On This Day November 23
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1887 – Actor Boris Karloff, born William Henry Pratt, best known for his portrayal of the monster in the “Frankenstein” movies and narrator/voice of The Grinch in the 1966 animated special, “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” (d. 1969)
1889 – The first jukebox goes into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. Built by the Pacific Phonograph Company, the device is called a “nickel-in-the-slot player.” A record would play for a nickel and up to four people could listen using using stethoscope-like tubes.
1981 – President Ronald Reagan secretly grants the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the power to recruit and support a 500-man force of Nicaraguan rebels (“Contras”) to conduct covert actions against the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. The move eventually leads to what became the Iran-Contra scandal.
1936 – Delta blues legend Robert Johnson lays down his first-ever musical recordings — eight songs in a single session at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. The tracks include “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and his biggest hit, “Terraplane Blues.”
1976 – Rocker Jerry Lee Lewis is arrested for the second time in as many days. First it was drunk driving, but on this day he’s busted for brandishing a pistol outside Graceland while demanding to see Elvis.
1995 – Soul singer and saxophonist Junior Walker, best known for the hits “How Sweet It Is” and “What Does It Take, To Win Your Love, dies of cancer at the age of 64. Walker also played sax on Foreigner’s 1981 hit “Urgent.”