Events - March 23
1743 - It was the first London performance of Handel’s "Messiah", and King King George II was in the audience. In the middle of the "Hallelujah Chorus, the King rose to his feet in appreciation of the great piece! The entire audience followed suit out of respect for the King. And so began the custom of standing during the singing of the "Hallelujah Chorus".
1794 - Josiah G. Pierson patented a rivet machine. Rivet at home with a hand-held gizmo perfect for pocket or purse that lets you rivet buttons, snaps and other do-dads on clothes. Makes a perfect gift!
1858 - Eleazer A. Gardner of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received two special awards: 1) For having the courage to stick with the name Eleazer and 2) for patenting the cable street car. Not the cable car that made San Francisco so popular, but the street car that runs on overhead cables in some cities -- like Philadelphia.
1861 - John D. Defrees became the first Superintendent of the United States Government Printing Office. He, however, received no special holiday in his honor. Go figure.
1880 - John Stevens of Neenah, WI patented the device which was called a grain crushing mill. The machine allowed flour production to increase by 70 percent and to sell for $2 more per barrel.
1925 - An evolution law, enacted on this day in the great State of Tennessee, made it a crime for a teacher in any state-supported public school or college to teach any theory that contradicted the Bible’s account of man’s creation. Within two months, a Dayton, Tennessee high school science teacher, John T. Scopes was indicted, and later convicted, in the famous ‘Monkey Trial’ for teaching his students the theory of evolution; that man descended from a lower order of animals ... or monkeys. Scopes was fined $100. Defense Attorney Clarence Darrow stated that this was “the first case of its kind since we stopped trying people for witchcraft.”
1940 - "Truth or Consequences" was first heard on radio. The Ralph Edwards-produced program was hosted by Mr. Edwards before he discovered a young announcer named Bob Barker. Barker also was the show’s host on television more than a decade later. The radio show was originally heard on only four CBS stations. Later, NBC picked up the show where it eventually became the most popular of all radio quiz shows.
1950 - "Beat the Clock", starring radio’s original "Superman", Bud Collyer, premiered on CBS-TV. A lady named Roxanne was Collyer’s assistant from 1950 to 1955. Beverly Bentley was the clock-beater’s assistant from 1955 through the last show on February 16, 1958. It was another one of those Mark Goodsen and Bill Todman productions.
1950 - And the Oscar for Best Actor goes to... Broderick Crawford for his portrayal of corrupt politician Willie Stark in "All the King’s Men". Thus we recall the 22nd Academy Awards, held at the RKO Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. The host for the evening, actor Paul Douglas, helped Hollywood pat itself on the back, as they celebrated the films of 1949. "All the King’s Men" also won the Academy Award for Best Picture (Robert Rossen, producer) and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (Mercedes McCambridge). Other winners this night included Best Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz for "Letter to Three Wives", Best Actress: Olivia de Havilland for "The Heiress" and Best Supporting Actor: Dean Jagger for "Twelve O’Clock High". On a musical note, the Best Music/Song Oscar was awarded to Frank Loesser for "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" from "Neptune’s Daughter". And who did Broderick Crawford beat out for the Best Actor prize? Kirk Douglas, Richard Todd, John Wayne and Gregory Peck.
1963 - An indoor pole vault record was set by John Pennel in Memphis, TN. He cleared 16 feet, 3 inches.
1965 - Astronaut John Young became the first man to eat a corned beef sandwich in outer space. When it comes to events of progress, we will certainly add this to the record book, now won’t we? ...along with that golf club stunt of Alan Shepard’s from the surface of the moon years later. Young smuggled the sandwich on board in order to supplement the astronauts’ meals of dehydrated foods, including powdered fruit juice (Tang).
