Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec. 31, 2019

Birthdays: Henri Matisse, General George C. Marshall, Odetta (real name Holmes Felicious Gordon), Simon Weisenthal, Virginia Davis, Pola Negri, Jules Styne, Sarah Miles, Donna Summer, Patti Smith, Elizabeth Arden, Tim Matheson, John Denver, Dianne Von Furstenberg, Psy, Ben Kingsley-born Khrishna Banji is 76, Anthony Hopkins is 82, Val Kilmer is 60, Gong Li is 54 

1917- EUROPE DISCOVERED JAZZ- As the first American units entered Paris to help in World War I, the New York 15th Colored Regiment serenaded the city. The band of the 15th was made up of top Harlem jazz musicians led by bandleader James Europe.  Lieutenant James Europe went on tour with the band and Europe the continent embraced the new modern sound.

1923-24-BBC overseas radio service first broadcast the Chimes of Big Ben around the world.

1929- Guy Lombardo and his big band the Royal Canadians first played Auld Lang Syne at midnight for New Years. Lombardo and his band became synonymous with New Years until his death in the 1980s.

1940-41- Avant Garde artists John Sloan and Marcel Duchamp break into the Washington Square Arch in and declare Greenwich Village the Republic of New Bohemia. Like coool, daddy.

1941- A Warner Bros memo dated this day from producer Hal Wallis office announced that the movie to be made from a play by Murray Bennett called “Everybody Goes to Rick’s” has been renamed “Casablanca”. 

1943- Four hundred policemen are called out to control frenzied crowds of bobbysoxers as Frank Sinatra played the Paramount Theater in Times Square. OOHH FRANKIE!!

1946- The first Pismo Beach Clam Festival. 

1947- Roy Rogers married Dale Evans.

1955- Chuck Jone's 'One Froggy Evening' premiered. Director Steven Spielberg called it the "Citizen Kane of Cartoons." If you wonder why you never heard the old time ditty 'The Michigan Rag' anywhere else but here, was because Chuck Jones & Mike Maltese wrote it specifically for the cartoon.

1962- Romanoffs closed. One of the premier hot spots on the Sunset Strip, it was a preferred hangout of Humphrey Bogart, who liked to play chess in the afternoon with Nick Romanoff when he was between films.

1995- The last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Waterston. He just decided one day to end it, before it became stale.

1997- Will Smith and Jada Pinkett marry.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 30, 2019

Birthdays: Rudyard Kipling, Gen. Hideki Tojo, W. Eugene Smith, Luther Burbank, Anna Magnani, Bo Diddley, Sir Carol Reed, Sandy Koufax, Solomon Guggenheim, Jeanette Nolan, Jack Lord, Franco Harris, Joseph Bologna, Fred Ward, Tracey Ullman, Russ Tamblyn, Tiger Woods is 44, Heidi Fleiss, Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary, Douglas Engelbart the inventor of the computer mouse, Lebron James is 35, Eliza Dushku is 39

1672- Violinist John Bannister and his orchestra held a concert at Whitefriars chapel in London. It’s the oldest known music concert given not to royalty, or noble pension, but to the general paying public. 

1689- The opera Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell premiered in London.

1816- Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley married Mary Wollenstonecraft. Mary wrote Frankenstein two years later.

1884- Anton Bruckner’s 7th Symphony premiered in Leipzig.

1903 - A fire broke out in the crowded Iroquois Theater in Chicago killing 571. After the tragedy building codes were enforced that public buildings have exit doors that always open outwards, and some form of fire fighting equipment be on the premises. The Iroquois had a sign over the door that read “Absolutely Fireproof”.

1941- “I Vant to be Alone..” Film Star Greta Garbo announced she was retiring from motion pictures and all public appearances. She made her disappearing act complete and was only seen fleeting on the streets of her New York neighborhood until her death in 1990. 

1963- T.V. game show "Let's Make a Deal" with Monty Hall premieres.

1988- the Pixar short Tin Toy released in theaters. The first CG short to win an Oscar. (Luxo Jr was nominated but did not win.) The first feature film Toy Story initially began as an attempt to capitalize on the success of Tin Toy, as a TV special. Tinny’s Xmas.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 29, 2019

Birthdays: Roman Emperor Flavius Titus, Pablo Casals, Madame de Pompadour, Andrew Johnson, Charles Goodyear, Gelsey Kirkland, Dina Merrill, Tom Bradley, Mary Tyler Moore, Jon Voight is 81, Ray Nitschke, Viveca Lindfors, Ed Flanders, Ted Danson is 72, Marianne Faithful, Paula Poundstone, Jude Law is 47, Patricia Clarkson, Animator Duncan Marjoribanks is 66.

1913- Cecil B. DeMille had been sent to the West by his New York partners to scout out a possible place to move to escape Edison's Patents Trust.
After scouting several cities with year round sunshine, this day C.B. telegraphed his partners back in New York:” Flagstaff no good for our purpose. Have proceeded to California. Want authority to rent a barn in a place called Hollywood for $75 a month.” His partner Sam Goldwyn cabled back: “ Rent barn on month to month basis. Do not make long commitment.” DeMille began shooting the Squaw Man, the first official Hollywood Film.

