August 12, 1927 -
The only silent film to win an Oscar for best picture, Wings, opened in NYC on this date.
The film was considered lost for many years until it was discovered languishing in the Cinematheque Francaise film archive in Paris. (Bonus trivia: The film contains the first screen kiss between two men.)
August 12, 1939 -
The Bugs Bunny everyone knows takes another step forward when Hare-um Scare-um premiered on this date.
It was during production of this cartoon that Bugs Bunny's name originated. Designer Charles Thorson redesigned the rabbit character and labeled the model sheet "Bug's Bunny," after co-director Ben Hardaway's nickname, Bugs. It's also the first time Bugs cross dresses in a cartoon.
August 12, 1939 -
Considered one of the highlights of the Golden Age of Hollywood, The Wizard of Oz premiered on this date in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
Over the Rainbow was nearly cut from the film; MGM felt that it made the Kansas sequence too long, as well as being too far over the heads of the children for whom it was intended. The studio also thought that it was degrading for Judy Garland to sing in a barnyard. A reprise of the song was cut: Dorothy sang it to remember Kansas while imprisoned in the Witch's castle. Judy Garland began to cry, along with the crew, because the song was so sad.
August 12, 1941 -
MGM premiered their version of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, starring Spencer Tracy, in NYC on this date.
One night Spencer Tracy turned up at Clark Gable and Carole Lombard's second wedding anniversary party wearing his make up as Mr Hyde.
August 12, 1988 -
Universal Pictures released Martin Scorsese's controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ, starting Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel and Barbara Hershey on this date.
Martin Scorsese banned smoking from the set, both because he's a severe asthmatic, and to avoid any photographs being taken of actors playing Biblical characters - primarily Willem Dafoe, who smoked at the time - with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.
Today in History:
August 12, 30 BC (Given how the Romans were keeping track of time at this point and were drinking a huge amount of wine from lead cups - this date is fluid at best.)-
Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt, former wife of Julius Caesar and mistress of Marc Anthony, committed suicide by means of the unusual practice of nursing a venomous snakebite.
August 12, 3 AD -
A planetary conjunction (possibly Venus-Jupiter) was visible from the Earth with the naked eye on this date.
Many astronomers will later speculate that this may have been the mentioned Star of Bethlehem in the New Testament of the Bible.
August 12, 1676 -
Wampanoag chieftain Metacom (or Philip) was killed in a swamp near Mount Hope, PA on this date. Thus ends King Philip's War, the first war between Indians and European settlers.
August 12, 1813 -
Austria declared war against Napoleon on this date.
August 12, 1865 -
After studying Louis Pasteur’s germ theory of disease which suggests that infections are caused by bacteria, Dr. Joseph Lister became the first surgeon to use during an operation.
Lister introduces Phenol (carbolic acid) as a form of disinfectant into his surgery. His heightened standards of hygiene will reduce his surgical death rate from 45% to 15%.
August 12, 1869 -
In San Francisco on this date, Emperor Norton I issued a stern edict outlawing both the Republican and Democratic political parties.
Joshua Norton. (Also, please check out the online petition to rename the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge after our beloved majesty, Emperor Norton.)
August 12, 1898 -
The Spanish-American war ended on this date. Spain released Cuba and gave Puerto Rico to the United States. Americans rushed to Puerto Rico in gleeful droves, only to discover that everyone spoke Spanish and there were no luaus or volcanoes.
Their disappointment was profound.
They took Hawaii as a consolation prize (Hawaii was formally annexed by the U.S. - officially stolen) later that same day.
August 12, 1948 -
Russian schoolteacher Oksana Kasenkina was injured when she jumps out the window of the Soviet Consulate in New York City on this date.
Soviet officials claim they had rescued her from "White Russian" kidnappers, but Kosenkina says she was trying to escape from the Soviets. The US later expels the consul general and the Soviets closed their consulate.
August 12, 1953 -
In Siberia, the Soviet Union successfully tests its first thermonuclear device, based on Andrei Sakharov's fission-fusion "Layer Cake" design: alternating layers of uranium and hydrogen fuel sandwiched together and wrapped around a conventional Atomic Bomb. The fission explosion compresses the hydrogen, causing a fusion reaction.
Hopefully this is no longer a state secret or boy am I in deep trouble.
And so it goes.
And on a personal note:
I'd like to wish my mom a very Happy Birthday only if she could tear herself away, long enough for her to answer her cellphone.