Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Arbitrary Columbus Day!

October 10, 1941
The last movie W C Fields starred in, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, premiered on this date.

The frantic race down the Hyperion Street bridge on Glendale Avenue when Field's car is hooked onto the firetruck: Look to the upper far right of the scene in the distance and you will see the Great Mausoleum of Forest Lawn where Fields would eventually be interred in the Columbarium of Nativity.

October 10, 1957 -
Guy Williams gallops across TV screens as the masked hero, when Zorro, debuted on ABC-TV on this date.

Disney Studios provided very large ($80,000 per episode) budgets, but they did try to contain costs where it wouldn't show on the air. Frequently, directors shot portions of up to four episodes at the same time when the scenes used common sets. This sometimes caused problems for the actors, because they couldn't remember their "motivation" for the scenes being shot.

October 10, 1961 -
Elia Kazan's bittersweet romance, Splendor in the Grass, starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, premiered on this date.

As filmed, this film included a sequence in which Wilma Dean Loomis takes a bath while arguing with her mother. The bickering finally becomes so intense that Wilma jumps out of the tub and runs nude down a hallway to her bedroom, where the camera cuts to a close-up of her bare legs kicking hysterically on the mattress. Both the Hollywood censors and the Catholic Legion Of Decency objected to the hallway scene, finding the bare backside unsuitable for public display. Consequently, director Elia Kazan dropped the piece, leaving an abrupt jump from tub to bed.

October 10, 1964 -
The Shangri-Las released their operatic hit, Leader of the Pack, on this date.

Billy Joel, in 1964, a young session musician, claimed he played piano on Leader of the Pack, but this has been denied by Ellie Greenwich, one of the writers of the tune.

Later in 1964, The Detergents recorded a parody of this song called Leader Of The Laundromat.

Today in History:
October 10, 1780 -
Over 48 hours, a slow-moving hurricane decimates Barbados, killing 4,326 (however according to the island's governor, "fortunately few people of consequence were among the number").

Over the next week, the catastrophic storm system moves on to Martinique (9,000 dead) and St. Eustatius (4-5,000). The unprecedented Great Hurricane of 1780 remains the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record.

October 10, 1910 -
Tau Epsilon Phi (TEF, commonly pronounced "TEP") is a predominantly American fraternity with approximately 40 active chapters, chiefly located at universities and colleges in the Northeastern United States. The organization was founded on this date, by ten Jewish men at Columbia University, as a response to the existence of similar organizations who would not admit Jewish members. The national headquarters is currently located in Voorhees, New Jersey and the official colors of the organization are lavender and white (although most chapters use purple instead of lavender).

Why is this important?

Several of the readers and I (and well as George Stephanopoulos) are members of this fraternity. And you thought "The Skull and Bones" Society ruled this country.

October 10, 1911 -
The Chinese revolution began in Hankow, on this date.

The revolution spread rapidly, resulting in the abdication of six-year-old Henry Pu-Yi, the Academy Award-winning "Last Emperor" of China.

October 10, 1913 -
Two years later, President Woodrow Wilson was bored and wandering around the White House. He started fiddling aroung with things on his desk and pressing an electric button on his desk.

This triggered a blast which exploded the Gamboa Dike down in Panama and somehow the Panama Canal was completed on this date and a popular palindrome was born.

October 10, 1956 -
George Steven's sprawling epic, Giant, premiered in NYC on this date.

When Rock Hudson was cast, director George Stevens asked him whom he preferred as his leading lady, Grace Kelly or Elizabeth Taylor. Hudson picked Elizabeth Taylor, who was cast in the film and ended up becoming lifelong friends with Hudson.

October 10, 1962 -
The British Broadcasting Company bans Monster Mash -- the Halloween-themed novelty tune by Bobby "Boris" Pickett -- for being "offensive."

The BBC never specifies precisely what it is about the song that's problematic.

October 10, 1968 -
One of the silliest movies Jane Fonda (or anyone else for that matter) ever made, Barbarella, lands in US theatres on this date.

The scenes during the opening credits where Barbarella seems to float around her spaceship were filmed by having Jane Fonda lie on a huge piece of plexiglas with a picture of the spaceship underneath her. It was then filmed from above, creating the illusion that she is in zero gravity. (If you look carefully, you can see the reflection in the glass as she removes her gloves.)

October 10, 1969 -
King Crimson releases their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, considered by many to be the first progressive rock album.

Turn it up loud, spark it up and don't bogart that joint.

October 10, 1973 -
Bribe-happy Vice President Spiro T. Agnew finally resigns, after pleading Nolo contendere to federal income tax evasion.

It should be noted that humorist Dave Barry points out that one can rearrange the letters in "Spiro Agnew" to spell "Grow A Penis."

October 10, 1985 -

As to all, cheap wine hawker, voice-over whore and movie legend Orson Welles, whose remarkably innovative Citizen Kane was named the best American-made picture of all time in a 1998 American Film Institute poll, died of a heart attack at the age of 70 on this date.

He was some kind of man. What does it matter what you say about people? - Marlene Dietrich from the film A Touch of Evil.

Yul Brynner, Russian-born, Academy Award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor died on October 10, 1985 (the same day as Orson Welles, his co star in The Battle of Neretva) in New York City. The cause of death was lung cancer brought on by smoking. Throughout his life, Brynner was always seen with a cigarette in his hand. In January 1985, nine months before his death, he gave an interview on Good Morning America, expressing his desire to make an anti-smoking commercial.

The clip from that interview was made into just such a public service announcement by the American Cancer Society, and released after his death; it includes the warning "Now that I'm gone, I tell you, don't smoke."

If only he listened to himself.

And so it goes

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