Events - October 31
1846 - The Donner party became trapped in what is now known as Donner Pass in the Sierra Mountains. The next day they began building their winter camp at Truckee (now Donner) Lake, having failed to get through the snow-filled pass...
1864 -- When conjuring up a mental image of Nevada, which entered the United States of America on this day, snow is not usually in the picture. Yet, the 36th state garnered its name from the Spanish word meaning ‘snowy’. The founding fathers must have spent a lot of time in the northern and central regions near the capital city of Carson City, and in one of today’s gambling meccas, Reno. The Silver State is also known as the entertainment and gambling capital of the United States. Nevada is the most arid state in the Union which explains why sagebrush is the state flower. The mountain bluebird, the state bird, flies over Nevada’s mountainous terrain.
1868 - Postmaster General Alexander Williams Randall approved a standard uniform for postal carriers.
1903 - The Cleveland Theatre in Chicago welcomed the youngest member of the Barrymore family to the acting fold. Young John Barrymore made his stage debut in "Magda".
1926 - Harry Houdini died on this day of peritonitis. Days earlier, between performances at the Princess Theater in Montreal, Canada, as he relaxed in his dressing room, he was visited by a student athlete from Montreal’s McGill University. The young man asked Houdini if it was true that he could actually withstand punches to the stomach. Houdini replied in the affirmative, but before he could prepare himself for the stunt by tightening his stomach muscles, the student punched the magician several times in his mid-section. Houdini performed that night and several more, then headed for Detroit where he did one show, then collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. At the time, it was assumed that his appendix had been ruptured by the blows from the student. Current medical knowledge leads experts to believe that Houdini already had appendicitis and only thought that the blows to his stomach were the cause of his pain. Magicians and mediums throughout the world still gather on this night, Halloween, to honor the Great Houdini.
1930 - In a rare recording, William ‘Count’ Basie sang with Bennie Moten’s orchestra, "Somebody Stole My Gal", on Victor.
1941 - Mount Rushmore was ‘completed’ this day. Actually, the money ran out. Work on the monument, honoring Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt, had begun August 10, 1927. It was dedicated March 3, 1933 although work continued. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum died in 1941 and his son, Lincoln, continued the project until funds ran out on this day. Since then, no additional carving has been done, nor is any further work (other than maintenance) on the memorial planned.
1942 - One of the great wartime radio shows premiered. CBS debuted "Thanks to the Yanks", starring Bob Hawk. It became one of the most popular of the wartime programs.
1953 - NBC televised "Carmen" on "Opera Theatre" -- in living color. It was the first major opera televised in anything other than black and white.
1955 - Princess Margaret (Rose) of England announced that she would not be marrying her love, Captain Peter Townsend. The entire world had been waiting for weeks, speculating about whether the sister of the Queen would marry a commoner.
1956 - George J. Dufek of Admiral Robert Byrd’s expedition party became the first American to land by air at the South Pole.
1961 - The body of Joseph Stalin was removed from public display (in Stalin’s Tomb). The longtime dictator of the former Soviet Union was reburied in a simple grave. This incident was the beginning of the USSR’s ‘destalinization’ policy.
1964 - The Supremes "Baby Love" was the number one single (for four weeks), while Barbra Streisand’s "People" was #1 on U.S. album charts (for five weeks).
1966 - Mihir Sen of Calcutta, India swam the length of the Panama Canal on this day. Previously, the distance swimmer had conquered the Palk Strait from India to Ceylon, the Straits of Gibraltar, and the Dardanelles.
1972 - Curtis Mayfield received a gold record for "Freddie’s Dead" from the flick, "Superfly".
1984 - "Caribbean Queen" became a gold record for Billy Ocean. It was Ocean’s second hit song and the only one of his 11 hits to become a million-seller. He would have two other #1 songs and a pair of #2 hits, but none as big as "Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)". Billy’s from Trinidad, you know. His real name: Leslie Sebastian Charles.
1984 - India’s Indira Ghandi was assassinated -- by her security guards, two Sikh men. Her position as prime minister was filled by her son, Rajiv.
1997 - "Boogie Nights" opened in U.S theatres. The film, about how tough life can be in the adult entertainment industry, stars Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle and Heather Graham. Other debuting movies: "Critical Care", with James Spader, Kyra Sedgwick, Helen Mirren, Anne Bancroft and Albert Brooks; "Red Corner", starring Richard Gere, Bai Ling, Bradley Whitford, Byron Mann and Tsai Chin; "Switchback", with Danny Glover, Dennis Quaid, R. Lee Ermey and William Fichtner.