1972 - New York Yankees baseball officials announced plans to keep the Yankees in the nation’s largest city. Plans were also revealed concerning a major renovation of Yankee Stadium. While work was underway at ‘The House that Ruth Built’, the Bronx Bombers shared tenancy with the cross-town New York Mets in Flushing, New York at Shea Stadium. New Yorkers also got one other bonus from the announced plans: George Steinbrenner.
1973 - "Concentration", the longest-running NBC-TV game show at the time, left the air after 15 years.
1974 - Cher reached the top of the music charts as "Dark Lady" reached the #1 spot for a one-week stay. Other artists who shared the pop music spotlight during that time included: Terry Jacks, John Denver, Blue Swede, Elton John and MFSB.
1981 - CBS Television announced plans to reduce "Captain Kangaroo" to a 30-minute show each weekday morning. The reason, according to network brass, was to allow more time for its morning news programming. This move proved to be a huge mistake. "The CBS Morning News" was the weakest morning news program on the air, against NBC’s "Today" and ABC’s "Good Morning America". The show was a ratings disaster that went through many changes and complete makeovers in an effort to find an audience. Secret plans to use Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, Grandfather Clock and Mr. Green Jeans on the "Morning News" did not, however, become reality -- although former Miss America, Phyllis George, was a reality on the program.
1985 - Singer Billy Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley in private ceremonies held in New York City. (They were divorced Aug 25, 1994.)
1985 - "We Are the World", by USA for Africa, a group of 46 pop stars, entered the music charts for the first time at number 21.
1986 - Martina Navratilova defeated Hana Mandlikova to win the Virginia Slims Championship. It was the first women’s tournament to go four sets since 1901.
1998 - The movie, "Titanic", won a record-tying 11 Oscars at the 70th Annual Academy Awards (tying the number of awards won by "Ben-Hur" in 1959). Comedian/actor Billy Crystal kept the crowd at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, and the millions watching on TV, in stitches as "Titanic" (James Cameron, Jon Landau, producers) won (big breath now): Best Picture; Best Director (James Cameron); Best Cinematography (Russell Carpenter); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Peter Lamont [art director], Michael Ford [set decorator]); Best Costume Design (Deborah Lynn Scott); Best Sound (Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Gary Summers, Mark Ulano); Best Film Editing (Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris); Best Effects/Sound Effects Editing (Tom Bellfort, Christopher Boyes); Best Effects/Visual Effects (Robert Legato, Mark A. Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher, Michael Kanfer); Best Music/Original Dramatic Score (James Horner); and Best Music/Song (James Horner [music] and Will Jennings [lyrics] for "My Heart Will Go On", performed by Céline Dion). Not a bad return for a measly investment of $200 million. And yes, Virginia, there were other winners: Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt took top acting honors as the misanthropic writer and the waitress who softens his heart in "As Good as it Gets". The Best Supporting Actor Oscar went to Robin Williams for "Good Will Hunting" and Best Supporting Actress was Kim Basinger for her "L.A. Confidential" part (Lynn Bracken: “Merry Christmas to you, officer.”) We’re running a little late, so good night all...
