Thursday, 19 February 2015

February 20, 2015

225 years ago

Died on this date
Joseph II, 48
. Holy Roman Emperor, 1765-1790. Joseph II was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I, and the brother of Marie Antoinette. A Roman Catholic, he was known for granting religious tolerance to Protestants and Jews. Joseph II died after a lengthy illness; he left no sons and was succeeded as Emperor by his brother Leopold II.

180 years ago


An earthquake and tsunami struck Concepcion, Chile. One of those who experienced the earthquake was British naturalist Charles Darwin. The town was largely destroyed and had to be rebuilt.

150 years ago

The Uruguayan War ended after six months with a peace agreement between President Tomás Villalba and rebel leader Venancio Flores, setting the scene for the destructive Paraguayan War.

120 years ago

Died on this date
Frederick Douglass, 77 (?)
. U.S. civil rights activist. Mr. Douglass, born into slavery in Maryland as Frederick Bailey, escaped from slavery in 1838 and eventually settled in Massachusetts. He was the most famous Negro proponent of the abolition of slavery in the United States, and his three autobiographies were all bestsellers. Mr. Douglass also supported women's suffrage, and was nominated for Vice President of the United States in 1872 as the running mate of Victoria Woodhull on the ticket of the Equal Rights Party. In 1888 he became the first Negro to receive a vote for President of the United States at the convention of a major party, getting one vote at the Republican National Convention. Mr. Douglass died of a heart attack or stroke in Washington, D.C., just after returning home from delivering an address to a meeting of the National Council of Women.

100 years ago

The Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) opened in what is now the Marina District in San Francisco. The exposition's ostensible purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake.

80 years ago

Caroline Mikkelsen of Denmark became the first woman to set foot in Antarctica, accompanying her husband, Captain Klarius Mikkelsen. The expedition made landfall at the Vestfold Hills near the present Davis Station.

75 years ago

Politics and government
The French Chamber of Deputies expelled 58 Communist Party members who had not denounced the U.S.S.R.

Economics and finance
The Council of the Federated Malay States voted a war gift of $5 million to the United Kingdom.

70 years ago

Died on this date
Edwin M. "Pa" Watson, 61
. U.S. military officer. Major General Watson, a secretary and military aide to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, died aboard a U.S. warship en route home from the Yalta Conference in Crimea.

The United States Senate Military Affairs Committee put aside consideration of the May-Bailey bill and began consideration of a substitute that would drop all "labor draft" aspects of war worker mobilization. Soviet troops battled to within 8 miles of Guben, an outer fortress of Berlin. Soviet units pushed into the Polish Corridor to within 40 miles of Danzig. U.S. Marines advanced against the central Japanese airfield on Iwo Jima, while other units advanced yard-by-yard up the slopes of Mount Suribachi. U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur announced that the remaining Japanese forces in southern Manila had been compressed into an area approximately 1,200 by 800 yards.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt met at Great Bitter Lake with King Farouk of Egypt, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. Topics of discussion included Middle East politics and progress of World War II.

Venezuela formally adhered to the United Nations declaration.

The U.S. National War Labor Board ordered a minimum wage of 55c per hour for 50,000 textile workers in order to correct substandard wages.

50 years ago

Hit parade
#1 single in Australia (Kent Music Report): Under the Boardwalk/Walking the Dog--The Rolling Stones

#1 single in France: Sacré Charlemagne--France Gall (9th week at #1)

#1 single in Italy (FIMI): Le colline sono in fiore--The New Christy Minstrels (2nd week at #1)

#1 single in West Germany (Media Control): Das ist die Frage aller Fragen--Cliff Richard (4th week at #1)

#1 single in the Netherlands (De Nederlandse Top 40): Letkiss--Gudrun Jankis; Stig Rauno

#1 single in the U.K. (New Musical Express): I'll Never Find Another You--The Seekers

#1 single in the U.S.A. (Billboard): This Diamond Ring--Gary Lewis and the Playboys

U.S.A. Top 10 (Cash Box)
1 You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'--The Righteous Brothers (3rd week at #1)
2 This Diamond Ring--Gary Lewis and the Playboys
3 Downtown--Petula Clark
4 My Girl--The Temptations
5 The Name Game--Shirley Ellis
6 Shake--Sam Cooke
7 I Go to Pieces--Peter and Gordon
8 All Day and All of the Night--The Kinks
9 Twine Time--Alvin Cash and the Crawlers
10 Bye, Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye)--The 4 Seasons

