Events - January 31
1885 - C.D. Wright was appointed as the first Commissioner of Labor in the United States. A lofty job for a gentleman whose salary was $3,000. Of course, in 1885, you could buy a house for $3,000 and a cow.
1927 - Twenty years before the famous record by Art Mooney was recorded, Jean Goldkette and his dancing orchestra recorded, "I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover". Though the name of the bandleader may not be so famous, two of his sidemen on this Victor recording session certainly were: Big band fans know Bix Beiderbecke and Joe Venuti.
1930 - Lt. Ralph S. Barnaby of the U.S. Navy became the first glider pilot to have his craft released from a dirigible -- a large blimp -- at Lakehurst, NJ (where the Hindenberg exploded). Lt. Barnaby’s glider was released at an altitude of 3,000 feet.
1934 - Jim Londos defeated Joe Savoldi in a one-fall match in Chicago, IL. One of the largest crowds to see a wrestling match (20,000 spectators) looked on.
1936 - "The Green Hornet" was introduced by its famous theme song, "The Flight of the Bumble Bee". The radio show was first heard on WXYZ radio in Detroit, MI on this day. The show stayed on the air for 16 years. "The Green Hornet" originated from the same radio station where "The Lone Ranger" was performed. You may remember that the title character in "The Green Hornet" was really named Britt Reid. He was, in fact, supposed to be the great nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger. Both popular series were created by George Trendle and Fran Striker.
1940 - The very first monthly retirement check was issued by the U.S. Government -- to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont. Ida May’s check, numbered 00-000-001, was in the amount of $22.54. Fuller, a Legal Secretary, retired in November 1939 and lived to be 100 years old (she died in 1975).
1943 - After a week of heavy fighting, German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Russians at Stalingrad. 24 other German commanders surrendered with Paulus.
1945 - Private Eddie Slovik became the only American soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion. He was shot by an American firing squad in France on this day.
1951 - Paul Pettit signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He set a record for baseball bonuses when he signed to collect nearly $100,000 in bonuses and guarantees.
1953 - A sudden ‘surge’, or wall of water, caused by a fierce storm and high spring tide, burst through the dikes and over the banks of low-lying coastal areas of eastern England, northern Belgium and southern Netherlands. 1,800 drowned in Belgium and the Netherlands. Thousands lost their homes, hundreds of animals died and farmland was unusable for years to come. The North Sea’s saltwater had left its mark. Only the receding waters of low tide had prevented the River Thames from flooding central London and killing thousands more.
1958 - Explorer I, the first U.S. space satellite, was put into orbit around the earth by a Jupiter-C rocket. Radio signals from the transmitter aboard the 30.8 pound satellite were picked up in California within a few minutes after the launch. Explorer I orbited the earth every 114 minutes at a maximum height of 2,000 miles and a minimum altitude of 230 miles. This event marked the beginning of discussions, debates and decisions that would lead to the formation of NASA and eventually to the creation of Saturn launch vehicles.
1971 - Astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell and Stuart A. Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14. It was the first U.S. moon mission since the ill-fated mission of Apollo 13, for a third lunar landing.
1976 - Ernesto Miranda, famous from the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda rights, was stabbed to death in Arizona.
1982 - Sandy Duncan of Tyler, Texas gave her final performance as "Peter Pan" in Los Angeles, CA. The actress completed 956 performances without missing a show. She flew a total of 261.5 miles while on stage.
1984 - Newsman Edwin Newman retired from NBC News after 35 years with the network.
1985 - John Fogerty, former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, returned to the A&M recording studios in Hollywood, CA to give his first ‘live’ performance in 14 years. Actually, Fogerty performed in a video called "Rock and Roll Girls".
1987 - Madonna’s record, "Open Your Heart", moved to the #2 spot on the pop charts (right behind "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and The Beaters). A week later, "Open Your Heart" became Madonna’s fifth #1 hit since 1983. She had 11 consecutive singles in the Top 10 -- the most for any female artist of the rock era.
1988 - Super Bowl XXII (at San Diego): Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10. The score at the end of the first quarter: Broncos 10, Redskins 0. The score one quarter later: Redskins 35, Broncos 10. In that 2nd quarter Redskins’ QB Doug Williams (MVP) tossed a 70-yard TD pass to WR Ricky Sanders and a 50-yard pass setting up another TD. He threw a 27-yard TD pass to WR Gary Clark, an 8-yard TD pass to TE Clint Didier and handed off to RB Timmy Smith, who ran 58 yards for another TD. That one quarter so inspired the Redskins, the Broncos never had another chance. Tickets: $100.00.
1990 - McDonald’s opened their first restaurant in Russia -- in Moscow. Did somebody say, "Mickey Deeofsky’s?"
