March 17th in history:
Franklin D. Roosevelt resigned from the New York State Senate on March 17th, 1913, to become assistant secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. It was his eighth wedding anniversary. In the next 20 years, Roosevelt would become a vice-presidential candidate, governor of New York and president of the United States.
Eliot Spitzer had been governor of New York for just over a year when he resigned on this date in 2008, after a prostitution scandal in which he admitted to being a client of an escort agency.
New Yorkers like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a big parade in Manhattan. The Irish holiday was celebrated in New York City for the first time on March 17th, 1756.
St. Patrick’s Day is the birthday of two actors who have starred in movies and TV shows about New York City: Kurt Russell (born 1951), who played Snake Plissken in the action drama Escape from New York; and Gary Sinise (1955), Mac Taylor from “CSI: New York,” also known as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.
Sinise also played real-life astronaut Ken Mattingly in the movie Apollo 13. Mattingly was born March 17th, 1936. He was pulled from the Apollo 13 mission days before its launch in 1970 after being exposed to German measles, so he missed being aboard the spacecraft that had to return to Earth after an explosion. Mattingly did get to circle the moon two years later, as the command module pilot of Apollo 16.
March 1st in history:
On March 1st, 1962, an American Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles with 95 people aboard crashed into Jamaica Bay just after takeoff from Idlewild Airport on Long Island. No one survived. It was the worst crash involving a U.S. commercial airliner up until that time.
The crash happened on the same day that astronaut John Glenn was being honored in New York with a ticker-tape parade, for being the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton turned 38 that day. Slayton was scheduled to fly on the next Mercury mission, but a medical problem grounded him, and kept him from flying in space until 1975.
Other famous people associated with flying were born on March 1st. They include:
Bandleader Glenn Miller (born 1904), lost on a plane flight while serving in World War II;
Actor Robert Conrad (birth year in dispute, either 1929 or 1935), who played World War II pilot Pappy Boyington on “Black Sheep Squadron,” but is best known as secret agent James West on “The Wild Wild West”;
And Ron Howard (1954), who directed the space drama Apollo 13. Before becoming an award-winning director, Howard played Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days.”
February 22nd in history:
Another legendary sports event happened on this date in 1980: the “Miracle on Ice,” in which the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team surprised the world by beating the Soviets, 4-3, in the semi-final round of the Winter Games. The Americans went on to win the gold against Finland in the games at Lake Placid, New York.
Actor Kirk Douglas once served as royalty at a winter carnival in Lake Placid. During the week of the Miracle on Ice game, Douglas was hosting “Saturday Night Live” in New York, featuring NBC announcer Don Pardo, born on this day in 1918. Until his death in 2014, Pardo had been the SNL announcer for most of the show’s run. Pardo also worked on the original versions of “Jeopardy” and “The Price is Right,” and broke the news of President Kennedy’s assassination on WNBC-TV in New York in 1963.
David Letterman was getting ready to move his talk show from NBC to CBS when it was announced on February 22nd, 1993 that CBS had bought the Ed Sullivan Theater, to keep Letterman’s show in New York.
On this day in 1964, the Beatles returned to England after their famous first visit to the U.S., which included three straight appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The band had pre-recorded its performance which would be seen on “Sullivan” the next night.
February 7th in history:
On February 7th, 1962, the U.S. began an economic embargo on Cuba. The embargo came in response to Cuba’s allegiance with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
The Soviet government made a major policy change on February 7th, 1990, when the Communist party gave up its monopoly on power in the nation. Less than two years later, the Soviet Union would be disbanded.
And the band which eventually recorded “Back in the USSR” made its first official visit to the USA in 1964. The Beatles arrived at JFK Airport in New York on February 7th for their first American tour, including appearances three weeks in a row on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
The Recording Industry Association of America says the Beatles have sold more albums in the U.S. than any other recording artist. As of early 2015, number two on the album sale list is country singer Garth Brooks, born on this day in 1962.
New York City was incorporated on February 2, 1653. At the time, its Dutch settlers called it New Amsterdam.
One of the busiest buildings in New York, the Grand Central Terminal, opened on this day in 1913.
Frank Sinatra had a hit single with the song “New York, New York” in 1980. That was 40 years after he got a big break by joining the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. His first performance with the Dorsey band was February 2, 1940.
Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols had a top-ten hit in Britain with an unusual cover version of Frank Sinatra’s hit “My Way.” Vicious (real name, John Ritchie) died in New York City on this day in 1979, at age 21, from an overdose of heroin supplied by his mother.
November 7 in history:
November 7th of 1917 is marked as the official date of the Russian Revolution, when Lenin led an assault on Russia’s provisional government at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.
Colorado citizens did something revolutionary on this date in 1893. They passed a constitutional amendment to give the state’s women the right to vote. That made Colorado the first state to approve women’s suffrage through a popular election.
On November 7th, 1916, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to Congress. That same day in 2000, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first presidential spouse in the U.S. to win public office, when she was elected a Senator from New York.
How did the Wizard of Oz become a Wizard? In the 1939 movie, he explains to Dorothy that the citizens of Oz proclaimed him “the First Wizard Deluxe” when he drifted to their land in a runaway hot-air balloon. Herman Mankiewicz was one of many screenwriters who worked on “Oz.” He also co-wrote “Citizen Kane,” whose lead character ran for public office. Mankiewicz was born on November 7th, 1897.
October 28 in history:
The Statue of Liberty was completed and dedicated in New York harbor on October 28th, 1886. It was built in France, and then taken apart, boxed up, and the pieces were sent by ship to America.
The statue is considered a national monument, as is the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, a memorial to Thomas Jefferson. On this date in 1965, the final piece of the 630 foot high steel arch was lifted into place.
The original concept for a riverfront memorial in St. Louis was proposed in 1933, the year that Prohibition ended. The ban on alcohol in the U.S. took effect with passage of the Volstead Act on October 28th of 1919, followed shortly after by the 18th Amendment.
The year 1933 also was when Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt moved into the White House. Actress Jane Alexander is famous for playing Mrs. Roosevelt in two TV mini-series, and she has served as head of the National Endowment for the Arts. Alexander was born October 28th, 1939.