May 22nd in history:
Only two volcanic eruptions occurred in the U.S. during the 20th century. One was the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980. The other happened on May 22nd, 1915, with an explosion at Lassen Peak in northern California.
Another powerful act of nature, an earthquake, struck southern Chile on this date in 1960, killing thousands of people. Known as the Valdivia quake, it was the strongest earthquake ever recorded, measuring 9.5 on the Richter Scale. Severe tornadoes also have occurred on May 22nd, in Hallam, Nebraska (in 2004) and Joplin, Missouri (2011). The Joplin twister caused more than 150 deaths, and was the deadliest tornado in the U.S. in more than 60 years.
Wreckage from an airplane explosion fell from the sky onto Missouri and Iowa on May 22nd, 1962, when a Continental Airlines flight between Chicago and Kansas City blew up. All 45 people aboard were killed. One of the passengers, who had earlier taken out a large insurance policy, apparently planted a bomb in a restroom. The tragedy reportedly inspired part of the plot of the 1970 movie “Airport.”
In May of 1962, Iowa native Johnny Carson was preparing to take over NBC’s “Tonight Show.” He had just been hired to replace the departing Jack Paar. Carson stayed on as host of “Tonight” longer than any other person, almost 30 years, ending his run on May 22nd, 1992.
Another TV personality named “Johnny” made his debut on this day in 1910: that was the birthdate of announcer Johnny Olson, who’s most famous for shouting “Come on down!” to contestants on “The Price Is Right.” Olson also served as the announcer on “What’s My Line?,” “Match Game,” and “The Jackie Gleason Show.”
September 12 in history:
“How do I love thee…?” Elizabeth Barrett showed her love for fellow poet Robert Browning by eloping with him in England on September 12th, 1846. Barrett’s father did not approve of Browning.
Astronauts Mark Lee and Jan Davis became the first married couple to travel together in space on September 12th, 1992. They were among the seven crew members aboard the shuttle Endeavour. The eight-day mission was the first space flight for Davis, and the second for Lee.
“To the moon, Alice!” On September 12th, 1970, “The Jackie Gleason Show” ended an eight-year run on CBS. The hour-long variety show often featured musical episodes of “The Honeymooners” with Gleason as Ralph Kramden and Art Carney as Ed Norton.
The Gemini 11 mission was launched on this date in 1966. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon conducted tests to link two space capsules in orbit, a skill that would be needed on flights to the moon.
Pete Conrad was portrayed by actor Peter Scolari in an episode of the TV miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.” Scolari, best known for his roles on “Newhart” and “Bosom Buddies,” was born September 12th of 1955.