Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'll go easy on you today (many of you are hurting.)

March 18, 1924 -
The Thief of Bagdad, the Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler adventure film which tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph, was released on this date.

For the early scene where the Thief leaps in and out of the giant clay pots in the marketplace, Douglas Fairbanks had small trampolines placed inside each pot, allowing him to bounce easily from pot to pot.

March 18, 1938 -
The under appreciated Ernst Lubitsch film, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife premiered on this date.

This film was the first collaboration of director Ernst Lubitsch with writers Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.

March 18, 1964 -
In his first outing as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers stars in The Pink Panther, premiered on this date.

Peter Ustinov was originally selected for the role of Inspector Clouseau, but when Ustinov didn't show up on the first day of filming, Peter Sellers showed up and he got the part instead.

March 18, 1967 -
The Beatles' Penny Lane single goes #1 on this date.

This song and Strawberry Fields Forever were intended for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but Capitol Records decided to release the two songs as a single, partly to regain popularity from John Lennon's "The Beatles are bigger than Jesus" comment.

March 18, 1968 -
Mel Brook's screamingly funny first film, a sendup of Broadway, The Producers, premiered in New York City on this date.

Mel Brooks cannot read music. "Springtime for Hitler" and "Prisoners of Love" (as were all the songs Brooks writes for his films) were hummed into a tape recorder and transcribed by an expert.

Today in History:
March 18, 1314 -
Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burned at the stake during the final purge of the Templars in France.

Among the things de Molay admitted to the Inquisitor panel (though possibly coerced) were the obligation of Templars to deny Christ when they joined, and a sacrament that involved spitting on a crucifix.

Oh that wacky life during the Middle Ages.

March 18, 1584 -
Ivan IV of Russia died. He is better known by his nickname: Ivan the Terrible. He was the first king of Russia to call himself a Caesar, probably in the hopes that Shakespeare would write a play about him. He also replaced the sale of beer and mead with vodka at state-run taverns.

He couldn't pronounce Caesar, however, so he simply called himself "zar," and subsequent arguments over whether that should be spelled czar, tsar, zar, or tzar became so heated that they eventually resulted in Russian History.

March 18, 1913 -
(Once again kids follow along, it's complex.)
Itinerant sailor and general layabout Philip Mountbatten's (nee Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg) grandfather, Christian Wilhelm Ferdinand Adolf Georg of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (sibling to a king and two queens) was out on an afternoon stroll. This, in and of itself, is not remarkable, except for the fact that this minor Danish/ German prince had changed his name to George and became the King of Greece. Wilhelm/ George, like most royalty, went out for an afternoon stroll without any pocket change (royalty and presidents don't carry money.)

Alexandros Schinas, an alcoholic vagrant asked the King for some spare change and shot him in the back went the King refused to give him money. Wilhelm/ George died en route to the hospital,

Alexandros died five days later after he 'accidentally' fell out of a window at police headquarters.

So kids let this be a lesson to you, if you find yourself the ruler of a European nation - the change you carry, may save your life.

March 18, 1970 -
Country Joe McDonald (of Country Joe and the Fish) is convicted on obscenity charges after he asks for an F, a U, a C and one other letter at a concert in Massachusetts.

The song was meant as a satire of US government attitudes toward the Vietnam War. Country Joe MacDonald released it at the height of the war after he had been discharged from the US Navy for several years. He wrote it in about 30 minutes after it popped into his head.

March 18, 1980 -
A significant percentage of the Soviet space program's scientists were killed when a Vostok rocket explodes on the launch pad on this date.

Fifty people died at the Plesetsk Space Center.

And so it goes.

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