost half the households in America watched as Dr. Richard Kimble confronted the real killer of his wife, the “one-armed man.” The last line of the episode was “Tuesday, August 29th…the day the running stopped.”
August 29th of 2008 was the day the running started for vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska. Palin suddenly became a household name when Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her as his running mate. It was Palin’s 20th wedding anniversary and McCain’s 72nd birthday. And on this date in 1968, Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine was nominated as Hubert Humphrey’s running mate at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.