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).
October 8 in history:
Famous fires broke out on the shores of Lake Michigan on October 8th, 1871. The deadliest of those fires occurred in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, along Green Bay. As many as 2500 people may have died in the forest fire that destroyed Peshtigo and other communities. The better-known fire of October 8th was the Great Chicago Fire, which claimed about 300 lives and destroyed four square miles of the city.
Minister and political activist Jesse Jackson, the founder of Operation PUSH in Chicago, was born October 8th of 1941. Jackson shares a birthday with comedian Darrell Hammond (1955), who impersonated him and dozens of other celebrities during a 14-year run on “Saturday Night Live.” Hammond occasionally imitated SNL announcer Don Pardo on the show, and in 2014, was hired to succeed the late Pardo as the program’s new announcer.
Chevy Chase played President Gerald Ford in sketches during the first two seasons of SNL. Chase, born October 8th, 1943, went on to play Clark Griswold in the “Vacation” movie series, and returned to TV as a cast member of “Community.” He co-starred in “Deal of the Century” with Sigourney Weaver, born this day in 1949. Weaver played Ripley in the “Alien” movies, and appeared in “Avatar” and “Ghostbusters.”
Live from New York, baseball fans saw and heard history being made on October 8th, 1956, when Game 5 of the World Series was broadcast from Yankee Stadium. Don Larsen of the Yankees became the first man to pitch a perfect game during a World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0.
September 21 in history:
A letter about Santa Claus appeared in the newspaper in September…on this date in 1897. The New York Sun printed the letter from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, which asked “Is there a Santa Claus?” The famous response by editor Francis P. Church included the answer, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
In “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” little Cindy Lou Who believed that the Grinch was Santa Claus. “Looney Tunes” animator Chuck Jones, born on September 21st, 1912, made the 1966 TV version of “Grinch.”
Looney Tunes characters starred with basketball legend Michael Jordan in the movie “Space Jam,” which featured a cameo appearance by Bill Murray. The former “Saturday Night Live” star was born on this day in 1950. Murray’s hit movies include “Caddyshack,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Groundhog Day,” and he got an Oscar nomination for best actor in “Lost in Translation.”
Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith claimed he wrote the Book of Mormon by translating golden plates revealed to him by an angel named Moroni. Smith had his first vision of the angel on September 21st, 1823.
A musical called “The Book of Mormon” would become a Broadway hit in 2011. A big hit musical from the 1940s, “Annie Get Your Gun,” was revived on September 21st, 1966, in New York. The show’s original star, Ethel Merman, once again played Annie Oakley in the new version.
Mary Martin starred in the touring company of “Annie Get Your Gun” when Merman was performing in the original Broadway run. September 21st was the birthday of Martin’s son Larry Hagman (1931), who starred on TV in “Dallas” and “I Dream of Jeannie.”
September 19 in history:
On September 19th, 1934, a team of detectives arrested Bruno Hauptmann in New York City for the kidnapping and murder two years earlier of the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, and executed in New Jersey.
James A. Garfield died in New Jersey on this date in 1881, making him the second U.S. president to be assassinated. Garfield had been in office only four months when he was shot on July 2nd of that year. Assassin Charles Guiteau was arrested immediately after the shooting, but doctors who attended Garfield for weeks were never able to locate a bullet that remained in his body.
Actor David McCallum, known for playing a crime-solving doctor on the TV show “NCIS,” was born on September 19th, 1933. McCallum portrayed crime-fighting spy Illya Kuryakin on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and shares his September 19th birthday with another TV crime-fighter of the 60’s, “Batman” star Adam West (1928).
“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon has played a costumed crime-fighter, as one of the “Ambiguously Gay Duo” in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. Fallon was born on this day in 1974. Another September 19th baby co-starred with Jimmy Fallon on SNL in the late 1990s: Cheri Oteri (born 1962), who played Arianna of the Spartan Spirit cheerleaders.
September 16 in history:
More than 100 “pilgrims” left Plymouth, England on September 16th, 1620, aboard the Mayflower. They were headed to Virginia, but landed instead at Cape Cod in Massachusetts that November.
When the sitcom “Cheers,” set in Boston, ended in 1993, a spinoff was created for supporting character Frasier Crane, who moved to Seattle and started a radio talk show. “Frasier” debuted on this date in ’93, and like “Cheers,” it lasted for 11 years.
Actress Amy Poehler, Boston College Class of ’93, shares a September 16th birthday (1971) with another veteran of “Saturday Night Live,” Molly Shannon (1964). Poehler joined “SNL” in 2001, a few months after Shannon ended a six-year run on the show.
August 24 in history:
The White House and the U.S. Capitol were among the government buildings destroyed or damaged by fire by the British during a raid on Washington, D.C., late in the War of 1812. The British forces attacked on August 24th, 1814.
Many historians believe August 24th of 79 A.D. was the day that the Italian city of Pompeii was destroyed by a fiery eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius. The ruins of Pompeii were buried under several feet of ash for centuries. In 1599, parts of the city were briefly unearthed by an architect named Domenico Fontana.
Actor Joe Regalbuto played reporter Frank Fontana on the sitcom “Murphy Brown.” Regalbuto was born August 24th, 1949, the same day and year as actor Charles Rocket, who also played a fictional TV reporter as the “Weekend Update” anchor on “Saturday Night Live.” Two other men famous for playing “fake” newsmen were born on this date in 1962: original “Daily Show” anchor Craig Kilborn, and David Koechner, alias Champ Kind from the “Anchorman” movies. It’s also the birthday of real-life TV reporter and former “Meet the Press” host David Gregory (born 1970).
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.”