Monday, 31 March 2008

March 31, 2008

80 years ago
1928

Born on this date
Happy 80th birthday, Gordie Howe!

A native of Floral, Saskatchewan, "Mr. Hockey" played 25 years at right wing for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League from 1946-1971. In 1972 he was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, then came out of retirement a year later. He joined the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association in 1973, playing there with his sons Mark and Marty from 1973-1977. When the Aeros folded, the Howes joined the New England Whalers, playing with them during the WHA’s last two seasons (1977-1979). When the Whalers joined the NHL as the Hartford Whalers, Gordie Howe played the 1979-80 season with them before retiring for good.

I don’t have time to go into detail on Gordie Howe’s records. His 26 seasons, 1,767 games, 801 goals, 1,049 assists, and 1,850 points were NHL career regular season records at the time of his retirement. In six seasons in the WHA he played 419 regular season games, scoring 174 goals, 334 assists, 508 points. From 1948-49 through 1954-55 the Red Wings finished first seven straight seasons, winning four Stanley Cups (1950, ‘52, ‘54, ‘55). In his first two years in the WHA, Mr. Howe led the Aeros to the Avco World Trophy (1974 and ‘75).

My favourite Gordie Howe statistic: In the 22 seasons from 1948-49 through 1969-70, he was a first or second team all-star in every season but one (1954-55). Even in the one year that he missed out, he scored 9 goals and 11 assists in 11 playoff games in leading the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup. Mr. Howe was a first team NHL all-star at the age of 41, and a first team WHA all-star in his first two seasons in that league.

I saw him play in person twice: On January 21, 1975, he played in the WHA All-Star Game at the Edmonton Coliseum, and set up his son Mark with the game’s first goal, and on January 29, 1977, he scored the Aeros’ final goal in a 6-4 win over the Calgary Cowboys at the Stampede Corral in Calgary.

Disasters
Earthquakes in Turkey killed 38 in Smyrna and vicinity, and destroyed many buildings there, including those at Tourboli.

60 years ago
1948

Born on this date
Al Gore
. U.S. politician. Mr. Gore, the son of a United States Congressman and Senator, was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from 1977-1985, and the Senate from 1985-1993, representing Tennessee (despite the fact that he’s actually spent a huge chunk of his life as a resident of Washington, D.C.). He served as Vice-President under Bill Clinton from 1993-2001, losing a close and controversial decision to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election. In recent years, Mr. Gore has gained a lot of weight while propagandizing about global warming. His propaganda efforts were rewarded with a share of the Nobel peace Prize in 2007.

Those who believe that the earth has been visited by space aliens in recent decades can point to Mr. Gore as evidence--he was born nine months after space aliens supposedly landed at Roswell, New Mexico.

50 years ago
1958

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.S.A.: Tequila--The Champs (3rd week at #1 on the Billboard (TM) Best Seller and Top 100 charts, 2nd week at #1 on the Disc Jockey chart)

Politics
In the biggest landslide in Canadian history, the Progressive Conservatives, led by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, took 208 of 265 seats in the House of Commons in the federal election. The Liberals, who had held power for 22 years prior to losing a close election in June 1957, were reduced to 49 seats in Lester Pearson’s first campaign as party leader. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation took 8 seats, and Social Credit none.

40 years ago
1968

Politics

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson delivered a nationally-televised address on the war in Vietnam. During the 40-minute address, Mr. Johnson announced the unilateral halting of bombing of 90% of the territory of North Vietnam, and asked North Vietnam to make some movement toward the peace conference table.

President Johnson dropped a bombshell of his own at the end of his speech when he announced, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President." The President’s decision was believed to have been sparked by his relatively poor showing in the New Hampshire showing against war opponent Eugene McCarthy on March 12, and the officially announced candidacy of Senator Robert F. Kennedy four days later.

30 years ago
1978

World events
In Brazil, U. S. President Jimmy Carter met with six prominent Brazilians, some of whom had publicly opposed the military regime of President Ernesto Geisel. However, President Carter also publicly stressed the American need for stronger ties with Brazil, and seemed to have eased tensions slightly.

Later, President Carter flew to Nigeria, where he was joined by United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young. Mr. Carter called for withdrawal of the 16,000 to 17,000 Cuban troops in Ethiopia and for majority-rule governments in Rhodesia and Namibia.

British troops withdrew from Malta, leaving Malta fully independent.

Politics

French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing reappointed Premier Raymond Barre to head the government.

Scandal
David Begelman, former head of Columbia Pictures, was charged with embezzling $40,000 from the company. He had resigned on February 9 amid controversy over financial practices in the movie industry. Mr. Begelman was said to have accomplished the theft by illegally endorsing cheques made out to director Martin Ritt, actor Cliff Robertson, and Los Angeles restaurateur Pierre Groleau. In fact, it was Mr. Robertson who blew the whistle, after Mr. Begelman had forged his signature.

25 years ago
1983

Disasters

An earthquake in southern Colombia killed at least 250 people.

World events
Three Soviet citizens were expelled from Britain and accused of espionage.

Politics
37 members of the United States House of Representatives wrote to President Ronald Reagan expressing concern about possible violations of the Boland Amendment, a law passed in 1982 forbidding the use of U.S. defense funds to help overthrow the Sandanista government of Nicaragua.

20 years ago
1988

Politics

The United States Senate approved $47.9 million in humanitarian aid for the Contras in Nicaragua and for children injured in the war between the Contras and the Sandanistas.

15-year school board member Dianne Cunningham won an Ontario provincial by-election in the riding of London North. Ms. Cunningham’s win gave the Progressive Conservatives 20 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, far behind the governing Liberals and opposition New Democrats. London North was held by Ron Van Horne of the Liberals from 1977-1987; Mr. Van Horne was named to the cabinet of Premier David Peterson as minister in charge of seniors’ services when the Liberals came to power in 1985, and had easily retained his seat in the election of September 10, 1987. However, Premier Peterson dropped him from cabinet, and Mr. Van Horne resigned his seat effective December 31, 1987. Of the seven candidates in the by-election, five (including those of all three major parties) were women.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

March 30, 2008

150 years ago
1858

Born on this date
De Wolf Hopper
. U.S. actor. Mr. Hopper starred in more than 30 Broadway musicals, including Castles in the Air (1890); Wang (1891); and John Phillip Sousa's El Capitan (1896), which met with great success in London. His favourite role was Old Bill in The Better Ole (1919).

Mr. Hopper was most famous for reciting Ernest Lawrence Thayer's poem Casey at the Bat. He first recited the poem in public in August 1888, and did it about 10,000 times over the years. He released a recorded version in 1906, and also in an experimental sound film in 1923 in Lee De Forest's Phonofilm process. De Wolf Hopper died on September 23, 1935 at the age of 77.

80 years ago
1928

Died on this date
Frank B. Willis, 56
. U.S. Senator. Senator Willis dropped dead in Delaware, Ohio as the Republican Glee Club was singing the chorus of The End of a Perfect Day, and thousands of fellow townsmen were pledging him their support in the coming presidential primaries.

Mr. Willis had served in the Ohio House of Representatives (1900-1904) and the United States House of Representatives (1911-1915) before becoming the first Republican to be elected Governor of Ohio. He defeated incumbent James M. Cox to win the 1914 gubernatorial election and served from 1915-1917. He lost his bid for re-election to Mr. Cox in 1916 and again in 1918.

Mr. Willis placed Warren G. Harding’s name in nomination at the 1920 Republican National Convention. Mr. Willis was elected to the United States Senate in 1920 the same day that Mr. Harding won the presidential election. Mr. Harding promptly resigned his Senate seat, allowing Mr. Willis to assume his seat early.

After placing Warren Harding's name in nomination at the 1920 Republican National Convention, Willis was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1920, replacing Harding, who then resigned his seat to take the presidency, allowing Willis to take his seat early. During his Senate tenure, Willis served from 1923 to 1928 as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions, which had jurisdiction over territories including Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico.

World events
In Rome, Italian Premier Benito Mussolini published a decree abolishing all Catholic youth organizations (such as the Catholic Boy Scouts) that were at all educational. The decree abolished all educational organizations for Italian youth except the official fascist training groups: the Bililla and the Avanguardista.

King George V of England revived the title of Duke of Gloucester (previously in use from 1385-1834) and conferred it upon his third son, Prince Henry, who was to turn 28 on March 31. The title gave Prince Henry a seat in the House of Lords.

Crime
In Berlin, Julius Barmot and his brother Henry were given jail sentences for bribing officials of banks from whom they obtained loans running into millions of marks. Julius was sentenced to 11 months; Henry got 6 months.

50 years ago
1958

On television tonight

Alfred Hitchcock Presents on CBS
Tonight's episode: Bull in a China Shop

40 years ago
1968

Born on this date
Happy 40th birthday, Celine Dion!

The native of Charlemagne, Quebec was one of Canada’s biggest stars in the 1990s, and remains a popular concert draw. Her 1996 album Falling Into You won Grammy awards for Album of the Year and Best Pop album. Her hit singles include themes from the popular movies Beauty and the Beast (title song); Sleepless in Seattle (When I Fall in Love, a duet with Clive Griffin); Up Close and Personal (Because You Loved Me); and Titanic (My Heart Will Go On). My Heart Will Go On won the Grammy for Best Record of 1998. Miss Dion has won many Juno Awards for her achievements in the Canadian recording industry; she’s been chosen Best Female Artist six times. Oddly, she never won for Canadian Entertainer of the Year (although that category was discontinued after 1996), and her only Juno for Best Single came in 1993 for her duet with Peabo Bryson on Beauty and the Beast.

