Events - December 23
1783 - George Washington returned to Mount Vernon, after the disbanding of his army following the Revolutionary War. His first words upon returning home, “Hey, Martha - what’s for dinner?” And, in a very deep voice, she replied, “BEEF!”
1823 - “He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.” These words were published for the first time on this day in the Troy, NY "Sentinel". The poem we know as “The Night Before Christmas” or "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore, was published anonymously under the newspaper editor’s title, "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas".
1834 - Joseph Aloysius Hansom patented his Patent Safety Cab on this day. The 2-wheeled, horse-driven vehicle with the driver seated above and behind the passengers (he talked with the them through a trap door) became known as the hansom cab. Hansom was also a well-known architect. The Englishman designed the Birmingham Town Hall, Plymouth Cathedral and many other churches, convents, schools and mansions. And it is a good thing he had his architectural business to fall back on. He never made any money from those hansom cabs, even though you can still spot them on the streets of many cities around the world.
1888 - Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh arrived at House of Tolerance (brothel), asked for one Rachel, and handed her -- his ear, saying “Keep this and treasure it.” Then he disappeared. Informed of this action, which could only be that of a poor lunatic, the police went to the man’s address the next morning and found him lying in bed and giving almost no sign of life. The unfortunate artist was admitted to hospital as an emergency case.
1913 - The "Federal Reserve Act" was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. It established 12 Federal Reserve Banks.
1919 - The first ship designed to be used as an ambulance for the transport of sick and wounded patients was launched. The hospital ship was named "USS Relief" and had 515 beds.
1930 - An unknown actress, like so many others, arrived in Hollywood, under contract to Universal Studios. She was Ruth Elizabeth Davis. Universal changed her name for the movies. Five years later, the actress won an Academy Award for her performance in "Dangerous"; followed by another Oscar in 1938 for "Jezebel". We remember Bette Davis. Nice eyes!
1938 - "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" was heard for the final time on the radio. The program was about life in a Kentucky shanty town. It had been on the air for three years. Maybe if they had changed the title a little...
1942 - Bob Hope agreed to entertain U.S. airmen in Alaska. It was the first of his many famous Christmas shows for American armed forces around the world. The tradition continued for more than three decades.
1943 - The first complete opera to be televised was aired on WRGB in Schenectady, NY. (WRGB was named after GE engineer Dr. W.R.G. Baker. It was not named, as many have thought over the years, for red, blue and green, the three primary colors of a TV picture tube.) Humperdinck’s "Hansel and Gretel" was the opera presented. (And that’s not Engelbert, the singer. Hansel and Gretel’s creator was the original Engelbert Humperdinck.)
1947 - John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley invented the transistor (they shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics for their work). The device was referred to as the electronic engineer’s dream. In its original form, the transistor wasn’t the tiny silicon component we know today. It took up a lot of space in the lab in New Jersey where it was invented. Today, thousands of transistors can be packed into an incredibly minute space, smaller than a pinhead; and used in electronic applications such as computers, radios, TVs and video games, to name just a few.
1954 - The classic movie, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", was released. The film was one of Walt Disney’s most successful. Kirk Douglas and James Mason starred.
1957 - Actor Dan Blocker made his debut on television in the "Restless Gun" production of "The Child". Two years later, Blocker starred in the very popular "Bonanza" on NBC, as Hoss Cartwright.
1964 - Radio Caroline and Radio Atlanta (later known as Caroline South and North) were joined at sea by Radio London, which arrived off Frinton (northeast of London) this day. The new ship/station brought a team of ‘Americanised’ deejays, experienced in the art of selling themselves as much as the music. With catchy jingles and contagious slogans like ‘Wonderful Radio London’ and ‘Big L’, Radio London soon became king of the U.K. pirate- radio scene.
1969 - B.J. Thomas received a gold record for the single, "Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head" -- from the motion picture, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". "Raindrops" hit number one on the pop charts on January 3, 1970 and stayed there for 4 weeks.
1969 - Elton John met with arranger Paul Buckmaster, writer Bernie Taupin and producer Gus Dudgeon. The collaboration marked the start of one of the most successful milestones of music in the 1970s. Together, they created "Your Song", "Friends", "Levon", "Tiny Dancer", "Rocket Man" and many more.
1982 - Chaminade defeated previously unbeaten Virginia at home in Honolulu. Chaminade was a school hardly anyone had ever heard of until that upset. Ralph Samson, one of the ‘Twin Towers’ of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, was held to 12 points, as the school of only 850 students won, 77-72. Even Chaminade’s students were at a loss as to how they won. After all, they were never known for their sports. Chaminade alumni still talk about this one.
1983 - Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theisman was named Offensive Player of the Year by the National Football League.
1986 - Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager became the first airplane pilots to make a non-stop trip around the world without refueling; 216 hours of continuous flying; breaking their own record of 111 hours set a year and a half earlier. The couple guided their "Voyager" on the record-setting, but harrowing and uncomfortable, flight to and from Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.
1991 - Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll retired after 23 seasons. He was the only coach to have four Super Bowl wins (1975-1976, 1979-1980) and was the fifth winningest coach in the NFL (209-156-1).
1997 - Carlos the Jackal, aka Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, was convicted in France of the murder of two French agents and a Lebanese informant in June of 1975. Sanchez was sentenced to life in prison.
1999 - And, speaking of kids born in 1999: Saul Bellow, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize for Literature, was the father of a baby girl. Bellow’s fifth wife, Janis Freedman, 41, gave birth to Naomi Rose Bellow this day. So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Bellow was 84 years old at the time.
