Andrew Smith Hallidie of San Francisco, California received a patent for a cable car system on this day in 1871. The public transportation system was put into operation in the city by the bay in 1873, providing a fast, safe way to travel up and down San Francisco’s steep hills.
Now, Hallidie didn’t just wake up one day and invent his cable car system. This was one situation that proves the truth of the old adage, ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ Hallidie realized the necessity for the cable car system when he saw a loaded horse-drawn San Francisco streetcar slide backwards on a slippery hill. It was a summer day in 1869, but the cobblestones were wet from the usual San Francisco dampness. The heavily weighted car dragged five of the horses to their deaths. The catastrophe prompted Andrew Hallidie and his partners to do something to prevent this from happening again.
Coincidentally, Hallidie already had the basic product needed to produce his cable car system. His father had filed the first patent in Great Britain for the manufacture of wire rope. Although Andrew was born in England, he had moved to the U.S. in 1852. As a young man, he was able to use his father’s new, tough rope when he designed and built a suspension bridge across Sacramento’s American River. He also had used the wire rope to pull heavy ore cars out of underground gold mines on tracks. The light bulb went on and his wire-rope manufacturing plant (that he had already moved to San Francisco) began the process of making the new cable car system.
A little known fact is that Mr. Hallidie didn’t call them cable cars at first. Originally, one took a trip on ‘the endless wire rope way.’ The cars ran on rails, pulled by an endless steel cable moving on a slot beneath the street surface. In fact, the San Francisco landmark and tourist attraction works the same way today.
Visitors and commuters alike still consider their cable cars a true San Francisco treat.
1795 - The Duddingston Curling Society, the oldest club of its kind, was organized in Edinburgh, Scotland.
1806 - James Madison Randolph, grandson of President Thomas Jefferson, was the first child born in the White House. The blessed event took place on this day in Washington, DC.
1876 - The saxophone was played by Etta Morgan at New York City’s Olympic Theatre. The instrument was little known at the time in the United States.
1893 - Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown as a group of white businessmen and sugar planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate. President Sanford B. Dole declared the Kingdom of Hawaii a republic on July 4, 1894.
1905 - Punchboards were patented by Charles A. Brewer & C.G. Scannell of Chicago, Illinois.
1916 - The Professional Golfers’ Association was formed in New York City. The first PGA Champion was Jim Barnes.
1928 - The fully automatic, film-developing machine was patented by Anatol M. Josepho.
1938 - Francis X. Bushman was the star of the program, Stepmother, which debuted on CBS radio. The show continued on the air for the next four years.
1941 - Gene Krupa and his band recorded the standard, Drum Boogie, on Okeh Records. The lady singing with the boys in the band during the song’s chorus was Irene Daye.
1945 - The American record holder for the indoor one mile run, Gilbert Dodds, announced his retirement from competition to devote his time to running for a higher source. Dodds became a gospel preacher. He came out of retirement briefly, in hopes of competing in the 1948 Olympics. While training for the Olympics, he broke his own record by winning the Wanamaker Mile in 4:05.3. How’d Gilbert do in the Olympics? He didn’t. The mumps caught up to him before the trials and he permanently retired from running.
1949 - The Goldbergs came to CBS-TV this night. The program had been a radio standard for years, dating back to 1931. The TV version lasted for four years. Molly: “Close the window, Jake. It’s cold outside.” Jake: “Okay. The window’s closed. Now it’s warm outside?” Molly Goldberg was played by Gertrude Berg, who won an Emmy for her performance in 1950.
1950 - Masked gunmen knocked off the Brink’s garage in Boston. It was later determined that the robbers carried away $1,218,211.29 in cash and $1,557,183.83 in checks, money orders and other securities. It was the biggest cash haul in history.
1961 - In his farewell speech, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
1969 - Lady Samantha, one of the very first recordings by Reginald Kenneth Dwight (aka Elton John), was released in England on Philips Records. The song floundered, then bombed. The rock group, Three Dog Night, however, thought Elton’s tune was nifty and recorded it for an album.
