Events - February 2
1802 - The first leopard to be exhibited in the United States was shown by Othello Pollard in Boston, MA. Where else can you expect to find a leopard on display, huh? It cost 25 cents to see the ‘import from Bengal’.
1863 - Samuel Langhorne Clemens decided to use a pseudonym for the first time on this very day. Now he is better remembered by the name, Mark Twain.
1876 - Baseball’s National League was born. Eight competing baseball teams met in New York City’s Grand Central Hotel. The first president of the new league was Morgan Gardner Bulkeley, who later became a U.S. Senator. The eight original cities with teams were: Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Louisville and Hartford. Two of the original teams are now in the American League (Boston and New York) while Louisville and Hartford are now minor-league baseball towns.
1887 - The first Ground Hog Day. GH Day is when a bunch of folks in Punxsutawney, PA get up before the crack of dawn, put on tuxedos and fancy gowns, march to the city park, and pull old Punxsutawney Phil out of his little house in a tree trunk. Then they observe him as he goes about doing his groundhog shadow thing. If the woodchuck (aka ground hog) doesn’t see his shadow, it means spring is on its way. If the critter sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter, which upsets the folks gathered ’round. So they fry him up for breakfast... Surely, you’ve heard of ‘ground chuck’? (Sorry.)
1892 - William Painter of Baltimore, MD patented the crown-cork bottle cap.
1913 - Jim Thorpe signed a pro baseball contract with the New York (baseball) Giants this day. And, if you will allow a little digression, here is some interesting history regarding Jim's transition from amateur to professional athlete. Thorpe had run into problems at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. He was stripped of his gold medals for his pentathlon and decathlon victories when, somehow, Olympic officials learned that he had received what could be considered a pittance for playing pro baseball ... well, it was really semiprofessional baseball ... in North Carolina. Therefore, they determined that Thorpe was not an amateur and was not eligible to compete in the Olympic Games. In 1982, the decision was reversed and Jim Thorpe was honored as the record holder for the 1912 events, and co- winner with those who had received the original gold. The following year, the gold medals were finally presented to his family (30 years after his death). We now resume our regular programming...
1935 - Leonard Keeler conducted a test of the polygraph -- lie detector -- machine in Portage, WI. It marked the first time that one of the mysterious boxes was used.
1937 - Guy Lombardo and his orchestra recorded one of Guy’s most famous tunes. "Boo Hoo" was waxed on Victor Records and became one of the group’s all-time great hits.
1946 - The first Buck Rogers atomic pistol was made -- for the annual American Toy Fair. The suggested retail price for this clever little toy of destruction was 89 cents.
1946 - The Mutual Broadcasting System presented "Twenty Questions" for the first time on radio. Bill Slater was the master of ceremonies. The show moved to television in 1949.
1949 - Golfer Ben Hogan was seriously hurt in an auto accident in Van Horn, TX.
1959 - “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” Famous words from Vince Lombardi, head coach of the Green Bay Packers, who, on this day, signed a five-year contract with the club that made the ‘green-and-yellow’ a team of destiny in the 1960s.
1959 - The Coasters tune, "Charlie Brown", was released. The tune went to #2 and stayed there for three weeks, but didn’t make it to the top spot of the charts. A catchy song (“Fee fee fi fi fo fo fum. I smell smoke in the auditorium...”), it was on the charts for a total of 12 weeks. And what song was at number one, preventing "Charlie Brown" from reaching the top, you ask? "Venus", by Frankie Avalon.
1962 - John Uelses became the first pole-vaulter to jump 16 feet indoors. Only one problem, though. The ceiling was only 15’6", so, John went through it to set the mark. (We’re still trying to verify that!)
1967 - A second professional basketball league was formed by representatives of the NBA: the American Basketball Association.
