“My own song ‘Alabama,’ richly deserved the shot Lynyrd Skynyrd gave me with their great record. I don’t like my words when I listen to it. They are accusatory and condescending.”
1949 – Hopalong Cassidy, the first television western, debuted on NBC.
The character of Cassidy was created in 1904 by author Clarence E. Mulford. Initially, Mulford portrayed the character as rude, dangerous, and rough-talking. He had a wooden leg which caused him to walk with a little “hop”, hence the nickname.
Beginning in 1935, the character – as played by movie actor William Boyd – was transformed into a clean-cut, sarsaparilla-drinking hero with his trusty horse, Topper. Sixty-six popular films appeared.
When “B” westerns had started to phase out, Boyd thought Hopalong might have a future in television.
He was right.
The series and character were so popular that Hopalong Cassidy was featured on the cover of national magazines such as Look, Life, and Time. The character was featured on the first lunchbox to bear an image, causing sales of Aladdin Industries lunch boxes to jump from 50,000 units to 600,000 units per year.
In stores, more than 100 companies in 1950 manufactured $70 million of Hopalong Cassidy products, including children’s dinnerware, pillows, roller skates, soap, and wristwatches.
1963 – Peter, Paul & Mary released their version of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind.
The single, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, was recorded (in one take) just three weeks after Dylan’s original recording had been released on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
1966 – The United States Senate voted 76-0 for the passage of what would become the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in September, the act created the nation’s first mandatory federal safety standards for motor vehicles.
1968 – The Doors released Hello, I Love You.
The single went to #1 but generated controversy when Ray Davies of The Kinks noticed the song’s musical structure was similar to the riff featured in The Kinks’ All Day and All of the Night.
“I said rather than sue them, can’t we just get them to own up? My publisher said, ‘They have, that’s why we should sue them!'”
In a 2014 interview, Davies suggested that an out-of-court settlement had been reached with the Doors.
1974 – Lynyrd Skynyrd released Sweet Home Alabama.
None of the three writers of the song were from Alabama. Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington were both born in Jacksonville, Florida, while Ed King was from Glendale, California.
Background:The song, which peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, was written as an answer to two songs by Neil Young; Southern Man and Alabama, which dealt with themes of racism and slavery in the American South.
Banjos playing through the broken glass
Windows down in Alabama
See the old folks tied in white ropes
Hear the banjo
Don’t it take you down home?
Young later commented on his role in the creation of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song, as noted at the top of this column.
Sweet Home Alabama also included references to the Governor of Alabama – George Wallace was a noted supporter of segregation – and the Watergate scandal.
In Birmingham, they love the governor (boo boo boo)
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth
In 1975, Van Zant said, “The lyrics about the governor of Alabama were misunderstood. The general public didn’t notice the words ‘Boo! Boo! Boo!’ after that particular line, and the media picked up only on the reference to the people loving the governor. Wallace and I have very little in common. I don’t like what he says.”
Guitarist Rossington agreed.
“A lot of people believed in segregation and all that. We didn’t. We put the ‘boo, boo, boo’ there saying, ‘We don’t like Wallace.'”
The choice of Birmingham in connection with the governor (rather than the capital city of Montgomery) was significant.
In 1963, the city was the site of massive civil rights activism, as demonstrators led by Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to desegregate downtown businesses, and was the scene of some of the most violent moments of the Civil Rights Movement.
Segregationist police chief Bull Connor unleashed attack dogs and high-pressure water cannons against peaceful marchers, including women and children.
Just weeks later, Ku Klux Klansmen bombed a black church, killing four little girls.
Music historians examining the juxtaposition of invoking Richard Nixon and Watergate after Wallace and Birmingham say the band was speaking for the entire South, saying to northerners, “we’re not judging all of you for the failures of the leaders in Watergate; don’t judge all of us as individuals for the racial problems of southern society.”
1981 – For Your Eyes Only, the twelfth in the James Bond series (and the fifth to feature Roger Moore as Agent 007), premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London.
Filmed on a budget of $28 million, the movie grossed $195 million worldwide but received mixed reviews from critics.
Ian Nathan of Empire magazine gave the film only two of a possible five stars, observing that the film “ranks as one of the most forgettable Bonds on record.”
1987 – Entertainer Jackie Gleason died of colon cancer at the age of 71.
While he is best known for The Honeymooners and The Jackie Gleason Show on television, he had a notable film career, as well.
Gleason was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of pool shark Minnesota Fats in The Hustler and drew praise for his portrayal of a beleaguered boxing manager in the movie version of Rod Serling’s Requiem For A Heavyweight. Gleason played a world-weary army sergeant in Soldier In The Rain (in which he received top billing over Steve McQueen).
And of course, he played the cantankerous and cursing Texas sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Smokey and The Bandit trilogy of films. Although the films brought him back into national attention, Gleason was not particularly thrilled to be part of them, especially the finale of the series which he said was “embarrassing and repugnant.”
1997 – Actor Brian Keith died at the age of 75 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Two of his best-known television roles were those of bachelor-uncle-turned-reluctant-parent Bill Davis in the 1960s sitcom Family Affair, and a tough retired judge in the 1980s crime drama, Hardcastle and McCormick.
Keith was dealing with financial problems and suffering from depression after his daughter Daisy had committed suicide two months earlier.
1997 – U.S. Air Force officials released a 231-page report dismissing long-standing claims of an alien spacecraft crash in Roswell, New Mexico almost exactly 50 years earlier.
The town became a magnet for UFO believers due to the strange events of early July 1947, when ranch foreman W.W. Brazel found a strange, shiny material scattered over some of his land.
He turned the material over to the sheriff, who passed it on to authorities at the nearby Air Force base. Officials soon announced they had recovered the wreckage of a “flying disc.” A local newspaper put the story on its front page, launching Roswell into the spotlight of the public’s UFO fascination.
The Air Force soon took back their story, however, saying the debris had been merely a downed weather balloon. UFO theorists argued that officials had in fact retrieved several alien bodies from the crashed spacecraft, which were now stored in the mysterious Area 51 installation in Nevada.
Seeking to dispel these suspicions, the Air Force issued a 1,000-page report in 1994 stating that the crashed object was actually a high-altitude weather balloon launched from a nearby missile test-site as part of a classified experiment aimed at monitoring the atmosphere in order to detect Soviet nuclear tests.
On this date, barely a week before the extravagant 50th anniversary celebration of the incident, the Air Force released yet another report on the controversial subject.
Titled The Roswell Report, Case Closed, the document stated definitively that there was no Pentagon evidence that any kind of life form was found in the Roswell area in connection with the reported UFO sightings, and that the “bodies” recovered were not aliens but dummies used in parachute tests conducted in the region.
Very few people bought that story, either.
2012 – Lonesome George, a male Pinta Island tortoise (and the last known individual of the species) died.
Most researchers believe he was in the 100-110 age range at the time of his death.
Over the decades, all attempts at mating Lonesome George had been unsuccessful, due to the lack of females of his own species.
In his last years, he was known as the rarest creature in the world and he served as an important symbol for conservation efforts in the Galápagos Islands and throughout the world.
2014 – Actor Eli Wallach died of natural causes at the age of 98.
Wallach had one of the longest ever careers in show business, spanning 62 years from his Broadway debut to his last major Hollywood studio movie.
Among his most famous films were Baby Doll, The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, The Good, the Bad and The Ugly How the West Was Won, The Godfather Part III, and The Two Jakes.
Wallach remained active well into his nineties, with roles as recently as 2010 in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and The Ghost Writer.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2019 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.