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December 12/23/2006 Saturday
December 23rd, 2006

Birthdays; Joseph Smith -Founder of Mormonism, Ruth Roman, Otto Soglow -cartoonist creator of 'the Little King', Frank Morgan (the Wizard of Oz actor was also the first president of the Screen Actor's Guild),Harry Guardino, Claudio Scimone, Vincent Sardi of Sardi’s restaurant in NY, Harry Shearer- Mr Burns in the Simpsons, Bob Barker,Japanese Emperor Akihito is 73

1823- SANTA CLAUS BORN. This day the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was published anonymously in The Troy Sentinel, a New York newspaper. The poem completed the synthesis of English and Dutch folk traditions that were merging in New York into our modern concept of Santa. The Dutch Klaus-in-the-Cinders" or Kris Kringle was an elf who climbed down chimneys to give children toys. He merged with the British Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas who was a big, fat, jolly bishop with a white beard in a red suit. The reindeer names Donner and Blitzen come from the Dutch words for thunder and lightning “Dunder und Blixem” Both cultures also had him use a whip on bad children but that part was edited out. In an 1859 reprint of the famous poem, famed cartoonist, Thomas Nast (who created the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey) drew the first likeness of Santa Claus. Because of residual rivalry from the Civil War claiming Santa was a Yankee or came from old Dixie, in 1867, Nast ended the argument by declaring Claus’s true address to be the North Pole. The likeness we all recognize was created by illustrator Haddon Sundblom for a Coca-Cola ad campaign in 1934. Several years after A VISIT FROM SAINT NICHOLAS success, the authorship was claimed by a Bronx Bible teacher, the Reverend Clement Clarke Moore, and he was celebrated in his time as the father of Santa Claus until his death in 1863. In 2000, a literary-forensic specialist from Vassar named Foster has challenged Moore's authorship and claims an obscure Revolutionary War veteran from Poughkeepsie, NY. named Major Henry Livingston, actually wrote the poem. He uses as evidence the poetry style of Livingston being much closer to the anonymous poem than Rev Moore's. But unless a literary smoking gun can be produced, we may never know.

1834- In London, Joseph Hansom patented Hansom cabs. This is the one-horse, two-wheeled cab with the driver in back. Cab is shortened from Cabriolet, a type of springed horse-carriage.

1857- Ex-army officer, failed businessman and town drunk, Ulysses Grant pawned his watch so he could buy Christmas presents for his wife and kids. From this rock bottom he would eventually rise to win the Civil War, become President of the United States and the most famous American of his time.

1893- Humperdinck's opera "Hansel und Gretel" debuts in Weimar Germany.

1894- Claude DeBussey’s “Afternoon of a Faun” premiered in Paris.

1912- The Max Sennett short comedy “Hoffmeyer’s Release” premiered, the first comedy featuring the Keystone Cops.

1913- Young Italian Rudolph Valentino arrived in America to seek his fortune. He was so poor that after a year he sent his parents a photo of himself in a borrowed tuxedo to allay their fears. He worked as a nightclub dancer and gigolo until becoming a Hollywood film star in 1921.

1930- Struggling young actress Betty Davis signed her first contract with Universal Studio.

1935- Walt Disney sent a detailed memo to art teacher Don Graham outlining his plans for retraining his animators to do realistic feature films.

circa-1935- This was the traditional day for Republic Pictures to fire all their employees and hire them back after New Year's so they wouldn't have to pay them holiday pay. Republic billed itself on its business cards as The Friendly Studio.

1972- The Immaculate Reception. Football’s Pittsburgh Steelers were trailing the Oakland Raiders 7-6 with one second to go when they scored a touchdown and won 13-7.

1973- Soap Opera “Young and The Restless” premiered.