February 13th in history:
American painter Grant Wood was born in Iowa on February 13th, 1891. Wood created the famous 1930 painting “American Gothic,” showing a farmer and his daughter standing outside their house.
Another Midwestern artist, Charles Schulz, achieved fame and fortune drawing Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the other “Peanuts” characters. Schulz chose to stop drawing the comic strip after 50 years, and coincidentally died the day before the last original “Peanuts” cartoon appeared in newspapers on February 13th, 2000.
And Jesse James and his gang drew their guns and held up a Midwestern bank (in Liberty, Missouri) on February 13th, 1866. It’s said to be the first armed robbery ever committed in the U.S. during peace-time.
December 27 in history:
Raise a glass of wine (or milk, if you prefer) to toast the birthday of scientist Louis Pasteur, born December 27th, 1822. Pasteur lent his name to the pasteurization process of reducing organisms in food, especially dairy products and wine. He also developed a rabies vaccine.
Another scientific pioneer began an important journey on this date in 1831, when 22-year-old naturalist Charles Darwin boarded the HMS Beagle at Plymouth, England. During a five-year voyage around the world, Darwin’s studies of plant and animal life led him to develop his theory of evolution.
America’s favorite beagle, Snoopy, appeared atop his doghouse on the cover of the December 27th, 1971, issue of Newsweek magazine. The “Merry Christmas” cover drawn by Charles Schulz also featured Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Woodstock. Other pop-culture figures to appear on Newsweek’s cover during ’71 included Mick Jagger, golfer Lee Trevino, and the cast of “All in the Family.”
An operatic parody of “All in the Family” was featured on the premiere of “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” on December 27th, 1971. The show had been revived after a successful six-episode run in the summer. Famed tenor Robert Merrill played Archie Bunker in the “Family” sketch, with Cher as Edith, Sonny as Mike, a then-unknown Teri Garr as Gloria, and the “real” Archie (Carroll O’Connor) as a CBS censor.
December 16 in history:
America’s original “tea party” protest happened on December 16th, 1773, when dozens of colonists boarded three ships in Boston Harbor and dumped over 300 chests of tea into the water. The Boston Tea Party was a rebellion against British tax laws imposed on the American colonies.
There is disagreement about whether the tea thrown into the harbor was from China or India. Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote books about the Indian Ocean, and lived for decades on the island of Sri Lanka. Clarke, born on this date in 1917, is best known for collaborating with Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Much of the music in “2001” was written by classical composers Richard and Johann Strauss. In Kubrick’s next film, “A Clockwork Orange,” the main character’s favorite composer is Ludwig von Beethoven, known for his nine symphonies. As fans of the “Peanuts” comic strip know, Beethoven’s birthday is celebrated on December 16th. He was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1770.
October 2 in history:
“Good ol’ Charlie Brown…How I hate him!” That was the punchline for the first “Peanuts” comic strip that appeared in newspapers on October 2nd, 1950. Charles Schulz wrote and drew the adventures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and friends until retiring just before his death 50 years later.
Cartoonist Murat “Chic” Young created the long-running comic strip “Blondie,” and Chick Young was the name of William “Bud” Abbott’s character in the monster movie parody “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Abbott was born October 2nd, 1895, exactly five years after the birth of another comedian whose career lasted from vaudeville to TV, Julius “Groucho” Marx.
Sometimes funny, often scary, or just weird. Those words could describe two classic TV anthology shows that both premiered on October 2nd: “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in 1955, and Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” in 1959.