1971 - Super Bowl V (at Miami): Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13. Kicker Jim O’Brien’s 32-yard field goal, with 59 seconds to go, won the game for the Colts. MVP: Cowboys’ LB Chuck Howley. Tickets: $15.00.
1991 - Operation Desert Storm began. The U.S. and its United Nations allies went to war to drive Saddam Hussein’s army out of Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf gave the go-ahead for bombing raids on Baghdad, followed a few weeks later by assaults with ground troops on Iraqi troops in southern Iraq and Kuwait. During the following six weeks Iraq fired its Scud missles at U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia and at the general population in Israel, but was routed soundly. Iraqi troops left Kuwait, retreating all the way to Baghdad and, in many cases, surrendering in the field.
1994 - Actors Donny Osmond and Danny Bonaduce slugged it out in a three-round charity boxing match in Chicago, Illinois. The winner: Bonaduce, who bloodied Osmond’s nose in the two-to-one decision. The match was set up after Osmond taunted Bonaduce at the gym where both men were working out.
1995 - A 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Kobe, Japan. The ‘Great Hanshin Earthquake’ happened at 5:46 a.m., killing at least 6,000 people and injured more than 26,000. The quake damaged or destroyed more than 56,000 buildings.
1995 - The Golf Channel began on some U.S. cable systems. Four years later, the world’s first 24-hour golf network was seen in over 30,000,000 homes.
1997 - These films opened in the U.S.: Albino Alligator (the directorial debut of Kevin Spacey), starring Matt Dillon, Gary Sinise, William Fichtner and Faye Dunaway; Beverly Hills Ninja (a baby is raised as one of their own by a clan of Ninja warriors), with Chris Farley, Nicollette Sheridan, Robin Shou, Nathaniel Parker, Soon-Tek Oh and Chris Rock; and Metro (a hostage negotiator catches a murderous bank robber after a blown heist.), starring Eddie Murphy, Michael Rapaport, Michael Wincott and Carmen Ejogo.
1998 - Savage Garden’s Truly, Madly, Deeply was the number-one single in the U.S. for the first of two weeks. “I want to stand with you on a mountain; I want to bathe with you in the sea; I want to lay like this forever; Until the sky falls down on me.”
2000 - British pharmaceutical firms Glaxo Wellcome PLC and SmithKline Beecham PLC announced a merger to form the world’s largest drug maker (combined sales of £15.0 billion/$24.9 billion). Now, that’s a lot of pills...
2001 - President Bill Clinton designated six new U.S. national monuments: The Carrizo Plain, between San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield CA; the Upper Missouri River Breaks, the Pompeys Pillar landmark in Montana; the Sonoran Desert monument in Arizona; the Minidoka Internment National Monument in Idaho; and the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks in New Mexico.
2002 - The Mount Nyiragongo volcano erupted near Goma in the Congo. Rivers of lava destroyed fourteen villages. Some 400,000 people fled their homes and at least 50 were killed.
2003 - Movies debuting in U.S. theatres: Kangaroo Jack, with Jerry O’Connell, Estella Warren, Anthony Anderson, Christopher Walken, Dyan Cannon, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas and David Ngoombujarra; and National Security, starring Martin Lawrence, Steve Zahn, Colm Feore, Eric Roberts, Bill Duke, Timothy Busfield, Wayne Morse, Robinne Lee, Troy Gilbert, Kevin Beard, Brett Cullen and Mike Grasso.
2003 - Tom Ridge sailed through U.S. Senate confirmation hearings on his way to becoming the nation’s first Homeland Security Department chief.
2003 - Actor Richard Crenna died at 76 years of age. Crenna appeared on network radio while still a teenager as Ougy Pringle in A Date with Judy (1946). Old timers will also remember him as the crackly-voiced Walter Denton on Our Miss Brooks. Crenna went on to play Luke on The Real McCoys, but really came into his own as the dedicated state legislator in the long-running Slattery’s People. In 1985, Crenna won an Emmy for Best Performance by an Actor for The Rape of Richard Beck. Richard Crenna appeared in more than 70 major motion pictures.
