353rd day of 2010 - 12 remaining
Sunday, December 19, 2010

In 1903, the Williamsburg Bridge which, incidentally, is located nowhere near Williamsburg, Virginia, was opened in New York City, where the East River provides a lot more water. (Actually there is a section of NYC referred to as Williamsburg.) At any rate, this was America’s first major suspension bridge (1600 feet). It cost $24,000,000 to build -- in 1903 dollars.

The Verrazano Narrows suspension bridge in New York, completed in 1964, is the longest suspension bridge in the U.S. (4,260 ft.) For you West Coast fans, the Golden Gate is sixty feet shorter than the Verrazano.

Now we’ll end your suspense and tell you which suspension bridge is the longest in the world. It is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, which cost about $3.8 billion. Opened on April 5, 1998, it links Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, with the biggest island of Honshu. The mid-section length, between the bridge’s two massive support towers, measures 6,529 feet (about 1,990 meters), making it over 1,900 feet longer than the previous record holder, the Humber Estuary Bridge in the United Kingdom. That span is 4,626 feet or 1,410 meters.

By definition, a suspension bridge is one with a deck suspended from cables anchored at their extremities and usually raised on towers.

Events December 19

1776 - Thomas Paine published his first American Crisis essay, Common Sense, in which he wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The impassioned pamphlet helped ignite the American Revolution.

1777 - U.S. General George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to camp for the winter.

1863 - London’s Frederick Walton patented linoleum. What the heck is linoleum, you ask? Well, linoleum is a floor covering made from linseed oil, tall oil, rosin, cork, woodflour, chalk, clay, and pigments, pressed into sheets with a jute backing. Oxidation of the oil is accelerated by heating, so that the oil mixture solidifies into a tough, resilient material. Linoleum tiles have a backing made of polyester and glass. Now, I have a headache and must go lie down for a while...

1891 - The first Black Josephite Catholic priest was ordained in the U.S.. He was Charles Uncles of Baltimore.

1917 - The first games of the new National Hockey League were played on this day. Five teams made up the league: Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec, the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Wanderers.

1918 - Robert Ripley began his Believe It or Not column in The New York Globe.

1939 - A movie premiere audience premiered on TV. Station W2XBS in New York City presented the festivities being held in front of the Capitol Theatre. Ben Grauer was Master of Ceremonies for the event which marked the New York debut of Gone With The Wind. W2XBS, an experimental station, became WNBT, which became WNBC-TV. Gone With The Wind became even more famous.

1941 - Adolf Hitler assumed the position of Commander in Chief of the German Army, after accepting the resignation of Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch. Hitler called von Brauchitsch a “vain, cowardly wretch.”

1945 - The Congress confirmed former first-lady Eleanor Roosevelt as U.S. delegate to the U.N.

1946 - Troops under Ho Chi Minh launched widespread attacks against the French in Indochina (Vietnam).

1950 - U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was named commander of the military forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

1957 - Meredith Willson’s The Music Man opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. The Broadway show starred Robert Preston and had a run of 1,375 shows. It also had 76 trombones and 101 cornets in the band ... and a librarian named Marian, remember?

1958 - U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower made the first radio broadcast from outer space. Ike’s recorded voice sent a Christmas greeting to the world from an orbiting satellite. The satellite was named SCORE, an acronym for Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment. Eisenhower’s message said, “This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and good will to men everywhere.”

1959 - Penn State’s Nittany Lions beat Alabama, 7-0, in the first Liberty Bowl. The football game was played at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, PA. (Since 1965, the Liberty Bowl has been played in Memphis, TN.)

1960 - Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl was released on RCA Victor Records. The song became Sedaka’s fourth record to make the charts. Other hits from the guy who made money off of a love song for Carole King (Oh, Carol) include The Diary, Stairway to Heaven, Bad Girl, Next Door to an Angel, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Laughter in the Rain and Breaking Up is Hard to Do.

1960 - Frank Sinatra recorded his first session with his very own record company. Frank did Ring-A-Ding-Ding and Let’s Fall in Love for Reprise Records.

1961 - Judgment At Nuremberg opened in New York City with a star-studded cast including Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, and Maximillian Schell (he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance). The film received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay plus nine other nominations.

