December 4 in history:
Pan American World Airways used to fly to 86 countries, but on December 4th, 1991, Pan Am stopped flying completely. The shutdown ended 64 years of service by the airline. Ironically, the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” depicted Pan Am making commercial flights into space in the early 21st century.
Fifty-one countries belonged to the United Nations when it started in 1945, and on this date in ’45, Senators in Washington voted to let the United States join the U.N. The U.S. had stayed out of the previous international organization, the League of Nations, which was championed by President Woodrow Wilson after the first World War. On December 4th, 1918, Wilson boarded a ship to travel to the peace talks at Versailles, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to travel to Europe.
Another man named Wilson who spent much time surfing on the ocean, and performing songs about the ocean, was born December 4th, 1944…Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.
On December 4th, 1980, the sitcom “Bosom Buddies” aired its second episode on ABC, featuring Tom Hanks as a guy named Kip Wilson who lives in a women’s hotel, pretending to be “Buffy Wilson.” Hanks is married to Rita Wilson, starred in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” and named his volleyball companion “Wilson” in “Cast Away.”
Hanks is a two-time Oscar winner, who received his first Oscar nomination for the 1988 movie “Big,” where he performs a duet on a giant piano keyboard with Robert Loggia. During his 60-year career, Loggia was nominated for Oscars and Emmys, and starred in movies including “Scarface” and “Jagged Edge.” Loggia died on this date in 2015.
October 25 in history:
The United Nations traded in old China for new on October 25th, 1971…when Taiwan (Nationalist China) was expelled and Communist China was admitted as a member. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., George Bush, walked out in protest. Bush later served as an unofficial ambassador to China before being elected vice-president and president of the U.S.
Another dramatic moment at the U.N. occurred on this date in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The U.S. ambassador in ’62, Adlai Stevenson, presented evidence to the Security Council that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba. When the Soviet ambassador did not respond to the charge right away, Stevenson said he was prepared to wait for an answer “until hell freezes over.”
A “primrose path to Hell” is how Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque described swing music in a speech to the National Council of Catholic Women on October 25th, 1938. Beckman made that speech on his 63rd birthday.
Wonder what the archbishop would have thought of rock and roll music. It’s the birthday of singer Katy Perry (born 1984), who became a star with the song “I Kissed a Girl.” Perry switched to pop music after releasing a Christian rock album under her real name, Katy Hudson. She changed her last name to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson.
October 25th, 1977, was the day of Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant’s funeral. Van Zant was one of six people killed in the crash of the band’s plane in Mississippi. The new Lynyrd Skynyrd album “Street Survivors” was in stores at the time, and coincidentally showed band members surrounded by flames. Released that same week: Meat Loaf’s album “Bat Out of Hell,” which included not only the title track, but also “Heaven Can Wait” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”
October 12 in history:
There was no welcome mat waiting for him, but Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World on October 12th, 1492. After two months on the Atlantic, Columbus landed at an island north of Cuba, thinking he had reached Asia, and exchanged gifts with the natives.
Citizens of Munich were welcomed to the royal wedding of Bavarian Prince Louis on this date in 1810. Munich decided to repeat the celebration the following year and make it the annual event called Oktoberfest.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was not a happy guest at the United Nations on October 12th, 1960. He threw a fit when a representative of the Philippines criticized the Russians for taking over Eastern Europe. Many people say they saw Khrushchev pound the table with his shoe, but apparently there are no still pictures or videos of the incident that prove he really did it.
“Be Our Guest” is a popular song from the Disney movie and stage musical “Beauty and the Beast.” The first Australian production of the show provided a big break for actor Hugh Jackman, who played Gaston. Jackman was born on this date in 1968.
October 4 in history:
Work crews at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota began carving the faces of four U.S. presidents into the mountainside on October 4th, 1927. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum took 12 years to complete the task, starting with the face of George Washington, and leaving Theodore Roosevelt until last.
A chase on Mount Rushmore concludes the 1959 Hitchcock movie “North by Northwest,” which also features major scenes aboard a train. “The General,” about a Civil War train, was a silent movie hit for actor and director Buster Keaton, born on this day in 1895.
“Murder on the Orient Express” was a popular hit movie of 1974. The actual Orient Express train made its first run between Paris and Romania on October 4th, 1883.
A spectacular circus train crash is a highlight of the 1952 film “The Greatest Show on Earth,” starring Charlton Heston, born on this day in 1923. Heston’s famous roles include the title character in “Ben-Hur,” astronaut Taylor in “Planet of the Apes,” and Moses in “The Ten Commandments.”
The leader of the Catholic Church visited the U.S. for the first time on October 4th, 1965. Pope Paul VI flew to New York, where he spoke at the United Nations and attended an outdoor mass at Yankee Stadium.
And another historic flight occurred on this day in 1957, when the Soviet satellite Sputnik became the first man-made object to orbit the earth.
June 13th in history:
The “Pentagon Papers” appeared for the first time in the New York Times on June 13th, 1971. The papers were a classified report on American strategy in Vietnam. The Nixon administration said publication of the papers was treason, and tried to have it stopped. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the government to try to keep the documents out of the newspapers.
A Supreme Court ruling on June 13th, 1966, led to the famous phrase, “You have the right to remain silent.” In Miranda v. Arizona, the high court ruled that Ernesto Miranda should have been informed of his legal rights before he was questioned by police about a series of crimes.
One year later, in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. Marshall was the first African-American justice, and for 24 years was the only African-American on the nine-member court.
In 1967, Paul Lynde already had started a long run with a popular group of nine, as a celebrity panelist on the game show “Hollywood Squares.” Lynde, born on June 13th, 1926, occupied the “center square” for most of his years on the show, while also appearing on “Bewitched” and his own comedy series.
Richard Thomas was the most famous of the seven kids on “The Waltons,” as the oldest son, John-Boy. Thomas was born on this date in 1951. And Ban Ki-moon, born June 13th, 1944, also belongs to a small select group. He was only the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations.
April 11th in history:
Famous pink slips on April 11th …
In 1951, President Harry Truman relieved Gen. Douglas MacArthur of all his commands in the Far East, after MacArthur objected to policies of the U.S. and the United Nations.
Uganda’s “President for Life,” Idi Amin, fled the country after eight years in power on this date in 1979.
The Treaty of Fountainbleau, Napoleon’s pink slip, was signed on April 11th, 1814. Under the treaty, several European countries required Napoleon to step down as emperor of France, which led to his exile to Elba.
And the last emperor of China, Puyi, was fired by Chinese Communists. His story was told in the movie called “The Last Emperor,” which won Best Picture at the Oscars on April 11th, 1988.