Sunday, February 8, 2015

Celebrating young men in short pants

February 8, 1910 -
Today is Boy Scout Day.

Boy Scout Day celebrates the birthday of Scouting in America.

On this date, Chicago publisher William Dickson Boyce filed incorporation papers in the District of Columbia to create the Boy Scouts of America. Oh wait a minute, these may not be the right pictures.

February 8, 1936 -
Warner Brothers released the classic film The Petrified Forest starring  Leslie Howard, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart on this date.

The character of Duke Mantee was mainly inspired by bank robber John Dillinger.

February 8, 1968 -
Planet of The Apes
premiered in NYC on this date, confirming Charlton Heston's position as one of the greatest "One Note Actors" of his generation.

During breaks in filming, actors made up as different ape species tended to hang out together, gorillas with gorillas, orangutans with orangutans, chimps with chimps. It wasn't required, it just naturally happened.

February 8, 1976 -
Martin Scorsese's
elegy to the swiftly disappearing squalid of 70's New York, Taxi Driver premiered on this date.

Between the time Robert De Niro signed a $35,000 contract to appear in this film and when it began filming, he won an Oscar for his role in The Godfather: Part II and his profile soared. The producers were terrified that De Niro would ask for a deserved large pay raise, since Columbia was very discomfited by the project and were looking for excuses to pull the plug on it, but De Niro said he would honor his original deal so the film would get made.

Today in History:
February 8, 1587
After some 19 years in prison, Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded on this date. She had spent the last hours of her life in prayer and also writing letters and her will. She expressed a request that her servants should be released. She also requested that she should be buried in France. The scaffold that was erected in the great hall was three feet tall and draped in black. It was reached by five steps and the only things on it were a disrobing stool, the block, a cushion for her to kneel on, and a bloody butcher's axe that had been previously used on animals. At her execution she removed a black cloak to reveal a deep red dress - the liturgical colour of martyrdom in the Catholic Church.

The execution was badly carried out. It is said to have taken three blows to hack off her head. The first blow struck the back of her head, the next struck her shoulder and severed her subclavian artery, spewing blood in all directions. She was alive and conscious after the first two blows. The next blow took off her head, save some gristle, which was cut using the axe as a saw.

Various improbable stories about the execution were later circulated. One which is thought to be true is that, when the executioner picked up the severed head to show it to those present, it was discovered that Mary was wearing a wig. The headsman was left holding the wig, while the late queen's head rolled on the floor. Another well-known execution story concerns a small dog owned by the queen, which is said to have been hiding among her skirts, unseen by the spectators. Following the beheading, the dog rushed out, terrified and covered in blood. It was taken away by her ladies-in-waiting and washed, but it did not survive the shock.

All of this must have been a pretty sight.

February 8, 1861 -
The southern states which had seceded from the United States agreed to reunite in The Confederate States of America.

This caused the Civil War, a period of unprecedented bloodshed in American history, which surely could have been avoided through a rigorous U.N. regimen of plantation inspections.

Co-incidentally, or not
February 8, 1915 -
D.W. Griffith's
controversial film The Birth of a Nation (The Clansman) premiered in Los Angeles on this date.

It is widely believed that after viewing this film in the White House, President Woodrow Wilson remarked that it was "like writing history with lightning." However, the reality is that Wilson disapproved of the "unfortunate production". It is believed by some of Wilson's aides that the apparent endorsement and approbation was a ruse generated by Thomas F. Dixon Jr., the author of the original novel.

February 8, 1924 -
The first person to die in Nevada's new gas chamber was Chinese born Gee Jong on this date for the murder of Tom Quong Kee, a member of a rival gang. His lawyers had fought a long battle in the courts to show that the gas chamber was a "cruel and unusual punishment" and as such was illegal under the Eight Amendment to the Constitution.

The execution commenced at 9:30 a.m. when Gee Jong was led from a holding cell and secured to the chair within the chamber. He appeared to struggle a little after the gas was manually pumped in and then lapse into unconsciousness but as no external stethoscope had been used he was left in the chamber for 30 minutes to ensure death.

Breathe deeply.

February 8, 1942 -
Robert Klein, comedian and actor, was born on this date.

Please stop writing him, Mr. Klein run run of records starting with the letter B.

February 8, 1960
Beer heir Adolph Coors III (who was ironically allergic to beer), was killed after a failed kidnapping attempt in Colorado on this date. By October, Joseph Corbett Jr. was arrested in Canada after an national manhunt.

Corbett was convinced and sent to prison. He was pardoned in 1978. Mr Corbett committed suicide in 2010, still maintaining his innocence in the crime.

I guess Mr. Corbett didn't get his deposit back.

February 8, 1968 -
Gary Coleman, actor, security guard, perp and corpse was born on this date.

What else is there to say.

And so it goes.

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