January 5th in history:
George and Martha Washington never lived in the White House, but they were married at the “White House” in January of 1759. This White House was Martha’s plantation in Virginia. Sources disagree on what day the Washington wedding took place. Some say it was January 5th. Others say it was on the 6th, or the 17th. Martha became the first “First Lady” of the United States 30 years later.
Jane Wyman also married a future U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, but wasn’t married to him long enough to be a First Lady. When Reagan was president, Wyman was starring on TV in “Falcon Crest.” Her movie career included a Best Actress Oscar for the movie Johnny Belinda. Wyman was born January 5th, 1917.
Another Oscar winner born on this day is Diane Keaton (1946), the first of many ladies to earn an Academy Award for acting in a Woody Allen film (Annie Hall). Keaton’s credits include Reds and the Godfather movies. She also starred in a TV movie as Amelia Earhart, the first lady to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart was declared dead on this date in 1939, more than a year after she disappeared while trying to fly around the world.
And Nellie Tayloe Ross became America’s first “lady governor” when she was sworn in as governor of Wyoming on January 5th, 1925. Nellie had won a special election to succeed her husband, William Ross, who had died after an appendectomy.
December 14 in history:
The last of the Apollo astronauts to walk on the moon blasted off from the lunar surface on December 14th, 1972. Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt completed three walks outside the lunar lander during the 75 hours they spent on the moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission.
The Saturn rockets that launched men to the moon were developed at the Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville, Alabama. On this date in 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state to join the Union.
The Alabama state quarter issued by the U.S. Mint in 2003 features a portrait of author Helen Keller on the tail side. Actress Patty Duke, born Anna Marie Duke on December 14th, 1946, won an Oscar at age 16 for recreating her stage role as blind and deaf Helen in the movie, “The Miracle Worker.” She later starred as “identical cousins” on “The Patty Duke Show.” Prior to her death in 2016, Duke wrote and spoke widely about her experience with bipolar disorder.
Patty Duke played Martha Washington in the 1984 TV miniseries “George Washington.” On December 14th, 1799, George Washington died at his Virginia estate, Mount Vernon. Medical experts know that Washington had soreness and swelling in the throat, but some believe the doctors’ practice of bleeding hastened his death.
Another famous George who died on this date was Notre Dame football star George Gipp. He was 25 when he died on December 14th, 1920, apparently from a throat infection. Future U.S. president Ronald Reagan played Gipp in the 1940 movie “Knute Rockne, All American,” in which the character urged Coach Rockne to “win one for the Gipper.”
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.
November 4 in history:
U.S. Presidents elected on November 4th include Barack Obama in 2008, Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, and Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The ’80 election may have been decided partly because of two things that happened November 4th, 1979. On that day, radicals in Iran took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and kept 52 people hostage for the next 444 days. The hostage incident was a protest of America’s decision to allow the former Shah of Iran into the U.S. for medical treatment, a move which some believed was part of an American plot to return him to power.
The other event was a TV interview with Senator Ted Kennedy aired on November 4th of ’79 on CBS, shortly before Kennedy announced he would challenge President Carter for the Democratic nomination. Roger Mudd of CBS asked Kennedy why he wanted to be president. Media pundits repeatedly criticized Kennedy after he was unable to give a straight answer to the question.
Roger Mudd was a frequent substitute anchor on the “CBS Evening News” for long-time anchor Walter Cronkite, who was born on this date in 1916. Like Cronkite, another person known for announcing election results on TV was born on November 4th…Jeff Probst (1962), famous for saying “The tribe has spoken” in declaring who was voted off the island on the reality show “Survivor.”
July 6th in history:
One of the worst circus fires in U.S. history occurred on July 6th, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut. More than 160 people died and hundreds more were injured when the Ringling Brothers big top caught fire and collapsed within minutes. Two young people who survived the Hartford fire and later became famous were actor Charles Nelson Reilly and drummer Hal Blaine.
Among the many famous performers Blaine worked with on records was John Lennon. On this date in 1957, 16-year-old Lennon and his band the Quarrymen were about to perform at a church social in Liverpool, England when he was introduced to 15-year-old Paul McCartney. Only seven years later, Lennon and McCartney became movie stars when the first Beatles movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” premiered in England on July 6th, 1964.
On the day that “A Hard Day’s Night” made its debut, future president George Walker Bush turned 18. His father, George Herbert Walker Bush, was running for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas that year. The older Bush lost that election, but he rose through Republican ranks to become vice president under Ronald Reagan, and then president himself. First Lady Nancy Reagan, born July 6th, 1921, was Ronald Reagan’s second wife, and he was the first divorced man to be elected president.
When England’s Henry VIII wanted to end his first marriage to wed Anne Boleyn, one of his chief opponents was Lord Chancellor Thomas More. For opposing the king, More eventually was convicted of treason, and was beheaded on July 6th, 1535.
A court ruling of concern to the First Family, the Reagans, on June 21st, 1982: John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shootings of President Reagan and three other men. Hinckley was committed to a mental hospital.
On that same day and year, there was a new addition to the British royal family. It was Prince William, the first child of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Upon his birth, William became second in line to the British throne.
Later in 1982, the sitcom “Family Ties” premiered on NBC. The parents on that show, Steven and Elyse Keaton, were played by two performers born on June 21st, 1947: Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter.
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.