Events - January 26
1784 - Ben Franklin wrote to his daughter to tell her that he was unhappy that the bald eagle had been chosen as the national bird of the United States. He mentioned that he believed the turkey would have been a much more respectable choice. In a few days, Ben received a letter from his daughter. “Oh boy! Oh boy!” he exclaimed. When he opened it, he read these touching words: “Dear Dad, Sorry about the eagle thing. Go fly a kite!” And so he did. The rest, kids, is history. Well, part of it is. The turkey part is true. The rest, is made up.
1837 - 32 years and 15 days after Michigan was organized as a territory, it became the 26th state of the United States of America. Named Michigan after the American Indian word, Michigama, meaning great or large lake, Michigan borders four of the Great Lakes, and is divided into two peninsulas by the Straits of Mackinac that connect Lakes Michigan and Huron. The two peninsulas are recognized in the state motto: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you. In Latin: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (sounds like Latin words that someone made up because someone somewhere decided that state mottos have to be written in Latin). Michigan is nicknamed the Wolverine State (although wolverines are very rare there) and/or the Great Lake State (its shores touch four of the five Great Lakes). The state bird is the robin; the state flower: apple blossom; state tree: white pine; state fish: trout; state gem: Isle Royal Greenstone aka Chlorastrolite. This gemstone wasn't enough for Michigan. It had to have a real stone, too ... the Petoskey stone. The state flag, which is blue charged with the arms of the state, waves over the state capital of Lansing. And in Latin that's ....
1875 - George F. Green of Kalamazoo, Michigan patented the electric dental drill for sawing, filing, dressing and polishing teeth. Considering what they used before George came up with his invention (hammer, pliers, pipe wrench, chain saw (YeeeeeeoW!), the thought of that spiffy electric drill is kind of comforting...
1913 - Jim Thorpe wrote to the chairman of the Amateur Athletic Union and revealed that he had played professional baseball in 1909 and 1910. He returned the two gold medals (decathlon and pentathlon) that he had won in the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm, Sweden. Sixty years later, and twenty years after his death, the AAU returned Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals to his family.
1934 - The Apollo Theatre opened in New York City as a ‘Negro vaudeville theatre’. It became the showplace for many of the great black entertainers, singers, groups and instrumentalists in the country. If you made it... you played it... at the Apollo Theatre.
1945 - Dan Topping and Del Webb bought the New York Yankees baseball team for $2,800,000. They installed Larry MacPhail as president, giving him a third of the club and a 10-year contract to run it. The volatile, innovative MacPhail, who had previously brought new life to Cincinnati and Brooklyn baseball, brought night ball to Yankee Stadium.
1947 - "The Greatest Story Ever Told" was first heard on ABC radio. It was the first radio series to portray the voice of Jesus Christ.
1956 - Buddy Holly had his first of three 1956 recording sessions for Decca Records and producer, Owen Bradley, in Nashville. Nothing much came out of those sessions. He formed the group, The Three Tunes (changed later to The Crickets), and went on to find fame and fortune when he hooked up with producer Norman Petty in New Mexico. Holly died in a plane crash near Mason City, IA, February 3, 1959 (“the day the music died”). He was 22. Holly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
1960 - Burnsville, West Virginia beat the tar out of Widen, West Virginia in basketball. Burnsville, 173, Widen, 43. Danny Heater starred by pouring in 135 points!
1960 - Pete Rozelle was elected commissioner of the National Football League. He stayed there for more than 25 years.
1961 - President John F. Kennedy appointed Dr. Janet G. Travell (Mrs. John Powell) to the post of personal physician to the President. Dr. Travell was the first woman to hold that post.
1970 - Commissioner Pete Rozelle of the NFL announced that the three major TV networks, NBC, CBS and ABC, had agreed to pay a total of $124,000,000 over four years to televise the National Football League games. CBS carried the NFC games and NBC had the AFC. ABC came in with an idea to broadcast a thing called "Monday Night Football". Few thought it would go over well, but the broadcast soon made believers out of millions of fans.
