Events - December 19
1903 - The Williamsburg Bridge was opened in New York City. This was America’s first major suspension bridge (1600 feet). It cost $24,000,000 to build -- in 1903 dollars. The Verrazano Narrows suspension bridge in New York, completed in 1964, is the longest suspension bridge in the U.S. (4,260 ft.) For you West Coast fans, the Golden Gate is sixty feet shorter than the Verrazano. Now we’ll end your suspense and tell you which suspension bridge is the longest in the world. It is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, which cost about $3.8 billion. Opened on April 5, 1998, it links Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands, with the biggest island of Honshu. The mid-section length, between the bridge's two massive support towers, measures 6,529 feet (about 1,990 meters), making it over 1,900 feet longer than the previous record holder, the Humber Estuary Bridge in the United Kingdom. That span is 4,626 feet or 1,410 meters. By definition, a suspension bridge is one with a deck suspended from cables anchored at their extremities and usually raised on towers.
1917 - The first games of the new National Hockey League were played on this day. Five teams made up the league: Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec, the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Wanderers.
1918 - Robert Ripley began his "Believe It or Not" column in "The New York Globe".
1957 - Meredith Willson’s "The Music Man" opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. The Broadway show starred Robert Preston and had a run of 1,375 shows. It also had 76 trombones and 110 cornets in the band ... and a librarian named Marian, remember?
1959 - Penn State’s Nittany Lions beat Alabama, 7-0, in the first Liberty Bowl. The football game was played at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, PA. (Since 1965, the Liberty Bowl has been played in Memphis, TN.)
1960 - Neil Sedaka’s "Calendar Girl" was released on RCA Victor Records. The song became Sedaka’s fourth record to make the charts. Other hits from the guy who made money off of a love song for Carole King ("Oh, Carol") include "The Diary", "Stairway to Heaven", "Bad Girl", "Next Door to an Angel", "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen", "Laughter in the Rain" and "Breaking Up is Hard to Do".
1960 - Frank Sinatra recorded his first session with his very own record company. Frank did "Ring-A-Ding-Ding" and "Let’s Fall in Love" for Reprise Records.
1961 - "Judgment At Nuremberg" opened in New York City with a star-studded cast including Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, and Maximillian Schell (he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance). The film received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay plus nine other nominations.
1973 - Johnny Carson pulled a good one before a nationwide late-night audience on NBC. Carson started a fake toilet-paper scare. In his "Tonight Show" monologue, he told his huge audience that a Wisconsin congressman had warned that toilet paper was disappearing from supermarket shelves. Toilet paper soon became a scarce commodity in many areas of the United States after the gag.
1984 - Wayne Gretzky, 23, of the Edmonton Oilers led his hockey team to a 7-3 victory over Los Angeles. He got two goals and four assists and became only the 18th player in the National Hockey League to score more than 1,000 points.
1985 - Jan Stenerud announced his retirement from the NFL. The football kicker holds the record for the most career field goals with 373. He made those field goals while kicking for the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings beginning in 1967.
1985 - ABC Sports announced that it was severing ties with Howard Cosell and released ‘The Mouth’ from all TV commitments. ‘Humble’ Howard continued on ABC radio for another five years.
1993 - Michael ‘Mike’ Clarke, 49, the original drummer for The Byrds, died of liver failure at his Treasure Island (St. Petersburg FL) home. Clarke, the youngest of the Byrds, joined the group at its inception in 1964, and stayed with the band through the end of 1967. He had sparked a lawsuit from other original band members in 1989 when he started performing under the Byrds’ name.
1997 - A big day for new movies in the U.S.: "Titanic", starring Leonardo Dicaprio Kate Winslet Billy Zane and Kathy Bates, the biggest grossing movie of all time (has topped the $600-million mark); "Mouse Hunt", with Nathan Lane, Lee Evans, Christopher Walken and Vicki Lewis; and "Tomorrow Never Dies", starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond... James Bond, Judi Dench as M, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Samantha Bond as Moneypenny.
2000 - A volcano outside Mexico City spewed a fiery fountain of ash and rock in its most spectacular eruption in more than a millennium. It left towns around the mountain’s base deserted as frightened residents fled. The eruption of the 17,886-foot mountain was its biggest show in 1,200 years, as the mountain, known locally as ‘Popo’, filled nearby valleys with lava.