1916-James Joyce’s novel “the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” published.

1941- Disney animator Bill Tytla tells Time Magazine in an interview about creating "Dumbo": "I don't know a damn thing about elephants!"

1964 – To create the first pilot of the TV series Star Trek, the original model of the U.S.S. Enterprise was delivered by model maker Rick Datin, Jr, based on the design created by Star Trek production artist Walter “Matt” Jefferies.  The “miniature” was 11 feet long!

1965- First day shooting on Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was an indoor set at Elstree Studios in England, and the first setup was the inspection of the excavation of the Monolith in the moon crater Tycho.

1967- The Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles first aired.

1968- Animator Bill Tytla died at age 64, from complications of a stroke.

1972- LIFE Magazine ended publication.

1974- While staying at the Polynesian Village in Disneyworld Florida, John Lennon signed the last papers dissolving the Beatles. The band had broke up in 1970, but it took four more years to unravel all of their vast financial holdings. The other three members had already signed.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec. 28, 2019

 birthdays: Woodrow Wilson, Robert Sessions, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Hildegarde Neff, Edgar Winter, Stan “The Man” Lee, Martin Branner the creator of Winnie Winkle, Johnny Otis, Martin Milner (1-Adam-12), Lew Ayres, Lou Jacobi, Terri Garber, Denzel Washington is 65, Maggie Smith is 85, Sienna Miller is 38, animator Rick Farmiloe is 63

1895- THE BIRTHDAY OF CINEMA- In Paris at the Grande Cafe des Capucines the Lumiere brothers combined Edison's kinetoscope using George Eastman’s roll film with a magic lantern projector and showed a motion picture to an audience in a theater. Back in the U.S. Thomas Edison thought the idea of projecting film in a theater was foolish and would never catch on. They called their device a Cinematograph, hence the word Cinema is born. The screening included dancers and people leaving a factory but the biggest reaction out of the audience was from shots of waves crashing on a rocky beach. The audience in the front row jumped for fear of getting wet. 

1897- Edmond Rostands famous play Cyrano de Bergerac premiered in Paris. There really lived a poet-duelist in the 1640’s named Cyrano de Bergerac-Servigan but little was known about him. Rostand created the hopelessly lovesick big nosed hero who helps another man romance his girlfriend Roxanne. 

1928- Last recording of Ma Rainey, The Mother of the Blues.

1928- Louis Armstrong recorded West End Blues.

1944- On The Town, a musical written by Betty Comden & Adolf Green and young composer Leonard Bernstein premiered in NY.

1951- The British film A Christmas Carol with the memorable performance of Alastair Sim as Scrooge premiered in the USA. 

1963- In the first season of the BBC TV show Dr. Who, this day Dr. Who first met the Daleks.

1968- The Beatles White Album goes to number one on the pop charts.

1983- Dennis Wilson was the original drummer of the Beach Boys, but he had a pretty bad drinking and drug habit. He was once friendly with the Manson Family. 
Taking time off from rehab for Christmas he and some friends sat on a yacht doing more drugs and booze near Marquesas Pier.  Wilson recalled this very spot was where after breaking up with his first wife he threw her mementos overboard. He wondered if he could get them back and started “pearl-diving “i.e.-diving holding your breath without any scuba equipment. But being stoned, he miscalculated the depth and drowned. Dennis Wilson was 37. Of all the Beach Boys he was the only one who liked to surf.

1987- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles premiered.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 27, 2019

Birthdays: Johannes Kepler, Linwood Dunn, Marlene Dietrich, Louis Pasteur, Oscar Levant, Sidney Greenstreet, Anna Russell, Dr. William Masters of Masters & Johnson, Leslie Maguire, John Amos, Tovah Feldshuh, Heather O’Rourke, Cokie Roberts, Bollywood star Salman Khan is 55, Gerard Depardieu is 72

1871- The world’s first cat show opened at the Crystal Palace in London.

1887- Beginning of the Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

1903- The Barbershop Quartet favorite “Sweet Adeline” sung for the first time. It was written in praise of opera star Adelina Patti.

1904- PETER PAN, OR, THE BOY WHO WOULDN’T GROW UP, a play by James M. Barrie, opened at the Duke of York Theatre in London. Barrie reserved seats in the opening night performance for orphaned children who laughed and cheered all night. Michael Llewelyn Davies, the little boy Barrie befriended who was the basis for Pan, used to say:” I am not Peter Pan. Mr Barrie is.”James Barrie once said to H.G. Wells:” It’s all right and good to write books, but can you wiggle your ears?”

1927-  "ShowBoat" debuted at the Ziegfeld theater. Based on a novel by Edna Ferber, the musical was written by Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein. The play made a star out of a tall black baritone named Paul Robeson.” Ol’ Man River..”

