Birthdays: Solomon 970 BC, Noah Webster, Dr. Joseph Guillotine, William Pitt the Younger, General Pierre Beauregard, Ian Fleming, Jim Thorpe, The Dion Identical Quintuplets 1930, Gladys Knight, Jerry West, Dietrich Fisher-Deiskau, Sandra Locke, T-Bone Walker, Taffy Abel (one of the first professional hockey stars), John Fogarty is 70, Carey Mulligan is 30, Carol Baker is 84. Frank Gladstone
1929 - 1st all color talking picture, "On With the Show" exhibited (NYC).
1935- Tortilla Flat published. The first novel by John Steinbeck.
1941- THE WALT DISNEY STRIKE- Labor pressures had been building in the Magic Kingdom since promises made to artists over the success of Snow White were reneged on, and Walt Disney’s lawyer Gunther Lessing encouraged a hard line with his employees. On this day, in defiance of federal law, Walt Disney fired animator Art Babbitt ,the creator of Goofy, and thirteen other cartoonists for demanding a union. Babbitt had emerged as the union movements’ leader. Studio security officers escorted Babbitt off the lot.
That night in an emergency meeting of the Cartoonists Guild, Art’s assistant on Fantasia, Bill Hurtz, made the motion to strike, and it was unanimously accepted. Bill Hurtz will later go on to direct award winning cartoons like UPA’s "Unicorn in the Garden". Picket lines go up next day in cartoon animation’s own version of the Civil War.
Walt Disney nearly had a nervous breakdown over the strike and a federal mediator was sent by Washington to arbitrate. In later years, Uncle Walt blamed the studio’s labor ills on Communists. The studio unionized completely, but the hard feelings remained for their rest of their lives.
1954- Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder in 3D premiered.
1960- George Zucco 74, a character actor who specialized in horror movies like Blood from the Mummies Hand, died. One version says he died of fright in a mental hospital in San Gabriel California. He was convinced that H.P. Lovecraft's Great God Cthulu was after him. He actually died of natural causes in a nursing home.
1966- the It’s a Small World exhibit, which had been created for the NY Worlds Fair, reopens at Disneyland.
1977- " MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU." George Lucas' space fantasy film STAR WARS opened (The premiere was May 25). This blockbuster was the first film where the filmmaker retained the licensing rights for merchandise instead of the distributor, known in Hollywood as the 'backend deal'. Several studios including Universal passed on the film because the prevailing wisdom was sci-fi films didn't make money.
Twentieth Century Fox picked up the distribution but let the backend go to Lucas, because they didn't think the film would do any serious business. Even George Lucas didn’t expect the film to break even. Fox's market research department told studio head Alan Ladd, Jr.” a) don't make this movie; no one will go see a science fiction movie; and b) change the title; no one will go see a movie with "War" in the title. Fox executives had predicted the studios monster hit for that summer would be "Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry" with Peter Fonda and Susan George.
Star Wars was a monster hit. It was like there were no other movies playing that summer. George Lucas became a seriously rich man and developed THX Dolby sound, digital animation and Industrial Light and Magic special effects. The film’s popularity ran so ahead of expectations, that at Christmas when you purchased a Star Wars Game you got a box with a pink IOU note in it pledging to get you the game when they printed more.
1983- “What a Feeling” the theme from the film Flashdance by Irene Cara reaches the top of the pop charts. Everyone dancing with leggings and baggy sweaters.
1998- Saturday Night Live comedian Phil Hartman was shot to death by his wife Brynne as he slept. She was a heavy drink and pill user. At 6:00am as the LAPD were knocking Brynne turned the gun on herself.