Tagged: Soviet Union

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL

October 25 in history:

The United Nations traded in old China for new on October 25th, 1971…when Taiwan (Nationalist China) was expelled and Communist China was admitted as a member.  The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., George Bush, walked out in protest.  Bush later served as an unofficial ambassador to China before being elected vice-president and president of the U.S.

Another dramatic moment at the U.N. occurred on this date in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The U.S. ambassador in ’62, Adlai Stevenson, presented evidence to the Security Council that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba.  When the Soviet ambassador did not respond to the charge right away, Stevenson said he was prepared to wait for an answer “until hell freezes over.”

A “primrose path to Hell” is how Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque described swing music in a speech to the National Council of Catholic Women on October 25th, 1938.  Beckman made that speech on his 63rd birthday.

Wonder what the archbishop would have thought of rock and roll music.  It’s the birthday of singer Katy Perry (born 1984), who became a star with the song “I Kissed a Girl.”  Perry switched to pop music after releasing a Christian rock album under her real name, Katy Hudson.  She changed her last name to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson.

October 25th, 1977, was the day of Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant’s funeral.  Van Zant was one of six people killed in the crash of the band’s plane in Mississippi.  The new Lynyrd Skynyrd album “Street Survivors” was in stores at the time, and coincidentally showed band members surrounded by flames.  Released that same week:  Meat Loaf’s album “Bat Out of Hell,” which included not only the title track, but also “Heaven Can Wait” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”

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KENNEDY’S GOT A SECRET

October 22 in history:

Better Call Saul

On October 22nd, 1962, President John F. Kennedy made a televised speech publicly revealing the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.  In the speech, Kennedy announced a quarantine on ships that might be carrying offensive weapons to Cuba.

By coincidence, Kennedy’s address fell on the same night that JFK impersonator Vaughn Meader was recording a comedy album about the president, to be called “The First Family.”  Meader later said that the actors knew about the speech before the recording session, but the studio audience did not.  He thought the audience members would not have laughed as much, if they had been aware of the missile crisis.

Appearing on TV that October night in ’62, besides the president, was the game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” created by song-parody writer Allan Sherman, best known for “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.”  His record “My Son, the Folk Singer” lost the Grammy for album of the year in 1963 to “The First Family.”

Actor Bob Odenkirk has done parody sketches on “Mr. Show” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” October 22nd of 1962 is when Odenkirk was born. He may be best known for playing attorney Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad,” and its spinoff series “Better Call Saul.”

SET A SPELL, TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF

October 12 in history:

There was no welcome mat waiting for him, but Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World on October 12th, 1492.  After two months on the Atlantic, Columbus landed at an island north of Cuba, thinking he had reached Asia, and exchanged gifts with the natives.

Citizens of Munich were welcomed to the royal wedding of Bavarian Prince Louis on this date in 1810.  Munich decided to repeat the celebration the following year and make it the annual event called Oktoberfest.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was not a happy guest at the United Nations on October 12th, 1960.  He threw a fit when a representative of the Philippines criticized the Russians for taking over Eastern Europe.  Many people say they saw Khrushchev pound the table with his shoe, but apparently there are no still pictures or videos of the incident that prove he really did it.

“Be Our Guest” is a popular song from the Disney movie and stage musical “Beauty and the Beast.”  The first Australian production of the show provided a big break for actor Hugh Jackman, who played Gaston.  Jackman was born on this date in 1968.

SOME ARE BORN GREAT, SOME ACHIEVE GREATNESS

September 7 in history:

 

A girl named Elizabeth started life as a princess when she was born in England on September 7th, 1533.  Her father was King Henry VIII. Her mother was Anne Boleyn.  Elizabeth Tudor became queen of England when she was 25, and reigned for nearly 50 years.

Citizens of Egypt got to elect their own president for the first time on this date in 2005.  Before that, the Egyptian parliament chose the president.  The winner of the election was Hosni Mubarak, who had already been president for 24 years.  Mubarak’s opponents claimed the voting was rigged.

Nikita Khrushchev didn’t wait to be elected “First Secretary” of the Soviet Communist Party.  He took power on September 7th, 1953, and remained in control for 11 years.

And a two-day contest called the Atlantic City Pageant began in New Jersey on this date in 1921.  Margaret Gorman, representing Washington, D.C., won that first pageant.  It was a tourism gimmick, designed to bring visitors to the city after Labor Day, and was later renamed the Miss America Pageant.

BY SEA, AIR…AND LAND

May 7th in history:

The British ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine on May 7th, 1915. Nearly twelve hundred people aboard the ship died, including 128 Americans. The sinking is considered to be a major factor which led the U.S. into World War I, two years later.

Sgt. Alvin York became one of the most decorated U.S. soldiers in World War I, by capturing 132 enemy soldiers. Gary Cooper, born on May 7th, 1901, won his first of two Oscars for playing York in the movie “Sergeant York.” Cooper also starred as WWI Gen. Billy Mitchell, considered the founder of the Air Force, in “The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell.”

On this date in 1960, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev  announced that American pilot Francis Gary Powers had been captured. Powers was flying a U-2 spy plane over the USSR when he was shot down on May 1st.

One of the scientists who developed the optics used on the U-2 was Edwin Land, inventor of the Polaroid camera. Land was born May 7th, 1909.

WAR AND DISASTERS

April 26th in history:

On April 26th, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union exploded during a test. Until an earthquake triggered an accident at a Japanese nuclear plant in 2011, the Chernobyl blast generally was considered the worst accident ever at a nuclear power plant.

A wartime bombing raid occurred on this date in 1937, when German planes attacked the Spanish town of Guernica, killing about one thousand people. The attack was immortalized in a mural by Pablo Picasso.

The German secret police force called the “Gestapo” was founded on April 26th, 1933. April 26th was also the birthday of Hitler aide Rudolf Hess (1894).

ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER

April 24th in history:

Shirley and BabsThe first fatal accident during a space mission happened on this date in 1967.  Soyuz 1, the Soviet Union’s first manned space flight in two years, crashed upon landing after two days in orbit. The crash killed the lone crew member, Vladimir Komarov, who was on his second space mission. The capsule’s parachute apparently failed to open properly.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched successfully on this date in 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

New Yorkers could get high in the sky without leaving the ground on April 24th, 1913, on the day that the Woolworth Building opened in Manhattan.  You could see a long distance from the top of the skyscraper, which was 792 feet tall…the tallest building in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, until the Empire State Building was constructed.

The movie musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” starred Oscar-winner Barbra Streisand, who was born on April 24th, 1942.  Streisand’s character in the movie believes she has been reincarnated.  Another winner of the Best Actress Oscar, Shirley MacLaine, is a real-life believer in reincarnation.  MacLaine, also a star of screen musicals such as “Can-Can” and “Sweet Charity,” came into the world as Shirley Beaty on this date in 1934.