ON THIS DAY in 1892
Lowell Thomas, one of America’s most respected newscasters was born in Woodington, Ohio. He began his lengthy broadcasting career in 1930, as a replacement for NBC’s Floyd Gibbons. Thomas’ radio career spanned five decades and three networks. The first sixteen years were spent at NBC where his broadcasts became so important that the network placed two microphones in front of him … just in case one failed. Lowell Thomas would scoop the other networks and the newspapers wielding a clout and influence never before heard on the airwaves. After NBC, Thomas moved to CBS, where he stayed for thirty years. Then, in his last years (he died Aug. 29, 1981 at age 89), he hosted Lowell Thomas Remembers, a series on National Public Radio.
In 1914, actor George Reeves was born in Ashland Kentucky.
Although he had supporting roles in 40 movies & many TV shows like The Silver Theatre, Suspense & Kraft TV Theatre, it was his starring role in TV’s Superman that was a mixed blessing. Apparently depressed at being typecast he committed suicide June 16 1959 at age 45, although friends believe his death may have resulted from his longtime affair with the wife of an MGM executive.
In 1918, radio man Rudy Hartman was born in Trail BC. He began his career at local station CJAT and moved next to CJVI Victoria. After serving in WWII as a broadcaster working with the BBC and on Canadian battalion stations behind the front lines in Europe, he returned to CJVI, then to Vancouver for stints in programming at CKLG and CHQM. He programmed Victoria’s (and the province’s) first FM station CFMS before returning to the mainland for an extensive stretch running multicultural CJVB. Rudy made it to age 99 before dying in early 2017 in a care facility in Victoria.
In 1925, comedian & soon-to-be early radio star Eddie Cantor recorded the standard, “If You Knew Susie,” for Columbia Records. There was none classier.
In 1927, jazz musician Gerry Mulligan was born in Queens, New York. The jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger was acclaimed for his baritone sax work, plus his writing and arranging for Claude Thornhill, Miles Davis & Stan Kenton. He died following complications from knee surgery Jan 20, 1996 at age 68.
In 1928, actress Joi Lansing (below) was born Joyce Wassmansdoff in Salt Lake City. The well-endowed starlet proved she could act in a regular role on TV’s Bob Cummings show, and also had a recurring spot on The Beverly Hillbillies, plus dozens of one-and-two guest shots. She died much too young of breast cancer Aug. 7 1972 at age 43 .
In 1931, Little Orphan Annie, the comic strip character developed by Harold Gray, came to life for an 11 year radio run, first on NBC Blue, then NBC Red and finally Mutual. This was the first of the daily 15-minute adventure serials for the schoolage crowd which proliferated on the late afternoon radio airwaves over the next two decades.
In 1941, tenor Henry Burr, the most prolific recording artist of his era, died in New York. Born in 1885 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Burr recorded an estimated 12-thousand titles from 1902 to about 1930.
In 1945, This is Your FBI debuted on ABC radio as a weekly 30-minute police drama. Frank Lovejoy served as narrator over the following eight years.
In 1946, country singer Roy Acuff resigned from the Grand Ole Opry where he was required to attend every Saturday night for just $15 per week. At the time Acuff was getting $100 per night when out on tour.
In 1954, four weeks after being criticized by Edward R. Murrow on CBS'”See It Now,” Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) delivered a filmed response in which he charged that Murrow had, in the past, “engaged in propaganda for Communist causes.”
Also in 1954, the new concept of a frozen TV Dinner was first put on sale by Swanson & Sons.
In 1956, in Hollywood, the Capitol Tower, the home of Capitol Records was dedicated. It was the first circular office building designed in America. Located near Hollywood & Vine, it is 13 stories tall and 92 feet in diameter.
In 1957, “Round and Round” by Perry Como topped the charts and stayed there for 2 weeks.
Also in 1957, Elvis Presley‘s “All Shook Up” was released.
In 1959, America’s funny men, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Mort Sahl, and comedic actorTony Randall, along with the Great Britain’s outstanding actors, David Niven and Laurence Olivier, entertained the guests at the 31st Annual Academy Awards where Gigi was named best picture, with a total of 10 Oscars.
In 1962, the Soviet newspaper “Pravda” warned youths about the dangers of twisting.
In 1963, The Kingsmen of Portland Ore. (above) recorded their soon-to-be one hit wonder “Louie Louie,” while Bobby Darin recorded “18 Yellow Roses.”
In 1965, Intelsat 1 (“Early Bird”) was launched, the first commercial geosynchronous communications satellite.
Also in 1965, in Hollywood Brian Wilson supervised the recording of the instrumental backing for the Beach Boys‘ “California Girls.” The vocal was added two months later.