Singles entering the chart were Eight Days a Week by the Beatles (#48); Shotgun by Jr. Walker & the All Stars (#54); Stop! In the Name of Love by the Supremes (#65); Come Tomorrow by Manfed Mann (#71); Send Me the Pillow You Dream On by Dean Martin (#74); If I Loved You by Chad & Jeremy (#78); Good Times by Jerry Butler (#80); I Must Be Seeing Things by Gene Pitney (#90); If I Ruled the World by Tony Bennett (#93); Pass Me By by Peggy Lee (#95); I've Been Trying by the Impressions (#96); Diamond Head by the Ventures (#98); This Sporting Life by Ian Whitcomb and Bluesville (#99); and I Can't Explain by the Who (#100). Jimmy Smith's version of Goldfinger was mentioned with the version by Shirley Bassey (charting at #36), but was not charted.

On television tonight
Sherlock Holmes, starring Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock, on BBC 1
Tonight's episode: The Illustrious Client

The Beatles were at EMI Studios in London, where they recorded the song That Means a Lot.

The U.S. probe Ranger 8 crashed into the Moon after a successful mission of photographing possible landing sites for the Apollo manned missions.

40 years ago

Hit parade
#1 single in Ireland (IRMA): January--Pilot (3rd week at #1)

Born on this date
Happy Birthday, Mandy Sellars!

Noted Canadian author Mordecai Richler was in the city, doing research for a book project that was later abandoned. He visited our house, and it was a pleasure for this blogger to meet him.

25 years ago

On television tonight
The Wonder Years, on ABC
Tonight’s episode: The Tree House

Economics and finance
Canadian Finance Minister Michael Wilson announced the federal budget. Transfer payments to the provinces for health care and higher education were to be cut by $2.5 billion over the next two years. The reduction in payments to the provinces, combined with higher personal taxes, was projected to hold the government’s annual deficit to $28.5 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1991. Other measures announced in the budget included: a 5% limit on increased spending for defense, foreign aid, science and technology, and Indian Affairs programs; cancellation of the Polar 8 icebreaker project announced in 1985 to help assert Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic; and the sale of major Crown corporations Petro-Canada and Telesat Canada.

Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel arrived in Washington, D.C., becoming the first head of state of his country to visit the United States.

20 years ago

Hit parade
#1 single in Spain (PROMUSICAE): Zombie--Ororo (6th week at #1)

Canada's top 10 (RPM)
1 Bang and Blame--R.E.M.
2 Take a Bow--Madonna
3 When I Come Around--Green Day
4 Insensitive--Jann Arden
5 On Bended Knee--Boyz II Men
6 Mishale--Andru Donalds
7 Strong Enough--Sheryl Crow
8 You Don't Know How it Feels--Tom Petty
9 Buddy Holly--Weezer
10 Love Will Keep Us Alive--The Eagles

Singles entering the chart were Sour Times (Nobody Loves Me) by Portishead (#81); The Cowboy Song by Sting (#85); Another Day by Whigfield (#87); Bourbon Street by Eddie Schwartz (#89); Heart of Stone by Dave Stewart (#91); In the House of Stone by Martin Page (#92); The U.S. of Ache by Kim Mitchell (#94); Every Day of the Week by Jade (#95); Bad Reputation by Freedy Johnston (#96); and Shame by Zharva (#97).

10 years ago

Died on this date
Hunter S. Thompson, 67
. U.S. journalist. Mr. Thompson was a pioneering practitioner of "gonzo journalism," in which the reporter becomes the central figure of the story. His best-known books were Hell's Angels (1967); Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971); and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 (1973). Mr. Thompson was a heavy drinker and user of illegal drugs, and his writing delined after the early 1970s. He fatally shot himself, making it "deadtime for gonzo."

Sandra Dee, 60 or 62. U.S. actress. Miss Dee, born Alexandra Zuck, was best known for playing the title character in the movie Gidget (1959) and several sequels. She was married to singer and actor Bobby Darin from 1960-1967. Miss Dee died of kidney disease after years of poor health.

Spain became the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but with a low voter turnout.

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