June 28th in history:
England’s King Henry VIII was born on June 28th, 1491. Queen Victoria’s coronation took place on that same date in 1838.
Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated on June 28th, 1914, while riding in an open car in Sarajevo. They were shot several hours after someone else tried to bomb their car. Historians argue that the assassinations set off the First World War – which ended exactly five years later, June 28th, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
The Versailles Palace became the home of the French royal court during the reign of King Louis XIV, who was played by Mel Brooks in his movie “History of the World, Part One.” Brooks, born on this date in 1926, has directed “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “The Producers,” all featuring Gene Wilder, who also appeared in a satire of French royalty called “Start the Revolution Without Me.” Wilder appeared in three movies with his third wife, Gilda Radner, born on June 28th, 1946. Radner was best known for comic characters such as Lisa Loopner and Roseanne Roseannadanna on “Saturday Night Live.” Her death from ovarian cancer at age 42 inspired the formation of the cancer support organization Gilda’s Club.
Mike Tyson was trying to become king of the boxing world again on June 28th, 1997, when he fought WBA heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield. Tyson bit Holyfield’s ears during the third round of the title bout, and was disqualified, allowing Holyfield to keep the championship.
June 16th in history:
June 16th, 1904, is the date when Leopold Bloom journeys through Dublin in the James Joyce novel “Ulysses.” Joyce reportedly chose that date and year because it was the occasion of his first date with his future wife.
Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16th, 1963, aboard the Soviet spacecraft Vostok 6.
Actress Laurie Metcalf went from the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago to New York in 1981, to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” She only appeared on one episode before a writer’s strike prematurely ended the season. Metcalf did not return to the show the following season – but she had better luck in Hollywood, where she spent nine years on “Roseanne.” Metcalf shares her June 16th (1955) birthday with another former cast member of SNL, Abby Elliott (1987).
June 2nd in history:
The first “First Lady” of the U.S., Martha Washington, was born on June 2nd, 1731 – making her a few months older than George.
Frances Folsom became First Lady on June 2nd, 1886 – the day she married President Grover Cleveland at the White House. Cleveland was not the only president to marry while in office, but he was the only one to have the ceremony at the Executive Mansion.
Britain’s “first lady” since the 1950s, Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated her coronation on this day in 1953. It was the first coronation of a British monarch to be televised.
She was not a “First Lady,” and some might not even call Bridget Bishop a “lady” at all. Somebody claimed she was a witch – and on this date in 1692, she became the first defendant in the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. Bishop was convicted, and hanged eight days after the start of her trial.
And it’s the birthday of “Saturday Night Live’s” “Church Lady”…but that was no lady, that was comedian Dana Carvey (born 1955). Carvey also is well-known for his impersonation of President George Herbert Walker Bush, and as Wayne’s buddy Garth in the “Wayne’s World” sketches and movies.
May 21st in history:
Michelangelo’s sculpture, the Pieta, was vandalized at the Vatican on May 21st, 1972 by a geologist named Laszlo Toth. He damaged the statue of the Virgin Mary with several blows from a hammer.
Writer and actor Don Novello, alias “Father Guido Sarducci”, used the name Lazlo Toth when writing prank letters to famous people. He published a few books containing many of the letters he received in return. Novello wrote and performed on “Saturday Night Live” in the late 1970s, along with actor, writer and U.S. Senator Al Franken, born May 21st, 1951.
“All My Children” star Susan Lucci has never run for public office, but she’s famous for being an also-ran. Her string of Emmy nominations without a win ended on May 21st, 1999, when she won a Daytime Emmy Award on her 19th try.
April 3rd in history:
The first run of the Pony Express between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California began on April 3rd, 1860.
Laptop computers have become a favorite means of communication for many people. IBM’s first laptop was introduced on April 3rd, 1986.
Former college professor Ted Kaczynski sent messages to the media complaining about modern technology. His crusade against technology also included bombings which killed three people. Kaczynski, better known as the “Unabomber,” was arrested at a cabin in Montana on April 3rd, 1996.
The first portable “cell phone” call made in New York City happened on this date in 1973.
Actor Alec Baldwin was once removed from an airplane parked at the Los Angeles airport when he refused to stop playing a word game on his cell phone. Baldwin, born on this date in 1958, played fictional TV network boss Jack Donaghy on the sitcom “30 Rock.” He has also gained popularity for his comic impersonation of President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
And telephone calls are a major element to the plot of “Pillow Talk,” the only movie for which Doris Day received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Day publicly celebrated her 90th birthday in 2014, but birth records in Ohio show that she was born on April 3rd, 1922, not 1924.
April 1st in history:
A historic day for the Air Force in two countries: The Royal Canadian Air Force was founded on April 1st, 1924. Exactly 30 years later, in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower authorized the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.
Clearing the “air” of smoke: Eisenhower’s vice-president, Richard Nixon, was president himself in 1970. On April 1st of that year, Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, which would take all radio and TV commercials for cigarettes off the air in early ’71.
A popular substitute for smoking – chewing gum – has made a fortune for the William Wrigley Company, founded in Chicago on April 1st, 1891. Wrigley’s didn’t start selling gum until a year after the company was in business. Free samples of gum given away with packages of baking powder became more popular than the powder.
Fictional 19th century critic Jebidiah Atkinson from “Saturday Night Live” could have been an early customer of Wrigley’s gum (but he might not admit to liking it). Atkinson is a popular SNL character performed by Taran Killam, born on April 1st, 1982. Killam played another 19th century character in “12 Years a Slave,” and in the Broadway musical “Hamilton” (as King George III).
SNL is produced at New York’s Rockefeller Center, which also houses the MSNBC cable news network. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was born on this day in 1973.
NBC aired the sitcom “The Debbie Reynolds Show” in 1969-70. Reynolds, born April 1st, 1932, was better known for movies, including “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Reynolds’s personal life also kept her in the public eye. Her first marriage, to Eddie Fisher, ended when Fisher left her to marry Elizabeth Taylor. Debbie and Eddie’s daughter, Carrie Fisher, played Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movies. Carrie died unexpectedly in December 2016, and Debbie died the next day.
March 31st in history:
The battleship Missouri, where the Japanese surrendered to the U.S. to end World War II, was decommissioned on March 31st, 1992.
President Lyndon Johnson called for peace talks with North Vietnam in a live TV address on this date in 1968. Johnson surprised the nation when he ended his speech that night by declaring he would not seek another term as president.
Johnson’s withdrawal from the ’68 race may have helped Richard Nixon win the election that fall. Nixon’s future son-in-law, David Eisenhower (Ike’s grandson), turned 20 the day of LBJ’s speech. So did future Vice President Al Gore.
Many famous movies about the Vietnam War were not made until years after LBJ and Nixon left office. The Deer Hunter (1978) was the first Vietnam movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Christopher Walken, born March 31st, 1943, won the supporting actor Oscar for his role in Deer Hunter. Walken also has appeared in the movie musicals Pennies from Heaven and Hairspray, and as a frequent host of “Saturday Night Live.” He shares a birthday with fellow Oscar winner Shirley Jones (born 1934), best known for musical roles in Oklahoma! and The Music Man, and as singing mom Shirley Partridge on “The Partridge Family.”
Walken’s Deer Hunter co-star Robert De Niro won the Best Actor award for Raging Bull at the Oscars on March 31st, 1981. The ceremony had been delayed by one day because of the assassination attempt against President Reagan.