November 17 in history:
Television history was made on this day in 1968, when a Sunday afternoon game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders was running long. NBC was contracted to broadcast a new version of “Heidi,” sponsored by Timex watches, precisely at 7 p.m. Eastern time that night, whether the game was over or not. A last-minute network decision to delay “Heidi” until after the game did not get to the right people, and the football broadcast for most of the U.S. was cut off with one minute left to play, and the Jets ahead by three points. The game ended with two quick touchdowns by the Raiders, who won by a score of 43-32. The fan uproar that resulted led to the now-common practice of delaying all regular programming on the networks rather than disrupting football games in progress.
President Richard Nixon made history on live television by stating “I’m not a crook” during a broadcast news conference on November 17th, 1973. The question-and-answer session was part of an Associated Press meeting at Disney World, in the middle of the Watergate scandal. Nixon made the “crook” remark while telling the reporters that he had never profited from his years of public service.
The Nixon news conference was aired live on network TV on a Saturday night. The producer of “Saturday Night Live,” Lorne Michaels, was born on this day in 1944…the same day and year as frequent SNL host Danny De Vito, known for the TV series “Taxi” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
TV coverage of a concession speech by Howard Dean has been blamed for costing him the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Dean was portrayed as being too emotional and out of control when he shouted to supporters after losing the Iowa caucuses. Dean, a former governor of Vermont, was born on November 17th, 1948.
John Boehner has never run for president, but he was third in line for the Oval Office as Speaker of the House. The Ohio Republican was born on this date in 1949.
November 8 in history:
Two Roosevelts were elected president on November 8th — 28 years apart. The first was Teddy Roosevelt in 1904, winning a full term after filling out the unexpired term of William McKinley. And Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932 for the first of his four presidential wins.
In other famous elections on November 8th…John F. Kennedy narrowly beat Richard Nixon for the White House in 1960, Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966, and Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential race over Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Trump may be the only U.S. president who inspired a board game before becoming Chief Executive. “Trump: The Game,” a real estate contest, was introduced by the Milton Bradley Company in 1989. Inventor Milton Bradley was born on this day in 1836. The company is known for “The Game of Life,” “Candyland,” and “Chutes and Ladders,” as well as for home versions of popular TV game shows.
The panel show “What’s My Line?” inspired a couple of U.S. home versions, neither one made by Milton Bradley. Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen was a regular panelist on “Line” for 15 years, until her sudden death on November 8th, 1965, a few hours after appearing live on the Sunday night program. Conspiracy theorists have suggested someone murdered Kilgallen for knowing too much about the JFK assassination, or UFOs, or something else. By coincidence, Kilgallen’s death was announced on CBS just after her pre-taped appearance on the November 8th daytime episode of “To Tell the Truth.” On that same day, the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” made its debut, beginning a run that continues today.
October 20 in history:
A dramatic night in Washington on October 20th, 1973…
President Nixon wanted the attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson resigned instead of carrying out the order. So did his deputy A.G., William Ruckelshaus. Cox was fired by the third man approached by Nixon, Solicitor General and future Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. The incident became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” and fueled efforts to impeach Nixon.
News of the political turmoil interrupted network TV schedules that night. “The Carol Burnett Show” was a popular Saturday night program in 1973. A special episode of the Burnett show was presented at the new Sydney Opera House in Australia in honor of the building’s grand opening, which took place the same date and year as the Washington “massacre.”
Another Saturday night TV hit in October 1973 was “M*A*S*H.” William Christopher, who played Father Mulcahy on the series, was born on October 20th, 1932.
September 23 in history:
Senator Richard Nixon had to give the biggest speech of his political career on this date in 1952. Nixon’s role as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate in the presidential election was in jeopardy, because of questions about a fund used to help him pay campaign expenses. In a live, televised address, Nixon claimed that he would keep just one gift to his family: a dog named “Checkers.” The speech saved his spot on the Republican ticket.
Nixon went on to be elected president in 1968, the year that protesters rioted outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Eight organizers of the protests went on trial, starting on September 23rd, 1969. When the judge ordered a separate trial for defendant Bobby Seale, the protesters became known as the “Chicago 7.”
Bobby Seale’s name was used in a punchline in the college-reunion movie “The Big Chill,” which opened the New York Film Festival on September 23rd, 1983. That was the 36th birthday of “Big Chill” cast member Mary Kay Place, also known for her role as a country singer on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
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.”
August 8 in history:
August 8th of 1988 (8/8/88) marked the end of an era at Wrigley Field in Chicago: the era of daytime-only baseball games at the park. The Cubs played a night game on their home field for the first time, against the Philadelphia Phillies. They couldn’t finish the game, because it was rained out in the 4th inning.
The Nixon era at the White House ended on August 8th, 1974, when Richard Nixon became the first president to resign before the end of his term. Nixon made the announcement on nationwide TV that night, less than two years after carrying 49 states in the 1972 election. Nixon’s resignation speech came exactly six years after the night in 1968 when he accepted the Republican Party nomination for president for the second time.
The Watergate scandal leading to Nixon’s resignation was the subject of the film “All the President’s Men.” Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman starred in the movie as Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Hoffman, also known for “The Graduate,” “Tootsie,” and “Rain Man”, was born August 8th, 1937.
One of Dustin Hoffman’s most famous movie lines is “I’m walking here!,” shouted by the character Ratso Rizzo while crossing a street in the 1969 film “Midnight Cowboy.” On August 8th of 1969, the Beatles took their famous walk across Abbey Road in London, immortalized on the cover of the “Abbey Road” album. Photographer Iain Macmillan took six photos of the band walking — three where they face right, and three facing left.
July 24 in history:
Someone’s in the kitchen with Nikita…and on July 24th, 1959, it was U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon. He and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev met in the kitchen area of an American home exhibit in Moscow and, through interpreters, debated eastern culture vs. western culture. The videotaped discussion became known as the “Kitchen Debate.”
Fifteen years later, Nixon had moved up to the job of president, but his presidency would soon come to an end. On July 24th of 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Nixon would have to release secret tape recordings to the Watergate prosecutor. Nixon resigned shortly after the release of one tape showing that he wanted to use the CIA to block an FBI probe into Watergate.
In the 1999 Watergate comedy “Dick,” President Nixon was played by actor Dan Hedaya, born July 24th, 1940. Hedaya is better known as Nick Tortelli, the ex-husband of Carla on “Cheers” and its spin-off, “The Tortellis”.
During his 1968 campaign, Nixon made a brief appearance on the TV comedy show “Laugh-In,” saying “Sock it to me?” Ruth Buzzi was a “Laugh-In” cast member for the show’s entire six-season run. She was born on this date in 1936.