On This Day April 4

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established by the U.S. and 11 other Western nations.

1960 – William Wyler’s Technicolor epic ,”Ben-Hur,” sets an Academy Awards record when it sweeps 11 of the 12 categories for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Charlton Heston).

1968 – A sniper shoots and kills civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 39, on the balcony of a Memphis, Tennessee motel. As word of the assassination spreads, riots erupt in cities across the U.S., and National Guard troops are deployed in Memphis and Washington, D.C. In 1991, the murder scene—the Lorraine Motel—is dedicated as part of the National Civil Rights Museum.

1969 – CBS cancels the most popular show on TV at the time, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” because the brothers failed to submit their script to network executives to review before broadcast. 

1973 – A ribbon-cutting ceremony is held in New York’s Lower Manhattan to dedicate the original World Trade Center. At 110 stories each, 1 WTC, or the North Tower, and 2 WTC, the South Tower, would provide nearly 10 million square feet of office space. Reaching more than a quarter of a mile into the sky, the Twin Towers were the tallest buildings in New York City, and for a brief period, the tallest buildings in the world. 

1975 – At a time when most Americans are using typewriters, childhood friends and self-proclaimed computer geeks Bill Gates and Paul Allen establish Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Four years later, they relocate the business to Washington State and grow it into a major multinational technology corporation.

2007 – Radio shock jock Don Imus makes offensive remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team on the air, creating a firestorm of criticism across the country. Imus apologizes and loses his job, but ultimately is able to salvage his career.

2013 – Acclaimed movie critic Roger Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV’s Sneak Previews program for 31 years, dies at the age of 70 after battling cancer.

On This Day December 4

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On This Day November 30

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Celebrity Birthdays
Celebrity Birthdays

1835 – Author Mark Twain, a.k.a. Samuel Clemens, best known for his classic American novels “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” (d. 1910)

1874 – Winston Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, is born in Oxfordshire, England. (d. 1965) 

1918 – Actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (“77 Sunset Strip,” “The F.B.I.”) (d. 2014)

1927 – Emmy-winning actor Robert Guillaume, best known for his role as the butler in the ABC sitcom “Benson”

1929 – Legendary TV host and producer Dick Clark, born Richard Wagstaff Clark, who is credited with such popular shows as “American Bandstand,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” “The $25,000 Pyramid” and “TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes,” among others. (d. 2012)

1937 – Emmy-winning director-producer Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Blade Runner,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Gladiator,” “Black Hawk Down,” “American Gangster,” “The Martian”)

1947 – Tony-winning playwright, screenwriter and director David Mamet (“The Verdict,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Wag the Dog,” “Ronin”)

1952 – Emmy and Tony-winning actor Mandy Patinkin (“Yentl,” “The Princess Bride,” “Dick Tracy,” “The Adventures of Elmo In Grouchland,” “Chicago Hope,” “Criminal Minds”)

1955 – Rock singer-guitarist Billy Idol, born William Albert Michael Broad (“Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “Rock the Cradle of Love”)

1965 – Emmy-winning actor, director and comedian Ben Stiller (“Reality Bites,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Zoolander,” the “Meet the Parents” trilogy, “DodgeBall,” “Tropic Thunder,” the “Madagascar” series, the “Night at the Museum” trilogy, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”)

1978 – Singer and “American Idol” alum Clay Aiken, born Clayton Holmes Grissom

History Highlights
History Highlights

1965 – Consumer advocate Ralph Nader publishes “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a book that singles out the Chevy Corvair while criticizing U.S. auto safety standards. It immediately becomes a bestseller and prompts passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, seat belt laws in 49 states (all but New Hampshire) and other highway safety initiatives.

1967 – Senator Eugene McCarthy, who advocated for a negotiated end to the Vietnam War, declares that he will challenge President Lyndon Johnson for the Democratic Party nomination. However, four months later, Johnson announces that he is not seeking re-election.

1971 – The made-for-television movie “Brian’s Song” premieres on ABC, starring James Caan as Brian Piccolo, the Chicago Bears running back who is stricken with terminal cancer, and Billy Dee Williams as his teammate, Gale Sayers. It leaves audiences sobbing with its compelling portrayal of the strong friendship the two athletes form. The movie captures five Emmy Awards.

1977 – After nearly four decades with CBS News, anchor Eric Sevareid retires. Sevareid was among a group of elite war correspondents hired by legendary CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow, and nicknamed “Murrow’s Boys.” He was the first to report the Fall of Paris when the city was captured by the Germans in World War II.

