Events - February 17
1897 - The National Congress of Mothers was organized in Washington, DC by Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. The group later changed its name to the National Congress of Parents and Teachers or the NPTA with local groups known as the PTA (Parent-Teacher Associations). The first State Congress of the NPTA was organized in New York in 1897. And one of the first major projects the PTA worked on was the extension of kindergartens to the elementary school grades.
1924 - Swimmer (and later Tarzan) Johnny Weissmuller set a world record in the 100-meter freestyle. He did it with a time of 57.4 seconds in Miami, FL.
1933 - Blondie Boopadoop, the title role and flapper in the comic strip, "Blondie", married Dagwood Bumstead. The marriage took place three years after Chic Young’s popular strip first debuted in U.S. newspapers. Later, "Blondie" became a hit on radio, television and in films, as well.
1934 - The first high school automobile driver’s education course was introduced in State College, PA. Maybe that’s why Penn State’s students are all such good drivers (just a guess).
1949 - Richard (Dick) Button bested all competition in Paris, France to retain the world title of the men’s figure skating championship. Button is a commentator on figure skating events the world over for American television, including Olympics competition.
1954 - Doris Day’s single, "Secret Love", became the #1 tune in the U.S. The song, from the motion picture, "Calamity Jane", stayed at the top of the music charts for three weeks.
1958 - Former New York Giants football star Frank Gifford signed a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers in a film deal that didn’t make him the movie star the studio expected. So, Giff went into broadcasting instead. His first job was as a sportscaster for WCBS-TV in New York. He then moved to WABC-TV in New York and on to network television as primary play-by-play announcer and then to color commentator on ABC’s "Monday Night Football".
1962 - The Beach Boys started making waves with their first Southern California hit, "Surfin’". Their new musical style swept the U.S. like a tidal wave when they hit nationally with "Surfin’ Safari" in August of this same year.
1962 - Gene Chandler hit #1 with "Duke of Earl" on this day. The song stayed at the tippy-top for three weeks. It hit #1 on the rhythm & blues charts, as well. "Duke of Earl" was Chandler’s biggest hit out of a half-dozen he recorded. His only other million seller came with "Groovy Situation" in 1970. Curtis Mayfield wrote several hits for Chandler, including "Just Be True", "What Now" and "Nothing Can Stop Me". Chandler’s real name is Eugene Dixon. He owned his own record label, Mr. Chand, from 1969 to 1973, though "Groovy Situation" was recorded in 1970 for Mercury.
1964 - Luke Appling became the 101st member elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
1965 - Comedienne Joan Rivers made the first of many guest appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" on NBC-TV. She later became Carson’s permanent guest host until she signed a lucrative late-night show deal with fledgling FOX television. Johnny was less than impressed and didn’t allow her back on his show.
1966 - Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler received a gold record from RCA Victor, for both the album and the single of "The Ballad of the Green Berets". Sadler, who recorded one other single ("The "A" Team") for the label, had served in Vietnam until injuring a leg in a Viet Cong booby trap. Tragically, Sadler was shot in the head during a 1988 robbery attempt at his Guatemala home. He suffered irreparable brain damage and died of heart failure in November, 1989 in Tennessee. He was 49 years old.
1968 - The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame opened in Springfield, MA.
1972 - President Richard M. Nixon departed Washington, DC on his historic trip to China. Thousands gathered on the White House lawn for a big send-off. What’s the big deal, you ask? He was the first U.S. president to go to China, that’s what.
1976 - The Eagles album "Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)" was released. It would eventually sell more than 25 million copies in the US, second only to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller".
1982 - Pianist Thelonious Monk, one of the pioneers of the bop (or bebop, if you prefer) movement in jazz, died of a stroke in New York at the age of 64. Monk began playing in Harlem clubs in the late 1930s.
1985 - Postage stamp prices were hiked to 22 cents for first-class mail in the U.S.
1985 - Laffit Pincay, Jr. rode his 6,000th career winner at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, CA. He became the third jockey to reach that coveted mark (behind Willie Shoemaker and Johnny Longden). Talk about a Winner’s Circle of racing legends...
1987 - Don Mattingly won the highest award in the 13-year history of salary arbitration when a judge ruled that the New York Yankee first baseman deserved a salary of $1,975,000. Have times ever changed...
1990 - "Opposites Attract", by Paula Abdul with The Wild Pair, was #1 in the U.S. for the second of of three weeks. On the Country chart, "On Second Thought", by Eddie Rabbitt, was #1 for the first of two weeks.
