Events - December 17
1843 - "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens was published in London and immediately sold out. He wrote the story in just two months, beginning in October, 1843 and finishing at the end of November. It was the first of five Christmas books by Dickens. Its successors were "The Chimes" (1844), "The Cricket on the Hearth" (1845), "The Battle of Life" (1846), and "The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain" (1848).
1895 - George L. Brownell of Worcester, MA made history by getting a patent for his paper-twine machine.
1903 - The first successful powered airplane flight took place near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. First Orville, then Wilbur Wright kept their invention flying ... each flight lasted just under one minute.
1926 - Benny Goodman played a clarinet solo. This was not unusual for Benny except that it was his first time playing solo within a group recording session. Goodman was featured with Ben Pollack and His Californians on "He’s the Last Word".
1936 - Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen kidded around with his pal, Charlie McCarthy (who was a bit wooden, we remember...), for the first time on radio. The two debuted on "The Rudy Vallee Show" on NBC. Soon, Bergen became one of radio’s hottest properties, and was called Vallee’s greatest talent discovery.
1953 - Following an earlier decision that favored CBS-TV, the wise minds at the Federal Communications Commission changed opinions and decided to approve RCA’s color television specifications. Guess who benefited most? That’s right, NBC, parent company (then) of RCA. NBC stations soon took the lead in displaying programs "...presented in living color."
1955 - Carl Perkins wrote "Blue Suede Shoes". Less than 48 hours later, he recorded it at the Sun Studios in Memphis. The tune became one of the first records to be popular simultaneously on rock, country and rhythm & blues charts.
1959 - "On the Beach" premiered this day at the Astor Theatre in New York City -- and in 17 other cities. It was the first motion picture to debut simultaneously in major cities around the world.
1969 - "Chicago Transit Authority" became a gold record for the group of the same name (they later changed their name to Chicago). When the album was released by Columbia Records, it marked the first time an artist’s debut LP was a double record.
1969 - Tiny Tim (Herbert Buchingham Khaury) married Miss Vickie (Victoria Budinger) on this night on "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson". This is the Tiny Tim of the falsetto version of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" fame. Mr. Tiny Tim and Miss Vickie had a daughter, Tulip. Then in 1977 they stopped tiptoeing together. Tiny Tim died Saturday, November 30, 1996. He died as he lived, performing "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" to an audience at a benefit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He cut the song short, commenting to his wife, Miss Sue (they were married in 1995), that he felt ill. As he was making his way with Sue to her table -- amidst the applause of his loyal fans -- he collapsed, was taken to a Minneapolis hospital and died without regaining consciousness.
1970 - The Beach Boys played to royalty at Royal Albert Hall in London. Princess Margaret was in attendance and shook the royal jewelry to such classics as "Good Vibrations", "I Get Around" and "Help Me, Rhonda".
1976 - WTCG-TV, Atlanta, Georgia, owned by Ted Turner, changed call letters to WTBS, and was uplinked via satellite, to become the first commercial TV station to cover the entire U.S. WTBS started on four cable systems, available in 24,000 homes.
1977 - Elvis Costello, making a rare TV appearance, agreed to perform on NBC’s "Saturday Night Live" when Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols failed to show up for the gig.
1984 - John McEnroe and Peter Fleming lost a doubles tennis match in the Davis Cup competition for the first time in 14 matches. Anders Jarryd and Stefan Edberg lead the Swedish team to the title. It marked the worst defeat for the United States team since 1973.
1994 - Ini Kamoze’s "Here Comes the Hotstepper" was the #1. It was the biggest single in the U.S. for two weeks: “Hit it. Nah, na na na nah, na na na nah, Na na nah, na na nah, na na na nah...”
1996 - Kofi Atta Annan was named seventh secretary-general of the United Nations by acclamation during ceremony in the General Assembly Hall, attended by representatives of the world organization’s 185 members.
1999 - These flicks flickered on U.S. screens for the first time: "Anna and the King" (yes, this is the same story as the Broadway musical, "The King and I", and the same story as the original novel, "Anna and the King of Siam", by Margaret Landon), starring Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat, Bai Ling and Tom Felton; "Bicentennial Man" (“One robot’s 200 year journey to become an ordinary man.”), with Robin Williams, Sam Neill, Embeth Davidtz and Oliver Platt; and "Stuart Little" (“The Little Family Just Got Bigger”), combining live action with digital character creation, starring the voice of Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki, Julia Sweeney and and many other famous voices.
