Saturday, September 6, 2014

If you don't read, the terrorists have won!

Today is Read a Book Day.

I just had to re-read Edith Hamilton's Mythology with my daughter.

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.

According to Charles Van Enger, Chief Cinematographer of the film (and one of Lon Chaney's most trusted associates), Mary Philbin's reaction to the unmasked Phantom was real - that she had no idea what he would look like until that exact moment.

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

The finale of "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" production number with Astaire miming his cane as a weapon "attacking" his supporting dancers, 13 canes were prepared for it. During shooting, Astaire, ever the unforgiving perfectionist, was continually breaking his canes in frustration at his mistakes, which concerned the crew that he was running out of them. As it turns out, the shooting of the scene was finished with the very last cane. .

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

Although stars William Powell and Carole Lombard had been divorced for three years by the time they made this, when offered the part Powell declared that the only actress right for the part of Irene was Lombard. Powwell explained that his real life romance with Lombard had been much the same as it was for the characters of Godfrey and Irene.

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.

Barbara Stanwyck was the first choice to play Phyllis, but she was unnerved when seeing the role was of a ruthless killer. When she expressed her concern to Billy Wilder, he asked her, "Are you a mouse or an actress?"

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

Initially, the creators of the series had a hard time selling the show because bounty hunters were thought to be unsavory characters and have been portrayed as such in numerous western shows and movies. The creators overcame this obstacle by having Josh Randall give most, sometimes ALL, of his earnings to help people such as the families of people murdered by the men Randall brings in, thus making Randall a sympathetic and likable character.

Today in History:
September 6, 1776
American's first submersible, David Bushnell's egg-shaped Turtle, piloted by Erza Lee (after Ezra Bushnell, David's brother, the submarine's initial captain, died the night before) 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 logged and reported 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 was shot twice in the abdomen at point-blank range with a .32 caliber revolver, on this date. He, unintentionally, became the first President to ride in an automobile as a motorized ambulance takes him to a hospital.

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 died 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 instructed his wife Joan Vollmer 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, 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 surprise 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 Ukrainian situation.

And so it goes

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