Hit parade
#1 single in the U.K.: Lady Madonna--The Beatles
#1 single in the U.S.A.: (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay--Otis Redding (3rd week at #1)

Died on this date
Bobby Driscoll, 31
. U.S. actor. Bobby Driscoll was one of the most talented child actors ever to appear on screen, and one of the first to become a casualty. Mr. Driscoll made his movie debut at the age of 6 in an uncredited bit part in Lost Angel (1943). He made enough of an impression to be given another uncredited bit role in The Fighting Sullivans (1944). Other bit parts followed for the next two years, until Walt Disney signed young Bobby in 1946 as his first live-action star.

Bobby’s first movie with Disney, released in 1946, was Song of the South. The film was a major hit, and made Bobby Driscoll a star. Bobby starred with Burl Ives in So Dear to My Heart in 1948, another Disney success. The Window, released in 1949, featured Bobby as a boy who has trouble convincing his parents that he’s just seen a murder. His performance was so remarkable that he was given a special Academy Award as the outstanding juvenile actor of 1949. Bobby followed this performance with another Disney hit, playing Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island (1950), which resulted in Bobby receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

While Bobby was making successful movies in the late 1940s and early ‘50s, he was also making occasional radio appearances (usually on Family Theater), and appeared in a few television shows during TV’s so-called "Golden Age." He was a guest on Walt Disney’s first television Christmas special in 1950.

Bobby’s last notable movie success was as the model and voice for Disney’s animated version of Peter Pan in 1953. By this time he was in his teens, and adolescence wasn’t kind to Bobby Driscoll. He suffered from severe acne, which necessitated a lot of makeup, when he could get roles on screen at all. His parents took him out of the Hollywood Professional School, and enrolled him in the public Westwood University High, where he graduated n 1955. In this setting, his fame was more of a liability than an asset, and Bobby was the frequent target of derision. He was unable to fit in with the popular kids, and ended up associating with others. He began experimenting with drugs; his first brush with the law came in 1956, when a marijuana bust resulted in the charge being dismissed. A rash marriage in 1957 produced three children, before ending in divorce in 1960.

Despite his personal problems, Mr. Driscoll was still able to land the occasional acting assignment. His last feature film, The Party Crashers (1958), also marked the final screen appearance for Frances Farmer, who had been a promising young actress in the 1930s. Mr. Driscoll last appeared on television in 1960, when he appeared in episodes of two different series--The Best of the Post and The Brothers Branaghan--that both aired on November 5.

Mr. Driscoll’s drug use had escalated into a heroin habit, resulting in a criminal conviction in 1961. He served his sentence in the Narcotic Rehabilitation Center of the California State Penitentiary at Chino. Paroled in 1962, he was clean and ready to go, but no one would hire him because of his drug record. In 1964 he moved to New York in an attempt to get a fresh start, but found Broadway no more willing to hire him than Hollywood. He ended up at The Factory, Andy Warhol’s counterculture headquarters, where he indulged his talent (apparently considerable) for painting. In 1965 Bobby Driscoll made his final film appearance in a Factory production, a 12-minute underground short called Dirt.

In late 1967 or very early 1968 Mr. Driscoll left The Factory and disappeared into Manhattan’s underground, broke and disillusioned. On March 30, 1968, two boys playing in a deserted East Village tenement on East 10th Street discovered Mr. Driscoll’s body. He was unidentified and unclaimed, and was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in the New York City Potter’s Field on Hart’s Island. Cause of death was listed as heart failure from hardening of the arteries caused by long-time drug abuse. In the fall of 1969 Mr. Driscoll’s mother, hoping for a reconciliation between Bobby and his father, enlisted Disney studio personnel to help her find her long-lost son. A fingerprint match at the New York Police Department led to the identification of the body in the pauper’s grave on Hart’s Island as that of Bobby Driscoll. The sad details of Mr. Driscoll’s end didn’t become public until Song of the South was re-released in 1971/1972, and reporters interested in Bobby’s whereabouts interviewed his mother.

30 years ago
1978

Crime

A United States federal judge ordered the Olin Corporation to set up a $510,000 charity fund as a penalty for illegal firearms sales to South Africa.

25 years ago
1983

Diplomacy

United States President Ronald Reagan offered to reduce the number of intermediate-range missiles planned for deployment in Europe if the Soviet Union reduced its missiles in Europe and Asia.

20 years ago
1988

Defense

The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 17-2 to endorse a treaty with the Soviet Union on intermediate-range nuclear forces, two days after the Senate Armed Services Committee had approved the deal. The Foreign Relations Committee’s approval came with a condition requiring that any interpretation of the treaty would be in accord with an understanding of its meaning shared by both the executive branch and the Senate at the time of Senate ratification.

Also, the President could not adopt an interpretation different from the common understanding without Senate approval. Many senators had criticized the broad interpretation applied by the Reagan administration to the 1972 SALT treaty, which established a basis for proceeding with Strategic Defense Initiative.

Friday, 28 March 2008

March 29, 2008

160 years ago
1848

Weather

An ice jam in the Niagara River above the rim of Niagara Falls caused the falls to stop flowing for the first time in recorded history.

125 years ago
1883

Religion

The first Junior Christian Endeavor Society was organized, "to promote an earnest Christian life among its members, to increase their mutual acquaintance, to train them for work in the church, and in every way to make them useful in the service of God and their fellow men."

80 years ago
1928

Politics

It was reported that threats of bombing by gangs had put a crimp in political rallies in the primary campaign at Chicago.

75 years ago
1933

On the radio

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Richard Gordon and Leigh Lovell, on NBC
Tonight's episode: A Scandal in Bohemia

40 years ago
1968

War

Israeli and Jordanian forces fought an 8-hour artillery duel, in which Israel used airplanes, along the Jordan river.

Hit parade
Edmonton's top 10
1 Lady Madonna--The Beatles
2 Valleri--The Monkees
3 Playboy--Gene and Debbe
4 Love is Blue--Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra
5 Too Much Talk--Paul Revere and the Raiders
6 Young Girl--The Union Gap
7 The Unicorn--The Irish Rovers
8 Just Dropped In--The First Edition
9 The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde--Georgie Fame
10 Thank U Very Much--The Scaffold
Pick of the Week: Maybe Came Today--Diana Ross and the Supremes
New this week: Rainbow Woman--Lee Hazlewood
Soul Serenade--Willie Mitchell
Master Jack--Four Jacks and a Jill
Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day--Stevie Wonder

The McCartney brothers were prominently featured in the top 10. Paul wrote and sang lead on Lady Madonna, while Mike, who wrote and recorded under the name Mike McGear, was a member of The Scaffold, and co-wrote Thank U Very Much.

30 years ago
1978


World events
U.S. President Jimmy Carter, on a tour of South America, arrived in Brazil, and immediately raised the two issues that had brought U.S.-Brazilian relations to a "30-year low"--human rights and nuclear proliferation. Brazil had abrogated the U.S.-Brazil military assistance treaty the previous year after Mr. Carter had criticized the human rights record of the Brazilian military government under President Ernesto Geisel. The United States had also opposed a Brazilian plan to import a West German uranium-reprocessing plant that could be used in the production of nuclear weapons. Mr. Carter was given a cool reception by the Brazilian government.

20 years ago
1988


On television tonight
The Wonder Years, on ABC
Tonight's episode: My Father's Office

Politics
In the contest for the U.S. presidential nominations, Michael Dukakis won the Democratic primary in Connecticut, while Vice President George Bush won the Connecticut Republican primary. Senator Bob Dole dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination, leaving only Pat Robertson to challenge Mr. Bush.

World events
Two Israeli soldiers who had buried four Arab youths alive were sentenced to prison terms.

March 28, 2008

80 years ago
1928

Law

The Albanian parliament adopted a new civil code that included clauses abolishing polygamy, establishing civil marriage, and legally recognizing marriages between Muslims and Christians.

Died on this date
Nathan Stubblefield, 67
. U.S. inventor. Sometimes erroneously referred to as the "Father of Radio," Mr. Stubblefield, a Kentucky melon farmer, pioneered wireless telephony. His devices seem to have worked by audio frequency (later audio frequency earth) induction (creating disturbances in the near-field region), rather than by radio frequency radiation.

On January 1, 1902, in Murray, Kentucky, Mr. Stubblefield gave public demonstrations of voice and music transmission to five receiving locations on the courthouse square, witnessed by at least 1,000 persons, apparently using voice frequency transmission through earth conduction, to a radius of one-half mile. Similar successful demonstrations were given at Washington, D.C. on March 20, 1902 and Philadelphia on May 30, 1902. He gradually improved the technology, and on May 12, 1908 was granted U.S. patent 887,357 for his Wireless Telephone, using the voice frequency induction system. He said in the patent that it would be useful for "securing telephonic communications between moving vehicles and way stations".