1984 - CBS television was brave enough to bring back the sexist, violent, wisecracking Mike Hammer. Mickey Spillane’s extremely violent novels were equally as violent on TV. But this time, all the murder, extortion, kidnapping and robbery cases were solved by the handsome Stacy Keach. Not much else had changed from the original version except Velda, Mike’s secretary, played by Lindsay Bloom, was not only heard, but now was very easy on the primarily-male audience’s eyes. Tight, low-cut dresses were the rule. All female cast members were poured into their costumes. Mike’s best friend had a woman’s name, Betsy. Betsy was Hammer’s .45 caliber pistol that helped him out of many a scrap.
1985 - St. John’s University ended Georgetown’s 29-game winning streak with a 66-65 win. Chris Mullin lead St. Johns with 20 points. Patrick Ewing lead the Hoyas of Georgetown with 9 points, in this Big East Conference basketball game.
1986 - Super Bowl XX (at New Orleans): Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10. Coach Mike Ditka, RT William ’The Refrigerator’ Perry, QB Jim McMahon, RB Walter Payton. Is it all coming back to you now? MVP: Bears’ DE Richard Dent. Tickets: $75.00. Nielsen TV ratings indicated that exactly 50 percent of the U.S. population watched at least some part of the game, making it, at the time, the most watched TV program in history.
1992 - Super Bowl XXVI (at Minneapolis): Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24. Washington led 37-10 before Buffalo scored a pair of TDs in the final six minutes. Bills’ QB Jim Kelly threw the football a record 58 times (with 4 interceptions) in the losing effort. MVP: Redskins’ QB Mark Rypien. Tickets: $150.00.
1996 - Opening day in the U.S. for these movies: The romantic "Bed of Roses", starring Christian Slater, Mary Stuart Masterson, Pamela Segall and Josh Brolin; and the comedy/drama "Big Bully", with Rick Moranis, Tom Arnold, Julianne Phillips and Carol Kane.
1997 - Super Bowl XXXI (at New Orleans): Green Bay 35, New England 21. A classic team effort: QB Brett Favre passed for two TDs and Desmond Howard (MVP) returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score as the Packers won their 12th NFL championship and the first since Super Bowl II in 1968. Tickets: $275.00.
1998 - Compaq Computer Corp. and Digital Equipment Corp. announced plans to merge. In the largest computer biz acquisition to that time, the deal wasworth $9.6 billion.
2001 - Movies debuting in U.S. theatres: The horror/drama "Shadow of the Vampire", starring Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine Mccormack and Eddie Izzard; the comedy "Sugar and Spice", with Marley Shelton, James Marsden, Mena Suvari and Marla Sokoloff; and "The Wedding Planner", a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez Matthew Mcconaughey Bridgette Wilson-Sampras Justin Chambers.
Birthdays - January 26
1826 - Julia Dent Grant (1st lady of U.S., wife of 18th President Ulysses S. Grant [1869-1877]; died Dec 14, 1902)
1880 - Douglas MacArthur (U.S. Army General and Commander of Allied Forces, WWII: “I shall return.”, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”; died Apr 5, 1964)
1912 - Cora Baird (puppeteer with husband Bil Baird: TV: The Baird Marionettes; died Dec 7, 1967)
1913 - William Prince (actor: Destination Tokyo, The Taking of Beverly Hills, The Portrait, Objective Burma!, Spies Like Us; died Oct 8, 1996)
1913 - Jimmy Van Heusen (Edward Chester Babcock) (Academy Award-winning composer: Swinging on a Star , All the Way , High Hopes , Call Me Irresponsible ; wrote the music to over 75 songs for Frank Sinatra with lyricists Johnny Burke and Sammy Cahn: My Kind of Town, Second Time Around; died Feb 6, 1990)
1915 - William Hopper (actor: Rebel Without a Cause; Perry Mason; died Mar 6, 1970)
