Friday, September 14, 2012

Defence of Fort McHenry

September 14, 1814 -
Francis Scott Key had composed the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner after witnessing the massive British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812. Key, an American lawyer and social worker, watches the siege while under detainment on a British ship, and pens the famous words after observing that the US flag over Fort McHenry had survived the 1,800-bomb assault.

The lyrics were alter adopted to the British tune To Anacreon in Heaven, which had also served as Irish drinking song and a number of other songs. The Star-Spangled Banner was officially recognized as the national anthem in 1931.

The 40 feet long flag had been made by Baltimore widow Mary Young Pickersgill and her 13-year-old daughter just a month before the attack. In 1907 the flag was donated to the Smithsonian.

It's the big 60 for Philip Andre Mickey Rourke, actor and small dog fancier,  born on this date.

Mickey, Mickey, Mickey ... you are about one plastic surgery away from Jocelyn Wildenstein.

September 14, 1965 -
The end of the Civil War was near ...

F-Troop premiered on ABC-TV on this date.

The name of the tribe that Wild Eagle belonged to was the Hekawe. In one episode it was explained that the name came about by two Indians falling off a cliff and one asking "Where the heck are we?" The original name of the tribe, the Fugawe (As in, "Where the Fugawe?"), was rejected by network censors.

September 14, 1965 -
One of the more bizarre sitcoms, My Mother the Car starring Jerry Van Dyke and Ann Sothern (as the car), premiered on this date.

Jerry Van Dyke agreed to star on the series after turning down the lead role on Gilligan's Island and an offer to join the cast of the The Andy Griffith Show.

September 14, 1967 -
Raymond Burr cruised the San Francisco streets with his muscular bodyguard when Ironside premiered on this date (there is no word on whether or not he was wearing his eponymously named nipple rouge during the shoot.)

Raymond Burr injured his eyes working on the series. Being in a wheelchair, he had to look up directly into the hot lights used to film his scenes and his eyes were slightly burned.  Besides the injuries to his eyes, Burr suffered great physical stress from being in the wheelchair for extended periods of time.

September 14, 1972 -
America went up Walton's Mountain to visit with the Waltons on CBS-TV for the first time on this date.

When the show premiered on CBS at the beginning of the 1972-73 season, most media pundits felt it didn't have a chance, airing as it did opposite two proven ratings powerhouses. Flip on NBC, had been the number one show in America for the previous two seasons, and ABC's Mod Squad was a long-standing favorite, as well. The Waltons out-performed both shows in the ratings by a wide margin.

September 14, 1978 -
The TV show that helped launch Robin Williams career, Mork & Mindy, premiered on this date.

Many of the gags seen on the show were on-the-spot improvisations by Robin Williams, and later by Williams and Jonathan Winters. The improvisations proved so effective and popular that the series' writers soon included specific sections in the scripts where Williams was allowed to perform freely, marked as "Robin goes off here." If you pay attention to Pam Dawber, you can often see her having difficulty not laughing at the ad libs.

Today in History:
September 14 1849 -

Ivan Pavlov was born on this date. Pavlov was a Russian scientist who discovered that dogs drooled whenever bells were rung. Only after his death were his ideas discredited by a group of Swedish scientists who determined that dogs also drooled when a nice juicy steak was dangled in front of them.

In the decades since, science has repeatedly and conclusively demonstrated that dogs will sometimes drool and sometimes not drool.

September 14, 1812 -
Napoleon's army invaded the city of Moscow, on this date. He began the invasion of Russia in June of that year, hoping to continue his "One Europe, One Cuisine" Tour. The Russian forces kept retreating, burning the farmland as they went so the French wouldn't be able to draw provisions from the land.

The troops were exhausted and hungry by the time they reached Moscow on this day, in 1812. The gates of the city were left wide open. And as the French came through, they noticed that all over the city small fires had begun. The Russians had set fire to their own city. By that night, the fires were out of control.

Napoleon watched the burning of the city from inside the Kremlin, and barely escaped the city alive. The retreat began across the snow - covered plains, one of the great disasters of military history. Thousands of troops died from starvation and hypothermia. Of the nearly half million French soldiers who had set out in June on the invasion, fewer than 20,000 staggered back across the border in December.

September 14, 1901 -
President William McKinley succumbs to his gunshot wound, on this date - the third American president to be assassinated. He had won a landslide victory in the election of 1900. He had gone on a tour of the country, a victory tour, which he ended in Buffalo, New York, where the Pan-American Exposition was being held near Niagara Falls.

McKinley was shaking hands with a long line of people on September 6, when a 28-year-old anarchist from Cleveland named Leon Czolgosz came up to shake his hand. Czolgosz's right hand was wrapped in a handkerchief which concealed a gun. He shot the president twice, hitting him in the abdomen. At first it seemed as though the wound was minor and that McKinley would recover, but he died on this day in 1901. He died, historians believe, because he needed an infusion of fluids and nutrients, and the IV had not been invented yet.

It didn't help matters that Teddy Roosevelt kept peeking into his hospital room, shouting, "Is he dead yet? Am I president yet? Bully, bully!!!"

September 14, 1927 -
Legendary dancer Isadora Duncan was killed in Nice, France when her long silk scarf gets tangled in the rear wheel of the convertible she's riding in on this date. Her neck wais broken and an artery severed. Some accounts have her thrown against the pavement and dragged for 100 feet. The freak accident occurs in full view of a number of friends.

Strange but true fact - the mother of famed 40's comedy director, Preston Sturges, was known for her friendship with Isadora Duncan, even giving her the very scarf that led to Duncan's freakish death.

Kids, remember what Gertrude Stein said, "affectations can be dangerous and Alice, where the hell is my hash pipe."

September 14, 1936 -
Surgeons Walter Freeman and James W. Watts perform America's first prefrontal lobotomy on a depressed, 63-year-old Kansas woman in Washington, D.C. They successfully create a lethargic dullard, and the duo hails the result for years to come as a medical triumph, despite the fact that two of their next twenty lobotomy subjects end as fatalities.

Here's a easy way you can remember this, "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

September 14, 1938 -
Graf Zeppelin II, world's largest airship, (LZ 130) was the sister ship of the Hindenburg (LZ 129). Her design and construction were nearly identical to her predecessor: at 804 feet in length, these two ships remain the largest flying craft in history. By the time the Graf Zeppelin was completed, it was one of the largest flying craft in history. The ship was christened and made her first flight on this date.

The Graf Zeppelin ultimately flew a total of thirty missions, many for the Luftwaffe. She touched down on her last flight at 9:38 p.m. on August 20, 1939, ending the age of rigid airships.

September 14, 1982 -
Grace Kelly, American-born princess of Monaco, died after a high speed car crash the previous day. She and daughter Princess Stephanie were badly injured when their British Rover 3500 plunged into a ravine, tumbling 45 feet.

In the official version of events, Grace suffered a mild stroke while driving; however, although rumors persist that 17-year-old Princess Stephanie was actually behind the wheel, there is no truth to the rumor that she was engaging in an unnatural act with three harelipped Flamenco dancers , a three legged farm animal and a water-based lubricant.

So dammit, please stop printing these lies.

And so it goes

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