2007 - A snow and ice storm was blamed for dozens of deaths in nine states: 20 deaths in Oklahoma, 9 in Missouri, 8 in Iowa, 4 in New York, 5 in Texas, 4 in Michigan, 3 in Arkansas, and 1 each in Maine and Indiana.
2007 - Columnist and author Art Buchwalddied at 81 years of age. Buchwald wrote about the life and times of Washington DC for over four decades.
2008 - Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer died in Iceland at 64 years of age. Fischer had become a Cold War hero by dethroning the Soviet world champion (Boris Spassky) in 1972.
2008 - The New York Stock Exchange decided to buy the American Stock Exchange for $260 million in stock.
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1706 - Benjamin Franklin
statesman: oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution; printer, author, publisher [Richard Saunders]: Poor Richard’s Almanack; scientist, inventor: Franklin stove, bifocals, lightning rods; established University of Pennsylvania; died Apr 17, 1790
1880 - Mack Sennett (Mikall Sinnott)
silent movie director: Tillie’s Punctured Romance, Mack Sennett Comedies, Kid’s Auto Race, Mabel’s Married Life, Cannonball, Dizzy Heights and Daring Hearts; died Nov 5, 1960
1891 - Marjorie Gateson
actress: Arizona Mahoney, Goin’ to Town; died Apr 17, 1977
1899 - Al Capone
‘Scarface’: gangster, head of crime empire during Prohibition; died Jan 25, 1947
1913 - Vido Musso
musician: reed instruments, played with Benny Goodman; bandleader: Stan Kenton was his pianist; died Jan 9, 1982
1920 - George Handy (George Joseph Hendleman)
George Joseph Hendleman) (pianist, composer, arranger: Boyd Raeburn band, Alvino Rey band, Paramount Studios; died Jan 8, 1997
1922 - Betty White
Emmy Award-winning actress: The Mary Tyler Moore Show [1974-1975, 1975-1976], The Golden Girls [1985-1986]; The Betty White Show, Ladies Man; singer
1926 - Moira Shearer
ballerina: appeared in ballet film: The Red Shoes; died Jan 31, 2006
1927 - Eartha Kitt
singer: C’est Si Bon, Santa Baby; actress: stage play: Faust, film: New Faces of 1952, Boomerang; note: Kitt’s birth certificate listing her actual birthdate as 1/17/27 was found in 1997. She has celebrated her birthday as Jan. 26  all of her life and says, “It’s been the 26th of January since the beginning of time and I’m not going to change it and confuse my fans.”; died Dec 25, 2008
1928 - Vidal Sassoon
cosmetologist, developer of hair care products; died May 9, 2012
1929 - Jacques Plante
Hockey Hall of Fame goalie: NHL: Montreal Canadiens Vezina Trophy [1956-1960, 1962/Hart Trophy (NHL’s MVP): 1962]; first goalie to wear mask during games; NY Rangers, SL Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins; died Feb 27, 1986
1931 - James Earl Jones
actor: Star Wars [Darth Vader], The Hunt for Red October, The Lion King, Sneakers, Roots, The Great White Hope; voice: “This... is CNN”
1932 - Sheree North (Dawn Bethel)
actress: Marilyn: The Untold Story, How to be Very Popular, Defenseless, Portrait of a Stripper; died Nov 4, 2005
1933 - Shari Lewis (Hurwitz)
puppeteer: The Shari Lewis Show [featuring Lamb Chop, the puppet]; died Aug 2, 1998
1939 - Maury Povich
TV talk show host: A Current Affair, The Maury Povich Show; Twenty One; married to newscaster Connie Chung
1942 - Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay)
boxer: heavyweight champion: [1964, 1974, 1978], the only man to have regained this title twice; died Jun 3, 2016
1943 - Chris Montez
singer: She’s My Rockin’ Baby, Call Me, There Will Never Be Another You, Some Kinda Fun, Let’s Dance
