August 31, 1929 -
RKO released the musical film-short St. Louis Blues, starring singer Bessie Smith, on this date.
At W.C. Handy's suggestion, Bessie Smith was picked to be the star of the film. Bessie had scored a huge hit in 1925 with her recording of "St. Louis Blues", which had featured Louis Armstrong on cornet. It was Bessie Smith's only film appearence.
August 31, 1945 -
Let's all wish the intensely litigious and curmudgeonly, George Ivan Morrison, singer and songwriter, happy birthday.
Van the Man, is still the greatest living blue-eyed soul singer.
August 31, 1946 -
Howard Hawks' version of Raymond Chandlers classic Marlowe yarn (William Faulkner was one of the screen writers), The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was put into general release on this date.
Eager to repeat the success of To Have and Have Not, Warner Bros. studio chief Jack L. Warner gave Howard Hawks $50,000 to purchase the rights for The Big Sleep. Hawks bought the rights for $5,000 and pocketed the rest.
August 31, 1948 -
Los Angeles police arrested actor Robert Mitchum, the coolest cat in Hollywood, for marijuana possession on this date. He later received a 60-day sentence.
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands celebrated her Golden Jubilee on this date as well. (You figure out the connection.)
August 31, 1957 -
I don't know how yas done it but I know yas done it!
This second Looney Tunes with Rocky and Mugsy, Bugsy and Mugsy, was released on this date.
August 31, 1957 -
Singles remind me of kisses. Albums remind me of plans.
Glenn Tilbrook, singer, guitarist and with his writing partner Chris Difford, formed the pop group, Squeeze, was born on this date.
August 31, 1987 -
Epic/CBS Records released the Michael Jackson album, BAD on this date.
An 18 minute video of the title song, written by novelist and screenwriter Richard Price and directed by Martin Scorsese, debuted on CBS-TV on this same day, as well.
Today in History -
Gaius Caesar Caligula was born on August 31 in the year 12 AD. Caligula succeeded Tiberius in the year 37, and his reign was most notable for its policy of Sex with the Emperor.
(Please note - this guy not only slept with the unwilling wives of senators and his sisters, he married his horse and tried to have him made a god.) This turned out to have been a weak Political Philosophy, because the Romans all had classical educations and saw right through him.
So they killed him.
August 31, 1422 -
Henry V of England, one of the great warrior kings of the Middle Ages, died suddenly of dysentery on this date. He was 34 at the time.
In 2002 he was ranked 72nd in the 100 Greatest Britons poll. And yet, lack of proper sanitary conditions carried him away. Let this be a lesson to us all - wash your hands after visiting the rest room.
August 31, 1879 -
Alma Maria Schindler, noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was born on this date.
In her youth she was an aspiring composer. But that's not why I bring her up. She was the wife, successively, of the composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, and lover to the painter Oskar Kokoschka. Rather than try to encapsulate the story of this very busy woman,
Listen to Tom Lehrer's song Alma, which nicely gives you the gist of her life.
August 31, 1919 -
Workers of the world unite!
In Chicago, journalist John Reed established the American Communist Labor Party, on this date,
August 31, 1976 -
George Harrison was found guilty of unintentionally plagiarizing My Sweet Lord.
Those damn Beatles could never come up with an original tune.
August 31, 1977 -
Ian Smith, espousing racial segregation, won the Rhodesian general election with 80% of overwhelmingly white electorate's vote.
August 31, 1997 -
On August 28, 1997, My wife and I were coming out of the revolving doors at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and a very famous couple were coming in. A few days later on this date, a charming, slightly addled, beautiful divorcee with two children decides to take a car ride with her very rich Middle Eastern boyfriend and his very drunk driver. She makes the fatal mistake of not buckling her seat belt and paid a very heavy toll.
So ended the glamorous and controversial life of Diana Spencer Mountbatten-Windsor.
Kids, if you don't want to end up dying in the backseat of a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz W140 in a road tunnel in Paris - BUCKLE UP.
And so it goes .