Mr. Stubblefield was distrustful of others who attempted to profit from his invention; he had resigned from the Wireless Telephone Company of America in June 1902 because he regarded his partners' stock promotion methods as fraudulent (which, in fact, they were). He lived as a hermit in a shack for the last 15 years of his life, and died of starvation.

60 years ago
1948

On the radio

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on MBS, starring John Stanley and Alfred Shirley
Tonight’s episode: The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

50 years ago
1958

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.K.: Magic Moments--Perry Como (5th week at #1)

40 years ago
1968

Skiing

Rossland, British Columbia hosted the du Maurier International, the first World Cup event ever held in Canada. Hometown heroine Nancy Greene fell in the second run of the slalom (Marielle Goitschel of France won the event), but thrilled the 10,000 spectators when she won the giant slalom, finishing 1.56 seconds ahead of runner-up Florence Steurer of France. Miss Greene clinched the World Cup Giant Slalom title, and put her in position to win the overall championship. France’s Jean-Claude Killy clinched the men’s World Cup title by winning the slalom. Go to www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/ story.html?id=7903416a-62d7-4c07-a0f1-485e32ee79d7 to see John Korobanik’s article.

Disasters
60 were reported drowned when a boat capsized near Chapra, India

30 years ago
1978

World events

U.S. President Jimmy Carter began a tour of South America with a visit to Venezuela, where he made a positive impression on his hosts by delivering two short speeches in Spanish. President Carter and Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez issued a joint statement emphasizing strong agreement on the importance of the Panama Canal treaties, the seriousness of human rights abuses in Nicaragua, and the problem of Cuban military involvement in Africa.

A letter in former Italian Prime Minister (and current kidnapping victim) Aldo Moro's handwriting was delivered to the government. Mr. Moro appealed to the interior minister to negotiate with the terrorists, or he might be forced to reveal state secrets. The government and Mr. Moro's ruling Christian Democratic party refused to negotiate.

20 years ago
1988


Defense
The United States Senate Armed Services Committee voted 18-2 to endorse a treaty with the Soviet Union on intermediate-range nuclear forces.

Politics and government
Representative Dick Gephardt of Missouri suspended active campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

March 27, 2008

40 years ago
1968

Died on this date
Yuri Gagarin, 34
. U.S.S.R. cosmonaut. Mr. Gagarin became famous as the first man in space when he made one orbit around the earth aboard Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961. An experienced Soviet Air Force pilot, Mr. Gagarin was one of 20 men chosen as cosmonauts in 1960. Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov were the best performers in training; the last-minute selection of Mr. Gagarin is believed by some to have been the result of his more modest upbringing, genial personality, and ability to handle media attention. Also, his height of 5’2" made it possible for him to fit into the Vostok spacecraft.

Although Mr. Gagarin’s flight was cut short after one orbit because of technical difficulties (unreported at the time), it gave the Soviet system a major propaganda victory. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev claimed the success as a vindication of his program of building up the U.S.S.R.’s missile defense at the expense of conventional weapons. The emphasis on space spectaculars antagonized much of the Soviet military leadership, and contributed to Mr. Khrushchev’s downfall several years later.

For years it was reported that Mr. Gagarin had denied seeing any evidence of God while he was in space, but this was refuted in 2006 by a close friend of his, Colonel Valentin Petrov. In an interview, Colonel Petrov claimed that it was actually Mr. Khrushchev who had commented in a speech soon after Vostok 1, "Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any God there." According to Colonel Petrov, Mr. Gagarin had been baptized into the orthodox Church as a child.

After his flight, Mr. Gagarin spent the next seven years in "Star City," the cosmonaut headquarters, working on designs for a reusable spacecraft. He then decided to requalify as a pilot, and was killed, along with his instructor, in a routine training flight in a MiG-15UTI near Kirzhach. The weather was poor, and another jet apparently came very close to the MiG, perhaps causing enough turbulence to send the MiG out of control. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, in his memoirs, recounts that he was flying a helicopter in the vicinity and heard two loud booms in the distance. He concluded that a Sukhoi jet (which he identifies as a Su-15 'Flagon'), flying below its minimum allowed altitude, accidentally passed within 10 or 20 meters of the MiG while breaking the sound barrier. The resulting turbulence would have sent the MiG into an uncontrolled spin. Mr. Leonov believes the first boom he heard was that of the jet breaking the sound barrier, and the second was Mr. Gagarin's plane crashing.

30 years ago
1978

Died on this date
Clemens Kapuo
. Namibian tribal chief. Chief Kapuo, leader of the Herero tribe, was murdered by gunmen in Windhoek, the territory’s capital. Chief Kapuo was president of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, a multiracial party favouring cooperation with South Africa in working toward Namibian independence.

World events
The United States State Department denounced the Rhodesian internal settlement to transfer power to the black majority. The State Department regarded the settlement as illegal because it regarded the Ian Smith government as illegal, and also regarded the settlement as ineffective, because it would not end fighting.

25 years ago
1983

Football

In the United States Football League, the Chicago Blitz defeated the Los Angeles Express 20-14.

World events
Soviet leader Yuri Andropov criticized U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, and said that any attempt to achieve military superiority over the Soviet Union would be futile.

20 years ago
1988

World events

The Sandanista government of Nicaragua freed 100 prisoners as part of a truce agreed to with the Contras four days earlier.

Three days after being convicted of espionage, transmission of information, and aiding the nation's enemies, Mordechai Vanunu was sentenced by an Israeli court to 18 years in prison.

10 years ago
1998

Health

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration approved the male impotence pill sildenafil citrate, better known as Viagra.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

March 26, 2008

80 years ago
1928

Crime

At Lowden, Iowa, Great War veteran Lambert H. Meier, 32, who had been fired as postmaster because of a small shortage in his accounts, shot and killed his wife and three children and then himself (it would have been more newsworthy if he had shot himself and then killed his wife and children).

Bombs were exploded in the homes of United States Senator Charles S. Deneen (in the Englewood district of Chicago) and Circuit Judge John A. Swanson (on Crandon Avenue). Judge Swanson was the candidate for State’s Attorney from the Deneen organization.

World events
The Charlemagne Tower at Tours, France collapsed.

50 years ago
1958

Space

The United States launched the Explorer III satellite from Cape Canaveral.

30 years ago
1978

World events

Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia called on the United States and Great Britain to convene a meeting with the patriotic front guerillas and to support the Anglo-American plan for majority rule in Rhodesia.

25 years ago
1983

Hockey

Among the various Saturday games in the National Hockey League, the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames 5-2; Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Quebec Nordiques 2-1; Montreal Canadiens beat St. Louis Blues 6-5; and the Edmonton Oilers whipped the Los Angeles Kings 9-3.

20 years ago
1988

Politics and government

In the race for the 1988 Democratic party nomination for president of the United States, Jesse Jackson scored an upset victory in the Michigan caucuses, taking 55% of the vote to 28% for Michael Dukakis. Mr. Jackson’s victory was the first ever by a black presidential candidate in a major industrial state. Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, whose criticism of foreign automobile manufacturers had been expected to boost his support in Michigan, polled just 13% of the vote.

10 years ago
1998

World events

U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaking in Cape Town, said that the United States had a "profound stake" in South Africa’s new democracy.

Edmontonia
Capitol Square, at 10065 Jasper Avenue, closed its doors after 22 ½ years as a movie theatre complex in order to be converted to office space. After the old Capitol Theatre had been closed in November 1972 and subsequently torn down, Capitol Square was erected in its place and opened on Friday, October 10, 1975 as Edmonton’s first downtown movie multiplex. The movies that played at the opening were: Rollerball; Death Race 2000; Love and Death; and Three Days of the Condor.

The movies that played there on Thursday, March 26, 1998 were: L.A. Confidential; The Wedding Singer; Dark City; Hush; Wag the Dog; and Eve’s Bayou. Capitol Square operated as a second-run theatre (with discount prices) toward the end, but apparently didn’t draw enough moviegoers to keep going. I went to Eve’s Bayou just a couple of days before closing (I liked to go on $2 Tuesdays), and though I didn’t see many people there, I saw no indication that the place was about to shut down.

Monday, 24 March 2008

March 25, 2008

175 years ago
1833

Theatre

Edmund Kean, regarded in his time as the greatest actor ever, was playing Othello at Covent Garden, with his son Charles as Iago. At the words "Villain, be sure," in scene 3 of act iii, he suddenly broke down, and crying in a faltering voice, "O God, I am dying. Speak to them, Charles," fell insensible into his son’s arms. It turned out to be Edmund Kean's last performance; he died on May 15 at the age of 44.

160 years ago
1848

Politics

Conservative Gerrit Schimmelpenninck took office as Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

80 years ago
1928

Disasters

A flock of 1,000 wild swans that had landed in the night were swept over Niagara Horse Shoe Falls, and many were killed when they struck the ice floes in the gorge below.

Died on this date
C.L. Lankford, 17
. U.S. youth. Clumsiness was responsible for the death of Mr. Lankford when the Atlanta youth stumbled over the brink of the north precipice of Georgia’s Stone Mountain and plunged 800 feet to his death near the carved figure of General Robert E. Lee.

Politics
General Antonio Carmona, acting President and premier, was elected President of the Republic of Portugal by popular vote.

70 years ago
1938

Music

The Ink Spots recorded That Cat is High.

