Events - December 15
1791 - The Bill of Rights was ratified this day in Virginia. The Bill of Rights is comprised of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
1854 - Philadelphia residents were amazed as the first street cleaning machine was put into operation. A series of brooms attached to a cyclinder mounted on a cart was turned by a chain driven by the turning of the cart’s wheels.
1939 - Nylon yarn was sold to hosiery mills to make women’s stockings, marking the first use of commercial yarn for apparel. The DuPont product enabled a record number of ladies’ hose to go on sale for the first time in May 1940. And it all started in nylon’s hometown: Wilmington, Delaware.
1939 - The cinema spectacular, "Gone With the Wind", premiered at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. The governor of Georgia proclaimed the day a state holiday in commemoration of the event and the holiday celebrations continued for three days. Earlier the same year on June 27th, a ‘wrap’ party was held to celebrate the completion of the major cinematography of "GWTW". David O. Selznick had paid author Margaret Mitchell $50,000 for the movie, and ultimately, the TV rights to her novel. MGM then paid out $1.25 million to help finance the film, to convince Clark Gable to play the role of Rhett Butler, and to receive a fifty percent share of the movie’s profits. Two versions of the film were produced. One contains Rhett Butler’s famous farewell to Scarlett, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” For including the word ‘damn’, Selznick was fined $5,000. The other version had Gable’s Butler saying, “Frankly my dear, I just don’t care.” Among the many actresses considered for the role of Scarlett O’Hara before Vivien Leigh was chosen were, Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Miriam Hopkins, Susan Hayward, Paulette Goddard, Norma Shearer, Lana Turner, Jean Arthur, and Joan Bennett. Vivien Leigh earned $30,000 for the role.
1941 - A musical standard was recorded this day on Victor Records. Lena Horne sang the torch classic that became her signature: "Stormy Weather". “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky. Stormy weather...”
1943 - Famed composer, blues singer, piano and pipe organ player, Fats (Thomas Wright) Waller died at the age of 39 from pneumonia. He began playing piano at the age of six, recording songs by 16. In the early years, some of his songs became smash hits, unfortunately after he had sold them outright. Songs like "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and "I Can’t Give You Anything But Love". Waller was such a prolific composer of shows and hit songs that it would take pages to name them all. Some of the titles you may be familiar with are: "Ain’t Misbehavin’", "I’ve Got a Feeling I’m Fallin’", "Honeysuckle Rose", "I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" and "It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie".
1944 - On this day, as World War II raged, news spread of the loss of an airplane somewhere over the English Channel between England and Paris. On board the ill-fated aircraft was Major Glenn Miller on his way to lead his Air Force Band in a Christmas concert.
1949 - After a decade on radio, "Captain Midnight" was heard for the final time. Put your secret decoder away now, kids.
1954 - "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter" was featured on Walt Disney’s TV series for the first time. Crockett was played by Fess Parker. It wasn’t long before the Davy Crockett craze brought a new number one song to the pop music charts. "Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier."
1962 - The first record album to poke fun at a U.S. President became the #1 LP in the country. Vaughn Meader’s "The First Family" made the humorist a household word. The album stayed at #1 for three months.
1962 - Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics set a National Basketball Association record as he made his 5,926th field goal. His sterling career included the NBA’s MVP Award in 1957, and the record of 30 free throws in one game on March 21, 1953 when the Celtics played the Syracuse Nationals. Four of those free throws were made in overtime.
1966 - One of the greatest names in children’s television and movie production died on this day. Walt (Walter Elias) Disney died in Burbank, California. Mr. Disney was 65 years old. What a legacy he left the world!
1967 - The Silver Bridge, on U.S. 35 between Point Pleasant, WV and Gallipolis, OH, collapsed during afternoon rush hour. 46 people died. Although many states (including California and New York) had instituted bridge inspection programs, it was not until this tragedy that the issue of bridge safety was brought into national focus.
1973 - Sandy Hawley became the first jockey in history to win 500 races in a single year. With this victory in the third race at Laurel racetrack on "Charlie Jr.", he broke the legendary Bill Shoemaker’s 20-year-old record. Hawley recorded his 6,000th career victory in 1992 aboard "Summer Commander" at Greenwood racetrack.