Birthdays - December 17
1797 - Joseph Henry (scientist: discovered the principle of self-induction; constructed 1st model of an electric telegraph with audible signal; president [1868-1878] and charter member of National Academy of Sciences; died May 14, 1878)
1807 - John Greenleaf Whittier (poet: Barbara Frietchie, Maud Miller, Snowbound; Quaker: devoted to the abolitionist cause in U.S.; died Sep 7, 1892)
1894 - Arthur Fiedler (conductor: The Boston Pops Orchestra; died July 10, 1979)
1903 - Erskine Caldwell (novelist: Tobacco Road, God’s Little Acre; died Apr 11, 1987)
1908 - Willard Libby (Nobel prize-winning atomic scientist : inventor of Carbon-14, the method for dating ancient plant, animal and mineral remains; died Sep 8, 1980)
1910 - Sy (Melvin James) Oliver (trumpeter, singer, arranger, bandleader, composer: Easy Does It, Swing High, Well, Git It, Opus No. 1; died May 28, 1988)
1915 - Joan (Joanne) Woodbury (actress: The Time Travelers, Northwest Trail, Song of the Gringo, Bulldog Courage; died Feb 22, 1989)
1925 - Julia Meade (Kunza) (entertainer: Club Embassy; TV hostess: Spotlight Playhouse, Gas Company Playhouse; died May 16, 2016)
1929 - William Safire (journalist, author: Words of Wisdom, Coming to Terms; died Sep 27, 2009)
1930 - Bob Guccione (publisher: Penthouse Magazine; died Oct 20, 2010)
1933 - Nat Stuckey (country singer: Got Leaving on Her Mind, Days of Sand and Shovels, She Wakes Me Every Morning with a Kiss, Young Love [w/Connie Smith]; songwriter: Sweet Thang, Oh Woman, Waitin’ in Your Welfare Line; died Aug 24, 1988)
1936 - Tommy Steele (Hicks) (singer: Rock with the Caveman; actor: The Happiest Millionaire, Half a Sixpence)
1937 - Art Neville (musician: keyboards, percussion, singer: group: The Neville Brothers)
1938 - Leo (Leonardo Lazaro Alfonso) ‘Chico’ Cardenas (baseball: Cincinnati Reds [World Series: 1961/all-star: 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968], Minnesota Twins [all-star: 1971], California Angels, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers)
1938 - Peter Snell (Olympic Gold Medalist: 800-meter run [1960, 1964] and 1500-meter run )
1939 - Eddie Kendricks (singer: group: The Temptations: My Girl, I Can’t Get Next To You; solo: Keep on Truckin’, Boogie Down, Shoeshine Boy; died Oct 5, 1992)
1942 - Paul Butterfield (musician: group: Paul Butterfield Blues Band: East-West; died May 4, 1987)
1943 - Christopher Cazenove (actor: Aces: Iron Eagle 3, Three Men and a Little Lady, Windmills of the Gods, Mata Hari, Children of the Full Moon, Eye of the Needle, Zulu Dawn, Royal Flash, A Fine Romance, Dynasty; died Apr 7, 2010)
1943 - Dave Dee (Harmon) (musician: tambourine, singer: group: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich: You Make It Move, Hold Tight, Hideaway, Bend It, Save Me, Touch Me Touch Me, Okay, Zabadak, Legend of Xanadu, Last Night in Soho, Wreck of the Antoinette; solo: My Woman’s Man; record promoter)
1944 - Bernard Hill (actor: Mountains of the Moon, Shirley Valentine, Bellman and True, Drowning by Numbers, No Surrender, The Bounty, Gandhi)
1945 - Ernie Hudson (actor: Tornado!, The Substitute, Congo, Wild Palms, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Ghostbusters series, Joy of Sex, The $5.20 an Hour Dream, Broken Badges)
1946 - Eugene Levy (Emmy Award-winning writer: The Energy Ball/Sweeps Week, SCTV Network [1982-83]; actor: Second City TV)
1946 - Russ Washington (football; San Diego Chargers)
1950 - Joe Rizzo (football: Denver Broncos linebacker: Super Bowl XII)
1953 - Barry Livingston (actor: My Three Sons, Sons and Daughters)
1958 - Mike Mills (musician: bass: group: R.E.M.: Radio Free Europe, Talk About the Passion, So Central Rain, Seven Chinese Brothers, [Don’t Go Back to] Rockville)
1959 - Albert King (basketball: Univ. of Maryland, New Jersey Nets)
1961 - Sarah Dallin (singer: group: Bananarama)
Chart Toppers - December 17
Ole Buttermilk Sky - The Kay Kyser Orchestra (vocal: Mike Douglas & The Campus Kids)
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
The Whole World is Singing My Song - The Les Brown Orchestra (vocal: Doris Day)
Divorce Me C.O.D. - Merle Travis
Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes
Count Your Blessings - Eddie Fisher
Let Me Go, Lover! - Teresa Brewer
More and More - Webb Pierce
Big Girls Don’t Cry - The 4 Seasons
Return to Sender - Elvis Presley
Bobby’s Girl - Marcie Blane
Don’t Let Me Cross Over - Carl Butler & Pearl (Dee Jones)
The Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
One Less Bell to Answer - The 5th Dimension
My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It a Pity - George Harrison
Endlessly - Sonny James
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers - Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond
Too Much Heaven - Bee Gees
My Life - Billy Joel
The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Walk Like an Egyptian - Bangles
Everybody Have Fun Tonight - Wang Chung
Hell and High Water - T. Graham Brown
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.