Events - February 26
1907 - Members of the U.S. Congress raised their own pay to $7500 each. Both House and Senate members got the same bucks. The Cabinet members and the Vice President would earn twelve grand. If you don’t think they were being paid very much for their services, consider that the veep was getting enough to buy at least half a dozen houses ... and the richest man in the world was said to be John D. Rockefeller, whose oil fortune was worth no more than $300 million at the time.
1916 - Mutual signed Charlie Chaplin to a film contract. Three years later, the ‘old’ Charlie Chaplin films were released and were very successful at the box office.
1919 - The Grand Canyon was established as a National Park by an act of the U.S. Congress. The gigantic gorge that cuts through the high plateaus of the northwest corner of Arizona was formed by thousands of years of erosion. The raging Colorado River was the culprit.
1922 - Dancing to jazz music and tango bands was criticized in Paris. It seems that dancing was detracting the French from their postwar reconstruction, according to "La Revue Mondiale". We guess that the cancan was not detrimental to France’s economy since it wasn’t an imported dance craze.
1939 - Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of F.D.R. resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution in support of African American opera singer Marian Anderson. Anderson had encountered racism, discrimination, and segregation in the U.S. (Although the DAR now forbids discrimination in membership based on race or creed, some members held segregationist views when segregation was tolerated in the U.S.)
1942 - A big banquet, Biltmore Hotel style, was the setting for Hollywood’s 14th Academy Awards. Dinner guests were addressed by the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt, heard via radio, thanked the film industry for its WWII defense preparedness work. The final course served up Oscars in sealed envelopes (the first time) to John Ford (Best Director, "How Green Was My Valley"); Gary Cooper (Best Actor, "Sergeant York"); Joan Fontaine (Best Actress, "Suspicion"); Mary Astor (Best Supporting Actress, "The Great Lie") and Donald Crisp (Best Supporting Actor: "How Green Was My Valley". Then all toasted the Best Picture of the Year, "How Green Was My Valley". This was the third Best Director statuette presented to John Ford. He received his second, a year earlier for "The Grapes of Wrath", and the first for the 1935 film, "The Informer".
1951 - Minnesota was the 36th (of 41 total) state to ratify the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (At the time, ratification required 36 states out of 48. Today, ratification would require 38 states out of 50.) The amendment limited a U.S. president to two terms in office.
1957 - The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was established by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
1962 - The Best Play award winner of 1962, "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad", opened in New York City on this night (and for 454 performances). Not the longest run on the Great White Way, certainly, but one of the longest titles of a show. Imagine standing at the ticket booth and asking for tickets to "ODPDMHYITCAIFSS".
1972 - Harry Nilsson started his second week at number one with that toe-tapping ditty, "Without You". The whiny love song stayed at the top for a total of four weeks.
1977 - The Eagles’ "New Kid in Town" landed in the top spot on the pop music charts for one week beginning this day.
1979 - The situation comedy "Flatbush" debuted on CBS-TV. It featured the exploits of five, recent, high-school graduates living in a middle-class, Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn’s Flatbush area. The ethnic stereotypes offended Brooklyn’s Borough president. He demanded that the series be removed from the air before it gave Brooklyn a bad name. (As you recall, Brooklyn, in 1979, was known as the garden spot of the U.S.) CBS beat the prez to it, however, and canceled the show after 3 episodes -- before "Flatbush" gave the network a bad name.
1983 - Charley Pride’s "Why Baby Why" topped the country charts. The song was written by George Jones (who found national fame with his own version in 1955) and Darrell Edwards. Legend has it that inspiration for the song came when Edwards overheard a couple squabbling in their car in Orange, TX. Don’t ever tell us you haven’t learned anything by reading this stuff...
1983 - Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" hit #1 in the U.S. The album spent a total of 37 weeks at number one. The tracks: "Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’", "Baby Be Mine", "The Girl is Mine" (w/Paul McCartney), "Thriller", "Beat It", "Billie Jean", "Human Nature", "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)", "The Lady in My Life".
1985 - This was the night for the seventh highest-rated TV music show of the 1980s. A 23.8 share of the TV audience watched "The Grammy Awards". The award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Male was presented to Phil Collins for his "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"; Best New Artist for the year 1984 was Cindi Lauper and the Best Album of the year award, for "Can’t Slow Down", was presented to Lionel Richie. Tina Turner was a big winner at the 27th annual platter prize parade, copping Best Song, Best Record and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female for "What’s Love Got to Do with It".
1993 - Six people were killed and more than a thousand injured in New York City. A van packed with a 1,210-pound bomb exploded in the parking garage underneath the World Trade Center. The explosion left a gigantic crater 200 feet wide and caused over 591 million dollars in damage. Fourteen of his followers and Dr. Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman were accused of the bombing. Rahman is now serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison.
