Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Today is Read a Book Day.

I just had to re-read Heart of Darkness 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.

Inside Sound Stage 28, part of the opera house still stands to the side where it was filmed some eight decades ago, making it the oldest standing interior film set in the world. the set was re-used in Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain, among other films. By 1965 the interior had fallen into disrepair, but Universal let Hitchcock use it in the climax for the film.  Though it remains impressive, time has taken its toll and it is now very rarely used.

September 6, 1936 -
The classic screwball comedy, My Man Godfrey, premiered on this date.

Although stars William Powell and Carole Lombard had been divorced for three years by the time they made this, when offered the part Powell declared that the only actress right for the part of Irene was Lombard.

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.

This film came out in 1944, the same year David O. Selznick released Since You Went Away. Part of the campaign for the latter film were major ads that declared, "'Since You Went Away' are the four most important words in movies since 'Gone With the Wind'!" which Selznick had also produced. Billy Wilder hated the ads and decided to counter by personally buying his own trade paper ads which read, "'Double Indemnity' are the two most important words in movies since 'Broken Blossoms'!" referring to the 1919 D.W. Griffith classic. Selznick was not amused and even considered legal action against Wilder. Alfred Hitchcock (who had his own rocky relationship with Selznick) took out his own ads which read, "The two most important words in movies today are 'Billy Wilder'!"

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.

September 6, 1967 -
One of the seminal documentaries of the 60s, Don't Look Back directed by D. A. Pennebaker was released in NYC on this date.

Pennebaker has stated that the famous Subterranean Homesick Blues music video that is shown at the beginning of the film was actually shot at the very end of filming.

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, 100 years ago 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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