Still in 1965, RCA Victor released Elvis Presley‘s “Crying In The Chapel,” which had been recorded nearly five years earlier.
In 1967, in the control room at the Abbey Road studios, producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick worked to produce the first master tape of The Beatles new album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’
In 1968, The Beatles‘ Apple Corps Limited opened in London. The Fab Four’s business enterprise was ultimately a failure, eaten away by debts and dissension.
Also on this date in 1968, beset with drug and mental problems, guitarist Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd, the British psychedelic group he had founded three years earlier. Dave Gilmour was his replacement, and Pink Floyd went on to become one of the world’s most popular bands.
Still in 1968, Simon and Garfunkel went to No.1 on the Billboard album chart with ‘The Graduate.’
In 1969, the only Palm Springs Pop Festival turned ugly when 25-thousand people jammed a drive-in theatre parking lot to see Ike and Tina Turner and Procul Harum. Police helicopters arrived to disperse the crowd, and a riot began. A nearby gas station was trashed, and two people were wounded when the station owner fired a rifle into the mob.
Also in 1969, singers Peggy Lee and Tony Bennett, comics Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers, and actor Eddie Albert headlined the Easter Sunday edition of CBS-TV’s “Ed Sullivan Show.”
In 1971, Rolling Stones Records was formed to distribute the hits of The Rolling Stones. The famous Stones trademark, the lips logo, became widely used. Brown Sugar was the first hit by the Stones on the new label, followed by Wild Horses, Tumbling Dice and Bill Gates’ favorite song, Start Me Up.
Also in 1971, Carly Simon performed her first concert, opening for Cat Stevens in New York.James Taylor was in the audience and went backstage to meet her. They married 18 months later.
In 1972, The Monkees‘ Micky Dolenz guest-starred as a rock star named John Simpson, an old friend of Chip’s, on ABC-TV’s “My Three Sons.”
In 1973, The Stylistics were awarded a Gold Record for their ballad hit, “Break Up to Make Up.” The Philadelphia soul group placed a total of 10 hits on the charts in the 1970s.
Also in 1973, a Federal Court awarded the Smothers Brothers $766,000 in their lawsuit against CBS over the sudden cancellation of their TV show almost exactly 4 years earlier.
In 1974, the first concert film featuring a soundtrack in quadraphonic sound opened — at Ziegfeld Theatre. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones‘ turned out to be a “stone” smash. Two-thousand white doves, a 20-metre-long dragon and a 12-metre inflatable tongue were used to promote its New York premiere.
Also in 1974, the first California Jam rock festival opened in Ontario, California. A crowd of more than 200-thousand gathered to hear such acts as The Eagles, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.
Still in 1974, the ABBA composition “Waterloo” won the annual Eurovision Song Contest, setting up the Swedish foursome for their monumental international careeer.
In 1975, the No. 1 Billboard Pop Hit was “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John.
Also in 1975, Labelle performed their recent hit, “Lady Marmalade,” on CBS-TV’s “Cher” show.
In 1977, the No. 1 Billboard Pop Hit was “Dancing Queen” by Abba. This was the only No. 1 song by the international phenomenon.
In 1978, the final original episode, number 37, of “Black Sheep Squadron,” with Peter Frampton guesting, aired on NBC-TV.
In 1984, Windsor’s iconic rock radio station CKLW (The Big 8 ) switched format from Adult Contemporary to Adult Standards, under the name ‘The Music of Your Life.’
Also in 1984, Steve Van Zandt announced he was leaving the E Street Band. Bruce Springsteen hired guitarist Nils Lofgrin as the replacement. But “Little Steven” was back nine years later.
In 1985, Bryan Adams‘ single Somebody peaked at #11 on the Billboard pop chart.
Also in 1985, the country group, Alabama, went five-for-five as the album 40 Hour Week grabbed the top spot on the Billboard country chart. The group had a number one album for each of the previous five years. The popularity of the quartet (three are cousins from Fort Payne, Alabama) continues today.
Still in 1985, British singer Gilbert O’Sullivan won a $2 million lawsuit against his former manager for unpaid royalties on his 1972 sensation, “Alone Again, Naturally.”
In 1987, Los Angeles Dodgers executive Al Campanis said on ABC’s “Nightline” that blacks “may not have some of the necessities” to hold managerial jobs in major league baseball (Campanis ended up being fired over his remarks).
Also in 1987, the 22nd Academy of Country Music Awards gave top honours to Randy Travis & Hank Williams Jr.
In 1988, jazz guitarist Larry Carlton was shot and wounded in the neck by a youth who broke into his Los Angeles home. His left arm was paralyzed and his voice was severely damaged, but Carlton performed again eight months later. No one was ever charged in the shooting.