1935- Radio City Music Hall opened. The Art Deco masterpiece was for many years the largest indoor theater in the world, seating over 6,000. 

1940- Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler announced their separation.

1943- The movie The Song of Bernadette premiered.

1947- The "Howdy-Doody Show” debuted on NBC. Buffalo Bob, Howdy and Clarabell the Clown, also known as the Puppet Playhouse.

2016- Actress-screenwriter Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia in Star Wars), died of cardiac arrest due to sleep apnea while flying from London to Los Angeles. She was 60.  Her mother Debbie Reynolds had died the next day at age 84.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 26, 2019

Birthdays: Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen, Mao Zedong, Charles Babbage, Admiral Dewey, Richard Widmark, Steve Allen, Henry Miller, Carlton Fisk, Chris Chambliss, Alan King, Phil Spector, Fred Schepsi, Jared Leto is 47

1865- James Nason of Massachusetts invented the coffee percolator.

1924- Baby Frances Gumm first appeared on a stage at 2 1/2 years old. Grown up she would change her name to Judy Garland.

1926- Young artist Al Hirschfeld had made his first caricature for the Broadway Stage. A drawing of actor Sasha Guitry. A friend took it to The New York Tribune and sold it. He figured here's a nifty way to make a living, so soon he was selling to all the papers including the New York Times. 
He will keep doing caricatures of Broadway greats into the millennium and became a legend himself. In the American Theater, a Hirschfeld caricature of you meant you had arrived and were a real star. At age 94 he remarried and drew the cast of Ally McBeal for TV Guide. In 2003 he died just shy of age 100, drawing to the end.

1935- The premiere of the Warner Bros swashbuckler Captain Blood, starring a debonair rogue from Tasmania named Errol Flynn. The first pairing of Flynn, 19 year old Olivia deHaviland, director Michael Curtiz. Music by Eric Wolfgang Korngold. 

1938- Young playwright Thomas Williams moved from Saint Louis to New Orleans and changed his name to Tennessee Williams.

1939- Walt Disney Animation moved from Hyperion to the new Burbank Studio lot. The buildings are designed like hospital wards, so in case he hits economic trouble, Disney could sell them to the planned St. Joseph's Hospital across the street. Animator Ward Kimball said it was the first time he worked in a studio where all the furniture matched. The old Hyperion Studio was bulldozed in 1966, the year of Walt Disney’s death.

1941- Goofy cartoon, the Art of Self Defense, premiered.

1944- Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie premiered in Chicago.

1946- The Gala Opening day of the Flamingo Casino, the birth of modern Las Vegas. Mobster Bugsy Siegel's million dollar gamble in the desert. 

1956- The premiere of the Japanese monster movie Rodan. Released in Japan as Radon the Sky Monster.

1963- The death of Gorgeous George Wagner, the first pro wrestler to adopt a flamboyant character.

1966- The first Kwanzaa Festival was organized by African studies professor Dr Marulanga Karenga at Cal State Long Beach to celebrate African-American culture.

1973- The horror film The Exorcist starring Linda Blair premiered. Merry Christmas! Have some pea soup!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 25, 2019

Birthdays: Emanuel Ben Joseph or Yesuah. Called in Greek Jesus the Christ, 6-4 BC (est) 
Other Birthdays: Sir Isaac Newton, Clara Barton, Humphrey Bogart, Cab Calloway, Helena Rubinstein, Rod Serling, Charles Pathe’, Jimmie Buffet, Quentin Crisp, Mike Mazurki, Conrad Hilton- Paris’ granddad, Anwar El Sadat. Larry Csonka, Burne Hogarth, Ishmail Merchant, Maurice Utrillo, Kid Ory, Barbara Mandrell, Dame Rebecca West, Clark Clifford, Annie Lennox is 67, Sissie Spacek is 71, CCH Pounder is 68, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

1541- After the Christmas services, Michelangelo’s fresco The Last Judgment was unveiled, done for the Altar wall of the Sistine Chapel beneath his famous ceiling.

1734- Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio first performed at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. Bach pioneered writing sacred music in German instead of Latin or Italian. 

1815- At a Christmas concert in Vienna, Beethoven premiered his NameDay Overture.

1836- According to the novel Moby Dick, today is the day the Pequod set sail from Natucket.

1870- Siegfried Idyll, written by Richard Wagner as a birthday gift to his wife Cosima, was first performed by a small ensemble outside her door as she awoke this morning at their home in Lucerne Switzerland. 

1917-"Why Marry?" by Jesse Lynch Williams opened. The first play to win a Pulitzer Prize.

1929- The Fox Atlanta Theater opened on Peachtree St. An Arabian Nights-type fantasy in part financed by the Shriners so they could use it for their meetings.

1931-The first BBC World Service broadcast. An address by King George V called "Around the Empire".

1937-NBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the legendary Arturo Toscanini premieres with its first radio broadcast. In the 1970s their studio space became the home of Saturday Night Live.