1920 - Derek Bond (actor: Nicholas Nickleby, Svengali, The Hand; died Oct 15, 2006)
1922 - Page (Walter) Cavanaugh (pianist: Page Cavanaugh Trio: That’s How Much I Love You; died Dec 19, 2008)
1923 - Anne Jeffreys (Carmichael) (actress: I Married an Angel, Dick Tracy , Boys’ Night Out, General Hospital [soap], Clifford; died Sep 27, 2017)
1925 - Joan Leslie (Joan Agnes Theresa Sadie Brodel) (actress: Yankee Doodle Dandy, Rhapsody in Blue, Born to be Bad, High Sierra; died Oct 12, 2015)
1925 - Paul Newman (Academy Award-winning actor: The Color of Money, , Cool Hand Luke, Hud, The Sting, The Hudsucker Proxy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict, Exodus; director: Rachel, Rachel, Harry and Son; race car driver; salad dressing and spaghetti sauce maker; died Sep 26, 2008)
1928 - Roger Vadim (Roger Vladimir Plemiannikov) (director: Barbarella, Pretty Maids All in a Row, And God Created Woman; died Feb 11, 2000)
1929 - Jules Feiffer (Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist ; scriptwriter: Carnal Knowledge, Little Murders, Popeye)
1931 - Mary Murphy (actress: Carrie, Houdini, 40 Pounds of Trouble; died May 4, 2011)
1932 - Claude Gray (The Tall Texan) (country singer: I’ll Just Have Another Cup of Coffee, My Ears Should Burn)
1934 - Bob (Robert George) Uecker (baseball: catcher: Milwaukee Braves, SL Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves; sportscaster; actor: Major League series)
1941 - Scott Glenn (actor: Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, Silverado, The Hunt for Red October, The Silence of the Lambs)
1944 - Angela Davis (civil rights activist, teacher)
1946 - Gene (Eugene Kal) Siskel (movie critic; half of Siskel and (Roger) Ebert team: Siskel & Ebert & the Movies; died Feb 20, 1999)
1950 - Jack (Herbert Jackson) Youngblood III (Pro Football Hall of Famer: LA Rams defensive end: Super Bowl XIV)
1952 - Tom Henderson (basketball: Houston Rockets)
1955 - Eddie Van Halen (Grammy Award-winning musician: guitar, singer: group: Van Halen: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge ; owns recording studio: 5150)
1958 - Anita Baker (singer: Sweet Love, Rhythm of Love, Giving You the Best that I Got)
1958 - Ellen DeGeneres (Emmy Award-winning comedienne, actress: Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show [2004, 2005]; Emmy Award-winning writer: Ellen ; Open House, Mr. Wrong, Finding Nemo [voice])
1961 - Wayne Gretzky (hockey: Edmunton Oilers, LA Kings: NHL Season Point Record [1985-86]; MVP nine times [1980-’87 & 1989]; Stanley Cup Individual Career Record: 110 goals, 346 points scored [1979-1993])
1963 - Jazzie B (Beresford Romeo) (rap artist: group: Soul II Soul)
1963 - Andrew Ridgeley (musician: guitar: group: Wham!)
Chart Toppers - January 26
Symphony - The Freddy Martin Orchestra (vocal: Clyde Rogers)
I Can’t Begin to Tell You - Bing Crosby with the Carmen Cavallaro Orchestra
Let It Snow - Vaughn Monroe
You Will Have to Pay - Tex Ritter
Stranger in Paradise - Tony Bennett
Oh! My Pa-Pa - Eddie Fisher
At the Darktown Strutters’ Ball - Lou Monte
Bimbo - Jim Reeves
The Twist - Chubby Checker
Peppermint Twist - Joey Dee & The Starliters
Can’t Help Falling in Love - Elvis Presley
Walk on By - Leroy Van Dyke
Raindrop Keep Fallin’ on My Head - B.J. Thomas
Venus - The Shocking Blue
I Want You Back - The Jackson 5
Baby, Baby (I Know You’re a Lady) - David Houston
Baby Come Back - Player
Here You Come Again - Dolly Parton
You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim) - Rod Stewart
What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life - Ronnie Milsap
That’s What Friends are For - Dionne & Friends
Burning Heart - Survivor
Talk to Me - Stevie Nicks
Never Be You - Rosanne Cash
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.