January 10th in history:
The world’s first subway opened on January 10th, 1863, when an underground train began operating in London.
It was January 10th of 1901 when an oil gusher erupted at the Spindletop drilling site near Beaumont, Texas, leading to an oil industry boom in that state.
John D. Rockefeller made his vast fortune in the oil business. Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil on this date in 1870.
For about 30 years, Mobil Oil — formerly the Standard Oil Company of New York — was the chief sponsor of “Masterpiece Theatre” on PBS. “Masterpiece Theatre” made its debut on American television January 10th, 1971.
January 8th in history:
Entertainment royalty born on January 8th includes “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley (1935) and the “Thin White Duke,” David Bowie (1947). And Graham Chapman (1941) played King Arthur in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.
According to legend, many early Americans wanted George Washington to be a king, and he turned down the offer. As the first U.S. president, Washington delivered the first State of the Union message on January 8th, 1790.
The ocean liner Queen Mary 2 was christened on this date in 2004. It was the largest passenger ship ever built, up to that time.
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.”
January 6th in history:
Two months after being elected president, Franklin Pierce was traveling with his wife and 11-year-old son when their train derailed in Massachusetts on January 6th, 1853. Pierce’s son Benjamin died in the crash, and he was the couple’s last surviving child. Mrs. Pierce reportedly believed that her son’s death was God’s way of punishing Mr. Pierce for seeking the presidency.
Joan of Arc was punished for heresy by being burned at the stake when she was 19. Joan was born on this date in 1412.
Skater Nancy Kerrigan asked “Why me?” after being clubbed in the knee by a stranger while training for the U.S. Figure Skating finals in Detroit on January 6th, 1994. After Kerrigan withdrew from the competition, rival Tonya Harding won the ladies’ title. But then, both were named to the U.S. Olympic team which would compete that winter in Norway, where Kerrigan would win a silver medal. Harding’s career was ruined when it turned out that her ex-husband and others had planned the attack on Kerrigan to help Tonya’s chances of getting to the Olympics.
Kerrigan grew up in the Boston area. On this date in 1975, about two thousand Led Zeppelin fans trashed the Boston Garden arena while waiting to buy tickets to a Zeppelin show. The mayor of Boston punished those fans gone wild by banning Led Zeppelin from the city for five years. The band also boycotted the city on their own, and never played in Boston again.
January 5th in history:
George and Martha Washington never lived in the White House, but they were married at the “White House” in January of 1759. This White House was Martha’s plantation in Virginia. Sources disagree on what day the Washington wedding took place. Some say it was January 5th. Others say it was on the 6th, or the 17th. Martha became the first “First Lady” of the United States 30 years later.
Jane Wyman also married a future U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, but wasn’t married to him long enough to be a First Lady. When Reagan was president, Wyman was starring on TV in “Falcon Crest.” Her movie career included a Best Actress Oscar for the movie Johnny Belinda. Wyman was born January 5th, 1917.
Another Oscar winner born on this day is Diane Keaton (1946), the first of many ladies to earn an Academy Award for acting in a Woody Allen film (Annie Hall). Keaton’s credits include Reds and the Godfather movies. She also starred in a TV movie as Amelia Earhart, the first lady to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart was declared dead on this date in 1939, more than a year after she disappeared while trying to fly around the world.
And Nellie Tayloe Ross became America’s first “lady governor” when she was sworn in as governor of Wyoming on January 5th, 1925. Nellie had won a special election to succeed her husband, William Ross, who had died after an appendectomy.
January 4th in history:
January 4th is the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton (1643), known for his theories about gravity.
The first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth yielded to gravity and fell out of orbit on January 4th, 1958. Sputnik 1 had been launched exactly three months earlier.
And after spending about three months in the New World, Christopher Columbus began his voyage back to Europe on January 4th, 1493, to prove that he had reached land across the Atlantic without falling off the Earth.
January 3rd in history:
On January 3rd of 1496, Leonardo da Vinci tested a flying machine that he designed.
Flying machines didn’t succeed until the 20th century, when we finally got other pioneering inventions like the electric watch. The Hamilton Watch company put its first electric watch on sale on this date in 1957.
Exactly 20 years later — January 3rd, 1977 — pioneering home computer maker Apple Computer was incorporated.
And the pioneering record producer who did some work with Apple Records (and the Beatles), Sir George Martin, was born January 3rd, 1926.