1992 - Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced in Milwaukee to life in prison. (He was murdered in prison Nov 28, 1994.)
1996 - "One Sweet Day", by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, was number one for the 12th of 16 weeks. Now that’s what we call a smash! "Bigger Than The Beatles", by Joe Diffie was beginnning a 2-week run at #1 on the Country music chart.
1998 - The U.S. women’s hockey team won the gold medal at Nagano, Japan, defeating Canada 3-1.
2000 - Windows 2000 Professional Edition was released. Windows 2000 was an “the next generation NT operating system” that Microsoft said took four years and cost over $1 billion to develop.
2002 - The new Transportation Security Administration [TSA] took over U.S. aviation security from the Federal Aviation Administration.
2003 - An estimated 40-million viewers tuned in to the finale of the Fox reality show Joe Millionaire. (Evan Marriott chose Zora Andrich.)
2003 - A blizzard shut down much of the U.S. mid-Atlantic region with windblown snow up to four feet deep, halting air and some rail travel and caused at lest 40 deaths.
2004 - Cingular Wireless won the bidding war to acquire AT&T Wireless Services for nearly $41 billion in cash. The deal created the largest cell phone company in the U.S. to that time.
2005 - Chubu Centrair International Airport opened on Ise Bay, south of Nagoya, Japan. Built on an artificial island, the new airport was built to replace nearby Nagoya Airport.
2006 - Films opening in U.S. movie houses: Date Movie, starring Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Eddie Griffin, Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge, Sophie Monk, Carmen Electra; Eight Below, with Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, Jason Biggs, Moon Bloodgood, Wendy Crewson and Gerard Plunkett; and Freedomland, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard, William Forsythe, Anthony Mackie and Aunjanue Ellis.
2006 - A fierce storm winter storm system swept across the Midwest U.S., destroying buildings in Indiana, pelting Arkansas with hail and cutting power to thousands in Michigan.
Birthdays - February 17
1766 - Thomas Malthus (economist, demographer: The Malthusian Theory: population growth exceed production growth; died Dec 29, 1834)
1774 - Raphaelle Peale (artist: Bowl of Peaches; died Mar 4, 1825)
1781 - René Laënnec (physician; writer: papers on respiratory and heart ailments; inventor: stethoscope; died Aug 13, 1826)
1843 - Aaron Montgomery Ward (merchant; department store mogul; died Dec 7, 1913)
1889 - H.L. (Haroldson Lafayette) Hunt (industrialist; died Nov 29, 1974)
1907 - Marjorie Lawrence (opera soprano: “One of the truest Wagnerian interpreters of our time, unchallenged for the stirring magnificence of her Brunnhilde and the tender simplicity of her Sieglinde, or the stately loveliness of her Elsa and the compelling malevolence of her Ortrud.”; died Jan 13, 1979)
1908 - Red (Walter) Barber (‘The redhead in the catbird seat’: sportscaster: voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers; died Oct 22, 1992)
1914 - (John) Arthur Kennedy (actor: The President’s Plane is Missing, Some Came Running, Lawrence of Arabia, Anzio; died Jan 5, 1990)
1914 - (Bert DeWayne) Wayne Morris (actor: Paths of Glory, Task Force; died Sep 14, 1959)
1916 - Raf (Raffaele) Vallone (actor: The Godfather, Part 3, Harlow, El Cid, Bitter Rice, Obsession; died Oct 31, 2002)
1923 - Buddy (Boniface) DeFranco (clarinetist, bandleader: won all modern jazz music polls in the early 1950s; died Dec 24, 2014)
1924 - (Mary) Margaret Truman (Daniel) (daughter of 33rd U.S. President Harry S Truman; author: Souvenier, Margaret Truman’s Own Story, Women of Courage, Bess W. Truman; died Jan 29, 2008)
1925 - Hal Holbrook (Harold Rowe Jr.) (actor: Mark Twain, All the President’s Men, Sorry Wrong Number, Midway, Our Town, The Firm, Wall Street, Magnum Force)
1926 - Jeremy Slate (actor: The Aquanauts, G.I. Blues, Girls! Girls! Girls!, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Devil’s Brigade, True Grit, The Centerfold Girls, The Lawnmower Man; died Nov 19, 2006)
1929 - Chaim Potok (rabbi, doctor of philosophy, author: The Chosen, The Promise, My Name is Asher Lev; died July 23, 2002)