1965 - Charles de Gaulle was elected to a second seven-year term (1966-1973) as president of France. de Gaulle defeated Francois Mitterrand in the election.

1972 - Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, concluding the Apollo program of manned landings on the moon.

1973 - Johnny Carson pulled a good one before a nationwide late-night audience on NBC. Carson started a fake toilet-paper scare. In his Tonight Show monologue, he told his huge audience that a Wisconsin congressman had warned that toilet paper was disappearing from supermarket shelves. Toilet paper soon became a scarce commodity in many areas of the United States after the gag.

1974 - Nelson A. Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president of the United States after a House vote. President Gerald R. Ford nominated Rockefeller to fill the vacant vice presidency following the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in August 1974.

1975 - John Paul Stevens became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Stevens had been nominated by President Gerald R. Ford.

1976 - A Piper Cherokee crashed into the upper stands at Baltimore Memorial Stadium. The crash happened just ten minutes after the Colts lost (40-14) to the Pittsburgh Steelers. No one was seriously hurt (in the crash or the game).

1984 - Wayne Gretsky, 23, of the Edmonton Oilers led his hockey team to a 7-3 victory over Los Angeles. He got two goals and four assists and became only the 18th player in the National Hockey League to score more than 1,000 points.

1984 - British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed an accord returning the British colony of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

1985 - Jan Stenerud announced his retirement from the NFL. The football kicker holds the record for the most career field goals with 373. He made those field goals while kicking for the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings beginning in 1967.

1985 - ABC Sports announced that it was severing ties with Howard Cosell and released ‘The Mouth’ from all TV commitments. ‘Humble’ Howard continued on ABC radio for another five years.

1986 - The Soviet Union announced that it had freed dissident Andrei Sakharov from internal exile, and pardoned his wife, Yelena Bonner.

1993 - Michael ‘Mike’ Clarke, 49, the original drummer for The Byrds, died of liver failure at his Treasure Island (St. Petersburg FL) home. Clarke, the youngest of the Byrds, joined the group at its inception in 1964, and stayed with the band through the end of 1967. He had sparked a lawsuit from other original band members in 1989 when he started performing under the Byrds’ name.

1996 - Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni died in Paris. Mastroianni, 72, had appeared in over 100 films and had just finished shooting Journey to the Beginning of the World.

1997 - A big day for new movies in the U.S.: Titanic, starring Leonardo Dicaprio Kate Winslet Billy Zane and Kathy Bates, the biggest grossing movie of all time (has topped the $600-million mark); Mouse Hunt, with Nathan Lane, Lee Evans, Christopher Walken and Vicki Lewis; and Tomorrow Never Dies, starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond... James Bond, Judi Dench as M, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Samantha Bond as Moneypenny.

1998 - Bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez died in Spain of liver cancer at 66 years of age.

1999 - Actor Desmond Llewelyn, who starred as the eccentric gadget expert Q in a string of James Bond films, was killed in a car crash in East Sussex, England. He was 85 years old.

2000 - A volcano outside Mexico City spewed a fiery fountain of ash and rock in its most spectacular eruption in more than a millennium. It left towns around the mountain’s base deserted as frightened residents fled. The eruption of the 17,886-foot mountain was its biggest show in 1,200 years, as the mountain, known locally as ‘Popo’, filled nearby valleys with lava.

2001 - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring opened in the U.S. The fantasy adventure stars Elijah Wood, Ian Mckellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo sWeaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm and Andy Serkis.

2001 - The fires that had burned beneath the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York City were declared extinguished. The fires that began with the September 11 terror attacks had been strong enough that firetrucks had to spray a nearly constant jet of water on them for the previous three months.

2002 - A judge in New York threw out the convictions of five young men in a 1989 attack on a Central Park jogger who had been raped and left for dead. The five men had served years in prison for the 1989 rape and beating of the woman jogger.

2003 - Films debuting in the U.S.: Calendar Girls, starring Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, John Alderton, Linda Bassett, Annette Crosbie, Philip Glenister, Ciaran Hinds, Celia Imrie, Geraldine James, Penelope Wilton; the documentary The Fog of War, with Robert McNamara; and Mona Lisa Smile, starring Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dominic West, Juliet Stevenson, John Slattery, Topher Grace, Marcia Gay Harden, Marian Seldes, Ginnifer Goodwin.