50 years ago
1958

Aviation

The delta-winged interceptor aircraft Avro CF-105 Arrow, with chief development pilot Jan Zurakowski at the controls, made its first flight at the A.V. Roe headquarters at Malton, Ontario, taking off and landing without a hitch. The plane was intended to serve as the Royal Canadian Air Force’s interceptor for the 1960s and beyond.

Boxing
Sugar Ray Robinson, aged 37, gained a 15-round split decision over Carmen Basilio, 31, the New York State onion farmer, at Chicago Stadium to become the world middleweight champion for a record fifth time.

30 years ago
1978

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.S.A.: Night Fever--Bee Gees (2nd week at #1)

World events
The kidnappers of Aldo Moro announced that they had begun a "people's trial" of the former Italian Prime Minister, accusiing him of being the leading representative of a repressive regime for 30 years.

Labour
The United Mine Workers in the United States ratified a settlement, ending the longest strike in the industry’s history after 110 days.

Hockey
The New York Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens in the national Hockey Night in Canada game. Mike Pelyk scored the Maple Leafs’ first goal, his first NHL goal in 4 years.

25 years ago
1983

Movies

The Outsiders, a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on S.E. Hinton’s novel about troubled teenagers in Oklahoma in the 1960s, opened in theatres . It’s a rather strange movie; Mr. Coppola directed it as though he were making a Douglas Sirk 1950s melodrama, but that approach didn’t fit the setting. The most remarkable feature of the movie is the young cast, which included Matt Dillon; Ralph Macchio; Patrick Swayze; Rob Lowe; Emilio Estevez; and Leif Garrett.
Those who saw the film in the spring of 1983 forecast a great career for C. Thomas Howell, who played Ponyboy, the central character. Few would have predicted (in fact, I don’t know if anybody did predict) that the cast member with the most successful career would turn out to be Tom Cruise, whose part in The Outsiders was so small as to be almost invisible. A few months after this movie came out, Mr. Cruise hit it big with Risky Business, and he’s been a big star ever since. C. Thomas Howell’s career, on the other hand, quickly tanked. He made a few forgettable (and forgotten) movies, and was best-known for marrying Rae-Dawn Chong. The Outsiders remains Mr. Howell’s most (only?) memorable movie--a fate that would have amazed moviegoers and critics in the spring of 1983.

Died on this date
Carry Back, 25
. U.S. race horse. Carry Back won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1961 (with John Sellers aboard), and was the leading money-winning horse that year ($565,349 U.S.). In 61 races he recorded 21 wins, 11 places, and 11 shows, with lifetime winnings of $1,241,165.

20 years ago
1988

Crime

A sensational murder trial ended in New York City when the defendant, Robert Chambers, Jr., admitted that he had caused the death of his victim, Jennifer Levin. Miss Levin, 18, had been found strangled in Central Park in 1986 and Mr. Chambers, then 19, had been charged with second-degree murder. The two had left a bar at 4:30 A.M. and gone to the park. Mr. Chambers told police that he had killed Miss Levin unintentionally during a session of "rough sex" in which she had tied his hands with her panties and hurt him. He said that he had responded in a frenzy and had strangled her accidentally. During the ninth day of jury deliberations, Mr. Chambers pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter, admitting that he had intended to injure Miss Levin. Under the plea bargain, Mr. Chambers would have to serve at least five years in prison. Don’t you just love plea bargaining? It makes things easier for the legal profession, but it’s hard to see how it helps the cause of justice.

March 24, 2008

80 years ago
1928

Aviation

Colonel Charles Lindbergh ended his 5-day series of air trips for members of Congress in Washington with a total of 29 trips and 334 passengers.

50 years ago
1958

Americana

Elvis Presley joined the United States Army for a two-year hitch.

Hit parade
#1 single in the U.S.A. (Best seller, Top 100 charts)--Tequila--The Champs (2nd week at #1)
#1 single in the U.S.A. (Disc jockey chart)--Catch a Falling Star--Perry Como

Catch a Falling Star was the B-side of Magic Moments (or was Magic Moments the B-side? I’m not sure which was which). Magic Moments was in the midst of an 8-week run as the #1 single in the U.K. It reached #4 in the United States, making the record one of the biggest two-sided hits ever.

40 years ago
1968

Politics

The National Assembly of Panama voted to oust President Marco Robles, 10 days after impeaching him for interfering in the political campaign for an election scheduled for May 12. Mr. Robles had ignored the earlier vote, and was waiting for a Supreme Court ruling on the move. The Assembly named Max Delvalle to succeed Mr. Robles as President. Mr. Robles again refused to recognize the Assembly’s action, and was backed by the 4,800-man Guard unit. Clashes began between the Guard and angry Panamanians.

World events
The United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned the Israeli use of a force of 15,000 men to cross into Jordan three days earlier to wipe out guerilla bases which had been used to stage raids against Israel.

Disasters
61 were killed when an Irish International Viscount 4-engine turboprop crashed into the Irish Sea.

30 years ago
1978

World events

Somalia announced that it had completed its withdrawal of forces from Ethipia’s Ogaden region in accordance with a promise made on March 9.

25 years ago
1983

World events

Speaking to the United Nations Security Council, Victor Hugo Tinoco, deputy foreign minister of Nicaragua, charged that rebel troops invading Nicaragua from Honduras had been created by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Jeane Kirkpatrick, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., denied the allegation, and claimed that the fighting was the result of a spontaneous revolt against the Nicaraguan government.

Defense
The Soviet press agency TASS charged that the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, announced by President Ronald Reagan the night before, announced that the antiballistic missile system would violate the terms of the 1972 SALT treaty. The Democrats, responding to the President’s address, rejected his claim that the United States was weaker than Russia.

20 years ago
1988

World events

After a 7-month secret trial, Mordechai Vanunu, an employee at a bomb-making factory in Israel, was convicted of espionage, transmission of information, and aiding the nation’s enemies. For an undisclosed 6-figure sum, Mr. Vanunu had disclosed secrets of Israel’s atomic weapons program to the Sunday Times of London. Independent observers said that Mr. Vanunu’s revelations showed that Israel had a greater nuclear capability than western observers had assumed, and that Israel could build up to 200 bombs, as well as neutron and hydrogen weapons.

10 years ago
1998

World events

U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaking in Kampala, Uganda, indulged in his vomit-inspiring habit of confessing other people’s sins when he expressed regret for America’s role in African slavery (conveniently ignoring the slavery that was currently going on in Africa).

Crime
In President Clinton’s home state of Arkansas, Mitchell Johnson, 13, and his 11-year-old cousin Andrew Golden, opened fire at a middle school in Jonesboro, killing 4 girls and a teacher, and wounding 11. The older boy, who had a history of torturing animals, had apparently vowed to get revenge on all the girls who had broken up with him (a rather large number, it seems). The names of the victims should be mentioned: Natalie Brooks, 11; Paige Ann Herring, 12; Stephanie Johnson, 12(no relation to Mitchell Johnson); Brittheny R. Varner, 11; Shannon Wright, 32 (teacher).

Sunday, 23 March 2008

March 23, 2008

80 years ago
1928

Crime

The first private execution in the province of Quebec took place at 5:37 A.M. when George McDonald, killer of Lachine taxi driver Adelaird Bouchard, was hanged at the Valleyfield Jail. Mr. McDonald’s wife had also been sentenced to death for the crime, but her sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment.

75 years ago
1933

Law

The German parliament passed the so-called Ermaechtigungsgesetz, popularly known as the Enabling Act, by a two-thirds majority over the opposition of the SPD on March 24, 1933, just a month after a fire had badly damaged the Reichstag. Valid for four years, the act, formally known as the Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation, was renewed in 1937 and remained in force until World War II ended in 1945. Under its terms, Hitler and the Nazis could ignore the civil liberties provisions in the German constitution and issue decrees without having them passed by parliament. Some people may notice a similarity between the Enabling Act and the Patriot Act in the United States--a terrorist act of dubious origin leads to legislative approval for dictatorial powers for the executive branch of government, and the abolition of civil liberties.

50 years ago
1958

On television tonight

Alfred Hitchcock Presents on CBS
Tonight's episode: Flight to the East

40 years ago
1968

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.S.A.: (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay--Otis Redding (2nd week at #1)
#1 single in the U.K.: The Legend of Xanadu--Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich

Died on this date
Edwin O’Connor, 49
. U.S. novelist and journalist. Mr. O’Connor was a television critic for Boston newspapers, but is best remembered for his 1956 novel The Last Hurrah, whose title became part of the American vernacular. The novel, about an aging machine politician (reminiscent of former Boston mayor James Curley) was made into a successful movie in 1958. Mr. O’Connor’s next novel, The Edge of Sadness (1961), was about a middle-aged priest, and earned Mr. O’Connor the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1962. Other novels included The Oracle (1951); I Was Dancing (1964); and All in the Family (1966). Mr. O’Connor died from a cerebral hemmorhage.

30 years ago
1978

War

200 French paratroopers were among a force of United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) troops which had been moved into Lebanon in order to enforce a ceasefire between Israeli forces and Palestinian terrorists.

