“Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I’m still standing, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”
1783 – Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis Francois Laurant d’Arlandes made the first flight in a balloon, thus becoming the first men to fly.
The pair flew nearly six miles around Paris in 25 minutes, reaching an altitude of around 300 feet.
Benjamin Franklin, the diplomatic representative of America, then in France, witnessed the balloon taking off and wrote in his journal:
“We observed it lift off in the most majestic manner. When it reached around 250 feet in altitude, the intrepid voyagers lowered their hats to salute the spectators. We could not help feeling a certain mixture of awe and admiration.”
1877 – Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph.
Edison stumbled on one of his greatest inventions while working on a way to record telephone communication at his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ.
His work led him to experiment with a stylus on a tinfoil cylinder, which, to his surprise, played back the short song he had recorded, “Mary had a little lamb.”
Public demonstrations of the phonograph made the inventor world famous, and he was dubbed the “Wizard of Menlo Park.”
1927 – A fight broke out between Colorado State Police and a group of striking coal miners during which the unarmed strikers were attacked with machine guns.
It remains unclear whether the machine guns were used by the police or by guards working for the mine. Six strikers were killed, and dozens were injured. Ironically, the massacre took place in the town of Serene.
1941 – Juanita Spellini became the first woman to be executed in California when she died in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison.
Described by the warden as “the coldest, hardest character, male or female, I have ever known,” Spellini had developed what she thought was a foolproof plan – taking homeless men into her home where she would cook and clean for them and train them to be professional criminals.
The men received a ten dollar weekly allowance, with Spinelli keeping everything they stole. But when she conspired to have one of her “boys” killed (because she feared he would talk), she was arrested and her gang members testified against her at her trial.
1941 – Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s chief architect and minister for armaments and war production, asked for 30,000 Soviet prisoners of war to use as slave laborers to begin a massive Berlin building program.
As minister of armaments and munitions, Speer’s job description expanded to include not only armament production and transportation, but also the direction of raw material use and finally the conscription of slave labor, culled from concentration camps, for war material production.
These slave laborers would come in handy for Hitler’s “new” Berlin. Speer wanted to begin construction even as the war waged. Despite the drain on resources, Hitler agreed.
But as the war turned against Nazi Germany, the rebuilding plans were scrapped. When the war was over, Hitler was dead, and Speer was convicted as a war criminal at Nuremberg and sentenced to 20 years in Spandau prison in Berlin.
1963 – President John F. Kennedy flew from Washington, DC to San Antonio, Texas.
After speaking at the Aero-Space Medical Health Center, he flew to Houston for a brief visit before flying to Fort Worth.
The next morning, he flew to Dallas.
1963 – Robert Stroud (one of the most notorious criminals in American history, but best known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz”) died at the age of 73, having been incarcerated for the last 54 years of his life, of which 42 were spent in solitary confinement.
Despite the nickname, Stroud was not allowed to keep birds in his cell at Alcatraz – his time with them was during his Leavenworth Prison days.
Although he was depicted as a mild mannered and humane person by Burt Lancaster in the movie Birdman Of Alcatraz, Stroud was an “extremely dangerous and menacing psychopath, disliked and distrusted by his jailers and fellow inmates.”
1964 – The Verrazano Narrows Bridge opened. Technically, it was the upper deck that was opened to traffic. The bridge, linking Brooklyn and Staten Island, was at the time the world’s longest suspension bridge at 4,260 ft.
1973 – J. Fred Buzhardt, counsel to President Richard Nixon, revealed the presence of an 18½ minute gap in a White House tape recording related to Watergate.
Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon’s secretary, claimed responsibility in a 1974 grand jury testimony for inadvertently erasing up to five minutes of the audio tape.
Her demonstration of how this might have occurred – which depended upon her stretching to simultaneously press controls several feet apart (what the press dubbed the “Rose Mary Stretch”) – was met with skepticism from those who believed the erasures, from whatever source, to be deliberate.
The contents of the gap remain a mystery.
1974 – Bombs devastated two central Birmingham, England pubs, killing 21 people and injuring over 180.
Police had attempted to clear both pubs, but the bombs went off only 12 minutes after a man with an Irish accent telephoned a local newspaper with a warning.