1940- Rogers & Hart’s musical Pal Joey opened on Broadway. It made a star out of a young dancer named Gene Kelly.

1946- Comedian W.C. Fields died of alcoholism at 67.  While in his hospital bed someone saw him reading a Bible. They said:" W.C., what are you doing with that? " Fields replied:" Looking for loopholes!"

1957- Disney film Old Yeller premiered. 

1962- The film of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird premiered with Gregory Peck, Brock Peters, and Robert Duval.

1963- Walt Disney’s The Sword in the Stone released. First animated feature directed by Wolfgang,” Woolie” Reitherman.

1977- Charlie Chaplin died quietly in his sleep at Vevey, Switzerland. He was 86.

1980- Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns finished reading Simon Schaara’s novel about the Battle of Gettysburg called The Killer Angels. He told his father he was inspired to make a documentary about the Civil War. The Civil War took six years to make and ran in 1990, but it was one of the most popular documentary films in the US and redefined the medium of documentary filmmaking.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 24, 2019

Birthdays: Roman Emperor Servius Galba, English King John Lackland, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Kit Carson, Howard Hughes, Ava Gardner, Michael Curtiz, I.F. Stone, Robert Joffrey of the Joffrey Ballet, Mean Joe Green, John Matusak, Susan Lucci, Nicholas Meyer, Ricky Martin, animator Glen McQueen, Ryan Seacrest

1247- Sir Robin of Loxley, called Robin Hood, died.  Legend has it that he fired an arrow out his window with instructions to bury him where it fell. 

1818- the song Silent Night first sung at the Church of Saint Nicholas in Obernsdorf, Austria. Its lyrics were written by the minister named Josef Mohr set to music by a teacher named Franz Gruber. Their church could not afford an organ, so this first singing of Silent Night was accompanied on a guitar.

1888- Vincent Van Gogh cuts off most of his left ear after an argument with fellow artist Paul Gaugin over the affections of a prostitute named Rachel. He sent his ear to the prostitute. She fainted. In 2009 historians theorized his ear was sliced off by Gaugin drunkenly waving an antique sword. The two men agreed to keep the secret to not get Gaugin in trouble.

1922- The BBC presented it’s first radio play:" The truth about Father Christmas."

1925- The London Evening News published a story “In which we are introduced to Winnie the Pooh, and some Bees.” By A.A. Milne. The first book of stories came out the following year.

1937- Disney short Lonesome Ghosts premiered.

1951- Gina Carlo Menotti’s opera "Amal and the Night Visitors" premiered on NBC TV..

1952- First draft script completed on the MGM film Terror Planet, changed to “ Forbidden Planet.”

1964- First day shooting on the “Cage” a pilot for a new TV show called Star Trek. Jeffrey Hunter was the first captain, later replaced by William Shatner when Hunter’s wife advised him to skip the series. She was worried he’d be typecast.

1966- Local New York City TV station WPIX premiered The Yule Log. 

1968- Twentieth Century Fox announced that legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa had been fired from the production of TORA-TORA-TORA

1990- Tom Cruise married Nicole Kidman.

1997- 62 year old Film director Woody Allen married 27 year old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former lover Mia Farrow. When asked to explain himself the director said: " The Heart wants what it Wants.."

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 23, 2019

Birthdays; Joseph Smith, Paul Hornung, Ruth Roman, Otto Soglow -cartoonist of 'the Little King', Frank Morgan (the Wizard of Oz actor) Jose Greco, Elizabeth Hartmann, Harry Guardino, Claudio Scimone, Vincent Sardi of Sardi’s restaurant in NY, Bob Barker, Frederick Forrest, Japanese Emperor Akihito is 86, France’s former First Lady Carla Bruni, Harry Shearer is 76

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 show he was doing well. He worked as a nightclub dancer and gigolo until becoming a Hollywood film star in 1921.

1930- 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 Years so they wouldn't have to pay them holiday pay. Republic billed itself on its business cards as The Friendly Studio.

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

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 22, 2019

Quiz: Before Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, there was an earlier Golem. Who was that?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Where is the Kingdom of Shangri-La?
History for 12/22/2019
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Diocletian 245AD, Josef Stalin- real name Jozef Djugashvili, James Oglethorpe the founder of the State of Georgia, Jean Racine, Giacomo Puccini, Connie Mack, J. Arthur Rank, Ladybird Johnson, Deems Taylor, Jean Michel Basquiat, Barbara Billingsley, Peggy Ashcroft, Emil Sitka, Gene Rayburn, Hector Elizondo, Diane Sawyer, Robin Gibb & Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, Ralph Fiennes is 57.