Scandal
Rep. Charles C. Diggs, Jr., a Democrat from Michigan, and the senior black member of the House of Representatives, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking kickbacks from three Congressional employees and keeping on his Congressional payroll three other employees who did no work for Congress. The indictment charged that the kickbacks and illegal payments amounted to more than $101,000 between 1973 and 1977. Rep. Diggs was also charged with 14 counts of mail fraud and 21 counts of making false statements to the government. Rep. Diggs was on a tour of Africa as chairman of the Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee when the charges were announced. He denied the charges and complained that they showed "an unfortunate insensitivity" to his mission in Africa, and could undermine a meeting in which he was to join President Jimmy Carter for talks in Nigeria.

Crime
The Olin Corporation and three of its former officials were indicted on charges of concealing the dumping of 38 tons of mercury into the Niagara River at Niagara Falls, New York from 1970 to 1977. Environmental officials said that the mercury represented a serious hazard to anyone eating the fish caught in the river.

Died on this date
Bill Kenny, 63
. U.S. singer. Mr. Kenny joined the vocal group The Ink Spots in 1936, and his high tenor helped to give the group a distinctive sound. On November 6, 1936, they became the first black performers to appear on television, in an NBC/RCA demonstration. Their first major hit was If I Didn’t Care in 1939. Many hits followed, including Address Unknown (1939); My Prayer (1939); When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano (1940); Whispering Grass (1940); Do I Worry (1940); Java Jive (1940); Shout, Brother, Shout (1942); Don't Get Around Much Anymore (1942); I Can't Stand Losing You (1943); Cow-Cow Boogie (1944 - with Ella Fitzgerald); Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall/I'm Making Believe (1944 - both with Ella Fitzgerald); and The Gypsy (1946). Many of these records made # 1 on early versions of the US pop charts--The Gypsy was their biggest chart success, staying at the # 1 position for 13 weeks. Bill Kenny’s brother Herb joined the group for a period in the 1940s. Bill Kenny also made recordings without The Ink Spots; many of these were spirituals.

From June 24-30 1954 The Ink Spots performed at the Gatineau Club in Hull, Quebec, followed by a week at the Bolero Bar in Wildwood, New Jersey from July 8-14. At the end of the gig, Mr. Kenny told the rest of the group that The Ink Spots were finished, and everybody went home. Mr. Kenny then pursued a solo career.

Mr. Kenny moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1961, and made occasional concert appearances in B.C. and elsewhere. From May 22-July 10, 1966 he hosted a Sunday afternoon show of easy listening music on CBC television called The Bill Kenny Show. His health gradually declined, and he died of a respiratory disease. The Ink Spots were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 (as an influence), and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

25 years ago
1983

Defense

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, in an address to the American people, called for development of a new antiballistic missile system that would destroy Soviet missiles before they could hit U.S. targets. The new system would employ a great deal of new technology--much of it still on the drawing boards--possibly including lasers, microwave devices, particle beams, and projectile beams. Mr. Reagan’s proposal marked a shift in U.S. strategy, which had previously relied on the threat of massive nuclear retaliation to deter an attack. The program, titled Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), was quickly mischaracterized by the ignorant and anti-Reagan media as "Star Wars".

Most of Mr. Reagan’s address had been devoted to an appeal for his proposed increases in defense spending, and he used declassified intelligence photographs to support his claims that the Soviets were "spreading their military influence in ways that can directly challenge our vital interests..."

The defense ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said that U.S. intermediate-range missiles would be deployed as scheduled in December unless the U.S. and U.S.S.R. reached an accord in the Geneva disarmament talks.

At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Victor Hugo Tinoco, deputy foreign minister of Nicaragua, claimed that 2,000 rebels backed by the United States had invaded Nicaragua from Honduras, and that the Honduran army was massing near the border.

Died on this date
Barney Clark, 62
. U.S. medical pioneer. A Utah dentist, Dr. Clark died 112 days after receiving the world’s first artificial heart at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Dr. Clark had been critically ill with a degenerative heart disorder at the time of the implantation, but had made a significant recovery. The artificial heart worked well until the end; death was attributed to "vascular collapse, resulting from a multitude of causes." The heart was shut off only after doctors determined that Dr. Clark was "essentially dead".

20 years ago
1988

Diplomacy

After three days of talks in the southern Nicaraguan town of Sapoa, representatives of the Sandanista government of Nicaragua and the anticommunist Contras announced a 60-day ceasefire. Defense Minister Humberto Ortega signed for the government, and Contra leader Adolfo Calero signed for his side. The Contras were to assemble in special zones but would be allowed to keep their weapons. The Sandanistas agreed to free 3,300 prisoners convicted of violating Nicaraguan security laws or of affiliating with the regime of the late dictator Gen. Anastasio Somoza. The parties agreed to resume negotiations.

War
Western journalists, brought to the Iraqi town of Halabja by Iran to view the bodies of those killed in an Iraqi attack on March 16, concluded their three-day visit. The U.S. State Department denounced the attack as a "particularly grave violation" of the Geneva convention on chemical warfare.

10 years ago
1998

World events

U.S. President Bill Clinton began a 12-day tour of Africa with a speech in Accra, Ghana, pledging more U.S. interest and aid.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin dismissed his entire cabinet, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Movies
The overrated blockbuster Titanic tied Ben-Hur's 1959 record by winning 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Director (James Cameron). Other winners included Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt (Actor and Actress, respectively, for As Good as it Gets), Kim Basinger (Supporting Actress for L.A. Confidential, which should have won for Best Picture), and Robin Williams (Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting).

Friday, 21 March 2008

March 22, 2008

75 years ago
1933

On the radio

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Richard Gordon and Leigh Lovell, on NBC
Tonight's episode: Mr. Pattle's Secret Profession

40 years ago
1968

War

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson named general William Westmoreland to the post of Army chief of staff. Contingent upon confirmation by the Senate, General Westmoreland was scheduled to give up his command in Vietnam and assume his new duties in Washington on July 2.

World events
Antonin Novotny resigned as President of Czechoslovakia, the day after a National Assembly committee had demanded his resignation. The ouster of Mr. Novotny was viewed by many as marking the end of Stalinism in Czechoslovakia.

Hit parade
Edmonton's top 10
1 Playboy--Gene and Debbe
2 Love is Blue--Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra
3 The Unicorn--The Irish Rovers
4 Too Much Talk--Paul Revere and the Raiders
5 Just Dropped In--The First Edition
6 (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay--Otis Redding
7 The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde--Georgie Fame
8 Thank U Very Much--The Scaffold
9 Valleri--The Monkees
10 Lady Madonna--The Beatles
Pick of the Week: Hey Joe--The Nomads
New this week: Forever Came Today--Diana Ross and the Supremes
I Will Always Think About You--New Colony Six
Red Red Wine--Neil Diamond
A Hundred Men--Glenn Yarbrough
The Importance of the Rose--Rod McKuen

The Nomads were an Edmonton group who recorded on the Damon label (for education students, that's nomad spelled backwards). Hey Joe was a staple of 1960s bands--although the lyrics are politically incorrect by 2000s standards. The B-side, The Letter, was one of the biggest hits of the '60s, having been a huge hit the previous fall for the Box Tops. It was a hit again for The Arbors in 1969, and yet again (as a B-side, at that) for Joe Cocker in 1970.

30 years ago
1978

Died on this date
Sonora Dodd, 96
. U.S. activist. Mrs. Dodd’s suggestion for a "Father’s Day" was adopted in 1910, and was first observed in Spokane, Washington on June 19 that year. Mrs. Dodd wanted to honour her father, William Smart, a U.S. Civil War veteran who had raised his six children as a widower when his wife died giving birth to Sonora, the youngest child. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a National Father’s Day, but it wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation declaring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Mrs. Dodd died in Spokane.

Karl Wallenda, 73. German-born daredevil. Mr. Wallenda was the founder of The Flying Wallendas, an internationally known daredevil circus act famous for performing death-defying high-wire stunts without a safety net.

Mr. Wallenda started performing at age six with his family. He founded his own four-person act in 1922; the act moved to the United States in 1928 and began an association with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Combined Circus. Later they performed as freelancers, and in 1947 they developed the unequalled three-tier 7-Man Pyramid. The pyramid collapsed during a performance in Detroit in 1962, killing two members of the act and seriously injuring two others. However, in keeping with show business tradition, the Flying Wallendas continued performing, despite the loss of other members in subsequent accidents.

On March 22, 1978, Mr. Wallenda attempted a walk between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a wire stretched 37 metres (121 feet) above the pavement; he fell to his death when winds exceeded 48 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). The Wallenda family attributed the tragedy to "several misconnected guy ropes along the wire" and not the windy conditions. A film crew from WAPA-TV in San Juan filmed the fall, and the video, featuring anchorman Guillermo Jose Torres' anguished narration of the fall, circled the world.

World events
A vanguard of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), about 100 men, arrived in Lebanon to begin enforcing a ceasefire between Israeli forces and Palestinian terrorists. French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing announced that France would be part of the force because of traditional French links with the Lebanese people. France had traditionally avoided participation in peacekeeping activities.

