Your Week in History: An Olympic record and an identity crisis - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Your Week in History: An Olympic record and an identity crisis

This picture was taken Aug. 14, 1945, in Times Square after the announcement that Japan had surrendered to end World War II. (Source: U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons) This picture was taken Aug. 14, 1945, in Times Square after the announcement that Japan had surrendered to end World War II. (Source: U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons)
Macbeth was King of Scotland for 17 years and was the subject of a play by William Shakespeare. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Macbeth was King of Scotland for 17 years and was the subject of a play by William Shakespeare. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Ray Chapman, pictured here, was killed after being hit in the head by a pitch on Aug. 16, 1920. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Ray Chapman, pictured here, was killed after being hit in the head by a pitch on Aug. 16, 1920. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) – Today is known as the "Glorious Twelfth" in Great Britain, because nothing screams national holiday like shooting a bird.

If it was an American holiday, it would be for shooting the bird, but British people prefer to shoot actual birds, and celebrate the traditional opening of red grouse season Aug. 12 - unless it's a Sunday, because British law says hunting season can't open on a Sunday. As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time to kill, but only on weekdays.

So, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish the British royal family happy hunting, but remember you still have a few weeks before you can legally shoot peasants, er, pheasants.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Aug. 12 and Aug. 18.

Life and Death

Maureen O'Hara was born Aug. 17, 1920, and made a name for herself in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Miracle on 34th Street, in which she starred with John Payne, but she was later notable for starring in five movies alongside John Wayne. Her marital spat with Wayne in McLintock! is the driving force behind the movie and sets up the its climactic ending.

Henry Fonda, known for his roles in The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, On Golden Pond and Midway, died Aug. 12, 1982. Fonda also starred with Wayne in The Longest Day, Fort Apache and In Harm's Way. Glenn Corbett invented the warp drive on Star Trek, but he was also Wayne's antagonist in Chisum and Big Jake and was born Aug. 17, 1933.

Elmer Bernstein is known for his scoring of movies such as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Ghostbusters. He died Aug. 18, 2004, and contributed the music for many of Wayne's movies, including True Grit, The Sons of Katie Elder and The Shootist. Legendary Director Cecil B. DeMille was born Aug. 12, 1881, and directed Wayne in Reap the Wild Wind before making the biblical epic The Ten Commandments.

Robert Redford was born Aug. 18, 1936, and among other significant roles, played Bob Woodward in All the President's Men while he investigates the Watergate scandal aided by his anonymous source, "Deep Throat." Mark Felt was born Aug. 17, 1913, and revealed himself to be the real "Deep Throat" in 2005.

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was born Aug. 14, 1851, and Julia Child was both born and died this week. Child was born Aug. 15, 1912, and died Aug. 13, 2004, and showed the world how to live a life full of hot chocolate truffles, roasted potatoes and cream cheese. She could even cook with a blow torch.

There are a lot of baseball-related deaths this week, and they're almost all Yankees. Mickey Mantle (1995) and Phil Rizzuto (2007) both died Aug. 13, Babe Ruth died Aug. 16, 1948, and Pee Wee Reese, a Dodger, died Aug. 14, 1999.

Guitar inventor Les Paul died Aug. 12, 2009, exactly two years after Jeopardy! creator Merv Griffin died. Admiral David Farragut died Aug. 14, 1870, Coca-Cola inventor John Pemberton died Aug. 16, 1888, and Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell died Aug. 16, 1949.

Macbeth was King of Scotland for 17 years until his death Aug. 15, 1057, but the depiction of him by William Shakespeare is entirely fictional.

Cleopatra killed herself Aug. 12, 30 B.C., by allowing a snake to bite her. Of course, there are conflicting accounts. Some say she was murdered or that she ingested poison due to the nature of her death being inconsistent with snakebite.

Another controversial death is that of Elvis Presley, which occurred Aug. 16, 1977. "The King" died (yes, he actually did die) of a drug overdose, though an initial cover-up attempted to pass off his death as caused by a heart condition. In his system at the time of his death were large amounts of morphine, Codeine and Valium, in addition to other drugs, including at least one that was never identified.

Elvis had been on the toilet in an upstairs bathroom in his home but fell off when he died. There are many theories surrounding his death, including suicide, accidental overdose and anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction to Codeine given to him following a dentist's appointment. Another theory is that while using the bathroom, Presley was straining and suffered a seizure and died either from heart attack or suffocation. His funeral was held two days after his death and two people were killed when a car ran into a group of fans.

