Thursday, September 6, 2012

What have you read lately?

Today is Read a Book Day.

I'm in the middle of A Short History of Rudeness by Mark Caldwell

This could be a very relevant question today for about one million NYC school kids today: It's the first day of school

September 6, 1925 -
The silent-film The Phantom of the Opera, starring, Lon Chaney (who considered it his crowning achievement) premiered in NYC on this date.

Inside sound stage 28, part of the opera house set continues to stand to the side where it was filmed some eight decades ago making it the oldest standing interior film set in the world. Though it remains impressive, time has taken its toll and it is very rarely used. Urban legends claim the set remains because when workers have attempted to take it down in the past there have been fatal accidents, said to be caused by the ghost of Lon Chaney Sr.

September 6, 1935 -
This early Astaire and Rogers film, Top Hat, written specifically for Fred and Ginger, was released on this date.

For the "Cheek to Cheek" number, Ginger Rogers wanted to wear an elaborate blue dress heavily decked out with ostrich feathers. When director Mark Sandrich and Fred Astaire saw the dress, they knew it would be impractical for the dance. Rogers walked off the set, finally returning when Sandrich agreed to let her wear the offending blue dress. As there was no time for rehearsals, Ginger Rogers wore the blue feathered dress for the first time during filming, and as Astaire and Sandrich had feared, feathers started coming off the dress. Astaire later claimed it was like "a chicken being attacked by a coyote".

September 6, 1936 -
The classic screwball comedy, My Man Godfrey, premiered on this date.

This is the only movie to ever get Oscar nominations for writing, directing and all four acting awards without being nominated for Best Picture. It's also the only movie to ever get those six nominations and lose them all.

September 6, 1944 -
Billy Wilder's film-noir classic, Double Indemnity, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson, opened in NYC on this date.

The blonde wig that Barbara Stanwyck is wearing throughout the movie was the idea of Billy Wilder. A month into shooting Wilder suddenly realized how bad it looked, but by then it was too late to re-shoot the earlier scenes. To rationalize this mistake, in later interviews Wilder claimed that the bad-looking wig was intentional.  On viewing the film's rushes, production head Buddy G. DeSylva remarked of Barbara Stanwyck's blonde wig, "We hired Barbara Stanwyck, and here we get George Washington"!

Today in History:
September 6, 1776 -
American's first submersible, David Bushnell's egg-shaped Turtle, piloted by Erza Lee (after on the eve of the submarine's first combat mission,the submarine's first combat mission, Ezra Bushnell died,) unsuccessfully attacked the British-vessel HMS Eagle in New York harbor on this date.

The bomb was released into the water and resulted in a frightening explosion. While the American Turtle failed to destroy its target, the British recognized the threat and moved the fleet. Royal Navy logs and reports from this period make no mention of this incident, and it is possible that the Turtle's attack may be more submarine legend than historical event.

September 6, 1901 -
While shaking hands at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, President William McKinley is shot twice in the abdomen at point-blank range with a .32 caliber revolver.

The assassin, an anarchist by the name of Leon Frank Czolgosz, concealed his gun within a handkerchief, actually was a lone gunman (for once).

McKinley dies a week later and became the third American president assassinated.

September 6, 1916 -
Clarence Saunders opened the Piggly Wiggly® grocery store (the first self-service market,) at 79 Jefferson Street in Memphis, Tennessee, on this date. Piggly Wiggly's introduction of self-service grocery shopping truly revolutionized the grocery industry.

There were shopping baskets, open shelves and no clerks to shop for the customer – all unheard of at the time. There are still more than 600 Piggly Wiggly stores in the US today.

Although there can be no royalty in the United States, one young woman, is crowned each year as Miss America. The first such coronation was held for Margaret Gorman, on September 6, 1921.

Miss America reigns for one year, at which point she must retire-unless she removes her clothing, in which case she's deposed. (Or is that denuded?)

September 6, 1951 -
During a drinking party in Mexico City, author William S. Burroughs instructs his wife Joan to balance a glass of gin on her head. He then takes careful aim with his new .38 pistol, and unintentionally blows her brains out in front of their friends. The Mexican authorities later charge Burroughs with criminal imprudence.

So kids remember, when a drunken Beat drug addict writer asks you to play "William Tell" - Just Say No!!!

September 6, 1958 -
Steve McQueen debuted in the western series, Wanted: Dead or Alive, on CBS-TV on this date.

Dick Powell, the producer of the series, saw a preview of The Blob. Powell was so impressed with McQueen performance that he offered the young actor the lead of the series.

September 6, 1966 -
Parliamentary messenger Demetrios Tsafendas assassinated Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, considered to be the primary architect of apartheid, by stabbing him in his chest on the floor of the South African legislature.

While Verwoerd died shortly thereafter, Apartheid tenaciously clung to life until 1994.

September 6, 1976 -
Years after their well-publicized break-up, Frank Sinatra privately orchestrated a surprize appearance of Dean Martin on Jerry Lewis' annual Labor Day telethon for the MDA. The two privately reconciled and maintained a private relationship throughout the rest of their lives.

If only Sinatra could have knock off broads and booze long enough to deal with the whole Israeli-Palestinian situation

September 6, 1988 -
The crippled soviet Soyuz TM-5 lands safely with 2 cosmonauts aboard. The craft had refused to come down from orbit, leading to the possibility of two cosmonauts being stranded in orbit with no hope of rescue.

In the event, some 'seat of the pants' flying saves the day but the mission closes-out safely more by luck than through planning.

And so it goes

Before I let you go - Just in case you don't want to drive around to get a cup of coffee (with comics):

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