Events - December 31
1841 - The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the United States on this day. Ever since, Alabama has been known as The Bicuspid State. Hmm, well, maybe.
1877 - President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first U.S. President to celebrate his silver wedding anniversary in the White House. The President and his wife reenacted their marriage ceremony on this, their 25th anniversary.
1879 - Thomas Edison delighted an audience in Menlo Park, New Jersey. He gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting with the words, “Now it’s on. Now it’s off.” He did this for hours and hours. Well, not quite. But he did turn the lights on and off a few times just to show folks that he could do it.
1923 - Singer Eddie Cantor opened in the lead role of "Kid Boots". Broadway critics called the production, “A smash musical hit!” Eddie made several of the songs from that show into smash hits also, like, "Alabamy Bound" and "If You Knew Susie". Three years later, "If You Knew Susie" became the title song for a movie starring Cantor.
1929 - Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played "Auld Lang Syne" as a New Year’s Eve song for the first time. "Auld Lang Syne" had been the band’s theme song long before 1929. However, this night was the start of a New Year’s Eve tradition as Lombardo’s famed orchestra played at the Hotel Roosevelt Grill in New York City to usher in the new year.
1940 - As a result of a dispute between the radio networks and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers and Publishers), the radio industry was prevented from playing any ASCAP-licensed music. The ban lasted for ten months. An ASCAP competitor, BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) made giant strides, expanding to include 36,000 copyrights. Many radio stations had to resort to playing public domain songs, such as marches and operas, to keep their stations on the air. Even kids songs were played over and over again until the ban was lifted. One of the most popular songs to be played was "Happy Birthday to You"; which was performed in many different languages just to get past the ban. The original song is now, in fact, a copyrighted piece of music, though it wasn’t at the time.
1947 - Roy Rogers, ‘the King of the Cowboys’, and Dale Evans were hitched in marriage. They rode off into the sunset together for over fifty years. (Roy died July 6, 1998.)
1950 - Willie Shoemaker and Joe Culmone, both 19 years of age, became the first jockeys to ride 388 winners in a single year.
1953 - Willie Shoemaker broke his own record as he won his 485th race of the year. Willie got his horse’s nose out in front at Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California.
1955 - General Motors became the first U.S. corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year. The company’s annual report to stockholders listed a net income of $1,189,477,082 in revenues. How much was your father’s Oldsmobile?
1961 - After playing California nightclubs as The Pendletones, Kenny and the Cadets, and Carl and the Passions, a new group emerged this day: The Beach Boys. The group’s first national hit, "Surfin’ Safari", was soon to be. They recorded for local (Los Angeles) Colpix Records and at the height of their popularity, Capitol Records. The Beach Boys also recorded under the Reprise Records banner. The revitalized group still tours and Capitol continues to reissue various greatest hits packages. The Beach Boys were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Surf’s (still) up!
1962 - Governor Edmund G. Brown of California announced that his state was the most populous of the 50 United States.
1965 - On this New Year’s Eve, Criswell made a TV appearance to announce his annual predictions for the coming year. Included in these predictions was one concerning Ronald Reagan. Criswell said Reagan would be the next governor of California. Criswell was right. Reagan was right, too.
1967 - Playing in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero, the Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys, 21-17. The game, played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin was called the Ice Bowl. During the game, the whistles of the referees actually froze to their lips, which was no problem until the referees tried to remove those whistles (ouch!).
1972 - The Miami Dolphins edged the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-17 in the AFC championship game and the Washington Redskins trounced the Dallas Cowboys 26-3 in the NFC championship game.
1975 - Elvis Presley performed before 60,000 fans at the Silverdome in Pontiac, MI. He earned $800,000 for the concert -- a world record for a single concert by a single artist.
1985 - Ricky Nelson, his fiancee, Helen Blair, and five members of the Stone Canyon Band were killed in a plane crash a mile southeast of DeKalb, Texas. Nelson was 45. Fire in the pasenger cabin forced the pilots of Nelson’s DC-3 to attempt an emergency landing in a field. The aircraft hit wires and a pole, then crashed into trees where it was extensively damaged by impact and fire. The crew escaped through the cockpit windows, but none of the pasengers got out.
1997 - In an attempt to nudge its Microsoft Network into a more competetive position (vs. America Online), Microsoft announced the purchase of Hotmail, the free Web-based e-mail service.
1997 - Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy retired after 11 years and four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. His 123 victories with the Bills are a team record. He led the Bills to eight postseason appearances and five conference championship games, winning four.