25 years ago
1983

Died on this date
Blanton Collier, 76
. U.S. football coach. Mr. Collier was head coach of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League from 1963-1970, and led the Browns to the NFL championship in 1964. Mr. Collier began his professional coaching career as an assistant under Paul Brown when the Browns began play in the All-America Football Conference in 1946. The Browns won the AAFC championship in all four years of the league’s existence, then moved into the NFL, where they won the title in 1950, and made it to the championship game in each of the next three seasons. Mr. Collier left the Browns after the 1953 season to become head coach at the University of Kentucky; in eight seasons (1954-1961) he produced a record of 41 wins, 36 losses, and 3 ties, but was fired in January 1962. No Kentucky head coach since Mr. Collier has left the school with a winning record. Paul Brown welcomed Mr. Collier back as an assistant with the Browns in 1962; when Mr. Brown was fired after posting a 7-6-1 record that season, Mr. Collier was chosen as his replacement by owner Art Modell, but wouldn’t accept the job until he had first discussed it with Mr. Brown. Mr. Collier allowed his players, such as quarterback Frank Ryan, more input into play selection, and the results paid off with a string of winning records. Running back Jim Brown, who had failed to win the NFL rushing title in 1962 for the first time in his 6-year career, came back in 1963 with a then-record 1,863 yards. The Browns improved to 10-4 that year, and posted a 10-3-1 record in 1964, capping the season with a 27-0 win at home over the heavily-favoured Baltimore Colts in the championship game. From 1965-1969 the Browns never won fewer than 9 games in each season (they played 14-game seasons then), but always fell just short of the title. They played in the NFL championship games in 1965, 1968, and 1969. In 1970 the Browns dropped to 7-7, and missed the playoffs. Mr. Collier had been growing increasingly deaf, and he decided after that season that the hearing loss was making it too difficult for him to continue coaching. Mr. Collier managed one achievement in 1970 that served as a footnote in the history books: He became the winning coach in the first game ever played on Monday Night Football when the Browns defeated the New York Jets in their season opener on September 21. Mr. Collier retired with a professional head coaching record of 76-34-2. He continued with the Browns organization as a college scout. According to one of his players, defensive end Paul Wiggin, "We had the greatest teacher in football in Blanton Collier. He was a gentleman, he was a great coach...There were no flaws. He could have run for president. If someone put together a committee to find holes in his life, they wouldn’t have found any. He was a good human being." In the words of Browns’ owner Art Modell, "God never created a finer human being than Blanton Collier."

20 years ago
1988


On television tonight
The Wonder Years, on ABC
Tonight's episode: Swingers

10 years ago
1998

Oil

Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico announced a cut in oil production, a move which was expected to reverse a sharp drop in world prices.

March 21, 2008

80 years ago
1928

Americana

In Washington, President Calvin Coolidge presented Colonel Charles Lindbergh with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Col. Lindbergh took more Congressmen for airplane rides, and then spoke before the Military Committee of the Senate and House in support of pending bills that proposed higher pay for men and officers who would undergo the hazards of service in the Army Air Corps.

Died on this date
"Diamond Joe" Esposito, 55
. U.S. politician and gangster. Mr. Esposito was a Republican boss of the 19th Ward in Chicago, and a political rival of Al Capone. He was gunned down at home in front of his wife and daughter in a murder contract arranged by his fellow former gang member Paul "The Waiter" Ricca.

Politics
U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, through his secretary Everett Sanders, notified the Republican State Central Committee of Wyoming that he must decline their request of March 10 to "waive his personal preferences and continue for an additional four years that leadership which has brought honor and prosperity to this country."

In a straight party vote, the Republican-controlled New York State Senate defeated Democratic Governor Al Smith’s motion to extend the gubernatorial term to four years by a vote of 26-24.

Nicaraguan President Adolfo Diaz issued an executive decree investing the United States with full authority to supervise the Nicaraguan national elections scheduled for the following October.

World events
Afghan King Amanullah Khan flew over London, becoming the first royal personage to view the English capital from the air. The king described the event as the "greatest thrill the West has yet given me."

Disasters
13 tourists died in an Alpine avalanche near Salzburg, Austria.

60 years ago
1948

On the radio

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring John Stanley and Alfred Shirley, on MBS
Tonight's episode: Death is a Golden Arrow

50 years ago
1958

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.K.: Magic Moments--Perry Como (4th week at #1)

40 years ago
1968


World events
A committee of the National Assembly of Czechoslovakia unanimously recommended that President Antonin Novotny resign his post.

An Israeli force of 15,000 men crossed into Jordan and wiped out guerilla bases used in staging raids against Israel.

Died on this date
Gerhart Eisler, 71
. German-born politician and propagandist. Mr. Eisler was active in the German Communist party during the Weimar Republic before emigrating to the United States. He acted as a liaison between Communist parties of the United States and China. In 1948 he was described by Newsweek as the Number One Red Agent in the U.S. Despite being accused of espionage, Mr. Eisler was charged only with misrepresenting his Communist party affiliation on his emigration application. He fled the country by stowing away on a Polish freighter bound for London, was discovered by the crew while at sea, and was arrested at Southampton. The British authorities allowed Mr. Eisler to go to the German Democratic Republic, where he became head of East German radio and a leading propagandist on behalf of the Communist government.

30 years ago
1978

World events

Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, and Senator Jeremiah Chirau were sworn in as co-leaders of the provisional government of Rhodesia along with Prime Minister Ian Smith, 18 days after the four had signed an agreement to transfer power to the country’s black majority by the end of the year.

Israeli Defense Miniser Ezer Weizman issued a unilateral ceasefire edict after Israeli forces had completed the takeover of most of southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, except for the port of Tyre.

20 years ago
1988

Died on this date
Edd Roush, 94
. U.S. baseball player. Mr. Roush played 18 years in the major leagues from 1913-1931, most of them (1916-1926, 1931) with the Cincinnati Reds. He led the National League in batting in 1917 (.341) and 1919 (.321), in doubles in 1923 (41) and triples in 1924 (21). Mr. Roush retired with a lifetime batting average of .323. After breaking into the major leagues with a brief stint with the Chicago White Sox in 1913, he spent two years in the Federal League with the Indianapolis Hoosiers (1914) and Newark Peppers (1915). Mr. Roush joined the New York Giants in 1916, joining the Reds later that season. He rejoined the Giants for three seasons from 1927-1929. Mr. Roush played all 8 games for the Reds in the 1919 World Series vs. the White Sox, batting just .214 as the Reds won 5 games to 3. Former teammate Heinie Groh described Mr. Roush as "far and away the best center fielder I ever saw." On June 8, 1920, Mr. Roush was ejected from a game for falling asleep in the outfield. Cincinnati manager Pat Moran got into an argument with the umpire, and the argument dragged on so long that Mr. Roush decided to have a nap. He was so difficult to wake up that he was ejected for delaying the game. Mr. Roush was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

March 20, 2008

180 years ago
1828

Born on this date
Henrik Ibsen
. Norwegian playwright. Mr. Ibsen was often referred to as the "father of modern drama." He took a critical view of Victorian values and morality, and his plays showed that surface propriety often hid a dark underside. Among Mr. Ibsen’s works were Brand (1865); Peer Gynt (1867); A Doll’s House (1879); Ghosts (1881);An Enemy of the People (1882); The Wild Duck (1884); Hedda Gabler (1890); and The Master Builder (1892). He died on May 23, 1906 at the age of 78. Henrik Ibsen is not to be confused with Henry Gibson, who recited poetry on the 1960s television comedy show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

80 years ago
1928

Aviation

Colonel Charles Lindbergh embarked on his program of making members of Congress "air minded" by taking two Senators and forty Representatives and members of their families and friends in a series of eight flights over Washington, D.C.

Born on this date
Fred Rogers
. U.S. clergyman and television personality. Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who became one of the major names in children’s television. After several years hosting local children’s programs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Rogers moved to Toronto, hosting MisteRogers on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from 1963-1966. He then moved his show to educational television in Pittsburgh; the title was changed to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in 1968. In 1969 the show moved to the Public Broadcasting Service, where it continued running until 2001. Mr. Rogers died on February 27, 2003.

60 years ago
Born on this date

Happy birthday, Bobby Orr!

One of the greatest hockey players ever (the greatest, according to some), Mr. Orr revolutionized the game in the 1960s. The term "offensive defenseman" had usually been an oxymoron until Mr. Orr came along. He could control the tempo of the game by controlling the puck. Mr. Orr is still the only defenseman to win a scoring title, which he did in 1969-1970 and 1974-75. After winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding rookie in 1966-67, Mr. Orr won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman for eight straight seasons from 1967-68 through 1974-75. He also won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player from 1969-70 through 1971-72.

He led the Boston Bruins to Stanley Cup championships in 1969-70 and 1971-72. Mr. Orr scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal 41 seconds into overtime in the fourth game of the finals at the Boston Garden vs. the St. Louis Blues on May 4, 1970. He was tripped by Blues’ defenseman Noel Picard as he shot the puck, and the image of Mr. Orr flying through the air with his stick raised is one of the most memorable in hockey history. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and won it again in 1972, when the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers in six games in the finals.

The only question concerning Mr. Orr’s greatness is what he might he might have done if a series of knee injuries (beginning in his second NHL season) hadn’t interrupted and prematurely ended his career. The 1974-75 season was his last full season; he played just 10 games the following season, and then signed with the Chicago Black Hawks as a free agent. Mr. Orr played just 20 games in 1976-77, took the next season off, and retired in the fall of 1978 after playing in 6 games at the start of the 1978-79 season. His last moment of glory occurred in the inaugural Canada Cup tournament in September 1976. He’d been unable to play in the 1972 series vs. the Soviet Union, but was the Canada Cup’s most valuable player for the victorious host nation.

