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.
December 1 in history:
Henry Ford introduced the first moving assembly line for making cars on this date in 1913. The assembly line process allowed Ford workers to put together a Model T in just over two hours.
The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, includes a city bus from Montgomery, Alabama which was the scene of a historic protest on December 1st, 1955. Forty-two-year-old Rosa Parks was arrested while riding on that bus, for disobeying a law requiring black passengers to move to seats in the back of a bus if there were white passengers waiting to sit down in the front. A year-long boycott of the Montgomery bus system began after her arrest, which led to an ordinance ending segregation on that city’s buses. Parks became a revered figure in the civil rights movement because of the protest, as did a boycott organizer named Martin Luther King Jr.
Comedian Chris Rock has called Richard Pryor “the Rosa Parks of comedy,” for taking risks that would break ground for future performers. Pryor turned 15 on the day of the Parks arrest.
Early in his career, Pryor occasionally opened for Woody Allen, who served as a mentor to him. Allen went from being a TV joke-writer to a successful stand-up comic, and eventually a movie actor, writer, and director, best known for the 1977 Oscar winner “Annie Hall.” Woody was born December 1st, 1935, and shares a birthday with actress and singer Bette Midler (1945), who played his wife in the Paul Mazursky film “Scenes from a Mall.” Midler’s other movies include “The Rose,” “Beaches,” and “Ruthless People,” and she has won four Grammy Awards for her records.