1993 - Super Bowl XXVII (at Pasadena): Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17. Cowboys’ QB Troy Aikman (MVP) threw four TD passes, Emmit Smith rushed for 100 yards and Buffalo turned the ball over nine times (five fumbles, four interceptions). Third Super Bowl loss in a row for the Bufflo Bills. Tickets: $175.00.
1999 - Super Bowl XXXIII (at Miami): Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19. Broncos’ QB John Elway (MVP) completed 18 of 29 passes for 336 yards and one TD -- and ran three yards for another score. Play of the game: Ellway to Rod Smith for a 90-yard touchdown. Tickets: $325.00.
2000 - Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed into the Santa Barbara Channel in California, some twenty miles off Point Mogu. The McDonnell Douglas MD-83 carried 88 people bound for San Francisco from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There were no survivors. Fault for the crash was eventually placed on the failure of a two-foot-long jackscrew -- part of a system that drives adjustments to the horizontal stabilizer, which in turn controls the pitch, or up-and-down orientation, of the aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board also concluded that a contributing factor was the lack of a fail-safe mechanism to protect the jet from a catastrophic loss of that jackscrew.
2004 - The Mars rover Opportunity rolled off its landing pad onto the surface of Mars.
2005 - Pop star Michael Jackson pleaded not guilty as his trial for child molestation began in Santa Maria, California.
2006 - Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn in.
2007 - Ziff Davis Game Group handed out its fourth annual 1Up Awards for computer games. Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess was chosen game of the year by the 13-million voters voicing their choice).
Birthdays - January 31
1797 - Franz Schubert (composer: Unfinished Symphony; died Nov 19, 1828)
1872 - Zane Grey (Pearl Grey) (dentist; author: The Spirit of the Border, The Last of the Plainsmen, Riders of the Purple Sage; died Oct 23, 1939)
1892 - Eddie Cantor (Edward Israel Iskowitz) (‘banjo eyes’: actor, singer: If You Knew Susie like I Know Susie, Alabamy Bound, Dinah, Ida, Makin’ Whoopee, Ma He’s Makin’ Eyes at Me; died Oct 10, 1964)
1902 - Tallulah Bankhead (actress: Stage Door Canteen, Die! Die! My Darling!; died Dec 12, 1968)
1914 - Jersey Joe Walcott (Arnold Raymond Cream) (‘The Barbados Demon’: International Boxing Hall of Famer, World Heavyweight Champion ; lifetime record: 53-18-1, 33 KOs; died Feb 25, 1994)
1915 - Garry Moore (Thomas Garrison Morfit) (Emmy Award-winning entertainer: Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Variety [1961-1962]: The Garry Moore Show; I’ve Got a Secret, To Tell the Truth; died Nov 28, 1993)
1919 - Jackie (Jack Roosevelt) Robinson (Baseball Hall of Famer: broke baseball’s color barrier when Branch Rickey brought him up to the Dodgers in 1947: Brooklyn Dodgers [World Series: 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956/all-star: 1949-1954/NL MVP ; pictured on US Black Heritage Series postage stamp; died Oct 24, 1972)
1921 - John Agar (actor: Body Bags, Curse of the Swamp Creatures, Invisible Invaders, Revenge of the Creature, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Sands of Iwo Jima, Fort Apache; died Apr 7, 2002)
1921 - Carol Channing (Lowe) (Tony Award-winning actress: Hello, Dolly! , Thoroughly Modern Millie; died Jan 15, 2019)
1921 - Mario Lanza (Alfred Cocozza) (actor: That Midnight Kiss, The Great Caruso, Because You’re Mine, The Student Prince; singer: Be My Love, The Loveliest Night of the Year, Because You’re Mine; died Oct 7, 1959)
1922 - Joanne Dru (LaCock) (actress: Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Wagon Master, All the King’s Men, The Pride of St. Louis, Sincerely Yours, Super Fuzz, Hell on Frisco Bay, Playhouse 90, Guestward Ho!; died Sep 10, 1996)
1923 - Norman Mailer (Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist: The Armies of the Night; Miami and the Siege of Chicago, The Executioner’s Song, The Naked and the Dead, An American Dream; died Nov 10, 2007)
1929 - Jean Simmons (actress: The Big Country, Elmer Gantry, The Robe, Spartacus, Great Expectations, The Thorn Birds, North and South; died Jan 22, 2010)
1930 - Jo Bonnier (Swedish auto racer: started in 104 Grand Prix races; killed in 24 Hours of Le Mans race June 11, 1972)
1931 - Ernie (Ernest) Banks (Baseball Hall of Famer: Chicago Cubs [all-star: 1955-1962, 1965, 1967, 1969/NL Baseball Writer’s Award: 1958, 1959]; 512 home runs; over 40 in a single season five times; record five grand slams , 47 home runs  most ever hit by a shortstop; died Jan 23, 2015)
