On This Day January 17
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1706 – U.S. Founding Father, statesman, publisher and inventor Benjamin Franklin (d. 1790)
1899 – American gangster Al Capone (d. 1947)
1922 – Actress-comedian Betty White, whose eight decades in show business included memorable roles in TV’s “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Golden Girls,” “Hot in Cleveland” and “Saturday Night Live”) (d. 2021)
1927 – Singer-actress Eartha Kitt, best known for her rendition of “Santa Baby” and for playing Catwoman in the 60’s “Batman” TV series (d. 2007)
1931 – Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony-winning actor James Earl Jones, whose many performances include providing the voice of Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” movie series and Mufasa in Disney’s “The Lion King”
1942 – Former World Heavyweight Boxing champion Muhammad Ali (d. 2016)
1957 – Comedian and “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey
1962 – Golden Globe-winning actor-comedian Jim Carrey (“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “The Mask,” “Batman Forever,” “Liar Liar,” “The Truman Show,” “Man on the Moon,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”)
1964 – Former First Lady Michelle Obama
1971 – Rapper and singer-songwriter Kid Rock, born Robert James Ritchie
1980 – Actress-singer Zooey Deschanel (“All the Real Girls,” “Elf,” “The Happening,” “(500) Days of Summer,” “New Girl”)
1916 – Golf great Walter Hagen and some 30 other pro golfers meet in New York City and form the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA).
1950 – Eleven Boston bandits stage what comes to be called the “crime of the century,” the “perfect crime” and the “fabulous Brink’s robbery.” The group steals more than $2 million ($29 million today) from the Brink’s Armored Car depot in Boston. Six years later, the suspects are finally arrested — just days before the statute of limitations for the heist was to expire.
1953 – General Motors (GM) unveils a prototype Chevrolet Corvette sports car (code-named EX-122) at the Motorama auto show in New York City. Named for a fast type of naval warship, Corvette would eventually become an iconic American muscle car that is still in production today.
1955 – The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN 571), sets out to sea. Over the next several years, the vessel shatters all submerged speed and distance records.
1961 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his farewell address to the nation and warns against the accumulation of power by “the military-industrial complex.”
1994 – A powerful earthquake rocks Los Angeles, leaving 57 people dead and causing billions of dollars in damage. The Northridge Quake, as it’s known, remains one of the most destructive in U.S. history.
1969 – Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album, featuring a stylized photo of the exploding Hindenburg airship on the cover, is released to a lackluster reception. The album, which includes the tracks “Good Times Bad Times” and “Dazed and Confused,” eventually climbs to No. 10 and helps shape the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal.
1970 – The Doors play the first of four shows at the Felt Forum in New York City. The performances are recorded for an eventual live compilation album.
1976 – Barry Manilow’s “I Write the Songs” reaches the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and goes on to win a Grammy for Song of the Year. Ironically, Manilow did not write this song. It was penned by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys.
1987 – “Shake You Down,” by Gregory Abbott, is the No. 1 single.
1990 – The Four Seasons, The Platters, The Four Tops, Hank Ballard, Bobby Darin, Simon & Garfunkel, The Kinks, and The Who are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the fifth annual awards presentation in New York.
1998 – The Australian pop duo Savage Garden kicks off two weeks as Billboard chart-toppers with “Truly Madly Deeply.”
2004 – OutKast is in the middle of a nine-week domination of the pop chart with “Hey Ya!”