2003 - Actress Hope Lange, 70, died in Santa Monica, CA. Lange made her screen debut in Bus Stop (1956), getting critical and audience attention despite her omnipresent co-star Marilyn Monroe. Signed to a 20th Century Fox contract, Lange was Oscar nominated for her performance in Peyton Place (1957) and was equally impressive in such films as The Young Lions (1957) and The Best of Everything (1959).

2003 - Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, after secret negotiations with the U.S. and the U.K., agreed to halt its program to develop nuclear and chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Libya also admitted to a history of cooperation with North Korea to develop extended-range Scud missiles.

2003 - It was announced that the signature New York City skyscraper at the World Trade Center site would be a 1,776-foot glass tower that twists into the sky, topped by energy-generating windmills and a spire that evokes the Statue of Liberty. The plan was produced after months of negotiations between Daniel Libeskind, who designed the five-building site plan, and David Childs, the lead architect for the Freedom Tower.

2004 - Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin met with Moammar Gadhafi. Martin was one of a string of world leaders to visit Tripoli following the Libyan strongman’s repudiation of terrorism.

2005 - Chalk’s Ocean Airways Flight 101 flying from Miami, Florida to Bimini, Bahamas, crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 18 passengers and two crew members.

2006 - Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest casino company, accepted a $27.8 billion offer from Apollo Management LP and Texas Pacific Group.

2007 - Flakes opened in U.S. movie theatres. The comedy stars Zooey Deschanel, Aaron Stanford and Izabella Miko.

2007 - U.S. President George Bush (II) signed a bill ordering an increase in automobile fuel efficiency -- the first increase in 32 years.

2008 - New movies in the U.S.: Seven Pounds, starring Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Robinne Lee; and The Tale of Despereaux, with Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciaran Hinds, Robbie Coltrane, Tony Hale, Frances Conroy, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Lloyd and Sigourney Weaver.

2008 - The George Bush (II) administration approved an emergency bailout of the U.S. auto industry, offering $17.4 billion in rescue loans in exchange for concessions from carmakers and their workers.

2008 - France announced a €7.5-billion ($10.5-billion) package of financial aid for the Baltic state of Latvia from the European Union and other international lenders.

2008 - IRS agents arrested Ausaf Umar Siddiqui, vice president of Frye’s Electronics in San Jose, CA, for gambling with millions in stolen money. Since 2005 he had embezzled over $65 million through a kickback scheme engineered from his office.

2009 - Four passenger trains broke down in the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France, stranding some 2,000 passengers for hours, without heating, light or water. Fatigued passengers arrived in London 10 hours late after a long night trapped on trains. The problem began because of the abrupt temperature change when trains traveled through extremely cold air in France and then entered the warm ‘Chunnel’.

Birthdays December 19

1790 - Sir William Edward Parry
explorer: Arctic & Northwest Passage expeditions; died Jul 8, 1855

1865 - Minnie Fiske (Marie Augusta Davey)
actress: first appeared on stage at age of three; died Feb 15, 1932

1888 - Fritz Reiner
musician, conductor: The Mysterious Mountain; died Nov 15, 1963

1894 - Ford Frick
Baseball Hall of Famer: Commissioner of Baseball; died April 8, 1978

1902 - Sir Ralph Richardson
actor: Invitation to the Wedding, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Time Bandits, Charlie Muffin, Jesus of Nazareth, The Man in the Iron Mask; died Oct 10, 1983

1906 - Leonid Brezhnev
Russian leader of the Communist Party; died Nov 10, 1982

1915 - Édith Piaf (Édith Giovanna Gassion)
French cabaret singer, actress; died Oct 10, 1963

1920 - ‘Little’ Jimmy ****ens
Country Music Hall of Famer: Country Boy, My Heart’s Bouquet , May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose

1920 - David Susskind
Emmy Award-winning producer: The Ages of Man [1966], Death of a Salesman [w/Daniel Melnick, 1967], executive producer: Eleanor and Franklin-ABC Theatre [1976], Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years-ABC Theatre [1977]; Kraft Television Theatre, Good Company; TV host: Open End, The David Susskind Show; died Feb 22, 1987