1930 - Roger (Lee) Craig (baseball: Brooklyn Dodgers [World Series: 1955, 1956], LA Dodgers [World Series: 1959], NY Mets, SL Cardinals [World Series: 1964], Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies; manager: SF Giants)
1933 - Bobby Lewis (pianist, singer: Tossin’ and Turnin’, One Track Mind)
1934 - Alan (Arthur) Bates (actor: An Unmarried Woman, Women in Love, Zorba; died Dec 27, 2003)
1934 - Willie (Charles) Kirkland (baseball: SF Giants, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators)
1936 - Jim Brown (Pro Football Hall of Famer; actor: The Dirty Dozen, El Condor, Ice Station Zebra, Crack House)
1940 - Gene Pitney (singer: Town Without Pity, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Only Love Can Break A Heart, It Hurts to be in Love; songwriter: Hello Mary Lou, He’s a Rebel; died Apr 5, 2006)
1945 - Zina Bethune (dancer, choreographer, actress: Sunrise at Campobello, Who’s that Knocking at My Door?, The Nurses, Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder; died Feb 12, 2012)
1945 - Brenda Fricker (Academy Award-winning actress: My Left Foot , A Time to Kill, Angels in the Outfield, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Field)
1946 - Dodie Stevens (Geraldine Ann Pasquale) (singer: Pink Shoe Laces)
1953 - Becky Ann Baker (actress: Two Weeks Notice, Storm of the Century, A Simple Plan, Celebrity, In and Out, Men in Black, I’m Not Rappaport; Broadway: Assassins, Titanic, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)
1954 - Rene Russo (actress: Sable, Major League, Freejack, Lethal Weapon 3, In the Line of Fire, Major League II, Lethal Weapon 4, The Thomas Crown Affair)
1962 - Lou Diamond Phillips (actor: Courage Under Fire, Extreme Justice, Young Guns series, Harley, La Bamba, Stand and Deliver)
1963 - Michael Jordan (basketball: Chicago Bulls: NBA MVP [1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998]; NBA MVP in finals [1991-1993, 1996-1998; Washington Wizards; Olympic Gold Medalist [1984, 1992]; baseball minor league player)
1968 - Bryan Cox (football [linebacker]: Western Illinois Univ; NFL: and played for the Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints)
1969 - Traci Adell (model: Playboy Playmate July 1994; actress: Deadly Currency, T.N.T., Playback, Life 101, Dumb and Dumber)
1972 - Billie Joe Armstrong (Grammy Award-winning singer: Dookie ; group: Green Day; musician: guitar; songwriter)
1978 - Ashton Holmes (actor: Revenge, A History of Violence, The Pacific, Nikita, What We Do Is Secret, The Divide)
1980 - Al Harrington (basketball [forward, center]: Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors)
1980 - Jason Ritter (actor: Freddy Vs. Jason, Mumford, The Dreamer of Oz, Joan of Arcadia, Days of Our Lives, Parenthood; son of actor John Ritter and actress Nancy Morgan)
1981 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt (actor: 3rd Rock from the Sun,  Days of Summer, Inception, 50/50, 10 Things I Hate About You, Manic, Mysterious Skin, Brick, The Lookout, Killshot, Shadowboxer, Havoc, Latter Days, Forever Lulu, Picking Up the Pieces)
1981 - Paris Hilton (actress: Pledge This!, House of Wax, Raising Helen, L.A. Knights, The Cat in the Hat, Wonderland, Nine Lives; Paris and her sister Nicky are heiresses to the Hilton Hotel fortune)
Chart Toppers - February 17
Shoo, Shoo, Baby - The Andrews Sisters
My Heart Tells Me - The Glen Gray Orchestra (vocal: Eugenie Baird)
Besame Mucho - The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (vocal: Bob Eberly & Kitty Kallen
Pistol Packin’ Mama - Al Dexter
Slowpoke - Pee Wee King
Cry - Johnnie Ray
Anytime - Eddie Fisher
Give Me More, More, More (Of Your Kisses) - Lefty Frizzell
Teen Angel - Mark Dinning
Handy Man - Jimmy Jones
The Theme from "A Summer Place" - Percy Faith
He’ll Have to Go - Jim Reeves
Love is Blue - Paul Mauriat
I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations
(Theme From) Valley of the Dolls - Dionne Warwick
Skip a Rope - Henson Cargill
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon
Love to Love You Baby - Donna Summer
You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
The White Knight - Cledus Maggard & the Citizen’s Band
Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
Joanna - Kool & The Gang
Jump - Van Halen
That’s the Way Love Goes - Merle Haggard
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.