1970 - ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich scored 49 points for Louisiana State University against Mississippi State. Maravich became the first collegiate player to score over 3,000 career points. Maravich went on to become a star for the, then, New Orleans Jazz (now, Utah Jazz). Sadly, Maravich died of a heart attack (Jan. 5, 1988), after collapsing during a pickup three-on-three game, in a California gym.
1984 - Ralph Sampson, one of the Houston Rockets ‘Twin Towers’, was named Rookie of the Month in the National Basketball Association. To earn the honor, Sampson averaged 24.4 points, 12 rebounds and 2.43 blocked shots per game during the month of January. In addition, Sampson became the only rookie (up to that time) to be named to the NBA’s All-Star Game.
1987 - In a poll conducted by "People" magazine, readers selected Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant as their favorite, all-time acting greats.
1987 - Dennis Leonard, after four knee operations, decided to retire from professional baseball. Leonard, 35, was a three-time 20-game winner.
1993 - The U.S. Internal Revenue Service agreed to accept nine million dollars from singer Willie Nelson to settle his $17-million tax debt. And the Feds said they would take proceeds from sales of Nelson’s “Who’ll Buy My Memories? - The IRS Tapes”, plus any judgment he might get in a lawsuit against his former accountant.
1995 - Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen Collins became the first woman space-shuttle pilot this day as the space shuttle "Discovery" (STS-63) blasted off from Cape Kennedy, Florida.
1996 - Films making their debut in the U.S.: "The Juror", starring Demi Moore, Alec Baldwin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Heche; and "White Squall", with Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall, John Savage and Scott Wolf.
1996 - Dancer, actor, singer Gene Kelly died in Los Angeles after complications from two strokes. He was 83 years old. Kelly is immortalized as that guy who sang and danced in the rain in "Singin’ in the Rain" (1952). He danced as he splashed in the puddles, but he also choreographed exactly how he would splash, and he directed exactly how the camera should zoom in on his face as he did so. Kelly also starred in "An American in Paris" (1951) and enjoyed many other film and TV roles.
2001 - These movies opened in U.S. theatres: "Head Over Heels", with Monica Potter and Freddie Prinze Jr.; and "Valentine", starring David Boreanaz and Denise Richards.
Birthdays - February 2
1754 - Prince Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (French statesman, diplomat; died May 17, 1838)
1875 - Fritz Kreisler (Austrian-born violin virtuoso/composer: Caprice Viennois, Tambourin Chinois, Liebesfreud, La Gitana; died Jan 29, 1962)
1882 - James Joyce (poet, author: Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Finnegan’s Wake, Chamber Music; died Jan 13, 1941)
1890 - Charles Correll (creator with Freeman Gosden of: Amos ’n’ Andy; voice of Andy (Brown) on radio; died Sep 26, 1972)
1895 - George Halas (Pro Football Hall of Famer: Chicago Bears owner/coach: 40 seasons, seven NFL titles, 324 coaching wins; pioneer of the National Football League: only person associated with NFL throughout first 50 years; died Oct 31, 1983)
1901 - Jascha Heifetz (Russian-born violin virtuoso, first public appearance at age of six; died Dec 10, 1987)
1905 - Ayn Rand (Alissa Rosenbaum) (social critic, writer: The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged; died Mar 6, 1982)
1906 - Gale Gordon (Charles Aldrich) (actor: The Lucy Show, The Lucille Ball Comedy Hour, My Little Margie, Our Miss Brooks; died June 30, 1995)
