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 March 19

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On This Day March 5

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On This Day January 4

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On this Day August 18

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Celebrity Birthdays
Celebrity Birthdays

1927 – Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

1933 – Director Roman Polanski, born Raimund Polanski, whose first American movie was 1968’s “Rosemary’s Baby”

1936 – Oscar-winning actor, director, producer and Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford (“Barefoot in the Park,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Candidate,” “The Way We Were,” “The Sting,” “All the President’s Men,” “Ordinary People,” “Out of Africa,” “Legal Eagles,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”)

1943 – Actor-comedian Martin Mull (“Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” “Fernwood 2 Night,” ” Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” “Two and a Half Men”)

1952 – Actor Patrick Swayze (“Red Dawn,” “Uncommon Valor,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Ghost,” “Donnie Darko”) (d. 2009)

1957 – Actor-comedian Denis Leary (“True Crime,” the “Ice Age” movie series, “Rescue Me,” “Recount,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Draft Day,” “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll”)

1969 – Golden Globe-winning actor Christian Slater (“The Legend of Billie Jean,” “Heathers,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” “True Romance,” “Murder in the First,” “Mr. Robot”)

1969 – Oscar-winning actor-director Edward Norton (“Primal Fear,” “American History X,” “Fight Club,” “The Italian Job,” “The Illusionist,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel”)

1970 – Actor-director Malcolm-Jamal Warner, best known for his role as Theo Huxtable on the NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show”

1978 – Golden Globe-winning comedian, actor, musician and “SNL” alum Andy Samberg (“Hot Rod,” “I Love You, Man,” “That’s My Boy,” “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” the “Hotel Transylvania” movies, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”)

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1962 – “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” by Neil Sedaka, is Billboard’s top-ranked single. 

1962 – Two days after firing Pete Best, The Beatles introduce new drummer Ringo Starr in time for a performance in Birkenhead, England. Starr was no stranger to the band, having stood in on several occasions in Hamburg and Liverpool, where he primarily played for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.

1969 – Jimi Hendrix brings the Woodstock Music and Art Fair to a memorable close with one of the most powerful, searing renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” ever recorded. While some believe that Hendrix improvised the electrified anthem on the spot, he had actually been experimenting with it for more than a year and would continue to play it until his untimely death in September 1970.

1973 – With “Touch Me in the Morning,” Diana Ross scores her second No. 1 single since leaving The Supremes.

1979 – “Good Times,” by Chic, tops the Billboard Hot 100. The disco standard is one of the most sampled tracks in music history, especially in hip hop. It is the band’s second No. 1 hit.

1984 – Ray Parker, Jr. continues to haunt the top spot on the pop chart with his theme from the movie “Ghostbusters.” The single spends three weeks at No. 1.

1990 – Mariah Carey is midway through a four-week run at No. 1 on the pop chart with “Vision of Love.”

2001 – Alicia Keys kicks off three weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Fallin,” which goes on to capture three Grammy Awards.

On this Day July 21

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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.

On this Day May 5

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1862 – During the Battle of Puebla, Mexican troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza — outnumbered three to one — defeat invading French forces. The historic event is marked each year with Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

1925 – Teacher John Scopes is arrested for violating the Butler Act, which prevents the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. He is later tried in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial.

1945 – One woman and five children are killed in rural Oregon while attempting to drag a Japanese balloon out the woods. The balloon was armed and exploded after the group began tampering with it. They were the first and only known American civilians killed in the continental U.S. during World War II.

1955 – The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) becomes a sovereign state when the U.S., France and Great Britain end their 10-year military occupation. The move clears the way for West Germany to rearm and become a full-fledged member of the western alliance against the Soviet Union.

1961 – Astronaut Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel into outer space during a suborbital flight of 15 minutes aboard the Mercury capsule named Freedom 7.

1985 – President Ronald Reagan angers Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors by visiting the Bitburg war cemetery in Germany, unaware that the cemetery houses the graves of 49 Nazi officers.

2002 – “Spider-Man” becomes first movie to top $100 million in an opening weekend. Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire in the title role, the eagerly awaited comic book adaptation rakes in a staggering $114.8 million.