Birthdays - December 23
1805 - Joseph Smith (Mormon leader, founding prophet, first elder/president of the church; murdered June 27, 1844)
1812 - Samuel Smiles (writer: Thrift: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”; died Apr 16, 1904)
1860 - Harriet Monroe (poet: founder of Poetry magazine; died Sep 26, 1936)
1903 - Fredi (Fredericka Carolyn) Washington (actress: Imitation of Life, Ouanga, One Mile From Heaven; died June 28, 1994)
1907 - Don McNeill (radio host: The Breakfast Club [The Pepper Pot], ABC Radio, 34 years with Eddie Ballantine, Sam Cowling and Fran Allison; died May 7, 1996)
1911 - James Gregory (actor: The Manchurian Candidate, Barney Miller, PT 109, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Captain Newman, M.D.; died Sep 16, 2002)
1918 - José Greco (flamenco dancer, actor: Ship of Fools, The Proud and the Damned; died Dec 31, 2000)
1921 - Gerald O’Loughlin (actor: The Rookies, Our House, Ensign Pulver, A Matter of Life and Death)
1924 - Dan Devine (football coach: Green Bay Packers, Univ. of Notre Dame; died May 9, 2002)
1924 - Floyd Kalber (newscaster: NBC-TV News, WMAQ-TV [Chicago]; died May 13, 2004)
1925 - Harry Guardino (actor: Hell is for Heroes, Dirty Harry, The Enforcer, Fist of Honor; died July 17, 1995)
1926 - Robert Bly (author: What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?, Iron John: A Book About Men)
1929 - Dick Weber (bowler: shares record for most wins  in US Open Bowling Tournament [1962-1963, 1965-1966]; died Feb 13, 2005)
1933 - Akihito (Emperor of Japan; first son of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako)
1935 - Paul Hornung (‘The Golden Boy’: football: Green Bay Packers’: NFL Individual Record for points  scored in season ; Notre Dame: Heisman Trophy winner )
1935 - Johnny Kidd (Frederick Heath) (singer, songwriter: Please Don’t Touch; group: Johnny Kidd & The Pirates: You’ve Got What It Takes, Shakin’ All Over, Restless, Linda Lu, A Shot of Rhythm and Blues, I’ll Never Get Over You, Hungry for Love, Always and Ever; killed in car crash near Manchester, England Oct 7, 1966)
1935 - ‘Little’ Esther Phillips (Esther Mae Jones) (pianist, singer: Release Me, What a Diff’rence a Day Makes; Grammy nomination: Best female R & B vocalist , Aretha Franklin won but gave award to Esther; died Aug 7, 1984)
1940 - Jorma Kaukonen (musician: guitar: groups: Jefferson Airplane: It’s No Secret, Runnin’ Round This World, Somebody to Love, White Rabbit, Triad, Greasy Heart, Lather, Meadowlands, Wooden Ships, We Can Be Together; Hot Tuna: LPs: Thirty Seconds Over Winterland, Early Flight, Flight Log, Black Kangaroo)
1940 - Eugene Record (singer: group: Chi-Lites: Give It Away, [For God’s Sake] Give More Power to the People, Have You Seen Her, Oh Girl, Homely Girl, Too Good to Be Forgotten; died Jul 22, 2005)
1941 - Tim Hardin (singer, composer: If I Were a Carpenter, Reason to Believe, Hang on to a Dream, Misty Roses, Tippy-Toein’; died Dec 29, 1980)
1942 - Jerry (Jerome Martin) Koosman (baseball: pitcher: NY Mets [all-star: 1968, 1969/World Series: 1969, 1973], Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies)
1943 - Elizabeth Hartman (actress: Secret of NIMH, Full Moon High, Walking Tall, Patch of Blue; died June 10, 1987)
1943 - Harry Shearer (actor: The Return of Spinal Tap, The Fisher King, Portrait of a White Marriage, This is Spinal Tap, The Right Stuff, One Trick Pony, Saturday Night Live, voice of Smithers & Otto the Bus Driver: The Simpsons)
1946 - Susan Lucci (Daytime Emmy Award-winning actress: All My Children ; Dallas, French Silk, Lady Mobster, Mafia Princess, Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, Invitation to Hell, Secret Passions)
1948 - Jack Ham (Pro Football Hall of Famer [linebacker]: Pittsburgh Steelers: Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, XIV)
1951 - Johnny Contardo (singer: group: Sha-Na-Na, formerly Eddie and The Evergreens, Dirty Dozen)
1951 - John McDaniel (football: Washington Redskins)
1951 - Kevin Restani (basketball: Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs)
1956 - Dave Murray (musician: guitar: group: Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, Running Free: LPs: Killers, Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Power Slave, Live After Death, Somewhere in Time)
1963 - Jim Harbaugh (football: Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts QB)
1964 - Eddie Vedder (Mueller) (songwriter, singer: group: Pearl Jam: LP: Ten)
1971 - Corey Haim (actor: Life 101, Dream a Little Dream series, Oh, What a Night, Fast Getaway, Dream Machine, The Lost Boys, Lucas, A Time to Live, Silver Bullet, Murphy’s Romance, First Born, Demolition University, Without Malice; died Mar 10, 2010)
Chart Toppers - December 23
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Don’t Fence Me In - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
I’m Wastin’ My Tears on You - Tex Ritter
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Jimmy Boyd
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes - Skeets McDonald
Are You Lonesome To-night? - Elvis Presley
Wonderland by Night - Bert Kaempfert
North to Alaska - Johnny Horton
Wings of a Dove - Ferlin Husky
I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder
Stormy - Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost
Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell
Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) - Rod Stewart
The Rubberband Man - Spinners
You Make Me Feel Like Dancing - Leo Sayer
Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous - Johnny Duncan
Like a Virgin - Madonna
Sea of Love - The Honeydrippers
Cool It Now - New Edition
Why Not Me - The Judds
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.