1924 - Doug Harvey
hockey: NHL: Montreal Canadiens [Norris Trophy: 1955-58, 1960-61], NY Rangers [Norris Trophy: 1962], St. Paul Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, SL Blues

1926 - Bobby Layne
Pro Football Hall of Famer [quarterback, field goal kicker]: NFL: Chicago Bears, New York Bulldogs, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers; career: 1,814 completions for 26,768 yds, 372 points scored, 196 touchdowns and 2,451 rushing yards; died Dec 1, 1986

1928 - Galt MacDermot
composer: Hair, Cotton Comes to Harlem, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Take This Bread, Karl Marx Play, Isabel’s a Jezebel

1929 - Howard Sackler
Pulitzer Prize-winning author: The Great White Hope [1969]; Fear and Desire, Jaws 2; died Oct 12, 1982

1933 - Cicely Tyson
Emmy Award-winning actress: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman [1973-74], Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All [1993-94]; Roots, Fried Green Tomatoes, Heat Wave, Sounder

1934 - Al (Albert William) Kaline
Baseball Hall of Famer: Detroit Tigers [World Series: 1968]

1935 - Tony (Antonio Nemesio Sanchez) Taylor
baseball: Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies [all-star: 1960], Detroit Tigers

1937 - Albert Moses
actor: East Is East, Anna Lee: Headcase, Queenie, The Little Drummer Girl, Octo*****, The Jewel in the Crown, An American Werewolf in London

1938 - Barbara Steele
actress: The Prophet, War and Remembrance, The Winds of War, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

1940 - Phil Ochs
folk singer, songwriter: There But for Fortune, Doesn’t Lenny Live Here Anymore?, Here’s to the State of Richard Nixon; died Apr 9, 1976

1941 - Maurice White
singer, musician: drummer; founder of group: Earth, Wind & Fire: Shining Star, Sing a Song, Got to Get You into My Life, After the Love Has Gone, Best of My Love

1942 - Bob Windsor
football: Univ. of Kentucky, New England Patriots

1944 - Richard Leakey
anthropologist, author: Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human

1944 - Alvin Lee
musician: group: Ten Years After: A Space in Time

1944 - Tim Reid
actor: WKRP in Cincinnati, Frank’s Place

1944 - Zal Yanovsky
musician: guitar, singer: group: The Lovin’ Spoonful: Do You Believe in Magic, You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice, Daydream, Did You ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?, Summer in the City, Rain on the Roof, Nashville Cats; died Dec 13, 2002

1945 - John McEuen
musician: guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, steel guitar, fiddle, 5-string banjo: group: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Sunny Side of the Mountain, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Fishin’ in the Dark, American Dream, Will the Circle Be Unbroken; producer: The Dillards: A Night in the Ozarks; solo LPs: Acoustic Traveller, Vanguard Visionaries

1946 - Robert Urich
actor: Spenser: for Hire, Final Descent, Boatworks, The Lazarus Man, Danielle Steel’s A Perfect Stranger, Vegas, Magnum Force; died Apr 16, 2002

1947 - Larry Ely
football: Univ. of Iowa [all-star 1969], Cincinnati Bengals

1947 - Janie Fricke
singer: CMA Female Vocalist of the Year [1982 and 1983]; It Ain’t Easy

1949 - Claudia Kolb
U.S. Olympic Gold swimmer: 200-meter Individual Relay and 400-meter Individual Relay [1968]

1952 - Jeff Davis
musician: bass: group: Amazing Rhythm Aces: Third Rate Romance

1957 - Kevin McHale
Basketball Hall of Famer: Boston Celtics forward: sixth man award [1984, 1985]; NBA all-defensive team [1986, 1987, 1988]; played in 3 NBA championships [1981, 1984, 1986]; his number retired by the Celtics

1961 - Reggie White
football: Green Bay Packers DE [Pro Bowl: 1986-1993, 1995-1997]; died Dec 26, 2004

1962 - Josh Phillips
musician: drums: group: Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale, She Wandered Through the Garden Fence, Something Following Me, Mabel, Cerdes [Outside the Gates Of], Conquistador

