On This Day January 26
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1925 – Oscar-winning actor and race car driver Paul Newman (“The Hustler,” “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Verdict,” “The Color of Money,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “Road to Perdition”) (d. 2008)
1941 – Actor Scott Glenn (“Urban Cowboy,” “The Right Stuff,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Backdraft,” “Training Day,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”)
1955 – Legendary rock guitarist and songwriter Eddie Van Halen of the band Van Halen (“Hot for Teacher”, “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love”, “Jump”, “Panama”) (d. 2020)
1958 – Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Anita Baker (“Sweet Love,” “Just Because”)
1958 – Emmy-winning TV host, comedian, actress and LGBTQ advocate Ellen DeGeneres
1961 – Retired hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who played for four teams during 20 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL)
1788 – Britain’s First Fleet sails into Sydney Harbor and begins the European colonization of Australia. The fledgling colony marks this event each year as Australia Day, however in recent years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have objected because they see the occasion as the beginning of the deliberate destruction of their people and culture.
1905 – A 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa. Weighing 1.33 pounds, it is the largest diamond ever found, and is named the Cullinan after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine.
1926 – Scottish inventor John Logie Baird gives the first public demonstration of a true television system (called a “televisor”) in London, launching a revolution in communication and entertainment.
1950 – The Republic of India is formed as the Indian constitution takes effect.
1961 – President John F. Kennedy appoints Janet Travell, 59, as his personal physician, making her the first woman in history to hold that post.
1979 – The General Lee, a bright orange Dodge Charger with a Confederate flag on its roof, kicks up dust clouds as “The Dukes of Hazzard” premieres on CBS.
1988 – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” has its first Broadway performance at the Majestic Theatre.
1998 – During one of the most memorable news conferences of his presidency, Bill Clinton tells reporters, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Clinton later confesses that he did indeed have an “improper physical relationship” with Monica Lewinksky, a 24-year-old White House intern.
2005 – Condoleezza Rice assumes the post of U.S. Secretary of State two months after her nomination by President George W. Bush. She becomes the highest ranking African American woman ever to serve in a presidential cabinet.
1963 – The Rooftop Singers stroll to the top of the singles chart with “Walk Right In.”
1970 – Phil Spector and John Lennon write and record Lennon’s “Instant Karma” in one day. It lands on the Billboard pop chart 33 days later, eventually climbing to No. 3.
1974 – “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr is the No. 1 single. The song is from the ex-Beatle’s “Ringo” album, which also contains the hits “Photograph” and “Oh My My.”
1980 – Prince makes his television premiere with an appearance on “American Bandstand.” He shyly answers questions from host Dick Clark, beginning with “How did you learn to do this in Minneapolis?”
1985 – Madonna wraps up six weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with her first No. 1 single, “Like a Virgin.”
1991 – Surface kicks off two weeks atop the pop chart with “The First Time.” It is the last time the New Jersey trio has a No. 1 single.
2002 – “U Got It Bad,” by Usher, is in the midst of a five-week ride on top of the singles chart.