September 18, 1951 -
Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marion Brando, Vivien Leigh, and Kim Hunter, premiered in Los Angeles on this date.
Although Vivien Leigh initially thought Marlon Brando to be affected, and he thought her to be impossibly stuffy and prim, both soon became friends and the cast worked together smoothly.
September 18, 1951 -
20th Century Fox premiered the science fiction classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still, directed by Robert Wise and starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, in New York, on this date.
The role of Gort was played by Lock Martin, the doorman from Grauman's Chinese Theater, because he was extremely tall. However, he was unable to pick up Helen because he was so weak and had to be aided by wires (in shots from the back where he's carrying her, it's actually a lightweight dummy in his arms). He also had difficulty with the heavy Gort suit and could only stay in it for about a half-hour at a time.
September 18, 1963 -
The show that taught elderly men, twin cousins might be lured into immoral acts with the purchase of grilled sausages - The Patty Duke Show, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.
Although the series was still doing well enough in the Nielsen ratings, ABC decided not to renew it for a fourth season. ABC wanted all of their black and white shows to switch color production. United Artists wanted more money to make the change. The network decided it would be more cost-effective to develop a new color show instead.
September 18, 1964 -
The most normal family's ever presented on US television, The Addams Family premiered on ABC-TV on this date.
Originally, the character of Lurch was to be mute. However, in the episode The Addams Family Goes to School, Ted Cassidy, ad-libbed the famous line, "You rang?" The line got a wave a laughter from the studio audience and Cassidy got more dialogue. Lurch got fan mail from teenage girls who insisted that he was cuter than The Beatles.
September 18, 1965 -
Kleenex stock rose precipitously as I Dream of Jeannie premiered on this date.
Larry Hagman could be so hard to work with that the producers seriously considered replacing him with another actor. Darren McGavin was at the top of the list for Hagman's replacement. They even wrote out a story with Tony losing Jeannie and McGavin finding her. However, studio executives liked Hagman much more than they did.
September 18, 1965 -
Mel Brooks and Buck Henry started making the world safe from KAOS when Get Smart premiered on NBC-TV on this date.
It is rumored that Agent 99 was originally supposed to be named Agent 69 but NBC censors deemed it to be too "sexually suggestive". According to Barbara Feldon, this is not true. Her character was originally to be named Agent 100 "because she was 100 percent" but Buck Henry decided 99 sounded more feminine.
September 18, 1968 -
The film musical Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand premiered in NYC.
Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif had an affair that lasted for the duration of the production. This would contribute to the end of her marriage to Elliott Gould. William Wyler, who knew about the affair, tried to channel their real-life chemistry into their performances.
September 18, 1978 -
We first started living on the air in Cincinnati when WKRP in Cincinnati, premiered on CBS-TV on this date.
Les wears a bandage on some part of his body in almost every episode. Eventually, he reveals that he has a very large dog at home. In real life, Richard Sanders suffered an injury prior to taping the pilot episode, had to wear a bandage on the air, then decided to make it Les' trademark.
September 18, 1987 -
Pet bunnies felt a cold breeze on their neck when Fatal Attraction, starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, opened on this date.
When Glenn Close finally secured the part of Alex Forrest, one of the first things she did was to take the script to two different psychiatrists. She asked them, "Is this behavior possible and if it is, why?" The two psychiatrists who reviewed the script at Glenn Close's request both came to the same conclusion: Alex Forrest's behavior was, in its own way, classic behavior. Their diagnosis was that Alex had been molested and sexually tortured for an extended period of time while she was a child. As a result, she would naturally lash out at anyone who found her desirable.
September 18, 1994 -
Ken Burn's series about America's favorite past time Baseball, premiered on PBS on this date.
Ironically, first aired in the fall of 1994 when much of the season and the World Series were cancelled due to a strike. This made it the only "baseball" available to millions of unhappy fans at what should have been the most exciting time of the season.
Today in History:
Once again, I must ask all children and those with delicate natures to turn away from their computer screens as we discuss the bizarre deviant sexual behavior on the part of our founding fathers:
On September 18, 1793, President George Washington laid the foundation stone for the U.S. Capitol. According to numerous sources, President Washington "laid the stone in a Masonic ceremony... preceded by a parade and followed by celebration and feasting."
September 18, 1851 -
The New York Times published its first edition on this date. The newspaper, initially called the New-York Daily Times, was founded by Henry Jarvis Raymond, a politician and journalist.
September 18, 1932 -
24-year-old starlet Peg Entwistle dived head first from the letter "H" of the HOLLYWOODLAND sign in Los Angeles. She is the first person to commit suicide at the landmark.
Her body was discovered in the brush at the base of the hill two days later, and pronounced dead. When police examined her belongings, in her purse they found a note that read:
"I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E."
Two days later, in an ironic twist, Entwistle's uncle opened a letter addressed to her from the Beverly Hills Playhouse; it was mailed the day before she jumped. In it was an offer for her to play the lead role in a stage production—in which her character would commit suicide in the final act.
September 18, 1961 -
Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary-General of the UN, was killed in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on this date. He was flying to negotiate a cease-fire in the Congo.
Hammarskjold was the son of a former Swedish prime minister. In 1953, he was elected to the top UN post and in 1957 was reelected. During his second term, he initiated and directed the United Nation's vigorous role in the Belgian Congo.
Strangely enough, for many years, I worked in an office building that bears his name.
September 18, 1970 -
Jimi Hendrix died in his sleep, in London, from of a barbiturate overdose when chunks of his vomited tuna sandwich wound up in his lungs, causing him to choke, on this date. He was 27 years old.
At least his family could take comfort that he did not choke on someone else's vomit.
Once again I must remind you that Cass Elliot did not choke to death on a ham sandwich. It is an urban myth born out of a quickly discarded speculation by the coroner, who noted a part eaten ham sandwich and figured she may have choked to death. In fact, she died of heart failure.
So cut it out.
September 18, 1977 -
NASA's unmanned space probe Voyager 1 snapped the first photograph of the Moon and the Earth in the same frame while on its mission to study the Solar System and its boundaries. At the time, Voyager 1 was 7.25 million miles (11.66 million kilometers) from Earth.
September 18, 1992 -
Two weeks after being outed in the New York weekly QW, attorney John Schlafly admits in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner that he enjoys the love that dare not speak it's name. This causes a certain amount of consternation for his mother, archconservative gay rights opponent Phyllis Schlafly.
September 18, 1994 -
Vitas Gerulaitis was killed in his sleep the previous night in the guest cottage of a friend's Long Island estate. His body was discovered on this date. The professional tennis player died from carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by a faulty propane swimming-pool heater.
And so it goes