March 3rd in history:
“The Star-Spangled Banner” became the national anthem of the United States on March 3rd, 1931.
On this date in 1845, Florida became the 27th star in the flag when it joined the union.
The Apollo 9 mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on this date in 1969. It was the first test flight for the lunar landing module, and its three-man crew consisted of Jim McDivitt, Rusty Schweikart, and David Scott.
Another “Mr. Scott” well known for fictional space travels, actor James Doohan of the “Star Trek” TV series was born on March 3rd of 1920.
Another historic video was shot on March 3rd, 1991, when a man in Los Angeles filmed a police beating from his window. The beating of black driver Rodney King by white policemen touched off racial tensions, which led to riots in L.A. the following year when a jury acquitted the police officers.
January 7th in history:
Comic strips about two space adventurers began on January 7th, five years apart…”Buck Rogers” in 1929, and “Flash Gordon” in 1934. This is also the birthday of Erin Gray (born 1950), who played Col. Wilma Deering in the “Buck Rogers” TV series of the 1970s.
The original “Star Trek” series featured many scripts by writer Gene L. Coon, born on this day in 1924. Coon also was a producer on “Star Trek,” and is credited with creating the Klingons and the concept of the Prime Directive.
On this date in 1610, Galileo wrote a letter citing his discovery of new objects near Jupiter. Those objects turned out to be Jupiter’s four largest moons.
And January 7th is the birthday of two stars of the movie “Moonstruck”: Nicolas Cage (born 1964), and Vincent Gardenia (1922). Cage got a Golden Globe nomination for “Moonstruck,” while Gardenia was nominated for an Oscar. Cage won an Oscar for “Leaving Las Vegas,” and starred in “Honeymoon in Vegas.”
September 8 in history:
On this date in 1892, a magazine called “The Youth’s Companion” printed a 22-word verse to be recited by U.S. schoolchildren that fall, on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. It was the first published version of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Beginning on September 8th, 1991, people living in the far southern end of Yugoslavia could pledge their allegiance to the new Republic of Macedonia. It was the day Macedonia declared its independence from the former Soviet bloc nation.
“Miss Independence” was one title considered for a TV show that debuted on September 8th, 1966. It was a nickname given to the show’s star, Marlo Thomas. The series became a hit for ABC under a different name: “That Girl.”
Like many other shows of the 1960s, “That Girl” was filmed at Desilu Studios in Hollywood. One of the last series actually produced by Desilu premiered on the same night as “That Girl”: a space adventure show on NBC, called “Star Trek.”
July 20 in history:
July 20th of 1921 was the first day of regular air mail service between New York and San Francisco.
On this day in 1976, Viking I became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars. The Viking landing occurred on the seventh anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon. July 20th, 1969 was the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the lunar surface and left the first human footprints in the moon dust during the Apollo 11 mission.
Actor Josh Holloway was born on the day of the Apollo landing in 1969. Holloway’s best-known character is a passenger on a fateful flight that crash-lands on an island. He played Sawyer on the TV survival drama “Lost.”
Another actor well-known for a sci-fi series died on July 20th, 2005: James Doohan, engineer Scotty of the Starship Enterprise on “Star Trek.” Doohan’s ashes have been sent into space on more than one occasion.
And July 20th is the birthday of a man who went high places without being in an airplane or spacecraft: Mount Everest conqueror Edmund Hillary (born 1919).
July 13th in history:
Today is the birthday of two actors who became famous as fictional pilots of spaceships: Patrick Stewart (1940), alias Capt. Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Han Solo from Star Wars, Harrison Ford (1942).
Ford Motors canned company president Lee Iacocca, the developer of the Mustang, on July 13th, 1978. Within two years, Iacocca became a household name as the new chairman of Chrysler.
The Chrysler building went dark – and so did the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, and all of the Manhattan skyline the night of July 13th, 1977. The storm-related power outage lasted just over 24 hours.
June 27th in history:
An Air France flight from Israel to Paris was hijacked to Entebbe Airport in Uganda on June 27th, 1976. Israeli forces carried out a raid to rescue the passengers and crew on July 4th. Within a year, two American TV movies were made about the rescue.
An unusual daytime soap opera debuted on this date in 1966. “Dark Shadows” ran for five years on ABC, featuring tales of ghosts, witches and a vampire named Barnabas Collins. On that same day in ’66, producer and director J.J. Abrams was born. Abrams, producer of the TV dramas “Alias,” “Lost,” and “Person of Interest,” also has directed “Star Trek” movies and “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”.
Captain Kirk and the rest of the “Star Trek” crew made their debut in the fall of 1966, when one of the most popular captains on TV was “Captain Kangaroo.” Bob Keeshan, who played Captain Kangaroo for more than 25 years, was born on this day in 1927.