Your Week in History: Bloodiest day and funniest cartoon - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Your Week in History: Bloodiest day and funniest cartoon

Civic Arena in Pittsburgh was the first retractable dome stadium. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Civic Arena in Pittsburgh was the first retractable dome stadium. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
This engraving depicts the assassination of President James Garfield. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This engraving depicts the assassination of President James Garfield. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
This pictures shows the aftermath of the Wall Street bombing Sept. 16, 1920. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This pictures shows the aftermath of the Wall Street bombing Sept. 16, 1920. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Old Faithful, shown here erupting, was discovered Sept. 18, 1870. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Old Faithful, shown here erupting, was discovered Sept. 18, 1870. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) – Last week was all about Sept. 11, and some things were passed over because of that.

The most intriguing of those is the death of President William McKinley, who died Sept. 14, 1901, after being shot while attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. McKinley's doctors couldn't find the bullet and his life might have been saved if they had something like an X-ray machine.

But they didn't have one, except for the fact that they did. It was on public display at the Exposition, they just didn't know it would help.

Anyway, there are a few more 9/11-related things this week about life returning to a sense of normalcy. Chief among these was the return of regular broadcasting to TV airwaves, ushered in beautifully by The Late Show with David Letterman. If you haven't seen the opening from Letterman's first show back Sept. 17, 2001, it's raw, emotional and perfect.

That show is also notable because CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who was the first guest, was moved to tears during his appearance.

Now let's move on happier things.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Sept. 16 and 22.

Life and Death

This week is a feast of John Wayne connections. First is Walter Brennan, who died Sept. 21, 1974, and starred alongside Wayne in multiple movies. Brennan is one of only three men who have won three Oscars. The others are Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis.

James Gregory is known for a variety of roles, but also appeared in The Sons of Katie Elder. He died Sept. 16, 2002. Jack Warden was born Sept. 18, 1920, and had notable roles in 12 Angry Men, All The President's Men, Heaven Can Wait and Problem Child, but he also had a role in Donovan's Reef.

Lauren Bacall was born Sept. 16, 1924, and starred with Wayne in his final film, The Shootist. She plays a widow who Wayne rents a room from while he waits to die. She also starred with Wayne in Blood Alley. Red Skelton died Sept. 17, 1997, and Wayne appeared on his show in a skit where the two men are supposed to be trying to shoot each other, but don't see each other because they're both wearing an eye patch.

Other actors not connected to John Wayne are Columbo portrayer Peter Falk, who was born Sept. 16, 1927, Wizard of Oz portrayer Frank Morgan, who died Sept. 18, 1949, TV's Batman, Adam West, who was born Sept. 19, 1928, J.R. Ewing, aka Larry Hagman, who was born Sept. 21, 1931, and George Patton portrayer and lookalike George C. Scott, who died Sept. 22, 1999.

James Lipton has interviewed countless actors - Wayne is not one of them - and was born Sept. 19, 1926, Oscar-winner Sophia Loren was born Sept. 20, 1934, and Gary Cole was born Sept. 20, 1956. Cole played Mike Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and was the play-by-play man in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, but is probably best known for his role as Bill Lumbergh in Office Space. Now, if I could go ahead and get you to read that last paragraph again, thaaat would be greaaat.

Hank Williams was born Sept. 17, 1923, and David Copperfield materialized from thin air Sept. 16, 1956.

French King Charles the Simple was born Sept. 17, 879. I'm not sure why he's called Charles the Simple and I couldn't find anyone called Charles the Complex.

Jimi Hendrix died Sept. 18, 1970, and Irving Berlin died Sept. 22, 1989.

McKinley wasn't the only president to have a dumb doctor. James Garfield died Sept. 19, 1881, and was basically killed by his doctors. Garfield had been shot months earlier and doctors couldn't find the bullet. For 11 weeks following the shooting, doctors kept searching for the bullet, reopening and closing his wound numerous times. He died as a result of blood poisoning from infections likely caused by the doctors repeatedly searching for the bullet.

Overlooked Anniversaries

Following the Battle of Baltimore, which was fought Sept. 12 to 15, 1814, Francis Scott Key finalized a poem he had started writing during the battle called Defense of Fort McHenry on Sept. 17, 1814. Today we know that poem as The Star-Spangled Banner, but nearly all of us only know the first of its four verses. If you attend enough sporting events, you'll see that a lot of us don't even know that much.

There are some classic versions, and there are also some awful versions.

