July 14th in history:
France had a new king on this date in 1223: Louis VIII. He was 35 years old, and became king upon the death of his father, Philip II, who had reigned for 42 years. Louis only held the throne for three years before he became ill and died.
A “King” who would rule the United States was born in Nebraska on this day in 1913. He was born Leslie King Jr., but when his parents divorced and his mother remarried, Leslie was renamed after his stepfather: Gerald Ford. Mr. Ford had the shortest term of any U.S. president who did not die in office (less than three years), but he lived longer than any other president (age 93) until being passed by George H.W. Bush in 2017.
July 14th is also the birthday of a Chancellor: long-time NBC News anchor John Chancellor, born in 1927. Chancellor began anchoring “NBC Nightly News” in 1970, when Chet Huntley retired from “The Huntley-Brinkley Report.” He’s credited with originating the idea of using color-coded maps on network news coverage of presidential elections, starting in 1976, when NBC used blue to mark states won by Gerald Ford, and red for states won by Jimmy Carter.
July 8th in history:
We can’t prove it, but it’s possible that every item listed in “Triviazoids” is within six degrees of Kevin Bacon. The star of “Footloose” and dozens of other movies was born on July 8th, 1958.
Bacon had a role in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” And on July 8th, 1965, Ronald Biggs escaped from a British prison where he was serving time for his role in the “Great Train Robbery” of 1963. He stayed out of prison for more than 30 years before turning himself in.
Bacon played Jack Swigert, one of the three endangered astronauts in the film “Apollo 13.” The Apollo 13 flight of 1970 was supposed to be the third mission to land men on the moon. Pete Conrad of Apollo 12, the third man to walk on the moon, was another real-life astronaut portrayed in the movie. Conrad died on this date in 1999, at age 69.
In the movie “Frost/Nixon,” Kevin Bacon portrayed a Marine colonel. On July 8th, 1776, a colonel named John Nixon publicly read the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia for the first time since it was adopted.
Two governors who ran for president against Richard Nixon in 1968 were born on July 8th, one year apart. Michigan’s George Romney (born 1907) later served in Nixon’s cabinet, and was the father of future governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And Nelson Rockefeller of New York (1908) was chosen to succeed Gerald Ford as vice president in 1974, four months after Nixon resigned from the presidency.
June 23rd in history:
President Nixon and aide H.R. Haldeman had an Oval Office conversation on June 23rd, 1972, which would come back to haunt Nixon two years later. On that day, Nixon and Haldeman discussed recruiting the CIA to block an FBI investigation of the Watergate break-in days earlier. The Supreme Court ruled in 1974 that a recording of the conversation had to be given to a special prosecutor, and Nixon resigned the same week that the recording was made public.
The man who led the Supreme Court during Watergate, Warren Burger, became Chief Justice on June 23rd, 1969.
Justice Clarence Thomas was born on this date in 1948. Another judge with a June 23rd birthday is Randy Jackson of “American Idol” (1956).
June 13th in history:
The “Pentagon Papers” appeared for the first time in the New York Times on June 13th, 1971. The papers were a classified report on American strategy in Vietnam. The Nixon administration said publication of the papers was treason, and tried to have it stopped. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to try to keep the documents out of the newspapers.
A Supreme Court ruling on June 13th, 1966, led to the famous phrase, “You have the right to remain silent.” In Miranda v. Arizona, the high court ruled that Ernesto Miranda should have been informed of his legal rights before he was questioned by police about a series of crimes.
One year later, in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. Marshall was the first African-American justice, and for 24 years was the only African-American on the nine-member court.
In 1967, Paul Lynde already had started a long run with a popular group of nine, as a celebrity panelist on the game show “Hollywood Squares.” Lynde, born on June 13th, 1926, occupied the “center square” for most of his years on the show, while also appearing on “Bewitched” and his own comedy series.
Richard Thomas was the most famous of the seven kids on “The Waltons,” as the oldest son, John-Boy. Thomas was born on this date in 1951. And Ban Ki-moon, born June 13th, 1944, also belongs to a small select group. He was only the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations.
June 12th in history:
Nelson Mandela was expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars, when a South African court sentenced him to prison on June 12th, 1964. Mandela and others were imprisoned for sabotage and other actions against the system of apartheid. Mandela was freed in 1990, and became president of South Africa a few years later.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” during a speech at the Berlin Wall on June 12th, 1987. The wall came down less than three years later, during the presidency of Reagan’s vice-president, George Herbert Walker Bush, born on June 12th, 1924.
And on this date in 1971, President Richard Nixon was father of the bride at the Rose Garden wedding of his oldest daughter, Tricia. It’s the most recent wedding to be performed at the White House.
“Who D’king of the whole wide world”? It could be Bun E. Carlos, the long-time drummer for Cheap Trick, who wrote the song “Who D’King.” Carlos (real name, Brad Carlson) was born on this day in 1951, along with another rock star named Brad: singer Brad Delp of the band Boston.
May 31st in history:
More than two thousand people died on May 31st, 1889, in the great Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood. Heavy rains caused a dam to break, unleashing all the water from a lake a few miles outside of Johnstown.
In legend, and in the movie “The Ten Commandments,” he’s the pharaoh whose army drowned in the Red Sea while pursuing Moses and his followers. Rameses II became the pharaoh of Egypt on May 31st in 1279 B.C.
Richard Nixon’s rule as president was sunk partly by leaks to the Washington Post from a source nicknamed “Deep Throat.” On this date in 2005, former FBI agent Mark Felt revealed himself to be Bob Woodward’s secret source.
And on May 31st, 1911, a huge ocean liner which would sink less than a year later was launched. It was the RMS Titanic.
May 9th in history:
A new show on a Washington TV station made its debut on May 9th, 1955. It was a puppet show – called “Sam and Friends”, featuring comedy sketches by Jim Henson – which evolved into the Muppets.
The televised impeachment hearings against President Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee began in Washington on May 9th, 1974. The committee approved three articles of impeachment in late July. Nixon resigned less than two weeks after the committee votes.
A speech made in Washington, D.C. on the subject of television made headlines on May 9th, 1961. New FCC Commissioner Newton Minow told the National Association of Broadcasters that the majority of TV programming was a “vast wasteland.” Minow said the purpose of the speech was to urge broadcasters to air more programs in the public interest.
And May 9th is the birthday of several people who have won multiple awards for working on TV news shows…real and fictional:
Original “60 Minutes” anchor Mike Wallace, born on this date in 1918, won 21 news Emmys in his career.
Candice Bergen (born 1946) won five Emmy awards for playing fictional TV journalist “Murphy Brown.”
James L. Brooks (1940) directed the movie “Broadcast News,” and was co-creator of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” set in a TV newsroom in Minneapolis, which received 29 Emmys in seven seasons. The “Mary Tyler Moore” theme song, “Love Is All Around,” was written and sung by Sonny Curtis, born on May 9th of 1937. Curtis performed with Buddy Holly’s band, the Crickets, and also wrote the song “I Fought the Law.”