August 24, 1937 -
William Wyler's crime-drama film, Dead End, premiered in NYC on this date.
This was the first appearance of the Dead End Kids who later evolved into the East Side Kids and later the Bowery Boys. Producer Samuel Goldwyn brought the boys - who had appeared in the original Broadway production of the play - to Hollywood to appear in the movie. He later regretted the decision, as the boys ran wild through the studio, destroying property and crashing a truck through the wall of a sound stage. Afterwards, Goldwyn decided not to use the boys again and sold their contract to Warner Brothers.
August 24, 1966 -
One of the quintessential films of the 60s, Alfie, opened in the US on this date.
Several well-known actors (including Richard Harris, Laurence Harvey, James Booth and Anthony Newley) turned down the title role due to the then taboo subject matter of abortion. Despite having played "Alfie" on Broadway, Terence Stamp categorically declined to reprise the role on film, thus giving his good friend and then roommate Michael Caine the breakthrough role of his career.
August 24, 1966 -
The (still surprising good) sci-fi film, Fantastic Voyage, premiered on this date.
During filming, one of the two 3 inch "Proteus" models used in the miniaturization sequence was left by an open window and was subsequently carried off by a crow.
August 24, 1968 -
The Rascals song People Got to Be Free topped the charts on this date.
This was the third #1 hit for the group (after Good Lovin' and Groovin'), but the first under their original name. In 1966-67 all their singles were credited to the "Young Rascals," a name imposed upon them by Atlantic Records to avoid confusion with the Harmonica Rascals.
Today in History:
August 24, 79 –
The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were fired by Mount Vesuvius. Vesuvius, ever the vengeful volcano god buried those happening Roman vacation spots, apparently to punish the debauchery that made the towns famous. Tens of thousands of people perished only to have plaster casts made centuries later of the hollows their bodies once occupied.
Once again, People, this is what happens when a city goes on the cheap and starts sacrificing any old whore rather than a proper virgin.
August 24, 1572 -
Troops loyal to the French crown alongside Catholic civilians massacre the Protestant Huguenots of Paris, estimates range between 20,000 and 100,000 deaths. At news of this carnage of this St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a gleeful Pope Gregory XIII ordered celebrations and a medal to be struck.
Sometimes, you just have to be embarrassed to be a Catholic.
August 24, 1680 -
Colonel Thomas Blood, Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671, died on this date.
Captured after the theft, he insisted on seeing King Charles II, who had a reputation for liking bold scoundrels. Charles not only pardoned him, but granted Blood Irish lands worth £500 a year!
August 24, 1814 -
The White House and other public buildings in the District of Columbia were torched by the invading British army on this date.
The President's wife, Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, her husband's enslaved manservant, are torn away from Mrs. Madison's ice cream and candy making duties to save a couple of chairs,
August 24, 1853 -
It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, on this date.
He was fed up with a customer (the popular myth wrongly identifies him as Cornelius Vanderbilt) who continued to send his fried potatoes back, claiming that they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork, nor fried normally in a pan, so he decided to stir-fry the potato slices. Against Crum's expectation, the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name Saratoga Chips. They soon became popular throughout New York and New England.
You don't want to know how Crum got the vinegar flavor for that damn chip.
August 24, 1932 -
Amelia Earhart flew from Los Angeles to Newark, becoming the first woman to complete a non-stop, transcontinental flight on this date.
She completed the journey in 19 hours and five minutes.
August 24, 1958 -
Red China commenced the shelling of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which hold one-third of Chiang Kai Shek's troops, on this date. The United States threatens nuclear retaliation for this, but the American people do not support the stance.
A very strange compromise is worked out, permitting China to shell the islands on odd dates and Chiang Kai Shek's troops to resupply the islands on even dates.
August 24, 1968 –
France exploded its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world's fifth nuclear power.
The Germans break out in an ever slight sweat. (The 1998 film Godzilla uses this particular test as the basis for the monster Godzilla, an infant green iguana mutated by the fallout from the blast.)
Another reason to hate the French.
August 24, 1989 -
Pete Rose was suspended from baseball for life for gambling on this date.
It is rumored that Pete has begun discussions with Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred team about finally lifting the ban after 25 years.
August 24, 2006 -
The planet Pluto was reclassified as a "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on this date. Pluto's status was changed due to the IAU's new rules for an object qualifying as a planet.
The other planets have been picking on Pluto ever since.
And so it goes.