March 13th in history:
Attorney Clarence Darrow, the defense lawyer at the Scopes “Monkey” trial, died on this date in 1938. It was exactly 13 years after the day the Tennessee House voted to ban the teaching of evolution in state schools. Passage of that law led to the Scopes trial.
A major scientific discovery on March 13th, 1781: Astronomer William Herschel announced that he had found the planet Uranus. It was the first planet in the solar system to be discovered by telescope.
And on this date in 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh announced to the Harvard College Observatory that he had discovered a ninth planet, which would be named Pluto. In 2006, Pluto was downgraded to the status of “dwarf planet.”
March 5th in history:
Two famous show-business deaths on March 5th: John Belushi and Patsy Cline, who were both in their early 30s when they died. Comedian Belushi was found dead of a drug overdose on this day in 1982. Cline and other country singers were killed in a 1963 plane crash in Tennessee.
John Belushi once played an alien named Kuldorth in a “Coneheads” sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” On the day Belushi died in ’82, a Soviet spacecraft called Venera 14 landed on the surface of Venus, surviving the heat and atmospheric pressure of the planet for nearly an hour to take photographs.
A milestone in flight on March 5th, 1912: It was the first time that a dirigible, or zeppelin, was used for military purposes, when Italy sent a dirigible behind Turkish lines on a spy mission.
Led Zeppelin performed “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time in public in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 5th, 1971. The band’s bassist, John Paul Jones, says audience members were bored by the song because they had never heard it before.
June 8th in history:
On June 8th, 1861, Tennessee became the last Southern state to secede from the Union.
President Andrew Jackson lived most of his adult life in Tennessee, and that’s where he died on June 8th, 1845.
Charlton Heston played Andrew Jackson in two movies: “The Buccaneer” and “The President’s Lady.” Heston became a president in real life on this date in 1998, when he was elected president of the National Rifle Association.
And June 8th is the birthday of the second woman to be the wife of one U.S. president and the mother of another: Barbara Bush (1925).
June 1st in history:
Kentucky became the 15th state in the Union on June 1st, 1792. It took four more years before a 16th star was put on the flag – for Tennessee, admitted on June 1st, 1796.
There were 18 states in the union by the time President James Madison asked Congress to declare war on Britain on this date. The war became known as … well, Madison’s request came in 1812.
James Buchanan, who was president when Southern states began seceding from the union, died on June 1st, 1868, just seven years after leaving office.
And this is Monroe’s birthday – not President Monroe, but Marilyn Monroe (1926). The actress was known as much for her love life as for her movies. Marilyn married Joe Di Maggio and Arthur Miller, and her relationships included one with Elia Kazan…who directed Andy Griffith (like Monroe, born June 1st, 1926) in his starring role in “A Face in the Crowd.”
The mountain-peak logo of Paramount Pictures is one of the most familiar Hollywood symbols. Paramount was founded on May 8th, 1914.
Explorer Hernando de Soto traveled through the mountains and prairies to the Mississippi River on this date in 1541. De Soto was on the east bank, in modern-day Tennessee. It took a month for him and his traveling group of 400 to cross over to what is now Arkansas.
It’s the birthday of one man who made people afraid to go near the water, especially the ocean. Peter Benchley, the author of “Jaws,” was born May 8th, 1940. Steven Spielberg’s film version of “Jaws” was the number-one movie of 1975. Benchley was born on the same day and year as singer Toni Tennille, who with husband Daryl Dragon (billed as the Captain and Tennille) had the number-one record of ’75, “Love Will Keep Us Together.”