March 14, 2007 Weds.
March 14th, 2007

Birthdays: Georg Phillip Telemann, Johann Strauss Sr., Albert Einstein, Casey Jones, Quincy Jones, astronaut Frank Borman, Les Brown and his Band of Reknown, cartoonist Hank Ketcham, Wolfgang Petersen, Diane Arbus, Chris Klein,Billy Crystal, Michael Cain is 76- real name Maurice Mickelwhite, Ba-Ba Boowie of the Howard Stern Show

44BC –The night before their planned assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius met with the other conspirators. They had heard that tomorrow at the opening of the senate, outgoing consul Lucius Cotta planned to declare Caesar a king. The senators resolved to kill him, then debated whether they should purge more of Caesars followers like Marc Anthony and Octavian as well. Marcus Brutus successfully argued that if they killed all their political enemies then this gesture would just look like another partisan brawl. They would strike down one man, the dictator Caesar, in the name of Liberty. It turned out this was a big mistake, because the men whose lives they spared, were the ones who hunted them down and killed them.

44BC- This same night Julius Caesar held a dinner party. Guests remembered at one point the conversation went to the topic-What is the best kind of Death? Caesar answered: " That which is quick and unexpected."

1885- Gilbert and Sullivans operetta The Mikado premiered in London.

1932-Inventor GEORGE EASTMAN shot himself- The inventor of the Roll-film camera, who named his celluloid strips 'film' and founded Eastman/Kodak. He had been suffering from a long illness and left the note: " To my friends: The End is near, why wait? "

1941- Xavier Cugat and his orchestra record "Babalu".

1943- Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" premieres. George Szell conducting. Young Leonard Bernstein once asked Copland how he could write more "American" sounding music. The maestro answered:" Lenny, just shuttup and write. You're American. It's all going to sound that way anyway!"

1986- The IPO or initial public offering of stock of a new company called Microsoft. Twenty-seven dollars a share.

1998- The epic disaster movie Titanic surpassed Star Wars and Jurassic Park as the greatest money earning film ever. It cost over $200 million to make but it earned at least $1 billion in box office alone. Quote director James Cameron: I’m King of the World!!

Birthdays: Hugh Walpole, Charles Earl Grey 1764-English Prime Minister whom the tea blend 'Earl Grey Tea " is named for, Pope Innocent XII (1615), Sammy Kaye, Danny Kaye, Neil Sedaka, Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard, Dana Delaney, Igor Yousekevitch, William Macy, Dick Katz, Annabeth Gish

1852-UNCLE SAM born.-The familiar image first appeared as a cartoon in the New York Lantern. The named derived from the nickname of an old customs agent, Sam Wilson, who stamped U.S. on goods moving down river from Canada. Civil War hero Ulysses Simpson Grant or U.S. Grant was also called Sam by his friends. The famous image on the 1918 recruiting poster of Uncle Sam pointing and saying 'I want You!" was done by James Montgomery Flagg reworking a popular British poster of Earl Kitchener. The face Flagg used for Sam was himself in a mirror.

1884- Chester Greenwood of Maine invented ear muffs.

1939-Hollywood recognizes the Screen Director’s Guild later called he DGA. After a nasty battle lasting several years Guild President Frank Capra signs the contracts representing 80% of movie directors. They also contractually ensure the custom of the directors credit being the last one seen at the opening title sequence of a film. Directors had tried to unionize as early as D.W. Griffith in 1926, but were intimidated by the studio threat of 'perpetual blacklisting'.

1943- Radio station WNYC goes on the air.

1944- Abbot & Costello copyrighted their baseball routine ‘Who’s on First?"

1946- The UAW struck General Motors. In 1936 businessmen had asked the Rand Corporation to come up with a solution to workers labor unions. The Rand Group came up with a pamphlet called the Mohawk Valley Rules. It said the way to defeat unions was not in the streets with vigilantes and tear gas but in the press. Make their arguments seem unAmerican and subversive. All sides took a hiatus to win World War Two so this was the first major strike where the Mohawk Rules were put into practice. So even though the union won concessions in the settlement they lost popular support. People blamed unions for the higher car prices and Communistic activity while the heads of GM and other defense corporations made 400%+ profits from the war.

1969- Disney’s movie comedy about a Volkswagen car- "The Love Bug" premiered.

1983- The Larry King Show debuted.

2002-In a national press conference President George W. Bush declared he did not know where top terrorist Osama Ben Laden was, and that he no longer cared much about him.

March 12, 2007
March 12th, 2007

Birthdays: Jack Kerouac, Billy "Buckwheat "Thomas, Darryl Strawberry, Edward Albee, Eugene Ormandy, Gordon McCrae, Liza Minelli is 59, Courtenay Vance, James Taylor, Al Jareau, Maurice Evans, Barbara Feldon- agent 99 in Get Smart, DeWitt Bodeen- writer of the 1942 film Cat People.