1963 - Jennifer Beals
actress: Four Rooms, Devil in a Blue Dress, Day of Atonement, Indecency, Vampire’s Kiss, The Bride, Cinderella, Flashdance, 2000 Malibu Road

1963 - Til Schweiger
actor: Blaze, Barfuss, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Les Dalton, King Arthur, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

1964 - Béatrice Dalle
actress: Truands, L’Intrus, Vendetta, Trouble Every Day, Al limite, Clubbed to Death (Lola), Night on Earth, La Visione del Sabba, 37°2 le matin

1964 - Mike Fetters
baseball [pitcher]: Pepperdine Univ; California/Anaheim Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, L.A. Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins

1965 - Jessica Steen
actress: Homefront, Earth 2, Seinfeld, Trial and Error, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, ER, Touched by an Angel, Murder One, The Outer Limits, Flip Phone, Society’s Child, The Pact, Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice, On Hostile Ground, Question of Privilege

1966 - Robert MacNaughton
actor: I am the Cheese, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

1966 - Eric Weinrich
hockey [defense]: NHL: New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues

1967 - Criss Angel (Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos)
magician, musician, mentalist, hypnotist, escapologist, stunt performer, actor, A&E TV host: Criss Angel Mindfreak

1969 - Tom Gugliotta
basketball [forward]: North Carolina State Univ; NBA: Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks

1969 - Scott Pearson
hockey [left wing]: Toronto Maple Leafs, Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders

1969 - Kristy Swanson
actress: Dude, Where’s My Car?, Pretty in Pink, Knots Landing, Nightingales, Hot Shots!, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marshal Law, Bad to the Bone, Early Edition

1970 - Robert Lang
hockey: LA Kings, Boston Bruins, Pittsbugh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings

1971 - Amy Locane
actress: Airheads, Spencer, Melrose Place, End of Summer, The Heist

1972 - Alyssa Milano
actress: Fear, Deadly Sins, Conflict of Interest, Commando, Old Enough, Who’s the Boss?

1972 - Warren Sapp
football [defensive tackle]: University of Miami; NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders

1973 - Jose Silva
baseball [pitcher]: Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds

1974 - Jake Plummer
football [quarterback]: Arizona State Univ; NFL: Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos

1980 - Jake Gyllenhaal
actor: Brothers, Jarhead, The Day After Tomorrow, Bubble Boy, October Sky, City Slickers, Rendition, Proof, Brokeback Mountain

1980 - Marla Sokoloff
actress: Dude, Where’s My Car?, Home Improvement, Party of Five, 3rd Rock from the Sun, 7th Heaven, Baby-Sitters Club, True Crime, Whatever It Takes

Chart Toppers December 19

1945It Might as Well Be Spring - The Sammy Kaye Orchestra (vocal: Billy Williams)
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
It’s Been a Long, Long Time - The Harry James Orchestra (vocal: Kitty Kallen)
Silver Dew on the Blue Grass Tonight - Bob Wills

1954Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes
Count Your Blessings - Eddie Fisher
Let Me Go, Lover! - Teresa Brewer
More and More - Webb Pierce

1963Dominique - The Singing Nun
Louie Louie - The Kingsmen
You Don’t Have to Be a Baby to Cry - The Caravelles
Love’s Gonna Live Here - Buck Owens

1972Me & Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
You Ought to Be with Me - Al Green
It Never Rains in Southern California - Albert Hammond
Got the All Overs for You (All Over Me) - Freddie Hart & The Heartbeats

1981Physical - Olivia Newton-John
Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner
Let’s Groove - Earth, Wind & Fire
All Roads Lead to You - Steve Wariner

1990Because I Love You (The Postman Song) - Stevie B
From a Distance - Bette Midler
Justify My Love - Madonna
I’ve Come to Expect It from You - George Strait

1999I Knew I Loved You - Savage Garden
Waiting for Tonight - Jennifer Lopez
I Wanna Love You Forever - Jessica Simpson
He Didn’t Have to Be - Brad Paisley

2008Live Your Life - T.I. featuring Rihanna
Womanizer - Britney Spears
I’m Yours - Jason Mraz
Roll with Me - Montgomery Gentry

Happy Birthday Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire also with a Chart Topper This Day In 1981


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