April 8th in history:
The Venus de Milo was discovered on this day in 1820, on the island of Milos. The famous armless statue of the goddess Venus is now displayed at the Louvre in Paris.
“April in Paris” was one of the famous songs written by lyricist “Yip” Harburg, born April 8th, 1896. Harburg is best known for the lyrics of “Over the Rainbow,” introduced by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz.” Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli, starred in the movies “Cabaret” and “New York, New York,” both with lyrics by Fred Ebb (born April 8th, year disputed).
It was somewhere over the left centerfield fence at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia that Hank Aaron’s 715th home run landed on April 8th, 1974. The Braves slugger broke Babe Ruth’s career record during Atlanta’s home opener of the season. Aaron eventually hit 755 homers…a record that stood until August of 2007, when Barry Bonds surpassed it.
Georgia native G. Harrold Carswell struck out as a Supreme Court nominee, by a 51-45 vote of the U.S. Senate on April 8th, 1970. Federal judge Carswell was Republican President Richard Nixon’s second straight Supreme Court nominee to be turned down by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Nixon blamed an anti-Southern bias for Carswell’s defeat. Carswell blamed liberals for opposing him, and later that month, he launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate from Florida to avenge the vote against him. He lost the Republican primary.
Neither Florida nor Georgia has ever ratified the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, allowing the popular election of U.S. Senators. On this date in 1913, Connecticut became the 36th state to approve the amendment, insuring its passage.
February 15th in history:
The red-and-white Maple Leaf flag first flew over Canada on February 15th, 1965.
That same year, the last piece of the Gateway Arch was put in place, 600 feet over the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The Arch has become the most visible symbol of St. Louis, established on February 15th, 1764.
Another arch was immortalized in a tune by songwriter Harold Arlen, born on this day in 1905. He wrote the music to “Over the Rainbow” and the other songs in “The Wizard of Oz.”
If you wanted to sing “Over the Rainbow” over the Internet, you might post a video on YouTube. February 15th, 2005 was the first full day of operation for the do-it-yourself video website, but there were no videos to watch until the following April, when founder Jawed Karim posted a clip of himself visiting the San Diego Zoo.
November 7 in history:
November 7th of 1917 is marked as the official date of the Russian Revolution, when Lenin led an assault on Russia’s provisional government at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.
Colorado citizens did something revolutionary on this date in 1893. They passed a constitutional amendment to give the state’s women the right to vote. That made Colorado the first state to approve women’s suffrage through a popular election.
On November 7th, 1916, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to Congress. That same day in 2000, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first presidential spouse in the U.S. to win public office, when she was elected a Senator from New York.
How did the Wizard of Oz become a Wizard? In the 1939 movie, he explains to Dorothy that the citizens of Oz proclaimed him “the First Wizard Deluxe” when he drifted to their land in a runaway hot-air balloon. Herman Mankiewicz was one of many screenwriters who worked on “Oz.” He also co-wrote “Citizen Kane,” whose lead character ran for public office. Mankiewicz was born on November 7th, 1897.
August 15 in history:
Some big events in show business on this date…
“The Wizard of Oz” had its Hollywood premiere on August 15th, 1939, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles at their Shea Stadium concert in New York on this date in 1965. More than 50,000 fans attended, with tickets priced from $4.50 to $5.65.
The advance ticket price was $6 a day for the Woodstock Music Festival in New York state, which drew much more than 50,000 music fans. Woodstock began on August 15th, 1969, and lasted until the early
morning of August 18th.
The Stevie Wonder hit “My Cherie Amour” was a top-ten song on the Billboard charts the week of the Woodstock festival. The record was featured in the 2012 movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” for which Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for best actress. Lawrence, also known for playing Katniss in the movie version of the novel “The Hunger Games,” was born on this date in 1990.
On the same night in 2013 that Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar, Ben Affleck accepted the Best Picture award as a producer of the film “Argo,” which he also directed and starred in. Affleck, born August 15th, 1972, previously won an Oscar for writing “Good Will Hunting” with Matt Damon.
February 29 in history:
No wonder Superman can leap over tall buildings. He’s a leap year baby, according to DC Comics. For the 50th anniversary of Superman comics in 1988, DC declared that the day baby Kal-el was born on Krypton happened to be February 29th on Earth. On February 29th of ’88, a Superman birthday special hosted by Dana Carvey aired on CBS.
In 2011, actor Sean Penn was mentioned as a possible candidate to play Kal-el’s father Jor-el in a future Superman movie. Penn won his first Best Actor Oscar for the movie Mystic River at the Academy Awards on February 29th, 2004. The Best Actress winner that night was Charlize Theron for the film Monster, where she played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Coincidentally, Wuornos was born on February 29th of 1956.
February 29th also was Oscar night in Hollywood in 1940, when Gone With the Wind won for best picture, best actress, and best supporting actress. Hattie McDaniel won that last award, becoming the first African-American performer to earn an Oscar for acting. The Wizard of Oz was honored for best original score, and best song, “Over the Rainbow.”