Sunday, September 6, 2015

Read or the terrorists have won

Today is Read a Book Day.

I just had to re-read Lord of the Flies this Summer 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, he had summoned to Lon Chaney's dressing room, but without being told why. When he got there Chaney suddenly spun around in full Phantom makeup! "I almost wet my pants. I fell back over a stool and landed flat on my back!" Chaney laughed so hard and Van Enger, who by then was "mad as hell" yelled, "Are you NUTS?" Unable to clearly talk with his fake teeth in, he spit them out: "Never mind Charlie, you already told me what I wanted to know."

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

The final musical number in the film, 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.

This is the only movie to ever get Oscar nominations for writing, directing and all four acting awards without being nominated for Best Picture. It was also the only movie to ever get those six nominations without winning in any of the categories all until American Hustle in 2013.

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.

Author James M. Cain later admitted that if he had come up with some of the solutions to the plot that screenwriters Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler did, he would have employed them in his original novel.

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

Steve McQueen was hired after Jack H. Harris, who was producing The Blob gave him a glowing reference to Dick Powell (the head of Four Star Productions). Powell also asked for, and was granted, the opportunity to view a rough cut of that film.

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 Syrian refugee situation in Europe.

And so it goes

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