HAPPY HANUKKAH ! - Today begins the Hebrew Festival of Lights commemorating the victories in 164BCE of the priest-general Judas Maccabeus (Maccabeus means the Hammer) against the Syrian Greeks when the re-lit lamp in the purified Temple of Solomon burned for eight days on one day’s oil . Hanukah of Chanukah means Rededication.  
The ancient state of Israel had been conquered by Babylon then Persia and finally by Alexander the Great. After Alexander's death his Greek generals divided up his empire and Israel found itself on the border between the Syrian Kingdom of Seleucus and Ptolomey's Egypt. This power struggle enabled the Jewish state to reassert it's independence by playing one side against the other until the Romans kicked everyone's butt. 
The Greek descendant of Seleucus, Antiochus IV Theos Epiphanes- “God Made Manifest” thought this one-God stuff weird and Jews should be praying to Hercules and Apollo like every other self respecting ancient citizen. He plundered the Temple of Solomon for gold and even tried to command Jews to eat Pork on pain of death. 
The Jews reasserted their faith with such vigor that even when they fell under Roman rule Julius Caesar left specific instructions that Jewish customs and Sabbath be protected.  So spin a dradle, light the candle, have some Hanukah gelt and enjoy!

1737- Preacher John Wesley, the founder of the Methodists, was chased out of Savannah Georgia. The townspeople thought Pastor Wesley applied the Law of God a bit too harshly.  He finally refused to grant an old girlfriend the rights of marriage because she had not been to confession enough in the past three months. This day he took ship back to England before he was arrested.

1807- President Thomas Jefferson was desperately trying to steer a neutral course in the struggle between Britain and Napoleon’s France, each wanted the US to choose their side. This day Congress passed his Embargo Act, cutting off trade with both European powers.

1808- DA-DA-DA- DUMMMM- Beethoven premiered his 5th Symphony.

1849- Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky had been a political radical. On this day the Czar's secret police the Ohkrana broke his spirit by a cruel ruse. They arrested him for treason. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He was given a last meal, received Last Rites from a priest, blindfolded and stood before a firing squad. But before the guns would go off the squad stopped and his sentence was commuted. He was sent instead to Siberia for four years.  This naturally had an adverse effect on his sensitive nature and he spent his final years a raving conservative.

1861- Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was ordained a deacon in the Church of England.

1882- Thomas Edison introduced the string of electric Christmas Tree lights replacing candles.

1864- General Sherman marching through Georgia, today telegraphed Pres. Lincoln: ” I present you as a Christmas gift, the City of Savannah”. Uncle Billy spared Savannah the depredations his men committed in the rest of the state, many say because he had friends there before the war, but also because he needed a deepwater port for a winter base that the US Navy could supply him from.

1898-THE DREYFUS CASE- Early in 1898 the French Army High Command discovered they had a spy on their staff leaking secrets to Germany. The man was a Colonel Count Esterhazy an aristocrat pretty high up in the chain of command. The Generals worried that news of the scandal would humiliate and weaken the army's prestige. So they looked for a lower ranked scapegoat to pin Esterhazy's crimes on. They chose a Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was working class and Jewish. They had Dreyfus courts martialed for espionage and treason and exiled to Devil's Island. As his sword and medals were being publicly stripped from him he shouted out loud "Citizens of France ! I am innocent !!" 
Dreyfus's family refused to give up hope and brought in the famous author-activist Emile Zola, who uncovered the plot in the news article "J'Accuse !"I accuse. The scandal tore the French military and public opinion apart. Esterhazy fled to Germany and one top general shot himself.  In 1906 Dreyfus was cleared of all charges and when the Great War came General Dreyfus was entrusted with the defense of Paris. 

The Dreyfus case to French scholars is as contentious as the “Did Thomas Jefferson sleep with his Slaves?” controversy is to Americans. In 1998 on the hundredth anniversary of the Dreyfus Case everyone was still arguing over the interpretation of events.

1921- LENIN'S TESTAMENT-  Soviet Russian leader Vladimir Lenin was in failing
health after an assassination attempt and a stroke . He knew of the internal
struggle within the Communist Party between Trotsky and Stalin to succeed
This day he dictated a series of notes spelling out his analysis of the
situation and where he thought the future of the revolution should go. He
felt Stalin was too dangerous to be in charge" Comrade Stalin is devoid of
the most elementary human honesty". So Trotsky should come after him as
leader of the Soviet Union. Lenin called it "Letter to the Party Congress"
because he intended it to be published. 

Upon Lenin's death Stalin seized power and made sure this document was never made public. It didn't come out for thirty-three years, until after Stalin’s death in 1953. 

1932 – The Mummy, directed by Karl Freund and starring Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan and Arthur Byron was released.

1937- The day after the triumphant premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, animator Woolie Reitherman ran into Walt Disney at the studio. Instead of complimenting Woolie and telling him to kick back and relax a bit, Walt launched into a detailed analysis of the problems facing the next picture, and how they need to get started right away!

1938- Memo from Dave Fleischer’s casting director to Paramount rep A.M. Botsford, asking if they might offer the role of Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels to Gary Cooper!

1940- Nathaniel West, novelist author of Day of the Locust and Miss Lonelyhearts, was killed in a car crash in L.A.