1993 – President Bill Clinton signs the Brady Bill into law, requiring a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases and background checks of prospective buyers.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

On This Day November 29

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Celebrity Birthdays
Celebrity Birthdays

1927 – Retired Hall of Fame sportscaster Vin Scully, play-by-play announcer for the Brooklyn and later the Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 seasons

1935 – Golden Globe-winning actress Diane Ladd, born Rose Diane Lanier (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” “Alice,” “Wild at Heart,” “Rambling Rose”)

1940 – Jazz trumpeter Chuck Mangione, best known for his 1978 smash “Feels So Good”

1949 – Comedian-actor Garry Shandling (“It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “The Larry Sanders Show”) (d. 2016)

1954 – Oscar-winning director Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers (“Blood Simple,” “Raising Arizona,” “Miller’s Crossing,” “Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” “No Country for Old Men,” “A Serious Man,” “True Grit”)

1955 – Comedian-actor and TV host-judge Howie Mandel (“St. Elsewhere,” “Deal or No Deal,” “Bobby’s World,” “America’s Got Talent”)

1960 – Actress Cathy Moriarty (“Raging Bull,” “Soapdish,” “The Mambo Kings,” “Casper,” “Analyze That,” “The Bounty Hunter”)

1961 – Emmy-winning actress Kim Delaney (“NYPD Blue,” “All My Children,” “Philly,” “CSI: Miami”)

1962 – Actor-director Andrew McCarthy (“St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Mannequin,” “Weekend at Bernie’s,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Less Than Zero,” “Orange is the New Black”)

1964 – Golden Globe-winning actor Don Cheadle (“Boogie Nights,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Crash,” “House of Lies,” “Iron Man 2,” “Iron Man 3,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Captain America: Civil War”)

On This Day November 23

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

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.” 

1963 – “I’m Leaving It Up to You,” by Dale & Grace, is the hottest song on the radio.

1974 – Billy Swan is on top of the singles chart for two weeks with the only hit of his singing career: “I Can Help.”

1974 – The Rolling Stones score their fifth No. 1 album with “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” — the last Stones album for guitarist Mick Taylor, who was replaced by Ronnie Wood. 

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.

1985 – Starship begin their second and final week orbiting around the top spot on the pop chart with “We Built This City.”

1991 – Michael Bolton’s cover of Percy Sledge’s 1966 classic, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” reaches No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and later goes on to capture a Grammy Award.

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.”

2002 – Eminem rules the Billboard singles chart with “Lose Yourself,” from the “8 Mile” movie soundtrack. The song holds at No. 1 for 12 weeks.

On This Day November 12

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On This Day October 10

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1956 – Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender,” from the movie of the same name, debuts on the pop chart, reaching No. 1 a month later. It is an adaptation of the Civil War-era tune “Aura Lee or The Maid with Golden Hair.”

1960 – The novelty song “Mr. Custer,” by Larry Verne, begins a week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1970 – “Cracklin’ Rosie” gives Neil Diamond his first ride to the top of the singles chart, where it holds for a week.

1979 – “The Rose,” starring Bette Midler as a self-destructive 1960s rock star, premieres in Los Angeles. The movie, based on the life of rock legend Janis Joplin, goes on to receive four Oscar nominations, including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Midler, in her screen debut).

1981 – The Diana Ross-Lionel Richie duet, “Endless Love,” concludes its nine-week reign over the singles chart.

1987 – “Here I Go Again,” by British rockers Whitesnake, spends a week on top of the Billboard Hot 100.

1988 – U2 release “Rattle and Hum,” a companion to the movie of the same name. The album contains live performances from the band’s successful 1987-88 “The Joshua Tree” tour, as well as additional songs recorded at the historic Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

1992 – Boyz II Men are in the middle of an epic 13-week domination of the singles chart with their Grammy-winning smash, “End of the Road.”

2009 – The Black Eyed Peas begin the final week of a marathon 14-week hold on the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 with “I Gotta Feeling.” The song goes on to capture a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

On this Day August 16

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1962 – Twelve-year-old ‘Little’ Stevie Wonder releases his first single, “I Call It Pretty Music, (But The Old People Call It The Blues),” which features Marvin Gaye on drums.

1969 – The world is introduced to the Jackson 5 by Diana Ross & The Supremes during a performance at the Los Angeles Forum.