The bathroom in Graceland where he died is off limits to tourists but is located almost directly above the main entrance. Only Elvis' family and Nicolas Cage (seriously) have seen it.

Overlooked Anniversaries

The deadliest single-aircraft accident in aviation history happened Aug. 12, 1985, with the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123. The crash contributed to the deadliest month and deadliest year in aviation history when the plane suffered a mechanical failure and crashed into mountains shortly after takeoff. Of 535 people on board, only four survived.

The most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, named Sue, was found Aug. 12, 1990, construction began on the Berlin Wall on Aug. 13, 1961, the Social Security Act was created Aug. 14, 1935, the Wizard of Oz premiered Aug. 15, 1939, the Beatles played to 60,000 at Shea Stadium on Aug. 15, 1965, the 19th Amendment was ratified Aug. 18, 1920, the IBM personal computer was introduced Aug. 12, 1981, and Rocky Horror Picture Show was released Aug. 14, 1975, and it is still played in limited release, making it the longest running movie release in cinema history.

Richie Havens took the stage in Bethel, NY, on Aug. 15, 1969, to start a festival of "Three days of peace and music" known as Woodstock. Havens recently died and will have his ashes scattered at the site later this week.

Something About Sports

Major League Baseball players went on strike Aug. 12, 1994, in a work stoppage that canceled the World Series for the only time since 1904 and was the first time a labor dispute had forced the cancellation of a sport's playoffs.

South Africa was banned from the Olympics on Aug. 12, 1964, due to Apartheid, and the first issue of Sports Illustrated was published Aug. 16, 1954.

Ray Chapman became the first - and only - player in MLB history to die from being hit by a pitch Aug. 16, 1920. The pitch struck Chapman in the head and the impact was loud enough to fool some into believing he had hit it with his bat, and the ball was thrown to first base to record an out. It is believed a common practice at the time of scuffing and altering the ball led to his death and the so-called spitball was outlawed the next season as a result, but batting helmets weren't mandated for another 30 years.

Patricia Palinkas became the first woman to play professional football Aug. 15, 1970. She played for the Orlando Panthers in the Atlantic Coast Football League, and she was not a kicker, as some might assume. Her husband, however, was a kicker and she was his holder on field goal attempts.

Michael Phelps became the only person to win eight gold medals in a single Olympics on Aug. 17, 2008, the most dramatic of which came in the 100-meter butterfly final the previous day. Phelps edged Serbia's Milorad Cavic in .01 seconds, which is the smallest margin possible in swimming. Cavic was the first to touch the wall, but Phelps' later touch was stronger, which caused his finish to be recorded first and allowed for one of the best sports pictures ever taken.

The Week in Warfare

The Penobscot Expedition was defeated Aug. 12, 1779, in the largest U.S. naval loss until the attack on Pearl Harbor. While attempting to lay siege to a British fort in what is now Maine, a British fleet arrived and drove the siege ships up the Penobscot River and into self-destruction.

Seventy-five U.S. prisoners of war were executed in the Bloody Gulch massacre Aug. 12, 1950, by the North Korean People's Army. Five days later, 41 POWs were killed in the Hill 303 massacre.

Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps on Aug. 13, 1918.

Japan announced its surrender in World War II on Aug. 14, 1945. The event was chronicled by a famous picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square. The identities of the people in the picture have been the subject of much controversy. At least three women and 11 men have claimed to be the mystery couple in the photo, and their identities are still disputed.

The date of celebration for Victory over Japan Day, or V-J Day, is nearly as convoluted. Aug. 14 is the day President Harry Truman received word of the Japanese surrender and announced it to the U.S. That's also the day the picture was taken. But due to international time differences, it was Aug. 15 in Japan and that is the day the announcement was officially made to the world.

Sept. 2 also stakes a claim to V-J Day because that is the day the treaty was signed officially ending the war, and it is the day Truman formally called V-J Day.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Left-hander's Day is Aug. 13. I have a handedness identity crisis. I am what you would call cross-dominant. I throw right-handed and play golf right-handed, but I write and eat left-handed. I play pool and Ping-Pong left-handed, but bowl right-handed. I'm not a hunter, but when I was a kid I shot my toy rifle left-handed, but used my right hand for a real bow and arrow.

I don't know if there is a day for me, but in lieu of one, I'll celebrate my semi-left-handedness. I like to claim being left-handed because despite being discriminated against, more inclined to be angry and scared and predisposed to early death, left-handers are smarter and richer, and make better romantic partners.

Preview of next week


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