Also in 1988, Elton John joined George Michael in a duet on “Candle in the Wind” during Michael’s concert in Honolulu.
In 1990, Tommy Lee, of Motley Crue, suffered a mild concussion in New Haven, CT. when he fell after swinging from scaffolding above his elevated drum kit.
In 1992, Yiddish actress Molly Picon, who was a memorable guest star on TV’s Car 54, Somerset & The Facts of Life, died of Alzheimers at age 94.
Also in 1992, 22 years after the goup broke up George Harrison appeared in his first British post-Beatles solo concert — a London benefit for the Natural Law Party.
In 1994, Herbie Hancock and Vanessa Williams hosted a 50th anniversary tribute to Norman Granz and his Verve record label. Granz organized his first Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Los Angeles in 1944, and later formed both Clef Records and Verve.
In 1996, “Nobody Knows” by the Tony Rich Project topped the charts for just one week.
In 1996, British-born actress Greer Garson suffered heart failure and died at age 91. Memorable on the bigscreen as Mrs. Miniver, and for roles in Goodbye Mr. Chips & Blossoms in the Dust, she capped her career with 4 appearances on TV’s Hallmark Hall of Fame, & repeated assignments on General Electric Theatre & The Little Drummer Boy.
In 1997, Hamilton-born sports tycoon Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Washington Redskins, died at age 84. He had been owner of radio station CKEY Toronto. When his bid for the first private Toronto TV license failed he had left for the US.
In 1998, country star Tammy Wynette died at her Nashville home from a blood clot in her lungs. She was 55. Wynette’s chart-toppers included “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “Stand By Your Man.” Her third of five husbands was another country star, George Jones.
Also dying on this date in 1998 was Wendy O. Williams, lead singer of the sex-and-violence punk rock band the Plasmatics. She shot and killed herself near her Connecticut home at age 48. Williams’ on-stage theatrics in the ’70s and ’80s included blowing up equipment and chainsawing guitars.
Still in 1998, Dick Clark, Chubby Checker, Fabian and Lesley Gore recreated “American Bandstand” for the episode of the CBS-TV sitcom “Murphy Brown” in which Murphy “celebrated” her 50th birthday.
In 1999, Red Norvo (below), who performed with such greats as Charles Mingus, Mildred Bailey, Billie Holliday and Frank Sinatra and is credited with introducing the xylophone to jazz, died at the age of 91.
Also in 1999, Johnny Cash returned to the stage for the first time since his recent bout with pneumonia, and electrified an audience in New York with a surprise appearance at an all-star concert in his honor. Sheryl Crow, Chris Isaak and U2 performed for the TV special.
Still in 1999, “Mamma Mia,” a musical based on the songs of ABBA, opened in London. A hit Toronto production opened the following year.
In 2000, US cable channel TNT held an all-star tribute to Joni Mitchell in New York City. James Taylor, Cyndi Lauper, Elton John, k.d. lang, Bryan Adams and others performed her songs.
In 2003, NBC newsman David Bloom died of cardiac problems while embedded with US forces in Iraq, at age 39.
Also in 2003, Linkin Park started a two week run at No.1 on the Billboard album chart with ‘Meteroa,’ the band’s first chart topping album.
In 2004, guitarist and singer Niki Sullivan died suddenly of a heart attack, at his home in Independence, Missouri at age 66. Sullivan was one of the three original members of Buddy Holly’s backing group, The Crickets.
In 2007, Toronto-born TV writer/producer Stan Daniels (below) whose credits included Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi and This Hour Has Seven Days, died of heart failure at age 72.
In 2009, hard rocker Meat Loaf guest starred as a patient on his death bed on FOX-TV’s drama series House.
Also in 2009, the CBS telecast of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship Game opened with a 90-second snippet of Green Day‘s “Know Your Enemy.” The Temptations sang the National Anthem.
In 2011, Bob Dylan played his first-ever concert in China at the Beijing Worker’s Gymnasium. His set consisted of pre-approved songs that had been submitted to the government’s Culture Ministry and approved by communist leaders. “Like A Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower” made the cut.
In 2012, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder postponed a planned 22 show solo tour due to temporary nerve damage in his right arm.
In 2013, Saskatchewan-born sportscaster and Canada Sports Hall of Famer Johnny Esaw, the pioneering voice of CFL football and competitiive figure skating for CTV for 25 years, died of respiratory problems at age 87.
Also in 2013, George Jones performed at the Knoxville Coliseum in Tennessee in what turned out to be the last concert of his life. It marked his final public performance of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
In 2014, actor Mickey Rooney, whose career began in vaudeville, silent movies and on radio, and continued through Hollywood’s sound era into television, his work spanning nine decades until just a few weeks earlier, died at age 93. In the late 30’s and early 40’s the pint-sized Rooney, both alone and teamed with Judy Garland, was one of MGM’s biggest box office draws.
