March 8th in history:
Two U.S. presidents died on March 8th: Millard Fillmore in 1874, and William Howard Taft in 1930. Fillmore was not nominated for a second term by the Whigs in 1852, and finished third in the electoral vote in the 1856 election. Taft came in third in his 1912 re-election bid, behind Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt. Taft served as Chief Justice for nine years, and retired just weeks before his death.
Charles De Gaulle was still president of France when construction began on an airport near Paris that would be named after him. De Gaulle International Airport opened eight years later, on this date in 1974.
Arthur Dent began his travels through the universe when the first episode of the radio show “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was broadcast on the BBC on this date in 1978.
And March 8th is the birthday of the “Skipper” who led the S.S. Minnow on an infamous “three-hour tour.” Alan Hale of “Gilligan’s Island” was born on this date in 1921.
In its final season, “Gilligan’s Island” aired Monday nights on CBS, opposite “The Monkees” on NBC. Monkees singer and drummer Micky Dolenz was born March 8th, 1945.
December 30 in history:
The deadliest theatre fire in U.S. history took more than 600 lives at the Iriquois Theatre in Chicago on December 30th, 1903. Nearly two thousand people were attending a matinee in the reportedly “fireproof” building which had just opened a month earlier. A piece of drapery had been ignited by a stage light, and flames spread toward the ceiling above the stage. Many of the victims died in a rush toward exits which were locked, while other exits were not clearly marked.
A history-making musical opened at the New Century Theatre in New York on December 30th, 1948. Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter’s version of The Taming of the Shrew, became the first show to win a Tony Award for Best Musical.
The musical Oliver! was up for nine Tony Awards in 1963, including a nomination for Davy Jones as the Artful Dodger. A few years later, Jones was a star of TV and records, as one member of the made-for-TV band, the Monkees. He was born on December 30th, 1945…three years to the day after the birth of fellow Monkee Michael Nesmith.
On this date in 1966, The Monkees’ recording of “I’m a Believer” by Neil Diamond was the number-one song on the Billboard chart.