1999 - EgyptAir Flight 990, en route to Cairo from New York, crashed off the coast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. All 217 people on board died. Some American investigators suspected a relief co-pilot deliberately put the plane into a suicide dive, causing the crash.
Birthdays - October 31
1795 - John Keats (poet: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, Endymion: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”, On a Grecian Urn, To a Nightingale, On Melancholy, To Autumn; died Feb 23, 1821)
1860 - Juliette Low (youth group founder: Girl Scouts; died Jan 17, 1927)
1887 - Chiang Kai-shek (1st constitutional President of the Republic of China; Chinese army general; died Apr 5, 1975)
1896 - Ethel Waters (actress: Beulah, A Member of the Wedding, Cabin in the Sky, Pinky, Mamba’s Daughters, At Home Abroad, Thousands Cheer; singer, actress: Stage Door Canteen, Rhapsody in Black, Blackbirds, Africana; ‘Sweet Mama Stringbean’; died Sep 1, 1977)
1912 - Dale Evans (Frances Octavia Smith) (singer, songwriter: Happy Trails to You; actress: The Roy Rogers Show, Roy Rogers movies; wife of ‘King of the Cowboys’ Roy Rogers; died Feb 7, 2001)
1920 - Dick Francis (author: Decider, Break-In, Proof, Forfeit, Whip Hand; died Feb 14, 2010)
1922 - Barbara Bel Geddes (Emmy Award-winning actress: Dallas [1979-80]; Vertigo, I Remember Mama)
1922 - Illinois (Battiste) Jacquet (musician: tenor saxophone: Flyin’ Home, I Didn’t Know About You; played with Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Count Basie; in film: Jammin’ the Blues; died Jul 22, 2004)
1924 - Dee (Virgil) Fondy (baseball: Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Redlegs; died Aug 19, 1999)
1927 - Anita Kerr (musician: piano, singer, record producer: group: Anita Kerr Singers: The Sea, The Earth; Mexicali Singers; Anita & Th’ So-And-So’s: Joey Baby; composer: The Sky [w/poet, Rod McKuen and The San Sebastian Strings])
1927 - Lee Grant (Lyova Rosenthal) (Academy Award-winning actress: Shampoo ; Emmy Award-winning actress: Peyton Place [1965-66], World Premiere Monday Night at the Movies: The Neon Ceiling [1970-71]; Fay, Backstairs at the White House, Citizen Cohen, Little Miss Marker, Airport ’77, Voyage of the Damned, Valley of the Dolls, Mod Squad, In the Heat of the Night, The Balcony, The Detective Story)
1930 - Michael Collins (NASA astronaut: Apollo 11 command module pilot on first moon landing mission [he remained in lunar orbit while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on lunar surface]; author: Apollo 11 - First Moon Landing [Countdown to Space])
1931 - Dan (Irvin) Rather Jr. (Emmy Award-winning news correspondent: CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite: The Watergate Affair [1972-73], The Agnew Resignation [10/10/73]; The CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, 48 Hours)
1933 - Phil Goyette (hockey: NHL: Montreal Royals, NY Rangers, SL Blues, Buffalo Sabres)
1936 - Michael Landon (Eugene Orowitz) (actor: Bonanza, Sam’s Son, The Loneliest Runner, I was a Teenage Werewolf, God’s Little Acre; actor, writer, producer, director: Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven; screen play writer, director: Sam’s Son, Killing Stone; Television Hall of Famer ; died July 1, 1991)
1937 - Tom Paxton (folk singer, songwriter, musician: guitar: I Can’t Help but Wonder Where I’m Bound, The Last Thing on My Mind, Goin’ to the Zoo, The Willing Conscript, Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation, Leaving London, All the Way Home, Is This Anyway to Run an Airline, Talking Vietnam Pot-Luck Blues, Forest Lawn)
1941 - Sally Kirkland (actress: Eye of the Stranger, Prime Time Murder, Heat Wave, Anna, Fatal Games, Private Benjamin, A Star is Born, The Way We Were, Cinderella Liberty, Blue)
1942 - Dave (Arthur) McNally (baseball: pitcher: Baltimore Orioles [all-star: 1969, 1970, 1972/World Series: 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971], Montreal Expos; died Dec 1, 2002)
1942 - David Ogden Stiers (actor: The Accidental Tourist, Harry’s War, Oh, God!, M*A*S*H, North and South, Doc; died Mar 3, 2018)
1943 - Brian Piccolo (football: Chicago Bears RB; subject of movie: Brian’s Song; died of cancer at age 26 June 16, 1970)
1944 - Kinky (Richard) Friedman (singer, bandleader: Texas Jewboys: Let Saigons be Bygones, We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You, They Ain’t Making Jews like Jesus Anymore, Asshole from El Paso)