1934 - James (Grover) Franciscus (actor: Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Good Guys Wear Black, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy; died July 8, 1991)
1937 - Suzanne Pleshette (actress: The Bob Newhart Show, Oh God Book 2, The Birds, If It’s Tuesday This Must be Belgium; died Jan 19, 2008)
1938 - Princess Beatrix (Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard) (former Queen of the Netherlands [1980-2013])
1941 - Richard Gephardt (Missouri Democratic member of U.S House of Representatives)
1941 - Jessica Walter (Emmy Award-winning actress: Amy Prentiss/NBC Sunday Mystery Movie ; Temptress, The Execution, The Flamingo Kid, She’s Dressed to Kill, Play Misty for Me, Three’s a Crowd, For the People, Dinosaurs, Bare Essence)
1946 - Terry Kath (musician: guitar: group: Chicago: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?; died Jan 23, 1978)
1947 - (Lynn) Nolan Ryan (baseball: pitcher: NY Mets [World Series: 1969], California Angels [all-star: 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979], Houston Astros [all-star: 1981, 1985], Texas Rangers [all-star: 1989]; record for career strike outs [5,714] and no-hitters )
1951 - Harry Wayne Casey (musician: keyboard, singer: group: KC and the Sunshine Band: Do It Good, Queen of Hearts, Rock Your Baby, Get Down Tonight, That’s the Way [I Like It], [Shake, Shake, Shake] Shake Your Booty, I’m Your Boogie Man, Keep It Comin’ Love, Please Don’t Go)
1951 - Phil Manzanera (Targett-Adams) (musician: guitar: group: Roxy Music: Virginia Plain, Pyjamarama, Do the Strand, Editions of You, In Every Dream a Heartache, All I Want is You, Out of the Blue; solo: LPs: Diamond Head, Listen Now, K-Scope, Primitive Guitars)
1951 - Larry McNeill (basketball: Marquette Univ.)
1956 - Johnny Lydon (Johnny Rotten) (singer: groups: The Sex Pistols: Anarchy in the UK, God Save the Queen, Pretty Vacant, Holidays in the Sun, Public Image Ltd.: Flowers of Romance, This is Not a Love Song; actor: Cop Killer)
1957 - Shirley Babashoff (swimmer: holds the record for American woman winning the most Olympic medals [2 gold, 6 silver, 1972 & 1976])
1961 - Lloyd Cole (musician: guitar, singer: group: Lloyd Cole and The Commotions: Perfect Skin, Forest Fire, Four Flights Up, Down on Mission Street)
1970 - Minnie Driver (actress: Circle of Friends, GoldenEye, Good Will Hunting, Hope Springs, The Phantom of the Opera)
1973 - Portia de Rossi (actress: Arrested Development, Better Off Ted, Cursed, Dead and Breakfast, The Night We Called It a Day, America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, Who Is Cletis Tout?; more)
1975 - Preity Zinta (actress: Kya Kehna, Kal Ho Naa Ho, The Hero, Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke, Farz, Raja Kumarudu, Dil Se)
1976 - Paul Scheer (comedian, actor: The League, 30 Rock, Best Week Ever, Childrens Hospital, Funny or Die Presents, Parks and Recreation, Happy Endings, Party Down, Yo Gabba Gabba, Piranha 3D, Bride Wars, School for Scoundrels, Year One; more)
1977 -Kevin Christy (actor: EMR, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Neverland, New Port South, Dude, Where’s My Car?, A Time for Dancing)
1977 - Bobby Moynihan (comedian, actor: Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Mystery Team, The Invention of Lying, Revenge for Jolly!, Delivery Man)
1977 - Kerry Washington (actress: Scandal, Django Unchained, Think I Love My Wife, Prescious, Lakeview Terrace, The Dead Girl, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Against the Ropes, Ray, Save the Last Dance)
1981 - Justin Timberlake (singer: group: ’N Sync: I Want You Back, Tearin’ Up My Heart, Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You, I Drive Myself Crazy, Music Of My Heart)
Chart Toppers - January 31
My Heart Cries for You - Guy Mitchell
Tennessee Waltz - Patti Page
A Bushell and a Peck - Perry Como & Betty Hutton
The Shot Gun Boogie - Tennessee Ernie Ford
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - The Platters
Donna - Ritchie Valens
The All American Boy - Bill Parsons
Billy Bayou - Jim Reeves
I’m a Believer - The Monkees
Tell It Like It Is - Aaron Neville
Georgy Girl - The Seekers
There Goes My Everything - Jack Greene
Please Mr. Postman - Carpenters
Laughter in the Rain - Neil Sedaka
Fire - Ohio Players
(I’d Be) A Legend in My Time - Ronnie Milsap
Down Under - Men at Work
Africa - Toto
Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye
Talk to Me - Mickey Gilley
The First Time - Surface
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) - C & C Music
Factory featuring Freedom Williams
Sensitivity - Ralph Tresvant
Forever’s as Far as I’ll Go - Alabama
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.