Events - March 31
1880 - The first electric street lights ever installed by a municipality were turned on in beautiful Wabash, IN.
1889 - The Eiffel Tower opened in Gay Paree. A beautiful sight, no? Well, not so to writers, Guy deMaupassant and Alexandre Dumas who condemned the Eiffel Tower as a “horrid nightmare.” No pleasing some people, we guess... The Eiffel Tower was named after its designer, architect, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel who built the structure for the Paris Exhibition of 1889.
1918 - Daylight saving time went into effect throughout the United States for the first time. Folks would spring ahead an hour allowing for longer early evenings. The time change left enough light for many activities, especially in farming areas. Planting and such could best be done with the sun up an extra hour. And, of course, folks would fall back an hour to standard time in the fall.
1937 - Phil Harris recorded one of his best-known songs in Los Angeles, CA. "That’s What I Like About the South" was recorded on a 78 r.p.m. disk. Harris would move to TV stardom and continue as a popular vocalist during the 1950s with such hit songs as "The Thing". We wonder if he ever got rid of that “boom-ba-boom”...
1943 - The show, "Away We Go", was renamed. Never heard of it? We think you may have. The show opened at the St. James Theatre in New York City and, thanks to the talents of stars like Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts and Howard DeSilva, it became an instant hit. The show ran for 2,212 performances -- until 1948. The musical, which has grossed millions of dollars on stage and as a blockbuster movie was initially produced for the sum of $75,000. It is still legendary among musical productions -- especially after it was retitled "Oklahoma!" Now you know ... the rest of the story!
1945 - Tennessee Williams’ play, "The Glass Menagerie", arrived on Broadway in New York City to become what critics and the public called the best play of the year.
1953 - "Cavalcade of America" was heard for the final time on network radio. It had been the longest-running show of its kind. "Cavalcade of America" presented dramatized events in American history for 18 years.
1968 - Tony Jacklin became the first Englishman to win a modern-day U.S. golf tournament when he won the Greater Jacksonville Open.
1970 - A bankruptcy referee granted the owner of the Seattle Pilots permission to sell the major-league baseball franchise to investors in Milwaukee, WI. The Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers because the Milwaukee Braves had decided to move to Atlanta. Seattle then landed another American League franchise, the Mariners, sometime later -- producing a league champion in 1995. Incidentally, does a bankruptcy referee wear a striped shirt and use a whistle?
1972 - Swimmer Mark Spitz was presented the Amateur Athletic Union’s coveted Sullivan Award as the outstanding amateur athlete of 1971. Spitz went on to Olympic heroics a few months later, winning seven gold medals.
1973 - Ken Norton defeated Muhammad Ali in a 12-round split decision. Ali had his jaw broken during the fight.
1981 - "Ordinary People" (Ronald L. Schwary, producer) won four Academy Awards at the 53rd Oscar ceremonies. Johnny Carson hosted the show from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Oscars were presented to a lot of ordinary people, like "Tess" and "Melvin and Howard". However, it was the Best Picture, "Ordinary People", that also won for Best Director (Robert Redford), Best Supporting Actor (Timothy Hutton) and Best Writing (screenplay based on material from another medium: Alvin Sargent). Best Actor that year was Robert De Niro for "Raging Bull" and the Best Actress was Sissy Spacek for "Coal Miner’s Daughter". The Best Supporting Actress prize went to Mary Steenburgen for "Melvin and Howard" and Best Music/Song Oscars were awarded to Michael Gore (music) and Dean Pitchford (lyrics) for "Fame" from, uh, "Fame".
1985 - A reunion of stars lit up Beverly Hills, California, as ABC-TV celebrated the 200th episode of "The Love Boat". The network also honored the 1,000th guest star: Lana Turner. She was joined by Mary Martin, who was the 700th guest star to set sail on the show. Ginger Rogers was the 300th, Robert Guillaume #500 and we could go on but we won’t. "The Love Boat" had as a crew: Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), Dr. Adam Bricker (Bernie Kopell), Yeoman-Purser Burl ‘Gopher’ Smith (Fred Grandy, who went on to become a U.S. Congressman), Bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) and Photographer Ashley Covington Evans (Ted McGinley). Singer Jack Jones provided the vocal to the opening theme song and Ernie Anderson was the distinctive voice for the millions of network promos before each show.
Birthdays - March 31
1596 - Rene Descartes (‘Father of modern philosophy’: “I think, therefore I am.”; died Feb 11, 1650)
1621 - Andrew Marvell (poet: To His Coy Mistress; died Aug 16, 1678)
1809 - Edward Fitzgerald (author: translated Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat; died June 14, 1883)
1809 - Nikolai Gogol (playwright, novelist: Dead Souls; died Mar 4, 1852)
1823 - Mary Chestnut (author: A Diary from Dixie; died Nov 22, 1886)
1915 - Henry Morgan (Henry Lerner Von Ost, Jr.) (comedian: TV panel shows: I’ve Got a Secret; died May 19, 1994)
1918 - Tommy Bolt (golf champion: U.S. Open ; died Aug 30, 2008)
1922 - Richard (Paul) Kiley (Emmy Award-winning actor: The Thorn Birds , Blackboard Jungle, The Bad Seed, Looking for Mr. Goodbar; died Mar 5, 1999)
1927 - Cesar Chavez (labor leader: started the National Farm Workers Association, organizing migrant farm workers; died Apr 23, 1993)
1927 - William Daniels (Emmy Award-winning actor: St. Elsewhere; voice of Kitt on Knight Rider, The Graduate, Oh God!, Reds)
1928 - Gordie (Gordon) Howe (Hockey Hall of Famer: NHL: Detroit Red Wings [Hart Memorial Trophy: 1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963], Hartford Whalers; died Jun 10, 2016)
1928 - Lefty (William Orville) Frizzell (Country Music Hall of Famer: If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time, Always Late, Saginaw Michigan; died July 19, 1975)
1929 - Liz Claiborne (fashion designer; died Jun 26, 2007)
1931 - Miller Barber (golf champion: holds record for most wins in the Senior PGA Tour  from 1981 to 1992; died Jun 11, 2013)
1932 - John Jakes (author: California Gold, In the Big Country)
1934 - Richard Chamberlain (actor: Dr. Kildare, The Thorn Birds; Centennial, Shogun, The Towering Inferno, Julius Caesar, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Bourne Identity, King Solomon’s Mines; environmentalist in Hawaii)
1934 - Shirley Jones (singer, actress: Carousel, The Music Man, Oklahoma!, Elmer Gantry, The Partridge Family)
1935 - Herb Alpert (bandleader: Tijuana Brass: The Lonely Bull, Taste of Honey, The Work Song, This Guy’s in Love with You, Rise; record company executive: the "A" of A&M Records)
1938 - Bill Hicke (hockey: NHL: Montreal Canadiens, NY Rangers, Minnesota Rangers, Baltimore Clippers, Oakland Seals, California Golden Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins)
1943 - Christopher Walken (Ronald Walken) (actor: The Deerhunter, Batman Returns, Wayne’s World 2, Pulp Fiction)
1944 - Rod Allen (Rodney Bainbridge) (musician: bass, singer: group: The Fortunes: You’ve Got Your Troubles; died Jan 10, 2008)
1944 - Mick Ralphs (musician: guitar: groups: Mott The Hoople: All the Young Dudes, Bad Company: Can’t Get Enough, Ready for Love, Feel like Makin’ Love)
1945 - Gabe (Gabriel) Kaplan (actor, comedian: Welcome Back Kotter, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Nobody’s Perfekt)
1946 - Al Nichol (musician: guitar, keyboards: group: The Turtles: It Ain’t Me Babe, Let Me Be, You Baby, Happy Together, She’d Rather Be with Me, Elenore, You Showed Me)
1948 - Dwight David Eisenhower II (lawyer, author: Eisenhower at War; grandson of 34th U.S. President [Dwight D. Eisenhower]; married Julie Nixon, daughter of 37th U.S. President [Richard Nixon])
1948 - Al Gore (Albert Arnold Gore Jr.) (U.S. Senator from Tennessee [1985-1993]; 45th U.S. Vice President [under Bill Clinton 1993-2000])
1948 - Rhea Perlman (Emmy Award-winning actress: Cheers [1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1988-89]; Pearl, Carwash, Ratings Game, Class Act, Ted & Venus, Intimate Strangers)
1950 - Ed Marinaro (football: Minnesota Vikings running back: Super Bowl VIII, IX; actor: Hill Street Blues, Sisters, Dancing with Danger)
1953 - Sean Hopper (musician: keyboards, singer: groups: Clover; Huey Lewis and The News: Do You Believe in Love, Heart and Soul, I Want a New Drug, The Heart of Rock & Roll, Walking on a Thin Line, Bad is Bad, If This is It, Power of Love, Trouble in Paradise)
1955 - Angus Young (musician: guitar: group: AC/DC: LPs: Let There be Rock, Powerage, Highway to Hell, Back in Black, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, For Those about to Rock, Fly on the Wall)
1957 - Marc McClure (actor: Freaky Friday, Back to the Future series, Superman series, Apollo 13, That Thing You Do!)
Chart Toppers - March 31
Oh, What It Seemed to Be - The Frankie Carle Orchestra (vocal: Marjorie Hughes)
Day by Day - Frank Sinatra
Personality - Johnny Mercer
Guitar Polka - Al Dexter
Make Love to Me! - Jo Stafford
Wanted - Perry Como
Answer Me, My Love - Nat ‘King’ Cole
Slowly - Webb Pierce
Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You - Connie Francis
Johnny Angel - Shelley Fabares
Dream Baby - Roy Orbison
She’s Got You - Patsy Cline
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
Let It Be - The Beatles
Instant Karma (We All Shine On) - John Ono Lennon
The Fightin’ Side of Me - Merle Haggard
Night Fever - Bee Gees
Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees
Lay Down Sally - Eric Clapton
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys - Waylon & Willie
Rock Me Amadeus - Falco
R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. - John Cougar Mellencamp
Kiss - Prince & The Revolution
Don’t Underestimate My Love for You - Lee Greenwood
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.