On This Day March 30

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1814 – European forces allied against Napoleonic France march triumphantly into Paris, formally ending a decade of French domination on the continent.

1842 – Anesthesia is used for the first time in an operation by Dr. Crawford Long. 

1858 – The first wooden pencil featuring a built-in rubber eraser on top is patented by Philadelphia inventor Hymen Lipman, who later sells his patent for $100,000 (about $2 million in today’s market). In 1875, The Supreme Court invalidates the patent, ruling that because the pencil combined two existing devices, it was not a legitimate invention. Nevertheless, this is observed as National Pencil Day.

1867 – U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signs a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7.2 million. Despite the bargain price of roughly two cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase is ridiculed in Congress and in the press as “Seward’s Folly.” 

1964 – The popular game show “Jeopardy!” premieres on NBC with host Art Fleming. Alex Trebek takes over in 1984 and continues hosting until his death in 2020.

1981 – President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C. hotel by John Hinckley, Jr., who claims he was seeking to gain the attention of actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley is found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a psychiatric hospital until 2016, when he is allowed to live with his mother in her Virginia home. Reagan is released from the hospital less than two weeks after the attempted assassination.

2009 – President Barack Obama issues an ultimatum to struggling American automakers General Motors (GM) and Chrysler: In order to receive additional bailout loans from the government, he says, the companies need to dramatically change the way they run their businesses. 

On This Day March 15

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On This Day February 24

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1836 – Under attack by soldiers of the Mexican Army, Colonel William Travis issues an urgent call for reinforcements on behalf of his Texan troops defending the Alamo in Bejar, Texas (San Antonio today).

1868 – Andrew Johnson becomes the first U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives, which charges him with violating the Tenure of Office Act and bringing into “disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt, and reproach the Congress of the United States.” Johnson, who assumed office after the Lincoln assassination, is acquitted three months later in the Senate.

1903 – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt signs a deal with the new government of Cuba to lease 45 square miles at the mouth of Guantanamo Bay for 2,000 gold coins a year.

1909 – The Hudson Motor Car Company is founded. In the mid-1950s, it becomes American Motors, best known for production of the Gremlin and Pacer.

1968 – The Tet Offensive ends as U.S. and South Vietnamese troops recapture the ancient capital of Hue from communist forces.

1981 – Socialite Jean Harris is convicted of murdering ex-lover Dr. Herman Tarnower, author of the bestselling “The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet,” concluding a sensational trial that ignited a national debate about whether Harris was a woman scorned or a victim of abuse.

1988 – The U.S. Supreme Court sides with Larry Flynt’s Hustler magazine by overturning a lower court decision to award the Reverend Jerry Falwell $200,000 for defamation.

1991 – After the six-week-long bombing campaign against Iraq and its armed forces known as Operation Desert Storm, U.S.-led coalition forces launch a massive ground offensive against Kuwait and Iraq.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1958 – The Silhouettes are on top of the Billboard pop chart with “Get a Job.” Thanks to the band’s performances on “American Bandstand” and “The Dick Clark Show,” the single goes on to sell over a million copies.

1968 – French orchestra leader Paul Mauriat is in the middle of a five-week run atop the Billboard singles chart with his instrumental, “Love is Blue.” It is the only song by a French artist to ever top Hot 100.

1973 – Roberta Flack begins a five-week reign over the singles chart with “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” The song garners Flack the 1973 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, with co-writers Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel earning the Song of the Year Grammy.

1975 – Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio album, “Physical Graffiti,” is released in the U.S. and immediately sees one million copies ship — a whopping order for Atlantic Records. The double album, which features the iconic photo of a New York City tenement on the cover, contains some of the band’s most memorable tracks, including “Kashmir,” “Ten Years Gone” and “In My Time of Dying.”

1982 – Winners at the 24th Annual Grammy Awards include John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Album of the Year (“Double Fantasy”), songwriters Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon for Song of the Year (“Bette Davis Eyes” performed by Kim Carnes), Sheena Easton for Best New Artist and Quincy Jones for Producer of the Year.

1990 – Singer-songwriter and pianist Johnnie Ray dies of liver failure at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Ray is credited with 20 Top 40 singles between 1952 and 1960, including “Just Walking in the Rain.”

1990 – Paula Abdul and The Wild Pair enjoy their third and final week as Billboard chart-toppers with “Opposites Attract.”

1996 – “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men is the No. 1 single.

2001 – “Stutter,” by Joe featuring Mystikal, kicks off four weeks on top of the pop chart.

2007 – Nelly Furtado lands on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for a week with “Say It Right.”

On This Day February 15

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1879 – President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

1898 – The battleship USS Maine explodes and sinks in Havana (Cuba) Harbor, killing more than 260 crewmen. The incident prompts the U.S. to declare war on Spain. 

1903 – The first teddy bear, named for U.S. President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, goes on sale. Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom places two stuffed bears in his shop window after personally getting Roosevelt’s permission to name them after him.