1941-Now that America was officially at war with the Axis, Prime Minister Winston Churchill slipped across U-Boat infested waters to spend a month at the White House planning strategy with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A White House butler described;" Mr. Churchill awoke to a tumbler of sherry. At noon scotch and sodas, champagne at dinner finished off with 90 year old brandy then light a cigar and begin the day's work- from 9:00 PM- 2:00 AM.  Churchill liked to dictate memos from his bath. When Roosevelt was told he could enter the room he was embarrassed and excused himself to leave. Churchill  stood up from the tub wearing nothing but soapsuds and the cigar in his teeth and declared: "THE PRIME MINISTER OF GREAT BRITAIN HAS NOTHING TO HIDE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES !"  When a friend later asked Roosevelt what was Churchill like, the President mused: "He's pink...all over."

1944- During the Battle of the Bulge, a German officer was sent under a white flag to Gen. McAulliffe's American troops in Bastogne. His message was “You are surrounded with no hope of relief. Surrender or be annihilated!” General McAuliffe sent him a simple reply:" NUTS!'  McAulliffe's force was eventually rescued by Patton. In later years McAullife grew tired of the fame of being the general who said "nuts". At a party a Manhattan socialite once said to him: "It is an honor to meet you, General Nuts".

1951- Yves Montand married Simone Signoret.

1964- In Chicago, Comedian Lenny Bruce was sentenced to four months in prison on obscenity charges. When the arresting officer read aloud his jokes, the jury laughed out loud. Lenny complained about the policeman’s delivery. After Lenny Bruce no one has ever again been convicted in the U.S. for telling jokes. 

1973- The 55 miles per hour speed limit was set for all US interstate highways.

1984- Nerdy shopkeeper Bernard Goetz shot four African American men on a NYC subway train. They had asked him for money and one man had a sharpened screwdriver. Goetz had once been robbed before of a liquor store payroll and pushed through a plate glass store window. Two of the men died and one was left paralyzed. Like OJ Simpson ten years later, the Subway Vigilante divided people along racial lines. Was Bernard Goetz a homicidal racist, or a mild man pushed over the brink? 

1988- In Brazil ecologist and rubber workers union activist Chico Mendes was shot and killed by plantation owners.

1993- The Hubble Space telescope cost $1.5 billion but it had a flaw. Its lens was ground incorrectly, so it was nearsighted. This day Space Shuttle Endeavour flew into space to fit the Hubble with an optical corrective system called CoStar, in effect, giving it a set of glasses. 

2000- The Cohen Bros. Depression Era comedy Oh Brother Where Art Thou? Opened.

2001- THE SHOE BOMBER. Would-be terrorist Richard Reid tried to blow up an American Airlines flight from Rome to Orlando by trying to ignite a substance concealed in his sneakers. He was stopped and beaten to a pulp by his fellow travelers, including a 6’8 pro basketball player returning home from the Italian leagues. Reid is why we all have to take our shoes off in airports now.
Yesterday’s Quiz: Where is the Kingdom of Shangri-La?

Answer: Shangri-La was an imaginary secret paradise in the Himalayas invented by James Hilton in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon. It was inspired by the first opening to the outer world in the 1920s of the closed kingdom of Tibet.

 President Franklin Roosevelt like the novel so much he named the presidential mountain retreat ShangriLa. President Eisenhower later renamed it Camp David.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 21, 2019

Birthdays: Benjamin Disraeli, Josh Gibson- the Home Run King of the Negro Baseball Leagues, Pat Weaver-TV exec who created the Today Show and father of Sigourney Weaver, Frank Zappa, Dr. Kurt Waldheim, Florence Griffith Joyner, Chris Evert, Phil Roman, Jane Fonda is 82, Paul Winchell born Pinkus Wilchinski, Keifer Sutherland is 53, Samuel L. Jackson is 71, Jane Kaszmarek, Judy Delphy is 50, Jeffrey Katzenberg is 69

Happy Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year.

1914- The premiere of the first feature length film comedy- Tilly’s Punctured Romance, starring Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand and a young Charlie Chaplin.

1925- Sergei Eisenstein’s cinematic masterpiece Battleship Potemkin premiered in Moscow. The films pioneering use of montage and allegorical imagery intercut inspired a generation of filmmakers.

1933- Twentieth Century Fox signed 5 year old Shirley Temple to a seven year contract.

1937- Walt Disney's " Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" had its grand premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater. The first feature length American cartoon, it became the box office champ of 1938, earning 4 times more than any other film that year.

1937- Ted Healy, former vaudeville partner of the Three Stooges, was killed in a bar fight, while celebrating the birth of his son. 

1940- Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (44) died of a heart attack at Hollywood columnist Sheila Graham's house.  She had just left the house to buy him some candy.  She left him thumbing through his Princeton alumni newsletter.  His last words to her were 'Hershey bars will be fine..."

1944- Walt Disney’s The Three Caballeros premiered in Mexico City. It opened in the US in February.