Six Irishmen, who became known as the Birmingham Six, were arrested immediately after and in 1975 were given life sentences for the bombings.
After 16 years in prison, their convictions were overturned after the court finally acknowledged that the scientific evidence and their “confessions,” which had been obtained through violence, were unreliable.
1976 – Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone as the underdog prizefighter Rocky Balboa, premiered in New York City.
The movie, which opened in theaters across the United States on December 3, was a huge box-office hit and received 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for the then-little known Stallone.
Rocky ultimately took home three Oscars, including one for Best Picture, and made Stallone one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
1980 – An estimated 82 million Americans tuned in to television’s Dallas to find out who shot J.R. Ewing on the final episode of the previous season.
The plot twist inspired widespread media coverage and left America wondering “Who shot J.R.?” for the next eight months.
The November 21 episode solved the mystery, identifying Kristin Shepard, J.R.’s wife’s sister and his former mistress, as the culprit.
1980 – A fire in a restaurant inside the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino killed 87 people, most through smoke inhalation.
Another 650 were injured.
At the time of the fire, approximately 5,000 people were in the hotel and casino, a 23-story luxury resort with more than 2,000 hotel rooms.
1986 – National Security Council staff member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, began shredding documents that would have exposed their participation in a range of illegal activities regarding the sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to a rebel Nicaraguan group.
On November 25, North was fired but Hall continued to sneak documents to him by stuffing them in her skirt and boots.
1988 – Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Carl Hubbell died due to injuries suffered in an auto accident. He was 85.
He is best remembered for his performance in the 1934 All-Star Game when he struck out five of the game’s greatest hitters in succession.
1995 – The Beatles released Anthology 1.
The double album followed The Beatles chronologically from the birth of The Quarrymen, through the end of 1964. It contained a collection of outtakes, rarities and live performances, plus the three remaining Beatles’ 1994 reworking of John Lennon’s 1977 piano demo Free As A Bird. That song was billed as the first “new” Beatles song in 25 years.
The cover of Anthology 1 was designed by Klaus Voormann (he created the Revolver cover) and Alfons Kiefer.
Original drummer Pete Best’s face was torn away in the center of the album cover, revealing the face of his successor, Ringo Starr. The bottom leftmost photograph on the cover does feature an unobscured Best. Original bassist Stu Sutcliffe can be seen in the top right corner.
2017 – Charlie Rose, co-anchor of CBS This Morning and Charlie Rose on PBS, was fired from both shows.
On November 20, eight women who were employees of, or aspired to work for Rose accused him of “contriving to be naked in their presence, groping them, and making lewd phone calls.”
The accusations, which were made in a report in The Washington Post, dealt with conduct rom the late 1990s to 2011.
On the day the article on the women’s statements was published, PBS suspended distribution of Rose’s show, and CBS announced that it was suspending Rose pending an investigation.
The investigation didn’t take long – less than 24 hours.
On this date, CBS and PBS terminated their contracts with Rose.
2017 – Actor/singer David Cassidy died of liver failure at the age of 67.
Best known for his role as Keith Partridge in the 1970s musical-sitcom The Partridge Family – a role that catapulted Cassidy to teen idol status as a superstar pop singer – he played 350 concerts in 17 countries while turning out 10 Partridge Family albums, eight solo albums and 17 singles.
And he did all of that before he turned 25.
In his later life, Cassidy found work in theater, performing in regional and touring productions, and he returned to performing in concert, both in the U.S. and abroad.
His last decade was punctuated with problems caused by alcoholism. Between 2010 and 2014 he was arrested three times for drunk-driving and he was sentenced to 90 days in rehab after the 2014 offense.
He continued to tour, but fans complained that he seemed drunk onstage and was forgetting lyrics to his songs. In February 2017, after falling down at a concert, he revealed that he had dementia – a claim he later admitted was a lie.
“I have a liver disease,” Cassidy explained in an interview just two months before his death. “There is no sign of me having dementia at this stage of my life. It was complete alcohol poisoning. The fact is that I lied about my drinking. I did this to myself to cover up the sadness and the emptiness.”
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2023 RayLemire.com / Streamingoldies. All Rights Reserved.