In 2015, actor James Best, best-known for playing the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on TV’s “The Dukes of Hazzard,” died at age 88 due to complications from pneumonia.
Also in 2015, “the Other” Ray Charles, a musician, songwriter, composer, conductor, arranger and leader of the Ray Charles Singers, who performed with Perry Como for 35 years, died at age 96. An authority on American music, Charles served as a musical consultant to the Kennedy Center Honors for 31 years and for “The Muppet Show.”
Still in 2015, Milton Delugg, who accompanied Al Jolson on the accordion, co-wrote the Nat King Cole hit “Orange Colored Sky,” conducted the band for Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” for a year, and was musical director of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for three decades, died at age 96.
In 2016, country music legend Merle Haggard died on his 79th birthday. He had been battling pneumonia.
In 2017, insult comedian Don Rickles suffered kidney failure and died a month short of his 91st birthday.
Pianist/conductor/composer Andre Previn is 88.
Actor Billy Dee Williams (Brian’s Song, Dynasty, Guiding Light) is 80.
Actor Roy Thinnes (Dark Shadows, Falcon Crest, The Invaders) is 79.
Director Barry Levinson (Homicide: Life on the Street, Oz) is 75.
Actor John Ratzenberger (Cheers, 8 Simple Rules) is 70.
Actress Marilu Henner (Brooklyn Nine Nine, Taxi, Evening Shade) is 65.
Actor Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Thief, Crime Story) is 62.
Actress Jane A. Rogers (Santa Barbara, General Hospital) is 57.
Actress Tracy Kolis (Days of Our Lives, One Life to Live, As The World Turns) is 50.
Moose Jaw-born actress Deborah Theaker (Maniac Mansion, Alf: Animated Series) is 54.
Singer-guitarist Frank Black of The Pixies is 52.
Actor Doug Ellin (Entourage) is 49.
Actress Ari Meyers (Kate & Ally, Stanley) is 48.
Actor Paul Rudd (Friends, Sisters, Wild Oats) is 48.
Actor Jason Hervey (The Wonder Years, Diff’rent Strokes) is 45.
Bassist Markku Lappalainen of Hoobastank is 44.
Actor Zach Braff (Scrubs) is 42.
Actor Joel Marsh Garland (Orange is the New Black, Kings) is 42.
Actress/TV personality Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House, The View, Full House, Make It or Break It) is 41.
Actor Teddy Sears (Masters of Sex, Raising the Bar) is 40.
Actress Milissa Sears (The Mentalist, Masters of Sex) is 36.
Actress Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings, Benched, Scrubs) is 36.
Actor Bret Harrison (Grounded for Life, That 70’s Show, The Loop) is 35.
Actress Alana Austin (Ink) is 35.
Actress Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings, Scrubs) is 34.
Actress Diora Baird (Shameless) is 34.
Actor Charlie McDermott (The Middle) is 27.
Actor Kyle Swann (Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide) is 27.
Actress Miranda May (Bunk’d) is 21.
Actress Peyton List (Jessie) is 19.
Actor Kwesi Boakye (Amazing World of Gumball, Men of a Certain Age, Days of Our Lives) is 18.
Chart Toppers – April 6
My Dreams are Getting Better All the Time – The Les Brown Orchestra (vocal: Doris Day)
I’m Beginning to See the Light – The Harry James Orchestra (vocal: Kitty Kallen)
A Little on the Lonely Side – The Guy Lombardo Orchestra (vocal: Jimmy Brown)
Shame on You – Spade Cooley
Wanted – Perry Como
Cross Over the Bridge – Patti Page
A Girl, A Girl – Eddie Fisher
Slowly – Webb Pierce
He’s So Fine – The Chiffons
South Street – The Orlons
Can’t Get Used to Losing You – Andy Williams
Still – Bill Anderson
A Horse with No Name – America
Puppy Love – Donny Osmond
Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon
My Hang-Up Is You – Freddie Hart
Rapture – Blondie
Kiss on My List – Daryl Hall & John Oates
Just the Two of Us – Grover Washington, Jr./Bill Withers
Drifter – Sylvia
Black Velvet – Alannah Myles
Love Will Lead You Back – Taylor Dayne
I Wish It Would Rain Down – Phil Collins
Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart – Randy Travis
Every Morning – Sugar Ray
Heartbreak Hotel – Whitney Houston featuring Faith Evans & Kelly Price
No Scrubs – TLC
How Forever Feels – Kenny Chesney
Love Song – Sara Bareilles
With You – Chris Brown
No Air – Jordin Sparks featuring Chris Brown
Small Town Southern Man – Alan Jackson