50 years ago
1958

Born on this date
Holly Hunter
. U.S. actress. Miss Hunter won the Academy Award for Best Actress for 1993 for her performance in The Piano, one of the decade’s most overrated movies. Miss Hunter’s other Oscar nominations were for Broadcast News (Actress, 1987); The Firm (Supporting Actress, 1993); and Thirteen (Supporting Actress, 2003).

40 years ago
1968

Died on this date
Charles Chaplin, Jr., 42
. U.S. actor. The son of Charlie Chaplin and Lita Grey died of a blood clot. His movie appearances included Limelight (with his father) (1952); The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955); High School Confidential! (1958); The Beat Generation (1959); Girls Town (1959); and Sex Kittens Go to College (1960).

30 years ago
1978

Politics

French Socialist leader Francois Mitterand blamed the Communists for the left’s defeat in the national elections the day before; the Communists had repeatedly attacked the Socialists during the campaign.

Law
The Florida State Supreme Court ruled that acknowledgment of homosexual preference was not in itself grounds to deny a qualified applicant the right to practise law in the state.

Died on this date
Jacques "Toto" Brugnon, 82
. French tennis player. Mr. Brugnon was one of the "Four Musketeers" from France who dominated tennis in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He was primarily a doubles specialist who won 10 Grand Slam doubles titles in the French, American, Australian and British championships. He was also a fine singles player but never won a major title. Along with the other Musketeers (Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, and René Lacoste), Mr. Brugnon was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1976.

20 years ago
1988

Politics

In the contest for the presidential nominations, Jesse Jackson won the Democratic preference vote in Puerto Rico; Vice President George Bush won the Republican vote.

Jose Napoleon Duarte’s centrist party lost ground in elections in El Salvador. The right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) won about half the seats in the National Assembly. ARENA had called for a more vigorous war against leftist rebels and had criticized the Duarte government for corruption and various economic problems. The rebels called for a boycott of the vote.
ARENA won in about 80% of the municipalities--including San Salvador--that voted. A preliminary report from the ruling party said that ARENA had won 31 of the 60 seats in the assembly.

World events
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz in order to work out details of a summit between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to take place in Moscow from May 29-June 2.

Hockey
CIAU
The York University Yeomen won the national men’s hockey championship with a 5-2 win over the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in the final.

10 years ago
1998

Scandal

U.S. President Bill Clinton invoked executive privilege and attorney-client confidentiality in order to block testimony by senior White House aides in the grand jury investigation of the president’s alleged affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

March 19, 2008

160 years ago
1848

Born on this date
Wyatt Earp
. U.S. lawman. He was a police officer in Wichita and Dodge City, Kansas, before making his way (with his older brothers Jim and Virgil) to Tombstone, Arizona in December 1879, where he became an armed guard for Wells Fargo and Company. Younger brothers Morgan and Warren arrived in Tombstone the following summer.

Wyatt Earp is best remembered for his participation in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which took place on October 26, 1881, and pitted Marshals Virgil and Morgan Earp, along with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday (deputized by Virgil for the occasion) against Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne. The McLaurys and Bill Clanton were killed, while Morgan and Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. The Earps and Holliday were charged with murder, but all were acquitted.

Over the next several decades,Mr. Earp moved on to various jobs and adventures, eventually settling in Hollywood. He died in Los Angeles, California on January 13, 1929.

80 years ago
1928

Americana

Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh was presented with the Woodrow Wilson medal and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s $25,000 peace award at a dinner in New York City.

30 years ago
1978

World events

The United Nations Security Council voted 12-0 to adopt a United States-sponsored resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon, and establishing a 4,000-man U.N. force to enforce a ceasefire in the area.

The Italian government decided to continue the trial in Turin of 15 Red Brigade terrorists, despite the vow of the kidnappers of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro to kill him if the guerrillas weren't freed.

Politics
The government centre-right coalition defeated the socialists and Communists in national elections in France. The government emerged with a 90-seat majority in the 491-seat Chamber of Deputies.

Scandal
Former United States Budget Director Bert Lance made a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding charges that he and nine others, including four wealthy Arabs, had violated federal law in failing to disclose their attempted takeover of Financial Bankshares, Inc., Washington's second-largest bank-holding company.

Hockey
The University of Alberta Golden Bears defeated the defending champion University of Toronto Varsity Blues 6-5 to win the CIAU men's hockey championship.

25 years ago
1983

Football

In United States Football League action, the hometown Arizona Wranglers defeated the Los Angeles Express 21-14 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The loss was the first for the Express after two wins to start the season, and the first as a head coach for Hugh Campbell in 13 games, going back to 1982 when he was coaching the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

20 years ago
1988

Politics

In the race for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis won the Kansas caucuses.

10 years ago
1998

World events

Zhu Rongji, the new premier of China, outlined a sweeping 3-year program for changes to make state-owned industries solvent, overhaul the banking system, and redesign the government.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a Hindu nationalist, was sworn in as Prime Minister of India, an event that alarmed Muslims and moderate Hindus.

Monday, 17 March 2008

March 18, 2008

150 years ago
1858

Politics

Jan Jacob Rochussen, Conservative, took office as Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

50 years ago
1958

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.K.: Magic Moments--Perry Como (4th week at #1)

30 years ago
1978

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.S.A.: Night Fever--Bee Gees

Night Fever replaced (Love Is) Thicker Than Water, by the Bee Gees' younger brother Andy Gibb, as the #1 song. Andy's hit had replaced his brothers' previous single, Stayin' Alive at the top of the Billboard (TM) Hot 100.

World events
In Pakistan, former President and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was sentenced to death for conspiracy to murder a political opponent, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, three years earlier. In 1974, Mr. Kasuri's family had been ambushed, and Mr. Kasuri's father, Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan, had been killed. The younger Kasuri insisted that he had been the real target. The trial and verdict were heavily criticized amid accusations of bias and manufactured evidence.

Hockey
In the national Hockey Night in Canada game, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Penguins' first goal was scored by former Boston Bruins' star Derek Sanderson, attempting a comeback after several years of decline.

10 years ago
1998

Religion

Regional bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to maintain a ban on sodomite clergy. They voted against replacing existing law with a broader one that would be open to individual interpretation.

March 17, 2008

70 years ago
1938

Born on this date
Rudolf Nureyev
. Russian ballet dancer. Mr. Nureyev became a soloist with the Kirov Ballet in 1958 and defected from the Soviet Union while on tour in Paris in 1961. The leading classical ballet dancer of his generation, he was known for his overpowering stage presence and athletic skill and grace. Major roles included the lead in Les Sylphides; Giselle; Swan Lake; Romeo and Juliet; and Sleeping Beauty. He was ballet director of the Paris Opera from 1983-1989.

Mr. Nureyev also starred in the movie Exposed in 1983, where he was teamed with Nastassia Kinski. The film was considered one of the year's worst, with particular criticism going to the performances of the two stars. Rudolf Nureyev died in 1993 at the age of 55.

50 years ago
1958

Hit parade

#1 single in the U.S.A. (Billboard): Tequila--The Champs

Tequila was #1 on all three Billboard (TM) charts this week: Best Sellers; Disc Jockeys; Top 100.

Space
The United States launched the Vanguard I satellite into earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The satellite carried two radios and a temperature sensor and was the first orbiting vehicle to be powered by solar energy. Photovoltaic silicon solar cells provided the electrical power to the 6.4-inch, 3.5-pound satellite until its experiments and transmitter fell silent in 1964. Vanguard I achieved the highest altitude of any man-made vehicle to that time and confirmed geologists' suspicions that the earth is pear-shaped. Vanguard I is the first artificial satellite to have been in space for 50 years.

40 years ago
1968

Economics & finance

The London Gold Pool members met in Washington to address the crisis of their rapidly dwindling reserves, and agreed that all gold transactions between governments would continue to be made at $35 U.S. per ounce, but that they would no longer sell gold to private investors. The crisis was believed by many to be the result of two factors: a $3.572 billion deficit in the U.S. balance of payments for 1967; and the devaluation of the British pound on November 18, 1967, which was followed by speculation in U.S. dollars. Some governments (such as France, which openly wanted a return to the gold standard) were believed to be behind much of the buying.

30 years ago
1978

Economics & finance

U.S. Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal and Charles L. Schultze, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, warned President Jimmy Carter that inflation had replaced unemployment as the nation's worst economic problem.

Disasters
The supertanker Amoco Cadiz broke in two after running aground in heavy seas off the Brittany coast in France, spilling more than 1.3 million of its cargo of 1.6 million barrels of crude oil into the sea.

20 years ago
1988

Disasters

A Colombian airliner crashed three minutes after taking off from Cucuta, killing all 137 aboard.

World events
The government of Panama announced that it had retired five senior military officials sympathetic to the officers who had attempted to seize military headquarters the day before.

War
Honduran jets bombed a Nicaraguan army position in the border area; Nicaragua claimed that the bombs had fallen in its own territory. Local Nicaraguan commanders said that the offensive along the border had been ended. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Jim Wright said that he knew of no reasons to send U.S. troops to Honduras.