To the Zoroastrians of ancient Persia this was the Festival of Marduk, the God of Storms and the Underworld.

1796- After a two-day honeymoon at her place, Malmaison, Napoleon leaves Josephine
to go conquer Italy. And don't forget to pick up the Sunday paper on the way back!

1877-In Philadelphia, Sam Wanamaker was unsure just what kind of retail he wanted to go into, he just wanted his business to be big. So he opened a large building with different types of goods sold in separate departments. Wanamakers became the first true Department Store.

1928- THE SAN FRANCISQUITO DAM DISASTER- The second worst disaster to hit California after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Following up his triumph bringing water to Southern California by aqueduct, William Mulholland had designed several dams and reservoirs north of the city in the Santa Clarita Valley. On this night the largest of them exploded from basic structural weakness and sent a wall of water 30 feet high across the rural towns of Santa Paula and Fillmore down to Oxnard and the Pacific. 400 people drowned in their beds without warning. Mulholland took full responsibility for the disaster and resigned all his city offices. "I envy the dead" , he said. He died a few years later. Today when driving around the Valencia-Newhall area you can still see huge boulders with steel retaining rods sticking out of them. They are not natural rocks but chunks of the dam carried miles by the torrent of water.

1932-Disney short "Mickey’s Revue" featuring Dippy Dog, now turned into a new character named "the Goof" or Goofy.

1945-THE WAR OF HOLLYWOOD BEGAN-Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s several national unions battled studios and each other to represent Hollywood film workers. The Teamsters, the FWPC, the Brotherhood of Electricians. By 1945 only two remained, the IATSE and the CSU.(International Alliance of Theater and Screen Engineers and the Conference of Studio Unions) IATSE had a reputation of gangsterism and making cozy deals with the studio heads. The CSU, a much more militant group with past ties to communist organizations, was headed by a charismatic scenery painter named Herb Sorrell who had helped win the Disney strike for the cartoonists in 1941. Sorrel called several citywide strikes that paralyzed Hollywood in 1945, 46,and 47. President Richard Walsh of IATSE fought them and rioting in front of the studios was commonplace.

1951- Former Disney assistant animator Hank Ketcham was trying his hand as a print cartoonist. He had some success selling gags to the New Yorker Magazine. His baby son Dennis was a precocious infant. One day after smearing the contents of his diaper around the house his mother exclaimed to Hank-“ Your son is a Menace!” That gave Ketcham an idea. Today the first Dennis the Menace comic strip was published.

1955- BIRD DIED- Jazz genius Charlie "Bird" Parker had a lifelong drug addiction. Since the death of his infant daughter earlier that year his drug use had spiraled out of control. He was sleeping on the couch in the NY apartment of the Baroness du Rothschild-Konigswarter, a jazz supporter. He awoke to watch t.v.. While laughing at a juggler on the Dorsey Brothers Variety Show he died. The coroner said death was by heart failure, cirrhosis and pneumonia. He estimated Parker’s age at 65. He was really 34. When his band heard of his death they paused between sets to all shoot up with heroin in his honor. "Seems silly now, come to think of it." Said one musician later.

1969- Mrs. Robinson –a song written by two young folk singers named Simon & Garfunkel, won a Grammy award.

1969- Paul and Linda McCartney married.

1992- Warren Beatty married Annette Benning.

2000- Pope John Paul II officially apologized on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for the Crusades, The Inquisition, 2000 years of Anti-Semetic persecution, the Fires of Smithfield, Bloody Mary, burning Jan Hus and Giordano Bruno at the stake, Silencing Galileo and Copernicus, the Thirty Years War, The forced conversions of indigenous peoples, ignoring the Holocaust, uhh. Did I leave anything out? Comedian John Stewart said Judaism officially apologized for the Barbara Streisand movie "Yentl."

March 11th 2007 sun
March 11th, 2007

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The American Jewish Historical Society will be hosting a special discussion of the newly published anthology series Jews and American Popular Culture. This will be at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St in New York City on March 14th at 7:00PM. Contribitors to the work include Harvey Pekar, who wrote an original section. I wrote the chapter on Jews in Animation. I will not be able to attend the event myself, but present to discuss the work will the series editor Paul Buhle, Senior Lecturer of Political Science at Brown University. For more info call 212-294-6160 or order your own copy on, and do a search under Paul Buhle's name.
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Birthdays: Torquato Tasso, Marius Pretipa, Raoul Walsh. Rupert Murdoch, Charlie Ruggles, Lawrence Welk, former British PM Harold Wilson, Rev. Ralph Abernathy , Bobby McFerrin, Douglas Adams, Jerry Zucker, Vanavar Bush- MIT scientist who oversaw the construction of the first electronic computers and pioneered Hypertext .

In ancient Rome this was the Festival of Hercules.

