On This Day March 31

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1943 – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” premieres on Broadway. In 1955, the musical is produced as a motion picture starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones (in her film debut).

1958 – Chess Records releases “Johnny B. Goode,” by Chuck Berry. The song climbs as high as No. 8 on the pop chart and goes on to become a rock and roll classic.

1962 – Connie Francis claims the top spot on the pop chart for a week with “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You”

1967 – Jimi Hendrix suffers minor burns to his hands when he sets his guitar on fire during a performance at Finsbury Park in London. Nevertheless, he goes on to torch guitars several times during his short career.

1973 – Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song” returns to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for a fifth week after The O’Jays interrupted her for a week with their hit, “Love Train.”

1979 – “Tragedy,” by the Bee Gees, dominates the singles chart for a second and final week.

1984 – Kenny Loggins kicks off a three-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Footloose,” from the movie of the same name.

1987 – Prince releases his ninth studio album, “Sign o’ the Times,” which spawns three Top 10 hit singles: “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” “U Got the Look,” (with Sheena Easton) and the title track. 

1995 – Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known as the “Mexican Madonna,” is shot and killed by Yolanda Saldívar, the president of her fan club. Selena was the first female Tejano artist to win a Grammy, in the Best Mexican-American album category, for her 1993 album “Selena Live!” At the time of her murder, at age 23, Selena was on the brink of international fame, recording her first English language album.

2007 – “Glamorous,” by Fergie featuring Ludacris, enters its second and final week as the No. 1 single.

On This Day November 16

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1907 – Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory collectively enter the United States as Oklahoma, the 46th state.

1915 – The patent for the iconic curved glass Coca-Cola bottle is awarded to the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana. Coca-Cola and Root Glass enter into an agreement to have six glass companies across the U.S. use the bottle shape. The contract called for the bottles to be colored with “German Green” which was later renamed “Georgia Green” in honor of Coke’s home state.

1945 – The United States implements “Operation Paperclip,” a top secret program that brings 88 German scientists to America to help develop rocket technology. The moves stirs controversy because many of the scientists, including Apollo program pioneer Wernher von Braun, had served under the Nazi regime.

1973 – President Richard Nixon authorizes construction of the Alaska Pipeline to meet America’s growing energy demands while reducing the nation’s reliance on foreign oil.

1977 – After terrifying audiences with “Jaws” two years earlier, director Steven Spielberg dazzles moviegoers with visitors from other worlds as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” opens in movie theaters.

1981 – Sixteen million TV viewers tune in to “General Hospital” on ABC for the much-anticipated Luke and Laura wedding.

2001 – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” opens in U.S. movie theaters kicking off one of the most successful movie franchises of all time based on novels written by J. K. Rowling.

On This Day November 13

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On this Day July 16

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1790 – President George Washington signs into law the Residence Act, which grants him the authority to select a new site for a capital of the United States on the east bank of the Potomac River.

1935 – The first parking meter in the U.S. — Park-O-Meter No. 1 — is installed at the intersection of First Street and Robinson Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The device was the creation of Carl Magee (pictured), founder of the Oklahoma News newspaper, who was determined to alleviate parking congestion. Magee saw the meter, and the threat of being ticketed, as a way to prevent drivers from leaving their cars parked endlessly on the street.

1945 – The nuclear age begins as the so-called “Trinity Test” is conducted. Part of the Manhattan Project, the world’s first successful test of an atomic bomb takes place during the early morning hours in the desert at Alamogordo, New Mexico. 

1951 – J. D. Salinger’s novel, “The Catcher in the Rye,” is published and becomes one of the best known works in American literature. To date, more than 65 million copies have been sold.

1969 – Apollo 11 roars from its launch pad at Cape Kennedy, Florida on the first manned mission to the moon. Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin set out to fulfill a national objective declared by President John F. Kennedy in May of 1961: perform a crewed lunar landing and return safely to Earth.

1999 – A single-engine plane piloted by publisher and presidential son John F. Kennedy, Jr. crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, killing Kennedy, 38, his wife Carolyn, 33, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, 34. Five days later, underwater divers discover all three bodies still strapped into their seats.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

On this Day May 31

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1790 – The first U.S. copyright law is enacted to protect books, maps and other original materials.

1889 – Heavy rains cause the South Fork Dam to collapse, sending 20 million tons of water into Johnstown, Pennsylvania and claiming the lives of more than 2,200 people.

1911 – An estimated 100,000 people gather in Belfast, Ireland for the launch of the RMS Titanic into the River Lagan. The ill-fated passenger liner, still missing its distinctive smokestacks, is towed to a berth where its engines, stacks and superstructure are installed and the interior is fitted out. Less than a year later, in one of the world’s greatest disasters, the ship sinks on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic. More than 1,500 passengers are crew are killed.

1921 – In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a White mob begins a horrific two-day attack on Black residents of the city’s thriving Greenwood district, burning homes and businesses to the ground and killing at least 300 Black Americans. Long misrepresented as a race riot rather than mass murder, the Tulsa Race Massacre becomes one of the bloodiest incidents of racial violence in American history.

1962 – The architect of the Holocaust is executed in Israel. Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who organized Adolf Hitler’s “final solution of the Jewish question,” hangs for his crimes against humanity.

1977 – The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is completed. Built after the 1973 oil crisis caused a sharp rise in oil prices in the United States, it is one of the largest pipeline systems in the world.

1996 – Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres is narrowly defeated in national elections by Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu.