Events - December 24
1818 - Franz Gruber of Oberndorf, Germany composed the music for "Silent Night" to words written by Josef Mohr. The traditional song was sung for the first time during Midnight Mass this night.
1867 - “Oh by gosh by golly!” Is it that time already? It was Christmas Eve that R.H. Macy’s department store in New York City remained open until midnight to catch last-minute shoppers. The store took in a record $6,000, giving itself a very Merry Christmas.
1871 - Opera-goers in Cairo, Egypt were treated to Verdi’s "Aida" in its world premiere. The composer was commissioned to write the opera for festivities celebrating the opening of the Suez Canal.
1889 - Daniel Stover and William Hance, of Freeport, Illinois, were up late putting together bicycles for their tiny tots when, lo and behold, they patented the back pedal brake! It would later be known as the safety brake and became a standard feature on most brands of bikes. Today, we have 18 gears on a bike (more than on a big rig truck!). We need two hands to use the brakes instead of just pedaling backwards with our feet. Ah, those were the days.
1906 - Professor Reginald A. Fessenden sent his first radio broadcast from Brant Rock, MA. The program included a little verse, some violin and a speech.
1948 - The first completely solar-heated house was occupied by the first solar-heated people -- in Dover, MA.
1950 - Coach Paul Brown won his fifth straight pro-football championship as Lou Groza kicked a field goal in the final 20 seconds. The Cleveland Browns edged the Los Angeles Rams, 30-28.
1951 - NBC-TV presented the first opera written for television. "Amal and the Night Visitors" became a Christmas classic.
1953 - "Dragnet", starring Jack Webb as Detective Joe Friday, became the first network program to be sponsored. "Dragnet" was on NBC-TV, for you who want the facts, just the facts. “Who was the sponsor, you ask?” Fatima cigarettes, that’s who.
1955 - The lovely Lennon Sisters debuted as featured vocalists on "The Lawrence Welk Show" on ABC-TV. They became regulars with Welk within a month and stayed on the show until 1968.
1968 - The moon seemed a little closer to Earth this day ... and the world got a little smaller. Three astronauts, James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman, had reached the moon. It had been just three days earlier that Borman, Captain of Apollo 8, and his team left Cape Kennedy. Before their return to Earth, the three astronauts would orbit the moon ten times, paving the way for the first Earthling to walk on the lunar surface some seven months down the road. People all around the globe were able to see (via direct TV transmission) the most important parts of the Apollo 8 mission. This night proved to be one of the most emotional moments of the space flight. It was Christmas Eve, and Lovell, Anders and Borman, 250,000 miles from home, were reading verses from their bible and transmitting a message to all mankind calling for “peace on earth.”
1976 - Takeo Fukuda became prime minister of Japan. He was the political boss until Dec 1978.
1977 - The Bee Gees spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve at the top of the music charts. "How Deep is Your Love" became #1 this day and stayed that way for three weeks.
1981 - Reggie Jackson picked Christmas Eve to announce that he would join Gene Autry’s California Angels for the 1982 season.
1985 - A graying beard, olive-green uniform and Cuban cigar -- once trademarks of Fidel Castro -- were no more. The Cuban presidente announced that he was a non-smoker.
1988 - "Giving You the Best that I’ve Got", by Anita Baker, was #1 on U.S. album charts for four weeks. The other albums in the top five that week: "Rattle and Hum" by U2; The soundtrack from "Cocktail"; "Appetite for Destruction" by Guns N’ Roses; and Bon Jovi’s "New Jersey".
1993 - Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who applied Christianity to everyday problems and had a keen understanding of human psychology, died at age 95. Peale’s book, "The Power of Positive Thinking", has sold many millions of copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 40 languages.
1994 - Pearl Jam’s album "Vitalogy" hit #1 for one week in the U.S. The other top-five albums of the week were: "Miracles: The Holiday Album", by Kenny G; "Live at the BBC", by The Beatles; Mariah Carey’s "Merry Christmas"; and "II", by Boyz II Men.
Birthdays - December 24
1745 - Benjamin Rush (‘father of psychiatry’: physician: paper: Inquiry: the 1st American to recognize alcoholism as a disease; signer of America’s Declaration of Independence; died Apr 19, 1813)
1809 - Kit (Christopher) Carson (frontiersman: subject of adventure novels; fur trapper, guide, American Indian agent and brevet Union general; died May 23, 1868)
1818 - James Joule (physicist: discovered the SI unit of work or energy: Joule’s Law, also called the newton-meter; died Oct 11, 1889)
1822 - Matthew Arnold (poet, essayist: Culture and Anarchy; died Apr 4, 1888)
1894 - Harry Warren (Salvatore Guaragna) (composer: Song Writer’s Hall of Famer: Best Song Oscars: Lullaby of Broadway , You’ll Never Know , On the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe [w/Johnny Mercer-1946]; You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby, That’s Amore; died Sep 22, 1981)
1905 - Howard Hughes (industrialist: Hughes Aircraft; pilot [the ‘Spruce Goose’]; Hollywood producer: Jean Harlow’s career; The Front Page, Scarface, The Outlaw; eccentric recluse: long fingernails; died Apr 5, 1976)
1907 - I.F. (Isidor Feinstein) Stone (journalist: I.F. Stone’s Weekly, I.F. Stone’s Bi-Weekly; died July 17, 1989)
1914 - Ralph Marterie (‘Caruso of the trumpet’: musician, bandleader: Pretend, Caravan, Skokiaan; died Oct 10, 1978)
1922 - Ava (Lavinia) Gardner (actress: The Barefoot Contessa, Earthquake, The Long Hot Summer, The Night of the Iguana; once married to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, Frank Sinatra; died Jan 25, 1990)
1924 - Carol Haney (dancer: member of Jack Cole dance company, worked with Bob Fosse; in film: Pajama Game; died May 10, 1964)
1930 - Robert Joffrey (Khan) (choreographer: The Joffrey Ballet; died Mar 25, 1988)
1931 - Jill Bennett (actress: For Your Eyes Only, The Old Curiosity Shop, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Sheltering Sky; died Oct 4, 1990)
1931 - Ray Bryant (pianist, composer: Slow Freight, Little Susie, Cubano Chant, The Madison Time, Sack of Woe, After Hours; died Jun 2, 2011)
1944 - Mike Curb (music executive: producer: Oscar-winner: You Light Up My Life ; Curb Records; The Mike Curb Congregation: United We Stand, Sweet Gingerbread Man)
1945 - Cas Banaszek (football: San Francisco 49ers OT)
1945 - (Ian) Lemmy Kilmister (musician: bass, singer: group: Motorhead; died Dec 28, 2015)
1945 - Nicholas Meyer (playwright, director: Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country, Company Business, Time After Time; playwright: Sommersby, Start Trek 4: The Voyage Home, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Invasion of the Bee Girls; director: Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, The Deceivers, Volunteers, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Day After)
1946 - Jan Akkerman (musician: guitar, lute: bands: Friendship Sextet, Johnny and the Cellar Rockers, Brainbox, Focus, Eli)
1955 - Clarence Gilyard Jr. (actor: Walker, Texas Ranger, CHiPs, Top Gun, The Karate Kid, Part II, Die Hard, Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake, Left Behind: The Movie)
1957 - Ian Burden (musician: bass: group: Human League: Don’t You Want Me, [Keep Feeling] Fascination, Mirror Man, The Lebanon, Life on Your Own, Louise)
1966 - Diedrich Bader (actor: The Beverly Hillbillies , Hercules, Hollywood Squares, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)
1971 - Ricky Martin (Latin music star, singer: group: Menudo; solo: LPs: Ricky Martin, Me Amaras, A Medio Vivir; actor: General Hospital, Barefoot in Paradise, Mas que Alcanzar una Estrella; Broadway actor: Les Miserables)
Chart Toppers - December 24
It Might as Well Be Spring - The Sammy Kaye Orchestra (vocal: Billy Williams)
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
It’s Been a Long, Long Time - The Harry James Orchestra (vocal: Kitty Kallen)
Silver Dew on the Blue Grass Tonight - Bob Wills
Ebb Tide - The Frank Chacksfield Orchestra
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Ricochet - Teresa Brewer
Let Me Be the One - Hank Locklin
The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens
Run to Him - Bobby Vee
The Twist - Chubby Checker
Walk on By - Leroy Van Dyke
Leaving on a Jet Plane - Peter, Paul & Mary
Someday We’ll Be Together - Diana Ross & The Supremes
Down on the Corner/Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
(I’m So) Afraid of Losing You Again - Charley Pride
How Deep is Your Love - Bee Gees
Blue Bayou - Linda Ronstadt
(Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again - L.T.D.
Here You Come Again - Dolly Parton
Say You, Say Me - Lionel Richie
Party All the Time - Eddie Murphy
Alive & Kicking - Simple Minds
The Chair - George Strait
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
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