1959- Joe Oriolo’s TV remake of Felix the Cat debuted on TV.

1968- The Apollo 8 spacecraft was launched to the Moon. Besides winning the Space Race, and doing the famous Christmas Night reading of Genesis from lunar orbit, Apollo 8 had one board one of the very first mini-computers. The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was one cubic foot in size, had stored memory of 5 bytes, a language (DSKY) and a digital display. It’s the forerunner of the personal computer.

1969- Famed football coach Vince Lombardi coached his last game- Dallas beat Washington 20-10.

1971- Richard William's animated TV special "A Christmas Carol" with Alastair Sim reprising his Scrooge.

1973- Ray Harryhausen’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad premiered.

1979- Disney’s Sci-Fi flop The Black Hole opened in theaters.

1982- Thom Riley, one of the stars of the TV cop show ChiPS was busted for driving stoned on Quaaludes.

2012- The Walt Disney Company spent $4.06 billion to buy Lucasfilm, ILM and the Star Wars rights. George Lucas retired to do philanthropic pursuits.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 20, 2019

Birthdays: Bonnie Prince Charlie, Branch Rickey, George Roy Hill, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Jenny Agutter, Uri Geller, Irene Dunne, Cecil Cooper, Albert Dekker, animator Amby Paliwoda, Charlie Callas, John Spencer, Elsie De Wolfe, Jonah Hill is 36. 

1860- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published his most famous poem- The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. “Oh, listen my children and you shall here, of the Midnight ride of Paul Revere. “ Although he got most of the facts wrong, it was a great success. Longfellow intended it to rouse Americans of his day to the threat of Southern Secession and Slavery. 

1892- According to Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days this was the day Phileas Fogg returned to London to complete his trip.

1920- English song & dance man Leslie Townes became an American citizen and changed his name to Bob Hope.

1937- Nazis Josef Goebbels noted in his diary that this day he sent his boss Adolf Hitler a Christmas present of a dozen Mickey Mouse Cartoons from America. Officially der Fuehrer called Mickey ‘vermin’ but privately he enjoyed their animated antics.

1950- Harvey premiered starring James Stewart and a 6 foot tall invisible rabbit. 

1952- Bridgette Bardot married director Roger Vadim.

1955- Sir Lawrence Olivier’s film version of Richard III premiered.

1957- Elvis Presley received his draft notice. G.I. Blues!

1968- Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day premiered.

1971- Twentieth Century Fox chief Darryl F. Zanuck blames his own son CEO Richard Zanuck for Fox's monetary problems and fires him. This sets off a power struggle among the board of directors. When Zanuck's estranged wife Libby throws her support against the mogul, Darryl F. Zanuck is overthrown and fired from his own company. He was the last of the original Hollywood moguls.

1974- Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too came out with the film Island at the Top of the World.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 19, 2019

Birthdays: King Phillip V of Spain (1683), Edith Piaf, Edwin Stanton, Tip O'Neil, Cicely Tyson, Sir Ralph Richardson, Robert Urich, Robert Sherman, Jennifer Beals is 56, David Susskind, Fritz Reiner, Mel Shaw, Alyssa Milano is 47, Jake Gyllenhaal is 9

1686- According to Daniel Defoe, this was the day Robinson Crusoe was rescued from his deserted island. 

1914- Earl Hurd patented animation 'cels' (celluloids) and backgrounds. Before this cartoonists tried drawing the background settings over and over again hundreds of times or slashed the paper around the character and tried not to have it walk in front of anything. By the late 1990’s, most cels & cel paint were been replaced by digital imaging.

1918- Robert Ripley began his "Believe It Or Not" column in the New York Globe.

1919- The character Olive Oyl first appeared in the comic strip The Thimble Theater. Popeye appeared ten years later.

1957- The musical ‘The Music Man’ starring Robert Preston first debuted. "Seventy Six Trom-bones in the Big Parade…"

1958- First airing of the Disneyland TV holiday special “ From All of Us, to All of You.”

1971- Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ premiered. Based on a novel by Anthony Burgess. In America the film received an X Rating, more for the violence than the sexual situations. The sensation over the film caused so many incidents of urban violence, that with Kubrick’s permission, it was banned in England for three decades.

1974- The first personal computer went on sale. The Altair 8800, named for the planet in the 1955 sci-fi movie classic Forbidden Planet. The computer came in a kit that you had to build and it cost $397. The next year, two kids at Harvard named Bill Gates and Paul Allen created a programming language for it called BASIC.

1997- MTV dropped airing the rap song Smack My Bitch Up, by Prodigy.

2001- Peter Jackson’s film ‘The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring’ first opened.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


Birthdays: Antonio Stradivari, Karl Maria Von Weber, Ty Cobb, George Stevens, Ozzie Davis, Diane Disney-Miller, Anita O’Day, Paul Klee, Betty Grable, Willy Brandt, Keith Richards is 77, Leonard Maltin is 69, Alyssia Sanchez-Vaccario, Ray Liotta is 65, Katie Holmes is 41, Brad Pitt is 56, Steven Spielberg is 73

1812- The first volume of stories Children’s and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm came out. The world learns of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

1917- Universum-Film AG (UFA) was founded as a consolidation of private film companies in Berlin.

