On this Day May 1
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1907 – Singer Kate Smith, known as “The First Lady of Radio,” and most famous for her rendition of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” (d. 1986)
1916 – Actor Glenn Ford (“3:10 to Yuma,” “the Courtship of Eddie’s Father”) (d. 2006)
1939 – Folk-pop singer-songwriter and activist Judy Collins (“Both Sides, Now,” “Someday Soon,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Send in the Clowns”)
1945 – Grammy-winning pop vocalist Rita Coolidge, best known for her 1977 hits “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher” and “We’re All Alone”
1946 – Director John Woo (“Broken Arrow,” “Face/Off,” “Mission: Impossible 2,” “Windtalkers,” “Paycheck,”)
1954 – Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ray Parker, Jr. (“Ghostbusters” theme, “Jack and Jill,” “You Can’t Change That”)
1967 – Grammy-winning country music singer-songwriter and actor Tim McGraw (“Don’t Take the Girl,” “Live Like You Were Dying,” “Just to See You Smile”)
1969 – Golden Globe-winning director Wes Anderson (“Rushmore,” “The Royal Tennenbaums,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Isle of Dogs”)
1931 – President Herbert Hoover dedicates New York City’s iconic 102-story Empire State Building by symbolically pressing a button in Washington, D.C. that illuminates what is then the world’s tallest building. The art deco skyscraper, standing 1,250 feet tall, was built in just over a year at a cost of $41 million.
1941 – “Citizen Kane” opens in New York, and through the decades, is hailed as one of the greatest movies ever made. Written and directed by 26-year-old filmmaker Orson Welles (also the star), it chronicles the life of a newspaper magnate considered to be real-life publishing baron William Randolph Hearst.
1958 – President Dwight Eisenhower proclaims Law Day to honor the role of law in the establishment of the United States of America. In 1961, Congress follows suit by passing a joint resolution establishing May 1 as Law Day.
1960 – An American U-2 spy plane is shot down over the Soviet Union, prompting cancellation of a planned summit between U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev.
1963 – Jim Whittaker of Washington State becomes the first American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.
1971 – The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK) introduces passenger rail service in the U.S. with 184 trains a day. The first train, the Clocker, rolls out of New York’s Penn Station bound for Philadelphia just after midnight. AMTRAK was created through the Rail Passenger Act of 1970 to salvage the nation’s struggling passenger rail services.
1997 – After 18 years of Conservative rule, British voters give the Labour Party, a landslide victory in British parliamentary elections. In the poorest Conservative Party showing since 1832, Prime Minister John Major is rejected in favor of Tony Blair, who at age 43 becomes the youngest British prime minister in more than a century.
1965 – Herman’s Hermits begin a three-week run on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.”
1967 – Thirty-two-year-old Elvis Presley marries 21-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. They divorce six years later.
1976 – The Bellamy Brothers have a No. 1 single with “Let Your Love Flow.”
1982 – “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, ends its seven-week domination of the Billboard Hot 100. In 2016, the song is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
1999 – TLC enjoys its fourth and final week on top of the pop chart with “No Scrubs.”
2004 – Usher is midway through a 12-week domination of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Yeah!” — a collaboration with Lil Jon and Ludacris. The track goes on to capture a Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy.