Events - February 29
45BC - The leap year, this confusing state of calendars, began in 45 B.C., when Julius Caesar added an extra day to the Julian calendar every fourth year upon the advice of astronomer, Sosigenes. Or it could have been 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII ordered every fourth year to be a leap year (leap Year brought the Gregorian calendar closer to the earth's orbital period of 365.2422 days) unless it is a century year that cannot be divisible by 400. Or maybe it was 1698 when the Protestant rulers of Germany and the Netherlands thought it was time they agreed with the pope, or 1752 when the English made the calendar move or 1918 when the Russians picked up on the Gregorian calendar. It's your call. It is called Leap year because it is not a common year. A common year consists of exactly 52 weeks plus one day. That extra day means that if your birthday falls on a Tuesday in one common year, it will fall on a Wednesday in the next one. Just when you get it all straight, four years have passed and a leap year comes along to confuse the issue. A leap year consists of exactly 52 weeks plus two days. So now, if your birthday fell on a Wednesday last year, it will fall on a Friday this year (February 29 through February 28 of next year).
1704 - The town of Deerfield, MA was raided on this day by French Canadians and Indians who were trying to retrieve their church bell that had been shipped from France. The bell was to hang in the Canadian Indian’s village church. Neither the raiders nor the residents of Deerfield were aware that the bell had been stolen from the ship. The Deerfield folks had purchased the bell from a privateer, unaware that it belonged to the Indian congregation. Although 56 people were killed in the incident, we could say that the 109 captured were saved by the bell.
1904 - On this day in Washington, DC, a seven-man commission was created to hasten the construction of the Panama Canal. The commission, which was appointed by President Roosevelt, arrived on the Isthmus in September of that year.
1920 - Dateline -- Budapest, Hungary: Miklos Horthy de Nagybanya became the Regent of Hungary just six months after leading a counterrevolution. He probably gained control because everyone else was distracted while trying to pronounce his name.
1932 - Bing Crosby and the Mills Brothers teamed up to record "Shine" for Brunswick Records.
1936 - Fanny Brice brought her little girl character "Baby Snooks" to radio on "The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air" on CBS Radio. Miss Brice presented the character and later sang "My Man" on the program. She was 44 at the time, and was known as America’s "Funny Girl" long before Barbra Streisand brought her even greater fame and notoriety nearly 30 years later.
1940 - A big party was thrown at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Partygoers were celebrating the motion pictures of 1939 at the 12th annual Academy Awards presentation. "Gone with the Wind" won for Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming), Best Actress (Vivien Leigh) and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel). The Best Actor honor went to Robert Donat for his performance in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips". Thomas Mitchell won Best Supporting Actor for "Stagecoach". What happened to "The Wizard of Oz"? It did capture the Oscar for Original Score (Herbert Stothart) and Best Song "Over the Rainbow" (Harold Arlen, E. Y. Harburg) but was pretty much blown away by "Gone with the Wind". In any other year...
1944 - The invasion of the Admiralty Islands began on this date as U.S. General Douglas MacArthur led his forces in "Operation Brewer". Troops surged onto Los Negros, following a month of Allied advances in the Pacific.
1944 - The first woman appointed secretary of a national political party was named to the Democratic National Committee. Dorothy McElroy Vredenburgh of Alabama began her new appointment this day.
1960 - The first Playboy Club opened on this day at 116 E. Walton, Chicago, IL. According to a list of frequently asked questions we found at playboy.com, “During the last three months of 1961, more than 132,000 people visited the Chicago club, making it the busiest night club in the world.” In case you hadn’t noticed, the last U.S. club, located in Lansing, MI, closed in 1988. The last international club, located in Manila, closed in 1991.
1964 - Dawn Fraser got her 36th world record this day. The Australian swimmer was timed at 58.9 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle in Sydney, Australia.
1964 - The United States was in the grip of Beatlemania! "I Want to Hold Your Hand", by the lads from Liverpool, was in its 5th week at #1 on the pop charts. It stayed there until March 21, when it was replaced by "She Loves You", which was replaced by "Can’t Buy Me Love", which was finally replaced by "Hello Dolly", by Louis Armstrong, on May 9, 1964. 14 straight weeks of #1 stuff by the Beatles! Yeah, yeah, yeah...
1964 - Hang on to your racquets on this one, sports fans: A shuttlecock drive record was set by Frank Rugani this day. Mr. Rugani slammed the birdie 79-feet, 8-1/2 inches in a test at San Jose, CA. A giant leap for badminton. A little leap for all mankind.
1972 - The U.S. Justice Department had recently settled an antitrust lawsuit in favor of International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. On this day, newspaper columnist Jack Anderson revealed a memo written by ITT’s Washington lobbyist, Dita Beard, that connected ITT’s funding of part of the Republican National Convention with the resulting lawsuit settlement.
1972 - Swimmer Mark Spitz was named the 1971 James E. Sullivan Memorial Trophy winner as the top amateur athlete in America.
1972 - Karen and Richard Carpenter of Downey, CA received a gold record for the hit single "Hurting Each Other". When they tore the golden platter from its protective frame and plunked it on the player, they heard, "Hurt So Bad", by Little Anthony and the Imperials. They were so upset by this that they ran out to the back yard and used the record as a Frisbee for the rest of the day. (Some of the preceding is based upon actual fact.)
1980 - Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings became the first player in NHL history to score 800 career goals (in a 3-0 Wings’ win over the St. Louis Blues). Howe finished his career with 801 regular-season goals. Only Wayne Gretzky has surpassed that mark.
1988 - "Day by Day", a situation comedy, premiered on this date on NBC-TV. It was one of the "yuppie sitcoms" that were all over the TV dial in the late 1980s. This particular one was about a suburban overachieving couple who dropped out and opened up a day-care center in their home to spend more quality time with their children. The quality time lasted just under five months.
1992 - Mr. Big hit it big this day, moving to #1 with "To Be with You". It was the biggest hit in the U.S. for three big weeks.
1996 - Daniel Green was convicted in Lumberton, North Carolina, of murdering James R. Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan, during a 1993 roadside holdup. (Green was sentenced to life in prison; Larry Demery, an accomplice who had testified against Green, is also given a life sentence.)
2000 - Sparky Anderson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame -- with Turkey Stearnes of the Negro leagues and 1890s second baseman Bid McPhee.
2004 - The 76th Academy Awards were doled out at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. The host of the star-studded evening was Billy Crystal (his eighth time at the helm). Oscars were given for (among many others): Best Picture (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King); Actor (Sean Penn in Mystic River); Actress (Charlize Theron in Monster); Actor in a Supporting Role (Tim Robbins in Mystic River); Actress in a Supporting Role (Renée Zellweger in Cold Mountain); Director (Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King); Screenplay [material previously produced or published] (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson); Screenplay [written directly for the screen] (Lost in Translation, written by Sofia Coppola); Animated film (Finding Nemo [Buena Vista]); Art Direction: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [Art Direction: Grant Major, Set Decoration: Dan Hennah and Alan Lee]) Cinematography (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World); Costume Design (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King); Documentary (The Fog of War [Sony Pictures Classics]); Music [original score] (Howard Shore for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Music [original song] (Into the West from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Music and Lyric by Fran Walsh and Howard Shore and Annie Lennox); Sound (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World); Visual Effects (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).
Birthdays - February 29
1468 - Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese) (221st pope of the Roman Catholic Church [1534-1549]: last of Renaissance popes and first pope of Counter Reformation; died Nov 10, 1549)
1736 - Anne Lee (Anne the Word or Mother Anne) (religious zealot: founder of Shakerism in U.S.; died Sep 8, 1784)
1792 - Gioacchino Rossini (operatic composer: The Barber of Seville; died Nov 13, 1868)
1841 - John Philip Holland (inventor of first true submarine accepted by U.S. Navy [spent 57 years working with submersibles]; invented device to allow sailors to escape from damaged subs; died Aug 12, 1914)
1860 - Herman Hollerith (engineer, teacher, inventor: first electric tabulating machine [forerunner of the calculator], founded Tabulating Machine Company: forerunner of Computer Tabulating Recording Company [CTR]: forerunner of IBM [International Business Machines]; died Nov 17, 1929)
1896 - William A. (Augustus) Wellman (Academy Award-winning screenwriter: A Star is Born ; director: The High and the Mighty, Battleground, A Star is Born , Westward the Women; died Dec 9, 1975)
1904 - Jimmy Dorsey (bandleader: So Rare, Contrasts, June Night; died June 12, 1957)
1904 - Pepper (John Leonard Roosevelt) Martin (baseball: leader of St. Louis Cardinals ‘Gas House Gang’ in early 1930s [club record: stolen bases by a third baseman: 26 in 1933]; died Mar 5, 1965)
1916 - Dinah (Frances Rose) Shore (Emmy Award-winning singer, entertainer: The Dinah Shore Show , Dinah’s Place ; Daytime Emmy: Dinah’s Place , Dinah! ; The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, Oh, God!, Death Car on the Freeway; singer: Yes, My Darling Daughter, The Breeze and I, Blues in the Night, I’ll Walk Alone, Buttons and Bows; sponsored Dinah Shore Classic pro golf tournament for over twenty years; died Feb 24, 1994)
1920 - Arthur Franz (actor: The Member of the Wedding, Dream No Evil; died Jun 16, 2006)
1920 - Michèle Morgan (Simone Roussel) (actress: The Fallen Idol, Joan of Paris, Bluebeard, Everybody’s Fine; died Dec 20, 2016)
1920 - Howard Nemerov (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: Collected Works ; 3rd poet laureate of U.S. [1988-1990]; died Jul 5, 1991)
1924 - Al Rosen (baseball: Cleveland Indians 3rd Baseman; died Mar 13, 2015)
1928 - Joss Ackland (actor: The Hunt for Red October, The House that Dripped Blood, The Sicilian, A Woman Named Jackie)
1928 - Tempest Storm (Annie Blanche Banks) (‘The Fabulous 4D Girl’: stripper, burlesque star, actress: Strip Strip Hooray, Striptease Girl, Teaserama, Buxom Beautease, Mundo depravados; finally retired from stripping at age 65)
1936 - Jack Lousma (Astronaut Hall of Famer: member of Skylab space station crew , commanded third orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia )
1936 - Henri Richard (‘The Pocket Rocket’: hockey: NHL: Montreal Canadiens: 4-time all-star, played on 11 Stanley Cup champion teams [1955-1975])
1936 - Alex Rocco (Emmy Award-winning supporting actor: The Famous Teddy Z ; The Godfather, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Blue Knight, Herbie Goes Bananas, Cannonball Run II, How to Murder a Millionaire, Boris and Natasha, Get Shorty, A Bug’s Life [voice of Thorny], Dudley Do-Right ; died Jul 18, 2015)
1940 - Gretchen Christopher (singer: group: The Fleetwoods: Mr. Blue, Come Softly to Me, Tragedy)
1940 - Joe Giglio (singer: group: The Four Aces: The Gang that Sang ‘Heart of My Heart’, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Melody of Love, Mr. Sandman, Stranger in Paradise, Three Coins in the Fountain; musician: guitar: Malaguena)
1944 - Dennis Farina (actor: Law & Order, Triplecross, Code of Silence, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, Crime Story, The Case of the Hillside Stranglers, Striking Distance, Get Shorty, Saving Private Ryan, The Mod Squad ; died Jul 22, 2013)
1944 - Steve Mingori (baseball: pitcher: Cleveland Indians, KC Royals; died Jul 10, 2008)
1944 - John Niland (football: Dallas Cowboys Guard, Super Bowl V, VI)
1948 - Patricia (Anne) McKillip (science-fiction writer: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Fool’s Run, Song for the Basilisk, Book of Atrix Wolfe)
1952 - Al Autry (baseball: pitcher: Atlanta Braves)
1952 - Tim (Timothy) Powers (science-fiction writer: The Anubis Gates, Epitaph in Rust, Night Moves, Last Call)
1960 - Tony Robbins (American life coach, motivational speaker, author: Unlimited Power, Awaken the Giant Within, Giant Steps)
1964 - Mervyn Warren (film composer, record producer, lyricist, songwriter, music arranger, pianist, vocalist: group: Take 6: I L-O-V-E U, Destiny, One and the Same, Fly Away, Mary, Biggest Part of Me)
1968 - Chucky Brown (basketball: North Carolina State; NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Lakers, NJ Nets, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets)
1968 - Bryce Paup (football: NFL: Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills LB [AFC defensive player of the year: 1995], Jacksonville Jaguars)
1972 - Antonio Sabato Jr. (actor: Earth 2, Beyond the Law, War of the Robots, Thundersquad)
1976 - Ja Rule (Jeffery Atkins) (rapper: LPs: Venni Vetti Vecci, Rule 3:36, Pain Is Love, The Last Temptation, Blood in My Eye, R.U.L.E., Pain Is Love 2, Renaissance Project)
1980 - Simon Gagné (hockey [left winger]: NHL: Philadelphia Flyers [1999–2010]; Tampa Bay Lightning [2010–2011]; Los Angeles Kings [2011–2013]: 2012 Stanley Cup champs; Philadelphia Flyers ; Boston Bruins )
Chart Toppers - February 29
Cry - Johnnie Ray
Slowpoke - Pee Wee King
Any Time - Eddie Fisher
Wondering - Webb Pierce
The Theme from "A Summer Place" - Percy Faith
Handy Man - Jimmy Jones
Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
He’ll Have to Go - Jim Reeves
Love is Blue - Paul Mauriat
(Theme From) Valley of the Dolls - Dionne Warwick
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
Skip a Rope - Henson Cargill
Theme from S.W.A.T. - Rhythm Heritage
Love Machine (Part 1) - The Miracles
All by Myself - Eric Carmen
Good Hearted Woman - Waylon & Willie
Jump - Van Halen
99 Luftballons - Nena
Girls Just Want to Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
Stay Young - Don Williams
To Be with You - Mr. Big
I’m Too Sexy - R*S*F (Right Said Fred)
Remember the Time - Michael Jackson
What’s She Doing Now - Garth Brooks
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.