January 18th in history:
Former U.S. President John Tyler died on January 18th, 1862, shortly after being elected to the Confederate Congress. Tyler was the first vice president to succeed a U.S. president who died in office, following the 1841 death of William Henry Harrison.
John Tyler fathered 15 legitimate children by two wives, and was accused of fathering more children in affairs with slaves. A notorious presidential affair was revealed on this date in 1998, when the “Drudge Report” web site said that President Bill Clinton had had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton publicly denied the affair at first, but admitted to it months later.
The leading man of the 1957 movie An Affair to Remember, Cary Grant, was born on January 18th, 1904. Grant’s film career lasted from the 1930s to his retirement in the 1960s, and included four Hitchcock movies and four films with Katharine Hepburn.
Hepburn’s 1969 movie The Madwoman of Chaillot was the last feature film for comedian Danny Kaye, born on this day in 1911. Kaye, known for physical humor and fast-talking wordplay, also starred in White Christmas and The Court Jester, as well as a 1960s variety show on CBS.
Danny Kaye was one of the original owners of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Actor and director Kevin Costner, born January 18th, 1955, had one of his biggest hits as an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in a cornfield in “Field of Dreams.” Costner also starred in the popular sports movies “Bull Durham” and “Tin Cup,” and the frontier epic “Dances with Wolves,” which earned him Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture
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.
October 11 in history:
Teddy Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in a plane on October 11th, 1910. The flight at St. Louis happened more than a year after Roosevelt left the White House. He was the passenger of pilot Archibald Hoxsey.
Teddy’s flight occurred on the birthday of his niece, future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, born in 1884. October 11th, 1975 was the wedding day for another future First Lady, and a future President. Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton were married in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The Clintons have been popular targets for satire on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which made its debut on the couple’s wedding night. Actress Joan Cusack, born October 11th, 1962, spent one year as a cast member on “SNL”. Three years after being dropped from the show, Cusack got an Oscar nomination for “Working Girl.” She’s also well-known as the voice of cowgirl Jessie in the “Toy Story” movies.
Jane Krakowski once played a famous animated character in a live-action movie, as Betty Rubble in “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.” Krakowski, born this day in 1968, is better known from “30 Rock” as Jenna Maroney. She shares a birthday with the original Wilma Flintstone, Jean Vander Pyl (born 1919).
August 22 in history:
Spectators at the Louvre museum in Paris couldn’t find the “Mona Lisa” on August 22nd, 1911. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece was missing from its usual spot on the wall, because it had been stolen the night before. The famous painting remained missing for two years, hidden for most of that time in the apartment of the thief, a Louvre employee from Italy.
The gravesite of Richard III, England’s last Plantagenet king, was considered lost for centuries until researchers found it in 2012, under a parking lot in Leicester. Richard was killed on this date in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard had been king of England for only two years. His death put Henry Tudor on the throne, as Henry VII.
In Shakespeare’s play “Richard III,” Richard calls out “My kingdom for a horse” shortly before he is killed. The “horseless carriage” was becoming popular by 1902, when the Cadillac Automobile Company was founded on August 22nd from what used to be the Henry Ford Company. Henry Leland was brought in to close down the old company after Ford left the firm, but he decided to keep it going under the Cadillac name.
Another powerful man named Henry — Henry Kissinger — was nominated as secretary of state by President Nixon on August 22nd, 1973. Kissinger had become famous for “shuttle diplomacy” as Nixon’s national security adviser.
Actress Kristen Wiig was born on that same day in 1973. Wiig has been nominated for several Emmy Awards, mostly for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” and was an Oscar nominee for co-writing the movie comedy “Bridesmaids.”
In 1973, Valerie Harper won an Emmy Award for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Born on August 22nd, 1939, Harper earned four Emmys for her portrayal of Rhoda, including one for her own spinoff series “Rhoda.”
May 26th in history:
On this date in 1894, Nicholas II became the czar of Russia. As it turned out, he would be the last czar.
President Andrew Johnson narrowly avoided being removed from office as his impeachment trial in the Senate ended on May 26th, 1868. Johnson would not be the last president to be impeached and tried.
Visitors to the Eiffel Tower in Paris could get to the top by elevator for the first time on this date in 1889. The tower had opened to the public less than a month earlier.
And mountain climber George Willig chose May 26th as the day in 1977 that he would climb the South Tower of New York’s World Trade Center … from the outside. Willig had designed special climbing tools to be inserted into the tracks used for window-washing scaffolds. After he reached the top, Willig was fined for his stunt: a total of a dollar and 10 cents (one cent for each of the skyscraper’s 110 stories).
April 30th in history:
The treaty authorizing the Louisiana Purchase was approved on April 30th, 1803. Exactly nine years later, on this date in 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state in the union.
The “Louisiana Purchase Exposition” marking the 100th anniversary of the purchase opened in St. Louis on April 30th, 1904. Better known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, it was the inspiration for the movie musical “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and it was said to be the place where Dr Pepper and the ice cream cone became popular.
April 30th also was the opening day for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
The ’39 fair opened exactly 150 years after the day George Washington was sworn in as president in New York – April 30th, 1789.
April 29th in history:
On this date in 1992, four white Los Angeles police officers were acquitted of assault charges in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, an African-American driver who was stopped after a chase. Riots broke out in L.A. after the verdict, and continued for several days.
On April 29th, 1974, President Richard Nixon released transcripts of White House tapes related to the Watergate investigation. Many offensive words on the tapes were replaced in the transcripts with the phrase “expletive deleted.”
Of all the villains committing crimes in the “Batman” movies of the ’80s and ’90s, two were women: “Catwoman,” played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and “Poison Ivy,” played by Uma Thurman. Both Pfeiffer (1958) and Thurman (1970) celebrate their birthdays on April 29th.
Also, a couple of Superman-related birthdays today. Famous Superman fan Jerry Seinfeld was born in 1954. His 90’s sitcom “Seinfeld” often included references to the Man of Steel. And Lane Smith was born this day in 1936. During the 90’s, Smith played Perry White on the TV series “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.