Unless you lay off all this fried food, you may have to begin considering your own pair of Joey Thanksgiving's pants for this holiday.
December 16, 1938 -
MGM released its film version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, on this date.
Lionel Barrymore was originally set to play Scrooge, but had to back out due to illness. Barrymore instead suggested his friend Reginald Owen take over the role. Barrymore did not perform the radio version of A Christmas Carol in 1938 so that it would not interfere with the success of the picture, and he appeared in a special trailer for it called A Fireside Chat with Lionel Barrymore.
December 16, 1951 -
NBC-TV debuted Dragnet in a special preview on Chesterfield Sound Off Time on this date. (The show began officially on January 3, 1952.)
The series opener ran in real time, and it contained several clock-on-the-wall shots to keep track of time. The story starts with the police frantically trying to meet a 26-minute deadline to satisfy the demands of a terrorist. The show ran for 26 minutes, excluding commercials.
December 16, 1959 -
20th Century Fox releases the Jules Verne science fiction classic, Journey to the Center of the Earth, starring Pat Boone, James Mason and Arlene Dahl,on this date.
Pat Boone didn't want to make this film but was talked into it by his agent. Years later he stated he's glad he did it because of the regular residual checks it brings in and because it's the movie he'll probably be best remembered for.
December 16, 1962 -
David Lean's epic (in ever sense of the word) bio-pix of T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins and Omar Sharif premiered in the US in NYC on this date.
King Hussein of Jordan lent an entire brigade of his Arab Legion as extras for the film, so most of the "soldiers" are played by real soldiers. Hussein frequently visited the sets and became enamored of a young British secretary, Antoinette Gardiner, who became his second wife in 1962. Their eldest son, Abdullah II King Of Jordan, ascended to the throne in 1999.
December 16, 1965 -
One of the classic cold war thrillers, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, starring Richard Burton, premiered in the US on this date.
Author John le Carré worked for British Intelligence MI5 and MI6 during the 1950s and 1960s and worked in Berlin where this film is partially set. Le Carré was there when the Berlin Wall was being constructed. Le Carré drew on this real life experience when he wrote the novel of 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold'.
December 16, 1971 -
Don McLean's eight-minute-plus version of American Pie was released and became one of the longest songs to ever hit the pop charts.
If you prefer the clip with Don singing in it, here you go.
Kids, use the song as the Cliff Notes (Shmoop, if you prefer) for what happened during the 60s (do they still print Cliff Notes?)
December 16, 1972 -
Soul singer Billy Paul's single, Me and Mrs. Jones hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts on this date.
The song was written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Carey Gilbert. Gamble and Huff formed a famous songwriting team that helped define the Philadelphia Soul sound of the '70s.
December 16, 1975 -
The groundbreaking sitcom (for it's time) One Day At A Time starring Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli premiered on this date.
In the original pilot, Ann (Bonnie Franklin) had only one daughter (Mackenzie Phillips). Executives weren't happy with the results; a new pilot was shot with Valerie Bertinelli added as the second daughter. Mackenzie Phillips (Julie) and Valerie Bertinelli (Barbara) were actually the same age. Phillips was taller and wiry, while Bertinelli was round-faced and looked like the younger of the two, so Phillips was cast as the older sister.
December 16, 1977 -
Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, went into general release on this date.
Oh John, what a long strange trip it's been since that polyester shirt.
Production had to be briefly halted so that John Travolta could attend the funeral of his girlfriend Diana Hyland. The couple had earlier appeared in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, their only ever joint venture. It was Hyland who encouraged Travolta to take the role of Tony Manero.
When John Travolta first saw the rushes, he was greatly upset that his solo dance was cut in close-up. He called Robert Stigwood and vocalized his concerns. It didn't seem right he explained, that he had worked so hard to get in shape and learn a complex dance just to see the sequence cut down in the editing room. It was important to Travolta for audiences to see his work and to know without a doubt that he was doing his own dancing. Stigwood agreed and told Travolta to go back and sit with the editors and personally supervise a new cut of the solo sequence.
The ACME Eagle Hand Soap Radio Hour holiday special
Today in History:
December 16, 1773 -
The Boston Tea Party took place 244 years ago today.
I equally deplores the ecologically disastrous precedent set by these hotheaded young good-for-nothings, and their demeaning depiction of Native Americans as savage, tea-hating polluters. Also please do not confuse the Tea Party with Tea Baggers - two very different things although men wearing short skirts figure prominently in both of them.
December 16, 1950 -
President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency, after Chinese troops enter the fight with communist North Korea in the Korean War.
What the hell were we thinking?
December 16, 1965 -
NASA was in a piss-proud mood. Days before, Gemini 6 (Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra, space cowboys aboard) and Gemini 7 (Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, rocket men aboard) had successfully rendezvoused in space. Just before Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra were about to re-enter Earth's atmosphere, on this date, they radioed Mission Control with their startling sighting:
Wally and Tom do something even more startling; they break out in a chorus of Jingle Bells, accompanying themselves with a small harmonica and tiny small bells. The pair become the first men to perform Christmas carols from space. NASA, of course, was not amused having to pay the ASCAP fees.
December 16, 1985 -
What were you doing 32 years ago - I left work, cut through a parking garage in the middle of the block and walked passed the limos in front of Sparks Steak House on the next block on this date.
John and Paul are long gone but I, occasionally, get to visit my old office.
And so it goes