1912 - Burton Lane (Levy) (composer: How Are Things in Glocca Morra, That Old Devil Moon, Look to the Rainbow, How About You, I Hear Music, Come Back to Me, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, How Could You Believe Me?; Broadway musicals: Finian’s Rainbow [collaboration with Yip Harburg], On a Clear Day You Can See Forever [collaboration with Alan Jay Lerner] contributed songs to over 30 films: Babes on Broadway, Royal Wedding, Ship Ahoy, St. Louis Blues; credited with discovering Judy Garland; died Jan 5, 1997)
1923 - James (Lafayette) Dickey (poet: The Firebombing; novelist: Deliverance; died Jan 19, 1997)
1923 - Red (Albert Fred) Schoendienst (Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman: SL Cardinals [World Series: 1946/all-star: 1946, 1948-1955], NY Giants, Milwaukee Braves [World Series: 1957, 1958/all-star: 1957]; hit .300 or better on seven occasions; coach, manager: SL Cardinals: guided Cardinals twice to World Series)
1923 - Liz Smith (journalist: gossip columnist: Newsday & syndicated; died Nov 12, 2017)
1925 - Elaine Stritch (Emmy Award-winning actress: Point of View/Law and Order ; Three Violent People, Providence, September, Company; singer: The Ladies Who Lunch; died Jul 17, 2014)
1927 - Stan Getz (Stanley Gayetzby) (jazz musician: The Girl from Ipanema [w/Astrud Gilberto]; 17-time winner of Down Beat mag’s top tenor saxophone poll; died June 6, 1991)
1927 - Herb Kaplow (news reporter: ABC-TV News; died Jul 27, 2013)
1932 - Arthur Lyman (jazz musician: vibraphone: Yellow Bird; played w/Martin Denny Orchestra; died Feb 24, 2002)
1937 - Tom Smothers (entertainer: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Smothers Brothers Show, The Steve Allen Show; Dick’s Brother)
1940 - Alan Caddy (musician: guitar: groups: The Tornados: Telstar, Johnny Kidd and The Pirates: Shakin’ All Over; died Aug 16, 2000)
1942 - Bo Hopkins (actor: The Wild Bunch, American Graffiti, The Rockford Files, Dynasty, The Innocent and the Damned, Doc Elliot)
1942 - Graham Nash (singer, musician: group: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Ohio; Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Wasted on the Way)
1947 - Farrah Fawcett (actress: Charlie’s Angels, The Burning Bed; ex-Mrs. Lee Majors; Playboy pictorial [12/95]; died Jun 25, 2009)
1947 - Peter Lucia (musician: drums: group: Tommy James and The Shondells: I Think We’re Alone Now, Mirage, Mony Mony, Crimson and Clover, Sweet Cherry Wine, Crystal Blue Persuasion)
1949 - Ross Valory (musician: bass: group: Journey: Who’s Crying Now, Open Arms)
1953 - Mike Fanning (football [defensive tackle]: Los Angeles Rams: Super Bowl XIV, Detroit Lions)
1954 - Christie Brinkley (model: Cover Girl Cosmetics; actress: National Lampoon’s Vacation)
1954 - John (Thomas) Tudor (baseball: pitcher: Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, SL Cardinals [World Series: 1985, 1987], LA Dodgers [World Series: 1988])
1962 - Michael T. Weiss (actor: The Pretender, Profiler, Days of Our Lives, Dark Shadows, Freeway, The Legend of Tarzan)
Chart Toppers - February 2
Don’t Fence Me In - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
There Goes that Song Again - Russ Morgan
I Dream of You - The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (vocal: Freddy Stewart)
I’m Losing My Mind Over You - Al Dexter
Why Don’t You Believe Me - Joni James
Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes - Perry Como
Keep It a Secret - Jo Stafford
I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive - Hank Williams
Will You Love Me Tomorrow - The Shirelles
Calcutta - Lawrence Welk
Shop Around - The Miracles
North to Alaska - Johnny Horton
Crimson and Clover - Tommy James & The Shondells
Everyday People - Sly & The Family Stone
Worst that Could Happen - Brooklyn Bridge
Daddy Sang Bass - Johnny Cash
Car Wash - Rose Royce
Dazz - Brick
Hot Line - The Sylvers
Let My Love Be Your Pillow - Ronnie Milsap
I Want to Know What Love Is - Foreigner
Easy Lover - Philip Bailey with Phil Collins
Careless Whisper - Wham! featuring George Michael
A Place to Fall Apart - Merle Haggard with Janie Fricke
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.