10 years ago
1998

Health

Researchers in Finland announced that Vitamin E reduced the incidence of prostate cancer by one third, and the death rate by 41% in a study of thousands of smokers. Vitamin A was found to have no effect.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

March 16, 2008

50 years ago
1958

On television tonight

Alfred Hitchcock Presents on CBS
Tonight's episode: Foghorn

40 years ago
1968


Hit parade
#1 single in the United States:: (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay)--Otis Redding
#1 single in the U.K.: Cinderella Rockafella--Esther and Obi Ofarim (3rd week at #1)

Politics
Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination for 1968, challenging President Lyndon Johnson. Mr. Kennedy's candidacy enraged Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy, who was already a candidate, and who appealed to the same demographics--Irish Catholics, the young, and liberals who were opposed to the war in Vietnam.

War
Several hundred unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mainly women and children, were massacred by members of Charlie Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (the Americal Division), United States Army, in the South Vietnamese hamlets of My Lai and My Khe, in what became known as the My Lai Massacre. The number of those killed was anywhere from 347 (official U.S. estimate) to 504 (number of names on the memorial at the site). The first reports claimed that "128 Vietcong and 22 civilians" were killed in the village during a "fierce fire fight". As related at the time by the Army's Stars and Stripes magazine, "U.S. infantrymen had killed 128 Communists in a bloody day-long battle."

News of the massacre didn't start to get out until a former member of Charlie Company, Ron Ridenhour, wrote to President Richard Nixon, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, and numerous members of Congress in March 1969, detailing the events at My Lai. Mr. Ridenhour learned about the massacre secondhand from other members of Charlie Company while he was still enlisted. Congressman Morris Udall of Utah was one of the few recipients of the letter who wanted to pursue the matter.

Second Lieutenant William Calley, who had led a platoon, was charged in September 1969 with the murder of 109 civilians, and 25 others were charged with lesser offenses. Freelance reporter Seymour Hersh received a phone tip about the court martial on October 22, and after completing his investigation, he filed his story with the Dispatch News Service (after Life and Look magazines had passed on it), and the report was published on November 13 in 36 major newspapers, including the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and San Francisco Chronicle. Mr. Hersh's report earned him the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. Time, Life, and Newsweek then covered the story, and when the Cleveland Plain Dealer published graphic photos of the bodies taken by Army photographer Ronald Haeberle, further cover-up became impossible.
On March 17, 1970, 14 officers, including Americal Division's commanding officer, Major General Samuel Koster, were charged with suppressing information relating to the massacre. Most of the charges were later dropped.

The sordid details of the massacre, cover-up, and legal proceedings take up too much space to be included in this blog, so the reader is encouraged to look these up for himself. Lt. Calley, who stated that he was following the orders of Capt. Ernest Medina, was the only one of the 26 men charged in the massacre to be convicted. The sentence, initially life imprisonment, was later reduced to 10 years. Lt. Calley served just 3 1/2 years before federal judge J. Robert Elliott ruled in in his favour and granted his immediate release on a habeus corpus motion.

30 years ago
1978

Politics

The United States Senate voted 68-32 to approve the treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of the Panama Canal after 2000.

World events
In Rome, Red Brigade terrorists kidnapped Aldo Moro, former Italian Prime Minister and likely future President. The terrorists killed all five of Mr. Moro's bodyguards, and announced that Mr. Moro would be killed unless 15 guerrilla leaders on trial in Turin were freed. The Italian government deployed up to 50,000 policemen and troops to search for Mr. Moro.

25 years ago
1983

Died on this date
Arthur Godfrey, 79
. U.S. radio and television star. Arthur Godfrey was the biggest money-producing star the Columbia Broadcasting System has ever had, and the biggest television star CBS ever had. In terms of ratings and hours on the small screen, he was television's biggest star in the 1950s, and maybe the biggest TV star ever. Which is to say, he was a big star.

Mr. Godfrey began his broadcasting career in radio in the 1920s, but it was after being seriously injured in a car accident in the early 1930s that he began to make an impact. While recuperating, he noticed that the formal announcing style employed by radio announcers was unsuitable for home listening. Mr. Godfrey decided that when he returned to the airwaves, he would speak as though he were talking to a friend at home. This style led to a position as morning announcer for CBS-owned WJSV in Washington, D.C., where President Franklin D. Roosevelt was among his listeners. Mr. Godfrey's informal style extended to commercials; his kidding of sponsors and looseness with scripts only helped sales of the products he was pitching, and gave the impression that he wouldn't endorse a product that he didn't use himself. He's been credited as being the man who taught radio and television how to sell.

In addition to pitching commercial products, Mr. Godfrey became an aviator, and was credited by Eddie Rickenbacker with doing more to boost air travel than anyone since Charles Lindbergh. He got into trouble a couple of times in the 1950s for buzzing control towers.

Mr. Godfrey's emotional broadcast of President Roosevelt's funeral in April 1945 was picked up by the national CBS network, and he was given his own national Monday-Friday morning show called Arthur Godfrey Time. In 1946 he added to his workload with a prime time show titled Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts; this show ran on radio for 10 years, and was supplemented by a television version of the show that began running in December 1948 for a half hour on Monday nights. Among the acts that were boosted to stardom on this show were Steve Lawrence, the Smothers Brothers, the McGuire Sisters, Vic Damone, Beverly Sills, Lenny Bruce, Don Adams, Tony Bennett, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, Patsy Cline, Pat Boone, Marilyn Horne, Roy Clark, and Lesley Uggams. Wally Cox and the Chordettes were both signed to recording contracts after appearing on the same show in 1948. However, Mr. Godfrey rejected Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and the Orioles. Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts was in the top 10 in the ratings through 1954, and was the #1 show in the 1951-52 season. It remained in the top 20 through 1956-57, and slipped badly just at the end, due largely to changing audience tastes. The show went off the air in 1958.

As if that wasn't enough, Arthur Godfrey and his Friends, another prime time show, went on TV in January 1949, running for an hour on Wednesday nights until June 1957, and for a half hour on Tuesday nights from September 1958-April 1959. This show was also a top 10 ratings success for years, peaking at #3 for the 1952-53 season. One of the "friends" was pop singer Julius LaRosa, who's remembered today mainly for the fact that Mr. Godfrey fired him on the air on October 19, 1953, subsequently claiming that Mr. LaRosa "lacked humility." This incident attracted much criticism for Mr. Godfrey, putting his folksy public image at odds with his private controlling personality. A TV writer named Al Morgan wrote a novel called The Great Man, a thinly-veiled book about Arthur Godfrey that was made into a successful movie in 1956, starring Jose Ferrer.

All this time, Arthur Godfrey Time had continued on radio and (since 1948) on television. The radio version ran for three hours; the TV version ran for an hour, later expanded to 90 minutes. That adds up to 15 1/2 hours per week on radio, and 9 hours per week on television, with big ratings.

In 1959 Mr. Godfrey was diagnosed with lung cancer, and gave up his shows while undergoing surgery and radiation. Treatment was successful, but his time as a TV star was over. Arthur Godfrey Time returned, but only on radio; the show ended its run in April 1972. Mr. Godfrey appeared in a few television specials for CBS, the last of which aired on March 28, 1973. He promoted environmental causes, and continued to do commercials. The only thing I can remember seeing him in was an ad in his last year or so for an insurance company aimed at senior citizens ("Get some peace of mind!"). I don't remember the name of the company.

The Sunday after Mr. Godfrey's death, Andy Rooney, one of his former writers, delivered a moving tribute to him in his 60 Minutes segment. In his 1999 book Sincerely, Andy Rooney, Mr. Rooney made the following comment:


For reasons I don't understand, some people make the history books and others don't. It has no direct relation to accomplishment. Fame has a life of its own. Some people become legends, known long after they've departed. Others, equally famous in life, are all but forgotten shortly after they die. Godfrey is destined to be one of those. He'd hate it.


Film critic Roger Ebert recently echoed that opinion in a recent movie review when he said that one can go within a 200-mile radius of Chicago and not meet anyone who's ever heard of Arthur Godfrey.

20 years ago
1988

World events

The Panamanian government reported that five officers had been arrested for attempting to seize military headquarters that morning.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir met with U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Washington, but made no concessions concerning the occupied territories. Mr. Shamir had met in Washington the day before with U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz.

War
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater announced that up to 2,000 Sandanista troops had crossed the border from Nicaragua into Honduras to attack a Contra camp in Honduras. Mr. Fitzwater said that President Reagan had received a letter from Honduran President Jose Azcoma asking for aid, although he had not specified what kind of aid was wanted. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega denied that Nicaraguan troops had crossed the border.

Iraq attacked the town of Halabja, a stronghold of Kurdish separatists which Iran claimed to have taken the day before, with explosives and chemical weapons, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of its own citizens. The attack was seen as punishment to the Kurds for supporting the Iranians. Iranian doctors said that mustard gas and cyanide gas were used in the attack.

10 years ago
1998

Religion

The Vatican issued an "act of repentance," admitting the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to deter the mass killings of Jews during World War II.

Scandal
California businessman Johnny Chung pled guilty on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy in connection with $20,000 in illegal contributions to the Bill Clinton-Al Gore re-election campaign of 1996.

The White House released correspondence indicating that former White House assistant Kathleen Willey had maintained a cordial relationship with President Clinton in the four years since Mr. Clinton had allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward Ms. Willey.