1818- Mary Shelly's great novel "FRANKENSTEIN, or the Modern Prometheus" first published. It’s considered the first true science fiction novel. The heroes are not knights or kings but modern scientists. Whether you believe 21 year old Ms. Shelly invented the story one dark and stormy night in 1816 while smoking opium with her homeboys Percy Shelly and Lord Byron is a matter of conjecture, still it's a good story.

1829- BachMania!-The Rediscovery of Johann Sebastian Bach-. Bach was little known in his time and after his death in 1750 was soon forgotten. Even his son Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach though his dad’s music farty and old-fashioned. But a century later the stirrings of German nationalism led to the re-examination of this obscure organist. This night at the Singadakademie in Berlin musical superstar Felix Mendelsson performed The “St. Matthew Passion” and other Bach works. The musicians performed for free. The concert caused a sensation and Bach is soon being played all over Europe and influencing everyone from Berlioz to Wagner. Goethe and Hegel declared him a genius. Albert Einstein's brother said:" Bach is the only thing that could make me a Christian."

1890- Orange County carved out of L.A. County.

1927- The first Roxy Theater opens at 50th st. & Seventh Ave. in New York. Roxy was a nickname of theater owner Samuel L. Rothaphel who pioneered the movie palace and is called the father of De-Luxe presentation.

1933-THE LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE rocks L.A.. This was the last superquake scientists measured against when scientists said Southern Cal. is overdue. At least until 1994. The first recorded earthquake in this area was 1726. In 1857 Tejon, L.A. had an 8.5

1943- The Broadway musical team of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein opened their first collaboration “Away We Go!”

1971- Philo Farnsworth died of pneumonia at 64. As a young man he had invented a television set in 1922, but by the 1960’s he was forgotten, broke and addicted to painkillers. The only recognition he got was as a contestant on the quiz show I Got a Secret. He won an $80 check and a carton of Winston Cigarettes. Today Farnsworth is considered one of the true inventors of Television, along with Logie-Baird, DeForrest and Zworkin.

1977- Film director Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown) was arrested for having sex with a 13 year old girl in Jack Nicholson’s home after he got her stoned on quaaludes. Polanski was charged with statuatory rape. He jumped bail and fled Hollywood for exile in Paris.

March 10, 2007 sat
March 10th, 2007

The news is currently filled with stories how the FBI was spying on average Americans without permission. This kind of stuff was done in the 1960s and 70s until the FBI was reigned in by the Sen Frank Church Committee. We have heard since of famous celebrities like John Lennon and Charlie Chaplin had dossiers kept on their activities. In animation we know that even the voices of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bill Scott and June Foray, appeared on President Richard Nixon's White House Enemies List for their anti-war views. I don't know why President Nixon was concerned what Rocky & Bulwinkle thought about him. This strange little distinction is something they were very proud of for years afterwards.

Birthdays: Lorenzo da Ponte -libretist of Mozart's operas the Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni who finished his life living in New Jersey, Barry Fitzgerald, Claire Booth Luce, Heywoud Hale Broun,, James Herriot, Pablo de Sarrasate, Chuck Norris is 67, Shannon Tweed, Sharon Stone is 49;if alive, Osama Ben Laden is 50

1842-Vigilantes of Virginia City, Montana hang a tough desperado named Jack Slade. Accounts say Slade was "More feared than God, but all in all a good citizen." (?)

1862- FIRST U.S. GREENBACK PAPER DOLLARS ISSUED- "Dollar" is a corruption of Jacobsthaler- named for silver coins minted in St. James valley in Czech lands, which became 'Thalers' then 'Dollars'. They were first issued as coins in the 1793, replacing Continentals, Eagles and American Pounds. By 1862 a plan was made to change temporarily to paper currency. President Abe Lincoln was originally annoyed that Secretary of the Treasury Samuel Chase put himself on the one-dollar bill while he was on the five. Lincoln thought Chase wanted some cheap advertising for a presidential bid in '64. Lincoln made him Supreme Court Justice to get him out of the way. The money was printed with green ink because it was cheap and plentiful. Union troops when issued the new money instead of silver or gold specie promptly rioted. People nicknamed the fat bills “Chases Shinplasters” but got used to them. After the civil war when the U.S. Treasury tried to recall the paper currency and stick to coinage people complained again that they were now used to the stuff.

1935- The First Smokey Stover comic strip ( notary sojac).

1947- Ronald Reagan becomes President of the Screen Actor's Guild after President George Montgomery and V.P. Franchot Tone resign to become independent producers. In the violent gangster-ridden atmosphere of Hollywood unions in those days Reagan took to wearing a .32 Smith & Wesson in a shoulder holster under his coat.

1954- In a letter to studio heads director Elias Kazan worried that young actor James Dean was “too odd” and unpredictable to star in his movie “Rebel Without a Cause”.

1954- First day of shooting on Stage 3 of the Giant Squid battle on Walt Disney’s production of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

1988- Andy Gibb of the BeeGees overdosed on drugs and died at age 30.