Birthdays - March 23
1823 - Schuyler Colfax (17th U.S. Vice President [1869-1873] under Ulysses S. Grant; died Jan 13, 1885)
1900 - Erich Fromm (psychoanalyst: The Method and Function of an Analytic Social Psychology, Psychoanalytic Characterology and Its Relevance for Social Psychology; died Mar 18, 1980)
1908 - Joan Crawford (Lucille Fay LeSueur) (Academy Award-winning actress: Mildred Pierce ; A Woman’s Face, Night Gallery, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Above Suspicion, Grand Hotel; died May 10, 1977)
1910 - Akira Kurosawa (film director: Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, Ran, Rhapsody in August, The Idiot, The Bad Sleep Well; died Sep 6, 1998)
1912 - Wernher von Braun (scientist: developer of WWII German V-2 rocket, head of U.S. Army missile team; technological leader of American space program; died June 16, 1977)
1917 - Johnny Guarnieri (musician: piano: played with Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw; played at the Tail O’ The Cock in LA for a decade; died Jan 7, 1985)
1925 - Monique van Vooren (actress: Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, Ash Wednesday, Sugar Cookies)
1928 - Jim (James Robert) Lemon (baseball: Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, Washington Senators [all-star: 1960], Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies; died May 14, 2006)
1929 - Roger Bannister (British track star: broke the 4-minute mile [3:59.4 on May 6, 1954]; physician; died Mar 3, 2018)
1931 - ‘Rocky’ Warren Godfrey (hockey: NHL: Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings; died Apr 5, 1997)
1937 - Craig Breedlove (rocket car speedster: the first person to travel more than 400mph, more than 500mph and more than 600 mph on land)
1940 - Ted Green (hockey: NHL: Boston Bruins)
1943 - Lee (Andrew) May (baseball: Cincinnati Reds [all-star: 1969, 1971/World Series: 1970], Houston Astros [all-star: 1972], Baltimore Orioles [World Series: 1979], KC Royals; died Jul 29, 2017)
1944 - George (Charles) ‘Boomer’ Scott (baseball: Boston Red Sox [all-star: 1966, 1977/World Series: 1967], Milwaukee Brewers [all-star: 1975], KC Royals, NY Yankees; died Jul 28, 2013)
1946 - Vic Washington (football: SF 49ers, Houston Oilers, Buffalo Bills; died Dec 31, 2008)
1949 - Ric Ocasek (Richard Otcasek) (musician: guitar, singer: group: The Cars: My Best Friend’s Girl, Just What I Needed, Let’s Go, You Might Think, Magic, Drive, Tonight She Comes; solo: LP: Beatitude)
1951 - Ron Jaworski (football: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback: Super Bowl XV)
1953 - Chaka Khan (Yvette Marie Stevens) (singer: Tell Me Something Good [with Rufus], You Got the Love; solo: I Feel for You)
1955 - Moses Malone (Basketball Hall of Famer: Buffalo Braves, Houston Rockets [single-game playoff record for most offensive rebounds [15: April 21, 1977 vs. Washington], Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs; NBA MVP: 1979, 1982, 1983; records: most consecutive games without a disqualification [1,212], most free throws made [8,531], most offensive rebounds [6,731]; died Sep 13, 2015)
1957 - Teresa Ganzel (actress: The Dave Thomas Comedy Hour, The Duck Factory, Roxie, Teachers Only)
1957 - Amanda Plummer (Tony Award-winning actress : Agnes of God; The Fisher King, Joe Versus the Volcano, The World According to Garp, Pulp Fiction; Christopher Plummer’s daughter)
1966 - Marti Pellow (Mark McLoughlin) (singer: group: Wet, Wet, Wet: Goodnight Girl)
1990 - Princess Eugenie of York (Eugenie Victoria Helena Windsor) (British royalty: daughter of Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York [Sarah Ferguson])
Chart Toppers - March 23
Oh, What It Seemed to Be - The Frankie Carle Orchestra (vocal: Marjorie Hughes)
Personality - Johnny Mercer
Day by Day - Frank Sinatra
Guitar Polka - Al Dexter
Make Love to Me! - Jo Stafford
Cross Over the Bridge - Patti Page
Wanted - Perry Como
Slowly - Webb Pierce
Hey! Baby - Bruce Channel
Midnight in Moscow - Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen
Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You - Connie Francis
That’s My Pa - Sheb Wooley
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
The Rapper - The Jaggerz
Give Me Just a Little More Time - Chairmen of the Board
The Fightin’ Side of Me - Merle Haggard
Night Fever - Bee Gees
Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees
Lay Down Sally - Eric Clapton
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys - Waylon & Willie
These Dreams - Heart
Secret Lovers - Atlantic Starr
Rock Me Amadeus - Falco
What’s a Memory like You (Doing in a Love like This) - John Schneider
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.