1975 – Peter Gabriel announces that he’s leaving Genesis. After auditioning more than 400 singers over the next 18 months, the band selects its longtime drummer, Phil Collins, as new frontman.

1977 – Music legend Elvis Presley dies of a heart attack at the age of 42. The King’s career included 33 movies and 105 Top 40 hits that continue to entertain fans decades after his death. 

1980 – “Magic,” by Olivia Newton-John, is in the middle of a one-month reign of the Billboard Hot 100.

1985 – On her 27th birthday, Madonna weds actor Sean Penn in a Malibu ceremony described as a “media circus.” The marriage lasts four years. 

1986 – “Papa Don’t Preach” becomes Madonna’s fourth No. 1 single. It holds the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. The track is from her “True Blue” album, which begins its own five-week run atop the album chart this same day.

1997 – “I’ll Be Missing You, by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans featuring 112, tops the Billboard Hot 100. The song samples  The Police’s 1983 hit song “Every Breath You Take.”

2018 – ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. The self-taught piano prodigy, vocalist and songwriter notched 77 Hot 100 chart entries and earned 18 Grammys during her career. In 1987, Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

On this Day June 25

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1876 – Native American forces led by Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeat the U.S. Army troops of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer in a bloody battle near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River. The conflict becomes known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

1942 – General Dwight D. Eisenhower (a.k.a. “Ike”), who would later become 34th U.S. president, assumes command of all U.S. troops in the European theater during World War II. In 1943, Ike is appointed supreme Allied commander of all forces in Europe.

1950 – Armed forces from communist North Korea invade South Korea, setting off the Korean War. The United States, acting under the auspices of the United Nations, quickly springs to the defense of South Korea and fights a bloody and frustrating war for the next three years.

1962 – In the case of Engel v. Vitale, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that prayers read aloud in public schools violate the separation of church and state stipulated by the First Amendment.

1968 – Congress passes the Flag Desecration Law, making it a crime to burn or otherwise desecrate the American flag. However, in 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down flag desecration laws in 48 states in its 5-4 Texas v. Johnson ruling, stating that flag desecration is a constitutionally protected form of free speech.

1993 – Kim Campbell is sworn in as Canada’s 19th prime minister, becoming the first woman to hold the country’s highest office.

2009 – Actress Farrah Fawcett — best known for TV and movie roles in “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Cannonball Run” and “The Burning Bed,” and who rocketed to pin-up status when a 1976 poster of her in a red bathing suit sold 12 million copies — dies at 62 following a three-year battle with anal cancer.

On this Day June 11

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1944 – Lieutenant John F. Kennedy receives the prestigious Navy and Marine Corps Medal in recognition of his heroic, life-saving actions as a gunboat pilot during World War II. Kennedy, who goes on to become America’s 35th president, also receives a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in battle. He is the only president to have earned either of those high honors.

1955 – Carnage at Le Mans, as an Austin-Healey and Mercedes-Benz collide, showering flaming wreckage onto spectators. Eighty-two people are killed and at least 100 injured in one of auto racing’s worst accidents.

1962 – Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin become the only prisoners to successfully escape from Alcatraz prison. No one ever saw or heard from them again, although there were multiple unconfirmed sightings over the years.

1967 – The Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors ends with a United Nations-brokered ceasefire. That November, the U.N. Security Council adopts a resolution establishing a formula for Arab-Israeli peace whereby Israel would withdraw from territories occupied in the war in exchange for peace with its neighbors.

1963 – An outspoken opponent of school desegregation, Alabama Governor George Wallace physically blocks two African American students from entering the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. President John F. Kennedy responds by federalizing the Alabama National Guard and ordering troops to escort the students to their classes. Wallace then steps aside, but that evening, Kennedy delivers a national address about segregation regarded by many historians as one of the turning points in the civil rights movement.

1977 – MLK assassin James Earl Ray escapes from Brushy Mountain State Prison in Tennessee, but is recaptured three days later.

1979 – Cancer claims the life of screen legend John Wayne (“El Dorado,” “Rio Bravo,” “True Grit,” “The Comancheros”) at the age of 72.

1982 –  Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” opens in U.S. theaters and becomes a box office bonanza. The movie launches the career of actress Drew Barrymore, and in 1994, is selected for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” 

1986 – “Bueller… Bueller…” The now-classic John Hughes film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” starring Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck and Mia Sara, opens in U.S. theaters.