1973 - Charlie Rich’s hit, "The Most Beautiful Girl", hit #1 (for two weeks) in the U.S. “Hey, if you happen to see the most beautiful girl that walked out on me ... Tell her, "I'm sorry." Tell her, "I need my baby." Won't you tell her that I love her.”
1974 - Bert Jones, quarterback of the Baltimore Colts, set an NFL record by completing seventeen consecutive passes in a game against the New York Jets.
1980 - Dave Winfield signed a ten-year contract with the New York Yankees for somewhere between $1.3 and $1.5 million. He become the wealthiest player in the history of U.S. team sports. The total package for the outfielder was said to be worth over $22 million.
1982 - Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant announced that he was retiring as head football coach at the University of Alabama. Bryant had 232 victories and only 46 losses while coach of the Crimson Tide.
1988 - James Brown, charged with numerous offences, including illegal possession of drugs and firearms, aggravated assault and failure to stop for the police, was sentenced to six and a half years’ imprisonment. He was released from the South Carolina prison in 1991, having reportedly written new material while locked up.
1995 - The leaders of the European Union were gathered in Madrid to discuss the shape of a single European currency. They decided on a name for it: the "Euro".
1996 - Boeing Co. jolted the aerospace world with a $13.3 billion deal to buy McDonnell Douglas Corp. The merger formed the world’s largest aerospace company.
2000 - These memorable movies premiered in the U.S.: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (Academy awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration [Timmy Yip], Best Cinematography [Peter Pau], Best Foreign Language Film [Taiwan] and Best Music, Original Score [Tan Dun], starring Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Cheng Pei Pei and Lung Sihung; Walt Disney Pictures’ animated "The Emperor’s New Groove" (“Llama llama ding dong”), with the voices of David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton and Wendie Malick; "Dude, Where’s My Car?" (“After a night they can't remember, comes a day they'll never forget.”), with Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Garner, Marla Sokoloff, Kristy Swanson and Hal Sparks; and "What Women Want" (“He has the power to hear everything women are thinking. Finally... a man is listening.”), starring Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Mark Feuerstein, Lauren Holly, Ashley Johnson, Delta Burke, Valerie Perrine and Alan Alda.
Birthdays - December 15
1832 - Gustave Alexandre Eiffel (engineer: designed Paris’ Eiffel Tower and helped design Statue of Liberty; died Dec 27, 1923)
1859 - Ludwig (Lazarus) Zamenhof (linguist: developed international language: Esperanto; died Apr 14, 1917)
1892 - J. (Jean) Paul Getty (oil magnate: Getty Oil; once the richest man in the world; art collector: his art formed the nucleus of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu CA; died June 6, 1976)
1904 - Kermit Bloomgarden (Tony Award-winning producer: The Diary of Anne Frank ; Death of a Salesman, The Music Man, Equus; died Sep 20, 1976)
1916 - Buddy (Edwin) Cole (pianist: group: The Buddy Cole Trio; sang with Rosemary Clooney: LP: Swing Around Rosie; died Nov 5, 1964)
1918 - Jeff Chandler (Ira Grossel) (actor: Merrill’s Marauders, Return to Peyton Place, Broken Arrow; died June 17, 1961)
1920 - Eddie (William Edward) Robinson (baseball: Cleveland Indians [World Series: 1948], Washington Nationals [all-star: 1949], Chicago White Sox [all-star: 1951, 1952], Philadelphia Athletics [all-star: 1953], NY Yankees [World Series: 1955], KC Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers)
1922 - Alan Freed (disc jockey: WJW, Cleveland, WINS & WABC, New York: The Moondoggy Show; fired on air at WABC for alleged involvement in the payola scandal of the late 1950s; died Jan 20, 1965)
1928 - Ernest Ashworth (Country Music Hall of Famer: Talk Back Trembling Lips; Member of Grand Ole Opry; died Mar 2, 2009))
1928 - Friedrich Hundertwasser (artist, printer, painter, ecologist: believed that the straight line was from the devil; public buildings should be like nature, simple, yet complex, colorful, efficient and self-sustaining; died Feb 19, 2000)
