March 20th in history:
The Republican Party was founded on March 20th, 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin. Many of the founders intended to establish a political party that was anti-slavery.
The start of the GOP came exactly two years after the March 20th, 1852, publication of the anti-slavery novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
“A Doll’s House” is one of the best-known works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, born on this day in 1828. Born exactly 100 years later on March 20th, 1928: public TV personality Fred Rogers, who didn’t just create a house, but a whole neighborhood as “Mister Rogers.”
Miniature houses and other structures were shown at the start of each episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Miniature versions of New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., made out of Lego blocks, are one of the attractions at the Legoland California theme park, which opened near Carlsbad on March 20th, 1999.
February 1st in history:
President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, on this date in 1865. The 2012 Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln” mostly deals with President Lincoln’s fight to pass the amendment.
The 1939 film “Young Mr. Lincoln” was directed by John Ford, born February 1st, 1894. Ford is best known for his Westerns, and won four Oscars for directing in his career. He won his last directing Oscar, for “The Quiet Man,” in March of 1953…the same year he made “Mogambo,” starring Clark Gable, born on this day in 1901. Gable won an Oscar for the comedy “It Happened One Night,” but his most famous role in a 30-year movie career was as Rhett Butler in the Civil War romance “Gone With the Wind.”
Ford also won an Oscar for the Dust Bowl drama “The Grapes of Wrath,” based on a John Steinbeck novel. The title comes from the first verse of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which put new words to the tune “John Brown’s Body.” Julia Ward Howe’s lyrics for “Battle Hymn” first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly magazine on February 1st, 1862.
The University of Minnesota Marching Band routinely performs “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at Minnesota Gopher football games in Minneapolis. For the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis, singer Justin Timberlake was chosen to star in the halftime show, 14 years after his controversial February 1st, 2004 appearance with Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined CBS for broadcasting the brief moment where Timberlake tore part of Jackson’s costume, exposing her breast, in what became known as a “wardrobe malfunction.”
December 6 in history:
For the first time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives chose a vice president in mid-term under the 25th Amendment on December 6th, 1973. Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford was confirmed and sworn in the same day, nearly two months after former VP Spiro Agnew resigned. Before the 25th Amendment was ratified, if a sitting vice president died or resigned, the job remained vacant until the next election.
Jerry Ford was a college football star long before joining Congress in 1949. Jerry Rice of the 49ers set a pro football record on this date in 1992, catching the 101st touchdown of his NFL career. Rice needed only eight seasons to break the old record. A future football star was born on the day Rice set his record…2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Rapper Chuck D mentioned Jerry Rice in the lyrics of his 1996 recording “Underdog.” Wally Cox, who spoke in rhyme as the animated super-hero Underdog, was born on December 6th, 1924. Cox also played schoolteacher “Mr. Peepers,” and was a regular panelist on “Hollywood Squares.” This is also the birthday of animator Nick Park (born 1958), creator of the stop-action Wallace and Gromit films. And on this day in 1964, the stop-action production of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” aired for the first time, as an NBC special sponsored by General Electric.
And underdogs are featured frequently in the work of Judd Apatow, born December 6th, 1967. Apatow has produced, directed, and/or written “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” “Trainwreck,” “Bridesmaids,” “Anchorman,” and the TV series “Freaks and Geeks.”