1919- in France, composer Cole Porter married divorcee Linda Thomas. They stayed together all their long lives even though she knew that he preferred male companions.

1937- Mae West does a comedy routine on national broadcast radio with Don Ameche about Adam and Eve that was considered so racy CBS banned her from their network.
At the same time she got fined by the networks for joking about ventriloquist puppet Charlie McCarthy:" Hmmm…he’s all wood and a yard long!"

1939-Max Fleischer's animated classic “Gulliver's Travels”.

1956- TV Game show To Tell the Truth made its debut. Bud Collier hosting, and panelists like Kitty Carlisle, Bennett Cerf, Orson Bean and Dorothy Killgallen as panelists.

1960- A young, eccentric man named Jerry Garcia was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army. He had done things like drive a tank into a field then walk away. He had been AWOL 8 times in one year. After leaving the army, Jerry Garcia became a hippie musician in San Francisco. In 1966 formed the rock band the Grateful Dead.

1961-" In the Jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps to-night…a winoweh, etc. " this song by the Tokens goes to #1 in pop charts.

1962- UPA’s Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol directed by Abe Levitow, premiered on NBC.

1964- DePatie-Frelengs The Pink Phink, the first Pink Panther cartoon short.

1966- Chuck Jones 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' premiered.

1975- Rod Stewart announced he was leaving the band Faces, for a solo singing career.

1978- SAG strikes Hollywood again for residuals. (again...)

1983- Jean Shephard’s A Christmas Story opened to tepid acclaim and weak box office, but soon became an annual holiday classic. On Christmas Day many TV stations play it 24 hours straight.

1984- Christopher Guest married Jamie Lee Curtis at Rob Reiner’s house .

1984- Pixar’s first short The Adventures of Andre and Wally-B released in theaters. Directed by Alvy Ray Smith and animated by John Lasseter.

1997- Comedian Chris Farley was found dead in his Chicago apartment in the John Hancock Tower, surrounded by empty food containers and porn magazines. The chubby 31-year-old had been partying for 17 straight hours doing cocaine, heroin, vodka and crystal-meth. His last words were to an exhausted prostitute:" Please don’t leave me.” Farley idolized the late John Belushi, who had also died of drugs and hard living at age 31. One writer recalled a drunken Farley once turned to him and asked:" Do you think Belushi is in heaven?"

1988- Don Bluth’s The Land Before Time opened.

1998- Dreamworks the “Prince of Egypt”, opened, or, as it was known in Hollywood "The Zion King".

2015- Star Wars VII, The Force Awakens opened. J.J. Abrams reboot of the old Star Wars franchise became a box office phenomenon. It earned $247 million in its opening weekend, and ended way over a billion and a half dollars.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Animation Fun Facts for Dec 17, 2019

Birthdays: Paracelsus, Antonio Cimmarosa, William Lyon Mackensie-King, Arthur Fiedler, Bob Guccione, William Safire, Cal Ripken Sr., Ford Maddox-Ford, Erskine Caldwell, Tommy Steele, Pope Francis I, Bill Pullman is 66, Eugene Levy is 73, Giovanni Ribisi is 45, Armin Mueller-Stahl is 89, Wes Studi, Sean Patrick Thomas, Mila Jovovich is 44, Bart Simpson is 30.

1865- Schubert's Unfinished Symphony (#8) received it's world premiere. In 1822 Schubert wrote the first two movements and 8 measures for the 3rd (Scherzo), then forgot about it when he died in 1828. A friend kept the manuscript in a closet for 43 years.

1892- Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” premiered at the Imperial Ballet in Saint Petersburg. One child dancer playing a candy cane in that first performance was a Georgian boy named Gyorgi Balavadajze- later American choreographer George Balanchine.

1955- Carl Perkins awoke in the middle of a bad nights sleep and wrote Blue Suede Shoes, the first song to be a hit in Country, R&B and Rock n’ Roll charts simultaneously, especially when sing by Elvis Presley” Well you can knock me down, step on ma face, etc.”

1963- Americans began to hear on their transistor radios a new sound from a band in England named the Beatles. “I wanna hold your hand”  becomes a big hit and heralds the British rock invasion in 1964. 

1969- Tiny Tim, the campy, ukulele strumming crooner, married his Miss Vicky, or Victoria Budinger live on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

1969- The Walt Disney Studio re-released Fantasia, and it was embraced by hippy stoners who liked to get high during screenings, Disney did a black-lite poster for it. It was the first time the 1940 film had ever made a profit. 

1989- After appearing in some interstitial shorts on the variety Tracey Ullman Show, The Simpsons first premiered as a regular TV series.

1999- The film Stuart Little premiered.