1928 - Jimmy Nelson (ventriloquist: Danny O’Day, Farfel the Dog; LP: Jimmy Nelson’s Instant Ventriloquism)
1928 - Jerry Wallace (singer: Primrose Lane, Shutters and Boards, A Touch of Pink, If You Leave Me I’ll Cry; actor: Hec Ramsey; died May 5, 2008)
1930 - Edna O’Brien (author: Time and Tide, Country Girls Trilogy)
1933 - Tim Conway (actor, comedian: McHale’s Navy, The Tim Conway Show, The Carol Burnett Show, various Dorf videos)
1939 - Cindy Birdsong (singer: group: Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles, group: Diana Ross and The Supremes: Love Child, Someday We’ll Be Together, River Deep-Mountain High [with Four Tops])
1940 - Nick Buoniconti (Pro Football Hall of Famer: Miami Dolphins LB: Super Bowl VI, VII, VIII; TV football analyst: HBO: Inside the NFL)
1942 - Dave Clark (singer: group: The Dave Clark Five: Bits and Pieces, Do You Love Me, Glad All Over, Everybody Knows, Red Balloon, Good Old Rock & Roll, Everybody Get Together; TV producer: Hold On It’s the Dave Clark Five, Ready Steady Go!; actor: Time; stunt man)
1943 - Pete Duranko (football: Notre Dame All-American DE-LB, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos)
1944 - Stan (Stanley Raymond) Bahnsen (baseball: pitcher: NY Yankees [Rookie of the Year: 1968], Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Montreal Expos, California Angels, Philadelphia Phillies)
1946 - Carmine Appice (composer, drummer: groups: Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, KGB, King Kobra; co-wrote [w/Rod Stewart]: Da Ya Think I’m Sexy)
1948 - Doug (Douglas James) Rau (baseball: pitcher: LA Dodgers [World Series: 1977, 1978], California Angels)
1948 - Charlie Scott (basketball: University of North Carolina; Boston Celtics, 3-time NBA all-star)
1949 - Don Johnson (Donnie Wayne Johnson) (actor: Nash Bridges, Miami Vice, Harrad Experiment, A Boy and His Dog, The Long, Hot Summer, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Revenge of the Stepford Wives)
1955 - Paul Simonon (musician: bass: group: The Clash: 1977, Capital Radio, Career Opportunities, I’m So Bored with the USA, Police and Thieves, Complete Control, [White Man] in Hammersmith Palais, English Civil War, Stay Free, Brand New Cadillac, Death or Glory, Jimmy Jazz, Rock the Casbah, Train in Vain [Stand by Me])
1961 - Reginald Hudlin (director: The Great White Hype, Cosmic Stop, Boomerang; writer: Bebe’s Kids; writer, director: House Party; brother of producer, director Warrington Hudlin)
1961 - Daryl Turner (football: Michigan State, Seattle Seahawks)
1963 - Helen Slater (actress: Parallel Lives, Lassie, Chantilly Lace, City Slickers, Ruthless People, Legend of Billie Jean, Supergirl, Capital News)
1970 - Michael Shanks (actor: Stargate SG-1, The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon, Escape from Mars, Suspicious River, Mr. Fortune’s Smile, The Artist's Circle)
1972 - Stuart Townsend (actor: About Adam, Shooting Fish, Venice Project, The Queen of the Damned, 24 Hours)
Chart Toppers - December 15
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
The Trolley Song - The Pied Pipers
I’m Making Believe - Ella Fitzgerald & The Ink Spots
Smoke on the Water - Red Foley
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Jimmy Boyd
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Back Street Affair - Webb Pierce
Are You Lonesome To-night? - Elvis Presley
A Thousand Stars - Kathy Young with The Innocents
Wonderland by Night - Bert Kaemphert
Wings of a Dove - Ferlin Husky
I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder
Abraham, Martin and John - Dion
Born to Be with You - Sonny James
Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) - Rod Stewart
The Rubberband Man - Spinners
You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show) - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.
Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous - Johnny Duncan
Out of Touch - Daryl Hall & John Oates
The Wild Boys - Duran Duran
Like a Virgin - Madonna
Nobody Loves Me Like You Do - Anne Murray (with Dave Loggins)
Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end...
Written and edited by Carol Williams and John Williams
Produced by John Williams
Those Were the Days, the Today in History feature
from 440 International
No portion of these files may be reproduced without the express, written permission of 440 International Inc.