1998 - AMARILLO, Texas - A jury today rejected a lawsuit by Texas cattlemen who claimed Oprah Winfrey’s televised comments about mad-cow disease caused the beef market to plummet and cost them millions of dollars.
1999 - These films debuted in the U.S.: "8MM: Eight Millimeter", starring Nicolas Cage and Joaquin Phoenix; "Just the Ticket", with Andy Garcia and Andie Macdowell; "The Other Sister", starring Juliette Lewis, Diane Keaton and Tom Skerritt; and "200 Cigarettes", with Ben Affleck Casey Affleck Dave Chappelle.
Birthdays - February 26
1802 - Victor Hugo (author: Les Miserables; famous quote: “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.”; died May 22, 1885)
1808 - Honoré Daumier (artist, caricaturist: satirical lithographs; died Feb 10, 1879)
1829 - Levi Strauss (creator of blue jeans or Levi’s; died Sep 26, 1902)
1846 - William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody (American frontiersman; showman; died Jan 10, 1917)
1887 - William Frawley (actor: I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, My Three Sons, Lord Loveland Discovers America, The Lemon Drop Kid, Three Married Men, High, Wide, and Handsome, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Those Were the Days, The Fighting Seabees, My Wild Irish Rose, Miracle on 34th Street, The Lemon Drop Kid; died Mar 3, 1966)
1902 - Vercors (Jean Bruller; Jean-Marcel de Brullers) (author: Silence of the Sea: first clandestine novel published under Nazi occupation of France ; died June 10, 1991)
1916 - Jackie (Herbert John) Gleason (comedian, actor: The Honeymooners, The Hustler, Smokey and the Bandit; died Jun 24, 1987)
1919 - Mason Adams (actor: Lou Grant, F/X, Houseguest, Morningstar/Evening Star; TV commercial voice-overs; died Apr 26, 2005)
1920 - Tony Randall (Leonard Rosenberg) (actor: The Odd Couple, Pillow Talk, Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Fatal Instinct, The Alphabet Murders; regular cameo appearances on David Letterman’s Late Show; died May 17, 2004)
1921 - Betty Hutton (Elizabeth Thornberg) (actress: Annie Get Your Gun, The Greatest Show on Earth, Hollywood Clowns; died Mar 12, 2007))
1928 - Fats (Antoine) Domino (pianist, songwriter, singer: Ain’t That a Shame, Goin’ Home, I’m in Love Again, Blue Monday, I’m Walkin’, Blueberry Hill; died Oct 24, 2017)
1932 - Johnny Cash (guitarist, Grammy award-winning country singer: Folsom Prison Blues ; I Walk the Line, Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, A Boy Named Sue, Ring of Fire; TV show with wife June Carter; died Sep 12, 2003)
1933 - Godfrey Cambridge (actor: Watermelon Man, The Last Angry Man, The President’s Analyst, Beware! The Blob, Friday Foster; died Nov 29, 1976)
1933 - James Goldsmith (Anglo-French financier, corporate raider; died July 18, 1997)
1945 - Mitch Ryder (William Levise) (singer: group: Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels: Devil with a Blue Dress On, Little Latin Lupe Lu)
1947 - Sandie Shaw (Goodrich) (singer: There’s Always Something There to Remind Me, Puppet on a String, Long Live Love, Girl Don’t Come)
1950 - Jonathan Cain (musician: keyboard: groups: Babys, Journey: Who’s Crying Now, Open Arms)
1953 - Michael Bolton (Grammy Award-winning singer: When a Man Loves a Woman , How Am I Supposed to Live Without You )
1961 - John-Jon (John Andrew Foster) (musician: group: Bronski Beat: LPs: Age of Consent, Hundreds & Thousands, Truthdare Doubledare)
1966 - Jennifer Grant (actress: Beverly Hills, 90210)
Chart Toppers - February 26
Accentuate the Positive - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
I Dream of You - The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (vocal: Freddy Stewart)
Don’t Fence Me In - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
I’m Losing My Mind Over You - Al Dexter
Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes - Perry Como
Till I Waltz Again with You - Teresa Brewer
Keep It a Secret - Jo Stafford
Kaw-Liga - Hank Williams
Pony Time - Chubby Checker
There’s a Moon Out Tonight - The Capris
Surrender - Elvis Presley
North to Alaska - Johnny Horton
Everyday People - Sly & The Family Stone
Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations
Can I Change My Mind - Tyrone Davis
Until My Dreams Come True - Jack Greene
New Kid in Town - Eagles
Love Theme from "A Star is Born" (Evergreen) - Barbra Streisand
Fly like an Eagle - Steve Miller
Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow - Tom Jones
Careless Whisper - Wham! featuring George Michael
Loverboy - Billy Ocean
Can’t Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon
Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On - Mel McDaniel
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
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