October 17, 1939 -
Frank Capra's contribution to the Golden age of Hollywood, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, premiered in Washington D.C. on this date.
In 1942, when a ban on American films was imposed in German-occupied France, theaters throughout France chose Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for their last movie before the ban went into effect. One Paris theater reportedly screened the film nonstop for thirty days prior to the ban.
October 17, 1944 -
The little known and under appreciated drama directed by Clifford Odets, None But the Lonely Heart, was released on this date.
Author Richard Llewellyn was strongly opposed to the casting of Cary Grant, demanding to know how the 40-year-old actor could play a teenager. Cary Grant considered himself miscast.
October 17, 1956 -
Producer Michael Todd's adaptation of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, premiered in New York on this date.
The role of Passepartout was greatly expanded from the novel to accommodate the presence of Mexican star Cantinflas. In the mid-50s, he was the wealthiest movie star in the world, and was given top billing in Latin countries.
October 17, 1958 -
What is considered a comeback special, An Evening with Fred Astaire premiered on NBC-TV on this date.
Currently the second-oldest surviving color program to be recorded on videotape; the oldest known color videotape is the May 1958 inauguration of NBC's Washington, D.C. color studios.
October 17, 1966 -
Another iconic film from the 60s, Georgy Girl, starring James Mason, Lynn Redgrave and Alan Bates, premiered in the US on this date.
Vanessa Redgrave backed out of the role of Georgy just before shooting started. Lynn Redgrave (her sister) picked it up.
Today in History:
The Sixth Crusade ended on this date in 1244 after the Saracens ("Infidels") defeated the Franks ("Infidels") at Gaza.
October 17, 1777 -
At one of the turning points of the American Revolution, British General John Burgoyne surrendered to American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, N.Y. on this date.
The surrender demonstrating American determination to gain independence. After the surrender, France sided with the Americans, and other countries began to get involved and align themselves against Britain.
October 17, 1814 -
Late on a Monday afternoon on this date, one of the 800lb iron restraining hoop fell off one of the two giant porter vats at the the Meux and Company Brewery on London’s Tottenham Court Road. A clerk made a note of the occurrence but thought no more of it until about an hour later when the wooden staves of the vat burst.
The vat, which was full to the brim with 3,550 barrels (more than a million pints) of finest 10-month-old Meux’s Porter, created a tsunami of beer, bursting the other behemoth vat. The resulting flood, weighing close to 600 tons, plus wood and metal from the vat knocked out the wall of the brewery and gushed into the street, drowning eight and injuring dozens more. A ninth final victim actually succumbed some days later of alcohol poisoning.
What a way to go!
October 17, 1961 -
Henri Matisse's Le Bateau went on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art. 47 days later, the curator learned from an art student the painting had been hung upside down.
October 17, 1967 -
The play Hair, full of dancing naked people, unshaven armpits, and body odor, opens at the 299-seat Anspacher Theater on Broadway on this date. At the time, the musical's depiction of the use of illegal drugs, sexuality, profanity, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy.
The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of the "rock musical", utilizing a racially-integrated cast, and by inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-in" finale.
October 17, 1979 -
... so let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love, and once we begin to love each other naturally we want to do something.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a Roman Catholic nun who cared for the sick and poor, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, on this date.
But what she really wanted to do was direct.
October 17, 1984 -
The New York Times ran an article entitled "CIA Primer Tells Nicaraguan Rebels How to Kill." The story describes the secret manual Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare which the CIA furnished to the Contras in Nicaragua.
(Psst, only yesterday I discovered that you can order it from Amazon but you didn't hear it from me.)
October 17, 1989 -
The Loma Prieta earthquake struck San Francisco on this date. The damaging earthquake was notable for being the first in history to be broadcast on live TV.
The World Series was being played there at the time and cameras covering the event live were able to capture the devastating scenes.
And so it goes