1947 - Frank Shorter (National Track & Field and Olympic Hall of Famer: gold medalist: marathon , silver medalist ; Sullivan Award ; founded company: designs & manufactures running apparel; TV sports commentator)
1947 - Russ Ballard (singer, songwriter: musician: guitar: group: Argent: Hold Your Head Up; Roulettes, Unit 4+2)
1947 - Deidre Hall (actress: Our House, Days of Our Lives)
1948 - Mickey (John Milton) Rivers (baseball: California Angels, NY Yankees [World Series: 1976, 1977, 1978/all-star: 1976/holds individual career record for batting average in league championship series: .386 (1976-78): 22 hits in 57 at-bats in 14 games], Texas Rangers)
1950 - John (Franklin) Candy (comedian, actor: Second City, The Blues Brothers, Home Alone, JFK, Little Shop of Horrors, National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1941, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Spaceballs, Splash, Stripes, Uncle Buck, Who’s Harry Crumb?; Emmy Award-winning writer: SCTV Network: The Energy Ball/Sweeps Week [1982-83]; died Mar 4, 1994)
1950 - Jane Pauley (TV host: Today, Real Life with Jane Pauley; news anchor: NBC Weekend News, Dateline NBC; married to cartoonist, Gary Trudeau)
1951 - Dan Spring (hockey: Dallas Black Hawks, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Cranbrook Royals)
1952 - Bernard Edwards (musician: bass: group: Chic: Dance, Dance, Dance, Le Freak, Everybody Dance, I Want Your Love, Good Times; died Apr 18, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan: pneumonia: age 43)
1952 - Joe West (baseball: umpire)
1953 - Lynda Goodfriend (actress: Who’s Watching the Kids, Happy Days, Blansky’s Beauties)
1955 - Xavier Roberts (toy mogul: created Cabbage Patch Dolls)
1956 - Tony Bowers (musician: bass: group: Simply Red: Money’s Too Tight to Mention, Holding Back the Years, The Right Thing)
1961 - Larry Mullen Jr. (Grammy Award-winning musician: drums: LP: The Joshua Tree; group: U2: Another Day, Stories for Boys, I Will Follow, New Year’s Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, With You or Without You)
1963 - Johnny Marr (musician: guitar: group: The Smiths: Hand in Glove, This Charming Man, What Difference Does It Make, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, William, It Was Really Nothing, Reel Around the Fountain, Suffer Little Children)
1963 - Fred (Frederick Stanley) McGriff (baseball: Toronto Blue Jays [1989 AL Home Run Champion], San Diego Padres [all-star: 1992], Atlanta Braves [all-star: 1994, 1995, 1996], Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers)
1963 - Dermot Mulroney (actor: Longtime Companions, Young Guns, My Best Friend's Wedding)
1963 - Rob Schneider (actor: Saturday Night Live, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Beverly Hillbillies, Down Periscope, Men Behaving Badly, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Muppets From Space)
1965 - Annabella Lwin (Myant Aye) (singer: group: Bow Wow Wow: C30, C60, C90, Go!, Wild in the Country, Louis Quatorze)
1966 - Adam Horovitz (musician: guitar; rapper: The Beastie Boys; son of playwright Israel Horowitz)
1966 - Mike O’Malley (actor: Yes, Dear, Deep Impact, Pushing Tin)
1967 - Vanilla Ice (Robert Van Winkle) (singer: Ice Ice Baby; 1st rap singer to have a #1 song on the Billboard singles chart)
Chart Toppers - October 31
Near You - The Francis Craig Orchestra (vocal: Bob Lamm)
I Wish I Didn’t Love You So - Vaughn Monroe
I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now - Perry Como
Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) - Tex Williams
Autumn Leaves - Roger Williams
Only You - The Platters
Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford
Love, Love, Love - Webb Pierce
Sugar Shack - Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs
Be My Baby - The Ronettes
Deep Purple - Nino Tempo & April Stevens
Love’s Gonna Live Here - Buck Owens
Maggie Mae/Reason to Believe - Rod Stewart
Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves - Cher
Theme from Shaft - Isaac Hayes
How Can I Unlove You - Lynn Anderson
Rise - Herb Alpert
Pop Muzik - M
Dim All the Lights - Donna Summer
All the Gold in California - Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers
Bad - Michael Jackson
Causing a Commotion - Madonna
I Think We’re Alone Now - Tiffany
Right from the Start - Earl Thomas Conley
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.