1933 – Two weeks before his inauguration, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt is fired upon by a would-be assassin after giving a speech in Miami. FDR is unharmed, but a bullet strikes Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who dies three weeks later.

1965 – A new red-and-white maple leaf design is adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the old Canadian Red Ensign banner. 

1978 – Leon Spinks takes the heavyweight boxing champion title away from defending champ Muhammad Ali in a split decision in Las Vegas. 

1985 – “The Breakfast Club” opens in U.S. theaters. Directed by John Hughes and starring Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy — members of the so-called “Brat Pack” — it becomes an ’80s movie classic. In 2016, the film is selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by The Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

1998 – Racing great Dale Earnhardt, Sr. wins his first Daytona 500, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) season opener and an event dubbed the “Super Bowl of stock car racing.”

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1964 – “Meet The Beatles!” reaches No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, becoming The Beatles’ first chart-topping album in the U.S. It holds the top spot for eleven weeks and sells more than four million copies by the end of that year.

1965 – The Beatles record “Another Girl” and “Ticket to Ride” for the “Help!” album. Earlier that day, John Lennon earns a personal ticket to ride by passing his driving test. 

1965 – Entertainer Nat King Cole (“Unforgettable,” “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer,” “The Christmas Song,” “Mona Lisa”), who earned early acclaim as a jazz pianist and became the first African American performer to host a network TV variety show, dies of lung cancer at the age of 45.

1969 – Sly & the Family Stone rule the Billboard singles chart with “Everyday People,” which remains at No. 1 for four weeks.

1975 – “You’re No Good,” by Linda Ronstadt, is the No. 1 single.

1984 – Beloved actress-singer Ethel Merman, best known for her rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” dies at the age of 75.

1986 – “How Will I Know,” by Whitney Houston, becomes the most popular single in the U.S. for two weeks.

1992 – One-hit-wonder Right Said Fred is in the middle of three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “I’m Too Sexy.”

2003 – “All I Have,” by Jennifer Lopez featuring LL Cool J, is midway through a four-week run at No. 1 on the singles chart.

On This Day February 5

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On This Day January 22

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On This Day January 6

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1958 – Danny & the Juniors bop to the top of Billboard’s Best Sellers in Stores chart with “At the Hop,” which holds at No. 1 for five weeks.

1968 – The Beatles commandeer the top spot on the Billboard album chart for eight weeks with “Magical Mystery Tour,” which contains such classics as “Hello, Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “All You Need is Love” and, of course, the title track.

1973 – “You’re So Vain,” by Carly Simon, begins a three-week reign over the Billboard singles chart. Through the years, speculation swirled about the subject of the song, with Simon eventually admitting that it refers to three men, only one of whom she named publicly: actor Warren Beatty.

1979 – The Bee Gees own the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with  “Too Much Heaven.”

1990 – Phil Collins has the first No. 1 album of the 90s as “…But Seriously” claims the top spot on the Billboard 200. The album contains his Grammy-winning smash “Another Day in Paradise.”

1993 – Legendary jazz trumpeter and composer Dizzy Gillespie dies of cancer at the age of 75. Gillespie developed his own signature style called “bebop,” and worked with musical greats like Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Earl Hines, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. 

2001 – Destiny’s Child is in the midst of an 11-week domination of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Independent Women Part I,” from the “Charlie’s Angels” movie soundtrack and the group’s third album, “Survivor.” 

On This Day December 13

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History Highlights
History Highlights

On This Day October 15

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Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

On This Day October 2

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1835 – Mounting tensions between Mexico and Texas lead to violence when Mexican soldiers attempt to disarm the people of Gonzales, sparking the Texan war for independence. The battle flag used by the Texans at the Battle of Gonzales gained recognition as the “Come and Take It” flag, referring to a small cannon that Mexican forces tried to repossess.

1919 – President Woodrow Wilson, who had just cut short a cross-country speaking tour to promote formation of the League of Nations (a precursor to the United Nations), suffers a massive stroke, which leaves him partially paralyzed on the left side of his body. The stroke is kept a secret from the public, but forces Wilson to abandon his campaign for the League and weakens his presidency.

1950 – The first Peanuts comic strip, created by Charles Schulz, is published in seven newspapers across the U.S. Schulz originally called his strip “L’il Folks,” but United Features Syndicate changed the name.

1959 – “The Twilight Zone,” created and hosted by Rod Serling, premieres with an episode called “Where Is Everybody?” starring Earl Holliman. The black & white sci-fi series runs for five seasons.

1967 – Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court justice, is sworn in to office.

1985 – Actor Rock Hudson becomes the first high-profile celebrity to die of complications from AIDS. Hudson’s death, at the age of 59, raises public awareness of the epidemic, which until that time had been ignored by many in the mainstream as a “gay plague.”

2006 – A 32-year-old milk truck driver enters the West Nickel Mines Amish School in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, and fatally shoots five female students and wounds five more before taking his own life. The gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, had no criminal history or record of mental illness.

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