Occupy Wall Street began Sept. 17, 2011, and Wall Street was bombed Sept. 16, 1920. The Constitution was signed Sept. 17, 1787, the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol was laid Sept. 18, 1793, Old Faithful was observed and named Sept. 18, 1870, Don't Ask Don't Tell was ended Sept. 20, 2011, Sandra Day O'Connor was unanimously approved as a Supreme Court Justice on Sept. 21, 1981, Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford on Sept. 22, 1975, and the last hangings for witchcraft were held Sept. 22, 1692, which is notable because it means at one point we hung people for witchcraft.

The greatest cartoon duo of all time debuted Sept. 17, 1949. Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner have raced through the American Southwest for decades in humorous fashion. Wile E. Coyote has employed every device known to man to catch that scrawny bird and all the devices have failed in every way imaginable, including some unimaginable ways and ways that the laws of physics and nature just won't allow to happen.

Their first cartoon was Fast and Furry-ous. In it, Wile E. Coyote enlists the help of a boomerang, school-girl disguise, rocket, giant boulder, paint, dynamite, "super outfit," ice box on skis, jet-propelled tennis shoes and an ax to take down his prey, all of which backfire in spectacular fashion.

In reality, he wouldn't need any of that because coyotes can run twice as fast as roadrunners, but real life roadrunners can fly. The cartoon version never did this, presumably because it never had to.

It's a huge week for stuff being published. The New-York Daily Times, which later became The New York Times, was first published Sept. 18, 1851, George Washington's farewell address was printed Sept. 19, 1796, the Unabomber's manifesto was printed Sept. 19, 1995, The Hobbit was published Sept. 21, 1937, the first issue of National Geographic magazine was published Sept. 22, 1888, and the most widely reprinted editorial Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, was first printed in the The New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897.

Something About Sports

Major League Baseball resumed play following 9/11 on Sept. 17, 2001, and returned in grand style, in a way only baseball can, with a poem written by legendary broadcaster Jack Buck. Four days later, baseball returned to New York in similar grand, baseball-only style with a dramatic home run by Mike Piazza.

Jack Dempsey lost to Gene Tunney in what became known as the Long Count Fight on Sept. 22, 1927. Dempsey knocked Tunney down for the first time in his career, and he stayed down for more than 10 seconds. Dempsey, however, ignored the referee's order to go to a neutral corner, which delayed the count from starting. Tunney ended up winning the fight by a unanimous decision.

The NFL organized Sept. 17, 1920, as the American Professional Football Association, and the first retractable dome stadium - Civic Arena - opened in Pittsburgh on Sept. 17, 1961. Civic Arena was known as The Igloo and was demolished in 2012.

Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes on Sept. 20, 1973. It's considered one of the greatest moments in women's sports history, but has recently faced allegations that Riggs tanked the match on purpose to square some gambling debts.

The Week in Warfare

Benedict Arnold surrendered West Point to the British Army on Sept. 21, 1780. If not for, you know, becoming a traitor, Arnold would have been seen as a hero of the Revolutionary War, and was one of the officers George Washington trusted the most.

Arnold took over command of West Point, which is now the site of the U.S. Military Academy, and agreed to surrender it in exchange for a commission as general in the British Army. The plot was finalized Sept. 21, when he turned over the plans to British Maj. John Andre. Andre was caught and the plot exposed two days later.

The single bloodiest day in American history was Sept. 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam. Known as the Battle of Sharpsburg to the Confederacy, it was the first major battle to take place on Union soil and resulted in more than 23,000 men being either killed or wounded - about four times as many as would be killed on D-Day.

The total number of forces was slightly smaller and the battle saw about half the casualties as Gettysburg less than a year later, but Antietam was fought over in a single day while Gettysburg was a three-day battle. The Union mounted a series of attacks on the Confederacy's defenses, but were continually stopped. The battle was largely a draw, but by the end of the day, the Confederacy had retreated due to the heavy losses.

The same day as the Battle of Antietam, the Allegheny Arsenal, which manufactured rifle cartridges and other military necessities for the Union, exploded resulting in the single greatest loss of civilian life during the Civil War.

Following a defeat in the Battle of Britain, Adolf Hitler postponed Operation Sea Lion, which was a planned invasion of the United Kingdom, Sept. 17, 1940. The invasion never materialized.

The U.S. Air Force became an independent branch of the military Sept. 18, 1947.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Avast, ye mateys! All ye land-lubbers walk the plank because Septem-barrrrrrrrr 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Take yer pirate personality inventory here. ARRRRRRRRRGHH!

I tested out as a quartermaster, which is described as being "bat-s--- crazy" and "the rest of the crew will goad you into berserker mode because it's kind of fun to watch." My coworkers can attest to that last statement being God's honest truth.

Preview of next week

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