Birthdays - December 19
1790 - Sir William Edward Parry (explorer: Arctic & Northwest Passage expeditions; died Jul 8, 1855)
1865 - Minnie Fiske (Marie Augusta Davey) (actress: first appeared on stage at age of three; died Feb 15, 1932)
1888 - Fritz Reiner (musician, conductor: The Mysterious Mountain; died Nov 15, 1963)
1894 - Ford Frick (Baseball Hall of Famer: Commissioner of Baseball; died April 8, 1978)
1906 - Leonid Brezhnev (Russian leader of the Communist Party; died Nov 10, 1982)
1915 - Édith Piaf (Édith Giovanna Gassion) (French cabaret singer, actress; died Oct 10, 1963)
1920 - ‘Little’ Jimmy Dickens (Country Music Hall of Famer: Country Boy, My Heart’s Bouquet, May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose; died Jan 2, 2015)
1920 - David Susskind (Emmy Award-winning producer: The Ages of Man , Death of a Salesman [w/Daniel Melnick, 1967], executive producer: Eleanor and Franklin-ABC Theatre , Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years-ABC Theatre ; Kraft Television Theatre, Good Company; TV host: Open End, The David Susskind Show; died Feb 22, 1987)
1924 - Doug Harvey (hockey: NHL: Montreal Canadiens [Norris Trophy: 1955-58, 1960-61], NY Rangers [Norris Trophy: 1962], St. Paul Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, SL Blues; died Dec 26, 1989) Hornets, Detroit Red Wings, KC Blues, SL Blues)
1929 - Howard Sackler (Pulitzer Prize-winning author: The Great White Hope ; Fear and Desire, Jaws 2; died Oct 12, 1982)
1933 - Cicely Tyson (Emmy Award-winning actress: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman [1973-1974], Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All [1993-1994]; Roots, Fried Green Tomatoes, Heat Wave, Sounder)
1934 - Al (Albert William) Kaline (Baseball Hall of Famer: Detroit Tigers [World Series: 1968])
1935 - Tony (Antonio Nemesio Sanchez) Taylor (baseball: Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies [all-star: 1960], Detroit Tigers)
1940 - Phil Ochs (folk singer, songwriter: There But for Fortune, Doesn’t Lenny Live Here Anymore?, Here’s to the State of Richard Nixon; died Apr 9, 1976)
1941 - Maurice White (singer, musician: drummer; founder of group: Earth, Wind & Fire: Shining Star, Sing a Song, Got to Get You into My Life, After the Love Has Gone, Best of My Love; died Feb 3, 2016)
1942 - Bob Windsor (football: Univ. of Kentucky, New England Patriots)
1944 - Richard Leakey (anthropologist, author: Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human)
1944 - Alvin Lee (musician: group: Ten Years After: A Space in Time; died Mar 6, 2013)
1944 - Tim Reid (actor: WKRP in Cincinnati, Frank’s Place)
1944 - Zal Yanovsky (musician: guitar, singer: group: The Lovin’ Spoonful: Do You Believe in Magic, You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice, Daydream, Did You ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?, Summer in the City, Rain on the Roof, Nashville Cats; died Dec 13, 2002)
1946 - Robert Urich (actor: Spenser: for Hire, Final Descent, Boatworks, The Lazarus Man, Danielle Steel’s A Perfect Stranger, Vegas, Magnum Force; died Apr 16, 2002)
1947 - Larry Ely (football: Univ. of Iowa [all-star 1969], Cincinnati Bengals)
1947 - Janie Fricke (singer: CMA Female Vocalist of the Year [1982 and 1983]; It Ain’t Easy)
1949 - Claudia Kolb (U.S. Olympic Gold swimmer: 200-meter Individual Relay and 400-meter Individual Relay )
1952 - Jeff Davis (musician: bass: group: Amazing Rhythm Aces: Third Rate Romance)
1957 - Kevin McHale (Basketball Hall of Famer: Boston Celtics forward: sixth man award [1984, 1985]; NBA all-defensive team [1986, 1987, 1988]; played in 3 NBA championships [1981, 1984, 1986]; his number retired by the Celtics)
1961 - Reggie White (football: Green Bay Packers DE [Pro Bowl: 1986-1993, 1995-1997]; died Dec 26, 2004)
1963 - Jennifer Beals (actress: Four Rooms, Devil in a Blue Dress, Day of Atonement, Indecency, Vampire’s Kiss, The Bride, Cinderella, Flashdance, 2000 Malibu Road)
1966 - Robert MacNaughton (actor: I am the Cheese, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial)
1969 - Kristy Swanson (actress: Dude, Where’s My Car?, Pretty in Pink, Knots Landing, Nightingales, Hot Shots!, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marshal Law, Bad to the Bone, Early Edition)
1971 - Amy Locane (actress: Airheads, Spencer, Melrose Place, End of Summer, The Heist)
1972 - Alyssa Milano (actress: Fear, Deadly Sins, Conflict of Interest, Commando, Old Enough, Who’s the Boss?)
1980 - Marla Sokoloff (actress: Dude, Where’s My Car?, Home Improvement, Party of Five, 3rd Rock from the Sun, 7th Heaven, Baby-Sitters Club, True Crime, Whatever It Takes)
Chart Toppers - December 19
Buttons and Bows - Dinah Shore
On a Slow Boat to China - The Kay Kaiser Orchestra (vocal: Harry Babbitt & Gloria Wood
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart) - Jimmy Wakely
Singing the Blues - Guy Mitchell
Blueberry Hill - Fats Domino
Since I Met You Baby - Ivory Joe Hunter
Singing the Blues - Marty Robbins
Come See About Me - The Supremes
I Feel Fine - The Beatles
Goin’ Out of My Head - Little Anthony & The Imperials
Once a Day - Connie Smith
Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
You Ought to Be with Me - Al Green
It Never Rains in Southern California - Albert Hammond
Got the All Overs for You (All Over Me) - Freddie Hart & The Heartbeats
Lady - Kenny Rogers
More Than I Can Say - Leo Sayer
(Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon
Why Lady Why - Alabama
Look Away - Chicago
Every Rose Has Its Thorn - Poison
Giving You the Best That I Got - Anita Baker
A Tender Lie - Restless Heart
Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end...
Written and edited by Carol Williams and John Williams
Produced by John Williams
Those Were the Days, the Today in History feature
from 440 International
No portion of these files may be reproduced without the express, written permission of 440 International Inc.