“I’ve been very, very lucky through ups and downs. When you crash and burn, you have to pick yourself up and go on and hope to make up for it. The audience will always forgive you for being wrong and exciting, but never for being right and dull.”
1781 – British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, a former Patriot officer already infamous and much maligned for betraying the United States the previous year, added to his notoriety by ordering his British command to burn New London, Connecticut.
The burning of New London sealed his reputation as a public enemy and his name became a synonym in common American parlance for “traitor.” The bravery and military prowess Arnold had previously demonstrated on behalf of the Patriots at Ticonderoga and Quebec in 1775 have been completely overshadowed by his later actions against the country he had once so valiantly served.
1863 – At the Second Battle of Fort Wagner (Morris Island, SC), a 59-day siege ended when Confederate troops vacated the fort. The battle is well known for the heroics of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first major American military units made up of black soldiers.
On July 18, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw – rallying his troops forward with “the eyes of thousands will look upon what you do tonight” – had led the 54th Massachusetts on foot while they charged Fort Wagner. He was killed in the assault, along with 29 of his men. 24 more later died of wounds, 15 were captured, 52 were missing in action and never accounted for, and 149 were wounded.
The story of the 54th Massachusetts was depicted in the film, Glory. The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards and won three, including Denzel Washington for Best Supporting Actor.
1877 – Henry David Thoreau abandoned the small, self-built house on the shores of Walden Pond. He would later publish Walden, or Life In The Woods, recounting the two years, two months, and two days he had spent there.
The book initially won few admirers, but critics now regard it as a classic American work that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty as models for just social and cultural conditions.
1901 – President William McKinley was shaking hands at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, when a 28-year-old anarchist named Leon Czolgosz approached him and fired two shots into his chest. The president rose slightly on his toes before collapsing forward, saying “be careful how you tell my wife.”
He was rushed into surgery and seemed to be on the mend by September 12. Later that day, however, the president’s condition worsened rapidly and, on September 14, McKinley died from gangrene that had gone undetected in the internal wound.
1943 – A high-speed train traveling between New York City and Washington, D.C. derailed, killing 79 people. An apparent defect in an older car attached to the train combined with the placement of a signal gantry resulted in the deadly accident.
1958 – Wanted: Dead or Alive premiered on CBS. Actor Steve McQueen played bounty hunter Josh Randall – a man of few words but quite adept with his Winchester Model 1892 carbine. The program was a spin-off of Trackdown, a western series starring Robert Culp.
1966 – South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was stabbed to death by a deranged messenger during a parliamentary meeting in Cape Town. As minister of native affairs and later as South African leader, Verwoerd oversaw the introduction and application of South Africa’s racist apartheid policies. As prime minister from 1958, he instituted an intricate system of laws separating whites, black Africans, and Asians, and resettled blacks in backwater reservations.
After he had miraculously survived being shot twice in the head by an English farmer in 1960, Verwoerd had proclaimed that his survival was evidence of God’s approval of his work. During the next few years, Verwoerd’s government arrested anti-apartheid leaders such as Nelson Mandela and sentenced them to long prison terms on the basis of various convictions.
1976 – Soviet Air Force Lt. Viktor Belenko, while flying his MiG-25 “Foxbat” fighter on a practice mission from Chuguyevka air base in Siberia, suddenly dove to treetop level, switched off his radio, and flew as fast as possible toward Japan. With his plane’s fuel tanks nearly bone dry, he narrowly missed a commercial airliner taking off and plowed the MiG-25 onto a runway at a civilian airport in Hakodate, on the island of Hokkaido. He quickly asked for asylum in the United States.
For the Soviets, the MIG-25 incident was a major diplomatic and military embarrassment. To have one of their most advanced planes delivered into the hands of their enemy was viewed as a serious setback to the Soviet weapons program. As it turned out, Soviet technology was so far behind U.S. military technology that Western engineers learned very little of value from it, despite the plane being the most advanced fighter the Russians had at the time.
1976 – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were reunited by Frank Sinatra – after 20 years of not speaking. The former comedy team warmly met each other again during a surprise visit by Martin to Jerry’s annual Labor Day Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy.
1978 – Legendary record producer Tom Wilson died of a heart attack at the age of 47. One of the pioneers of folk-rock music production, Wilson played a big part in bringing that genre to the forefront of the music scene in the mid-1960s.
Wilson produced Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’, Another Side Of Bob Dylan, and Bringing It All Back Home albums – and Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone single, and Simon & Garfunkel’s Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. album. Wilson later took the duo’s original acoustic track of The Sound Of Silence and, without Simon or Garfunkel’s knowledge, overdubbed electric instruments, turning the track into a #1 pop hit.
In addition, Wilson produced Eric Burdon & The Animals’ San Franciscan Nights, The Mothers Of Invention’s Freak Out’ album, and co-produced The Velvet Underground’s debut album.
1984 – Amadeus premiered in Los Angeles.
A fictionalized story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the film went on to garner eleven Academy Award nominations, winning eight, including Best Picture, Best Director (Milos Forman), and Best Supporting Actor (F. Murray Abraham).
1990 – Tom Fogerty died at the age of 48.
The former member of Creedence Clearwater Revival – he quit the band in 1971 after a longstanding feud with his brother, John – had undergone back surgery, and was given a blood transfusion that was not screened for HIV. This caused him to become infected with the virus and subsequently resulted in his contraction of AIDS alongside his ensuing complications with tuberculosis.
1994 – Nicky Hopkins, piano session man extraordinaire, died at 50 from complications resulting from intestinal surgery related to his lifelong battle with Crohn’s disease.
How about just a few of Hopkins’ contributions to rock & roll history…
You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker), Give Me Love and Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison), Jealous Guy and Oh My Love (John Lennon), You’re Sixteen and Photograph (Ringo Starr), Revolution (Beatles), Getting In Tune (The Who), Mr. Pleasant (Kinks), She’s A Rainbow, Sympathy For The Devil, Gimme Shelter, Tumbling Dice, Angie and Waiting On A Friend (Rolling Stones) … and that really is just a few.
1995 – Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. played in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played. Ripken’s streak eventually ended at 2,632 games when he voluntarily removed himself from a game against the New York Yankees on September 19, 1998.
1997 – An estimated 2.5 billion people around the globe tune in to television broadcasts of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, who died at the age of 36 in a car crash in Paris the week before.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of London to watch her coffin being transported to Westminster Abbey, where politicians, celebrities and royalty gathered for her funeral.
2007 – Former Illinois police officer Drew Peterson was found guilty in the 2004 murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Her death originally was ruled an accident after her body was discovered in an empty bathtub at her suburban Chicago home; however, the 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy, led authorities to reopen the Savio case and eventually label her death a homicide.
2018 – Actor Burt Reynolds died of a heart attack at the age of 82.
Reynolds first rose to prominence when he starred in television series such as Gunsmoke, Hawk and Dan August. His breakthrough film role was as Lewis Medlock in Deliverance.
Reynolds played the leading role in a number of subsequent box office hits, such as White Lightning, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, Smokey and the Bandit II, and Hooper
Reynolds was voted the world’s number one box-office star for five consecutive years (1978–1982) in the annual Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll, but after a number of box-office failures, Reynolds returned to television, starring in the sitcom Evening Shade, which won him a Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
His performance in Boogie Nights brought him renewed critical attention, earning him another Golden Globe (for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture), with nominations for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2023 RayLemire.com / Streamingoldies.com All Rights Reserved.