1944 - Denny (Robert Dennis) Doyle
baseball: Philadelphia Phillies, California Angels, Boston Red Sox [World Series: 1975]
1945 - Preston Pearson
football: Baltimore Colts running back: Super Bowl III; Pittsburgh Steelers: Super Bowl IX; Dallas Cowboys: Super Bowls X, XII, XIII
1949 - Andy Kaufman
actor: Taxi, The Midnight Special, Saturday Night Live, Andy’s Funhouse; died May 16, 1984
1949 - Mick Taylor
singer, musician: rhythm guitar: group: The Rolling Stones; worked with Mike Oldfield, Bob Dylan, The Gods
1952 - Pete (Ralph Pierre) LaCock
baseball: Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals [World Series: 1980]; son of Hollywood Squares host, Peter Marshall
1955 - Steve Earle
songwriter, singer, musician: guitar: Guitar Town, Exit O
1956 - Paul Young
singer: Everytime You Go Away
1957 - John Crawford
singer, musician: bass: group: Berlin: Take My Breath Away
1959 - Susanna Hoffs
singer, musician: guitar: LP: Rainy Day, group: The Bangles: Walk Like an Egyptian, Manic Monday
1962 - Jim Carrey
actor, comedian: The Mask, Ace Ventura series, Dumb & Dumber, Batman Forever, The Cable Guy, The Truman Show, Me, Myself & Irene, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Majestic
1964 - (Michelle Obama (Michelle LaVaughn Robinson)
U.S. First Lady: wife of 44th U.S. President Barack Obama; author: American Grown, Becoming; more
1971 - Kid Rock (Robert James Ritchie)
singer, rapper: Black Chick, White Guy, Forever, Cool, Daddy Cool, Bawitdaba; actor: Any Given Sunday, Coyote Ugly, Stripperella; more
1972 - Benno Fürmann
actor: Joyeux Noel, Ring of the Nibelungs, The Order, My House in Umbria, Das Staatsgeheimnis, Kanak Attack, Wolfsburg
1974 - Derrick Mason
football: Michigan State Univ; NFL: Tennessee Oilers/Titans
1975 - Brad Fullmer
baseball: Montreal Expos, Toronto Blue Jays, Anaheim Angels, Texas Rangers
1977 - Rob Bell
baseball [pitcher]: Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, TB Devil Rays
1979 - Dominic Rhodes
football [running back]: Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders
1980 - Maksim Chmerkovskiy
choreographer, TV dance pro: Dancing with the Stars
1980 - Zooey Deschanel
actress: Mumford, Almost Famous, The Good Girl, Elf, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Failure to Launch, Bridge to Terabithia, The Happening, Gigantic, Yes Man, (500) Days of Summer, New Girl; singer: duo [w/M. Ward]: She & Him: LPs: Volume One, Volume Two, A Very She & Him Christmas
1945Don’t Fence Me In - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
There Goes that Song Again - Russ Morgan
I’m Making Believe - Ella Fitzgerald & The Ink Spots
I’m Wastin’ My Tears on You - Tex Ritter
1953Why Don’t You Believe Me - Joni James
Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes - Perry Como
Keep It a Secret - Jo Stafford
Midnight - Red Foley
1961Wonderland by Night - Bert Kaempfert
Exodus - Ferrante & Teicher
Will You Love Me Tomorrow - The Shirelles
North to Alaska - Johnny Horton
1969I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me - Diana Ross & The Supremes & The
Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell
Daddy Sang Bass - Johnny Cash
1977You Make Me Feel Like Dancing - Leo Sayer
I Wish - Stevie Wonder
Car Wash - Rose Royce
You Never Miss a Really Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye) - Crystal
1985Like a Virgin - Madonna
All I Need - Jack Wagner
You’re the Inspiration - Chicago
The Best Year of My Life - Eddie Rabbitt
Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end...