Birthdays - December 31
1880 - George Marshall (U.S. Secretary of State ; designer of Marshall Plan; Army Chief of Staff during WWII; died Oct 16, 1959)
1908 - Jonah Jones (Robert Elliott Jones) (musician: trumpet, singer: played with Cab Calloway; threw spitball that got Dizzy Gillespie fired from band; died Apr 30, 2000)
1920 - Rex Allen (‘The Arizona Cowboy’: entertainer: rodeo star; singer; songwriter: published over 300 songs; died Dec 17, 1999)
1928 - Ross Barbour (singer: group: The Four Freshmen: It’s a Blue World, Charmaine, Love is Just Around the Corner, Poincianna; died Aug 20, 2011)
1930 - Odetta (Holmes Felious Gordon) (blues/folk singer, musician, songwriter: Music, Give Me Your Hand, Got to Be Me; actress: The Medium, The Crucible, Sanctuary; died Dec 2, 2008)
1937 - Sir Anthony Hopkins (Academy Award-winning actor: Silence of the Lambs ; Emmy for Best Actor: The Bunker  and The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case ; Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Amistad, The Mask of Zorro, Meet Joe Black, Mission: Impossible II, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Hannibal)
1938 - Rosalind Cash (actress: Tales from the Hood, The Offspring, Go Tell It on a Mountain, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, Wrong is Right, Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde, Amazing Grace, Omega Man, Uptown Saturday Night; died Oct 31, 1995)
1941 - Sarah Miles (actress: Ryan’s Daughter, Dynasty, Queenie, Hope and Glory, Blow-Up, The Servant)
1942 - Andy Summers (Somers) (musician: guitar, singer: group: The Police: Can’t Stand Losing You, Roxanne, Message in a Bottle, Walking on the Moon, Don’t Stand So Close to Me, Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Invisible Sun, Every Breath You Take; solo: contributed to soundtracks of Down and Out in Beverly Hills, 2010)
1943 - John Denver (Deutschendorf) (songwriter: Leavin’ on a Jet Plane; singer: Take Me Home Country Roads, Sunshine on my Shoulders, Annie’s Song, Rocky Mountain High, Fly Away, Calypso, Thank God I’m a Country Boy; actor: Oh, God! series; killed Oct 12, 1997 [age 53] in crash of his home-built high-performance aircraft he was piloting over Monterey Bay, California)
1943 - Ben Kingsley (Krishna Bhanji) (Academy Award-winning actor: Gandhi ; Schindler’s List, Sneakers, Joseph, Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Moses, Rules of Engagement)
1943 - Pete Quaife (musician: bass: group: The Kinks: You Really Got Me, All Day & All of the Night, Tired of Waiting, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, A Well Respected Man, Sunny Afternoon, Dead End Street, Waterloo Sunset, Harry Rag, David Watts, Death of a Clown, Two Sisters, Autumn Almanac, Wonderboy, Days, Last of the Steam-Powered Trains, Do You Remember Walter?; died Jun 23, 2010)
1945 - Barbara Carrera (actress: Dallas, Centennial, Sawbones, Point of Impact, Loverboy, Never Say Never Again, Lone Wolf McQuade, Masada, Condorman, Island of Dr. Moreau, Embryo; model)
1946 - Cliff Richey (tennis: champ: Davis Cup [team w/Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Bob Lutz: 1970])
1946 - Diane von Fürstenberg (fashion designer: built multi-million-dollar empire around 1970s wrap dress)
1947 - Burton Cummings Jr. (singer: group: The Guess Who: No Time, American Woman, These Eyes, Laughing; solo: Stand Tall, You Saved My Soul)
1947 - Tim Matheson (actor: National Lampoon’s Animal House, Yours Mine and Ours, Magnum Force, Fletch, The Virginian, Bonanza)
1948 - Donna Summer (LaDonna Gaines) (Grammy Award-winning singer: Last Dance , Hot Stuff , He’s a Rebel , Forgive Me ; Love to Love You Baby, I Feel Love, Bad Girls, She Works Hard for the Money, On the Radio; No More Tears (Enough is Enough) [w/Barbra Streisand]; died May 17, 2012)
1950 - Golden (John) Richards (football: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver: Super Bowls X, XII)
1951 - Tom Hamilton (musician: bass: group: Aerosmith: LPs: Toys in the Attic, Rocks, Draw the Line, Live! Bootleg, Night in the Ruts, Rock in a Hard Place, Done with Mirrors, Permanent Vacation)
1953 - James Remar (actor: The Quest, The Phantom, The Surgeon, Renaissance Man, Miracle on 34th Street , Confessions of a Hit Man, Fatal Instinct, Drugstore Cowboy, Rent-A-Cop, The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Cotton Club, 48 Hrs., The Warriors)
1958 - Bebe Neuwirth (actress: Cheers, Frasier, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Dash and Lilly, Liberty Heights, The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina)
1959 - Val Kilmer (actor: The Island of Dr. Moreau, Heat, Batman Forever, Tombstone, The Doors, Gore Vidal’s Billy the Kid, Top Gun, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Top Secret!)
1972 - Joe McIntyre (Joseph Mulrey McIntyre) (singer: group: New Kids on the Block)
Chart Toppers - December 31
Don’t Fence Me In - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
There Goes that Song Again - Russ Morgan
I’m Making Believe - Ella Fitzgerald & The Ink Spots
I’m Waistin’ My Tears on You - Tex Ritter
Why Don’t You Believe Me - Joni James
Because You’re Mine - Mario Lanza
Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes - Perry Como
Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes - Skeets McDonald
Are You Lonesome To-night? - Elvis Presley
Wonderland by Night - Bert Kaempfert
Exodus - Ferrante & Teicher
Wings of a Dove - Ferlin Husky
I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder
Stormy - Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost
Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell
Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) - Rod Stewart
You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show) - Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing - Leo Sayer
Sweet Dreams - Emmylou Harris
Like a Virgin - Madonna
The Wild Boys - Duran Duran
Sea of Love - The Honeydrippers
Why Not Me - The Judds
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.