354th day of 2010 - 11 remaining

Monday, December 20, 2010 GOOD DEAL DAY

The United States finally took possession of the Louisiana Territories from France on this day in 1803. The treaty that France drew up, giving the Territories to the United States for $15 million, was actually dated April 30, 1803 and signed on May 2. It didn’t reach Washington until July 14. After much objection from Federalists and a bit of stretching of Constitutional Law, Congress ratified the treaty on October 25 with possession final on December 20. The Louisiana Purchase effectively doubled the size of the existing U.S. With 827,987 square miles in the deal, that price translates to roughly $18 per square mile -- under 3 cents per acre. The area was later made into 15 states and if that subdivision had not occurred, Louisiana would be the largest state in the Union (Alaska and Texas would easily fit inside the boundaries). The following is the list of states that were created (or *partially created) from the Louisiana Purchase: Arkansas, *Colorado, Iowa, *Kansas, Louisiana, *Minnesota, Missouri, *Montana, Nebraska, *New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, *Texas and *Wyoming. 3 cents ... now that’s really a good deal! Just imagine what one little acre of that territory would bring today!

Events December 20

1606 -The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery set sail from London. Their destination: America. Captain Christopher Newport commanded the three tiny ships (and, we do mean tiny -- check out Jamestown village in Virginia to see for yourself. The ships are on display and you can climb aboard) for the royally chartered Virginia Company. Their landing at Jamestown, VA was the start of the first permanent English settlement in America.

1860 - South Carolina became the first state to secede from the United States. South Carolina was followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

1892 - Alexander T. Brown and George Stillman of Syracuse, New York patented the pneumatic tire. So, if you are feeling flat from all that holiday hustle and bustle, get a pneumatic tire today for a quick pick-me-up. Makes a perfect gift! Buy several!

1920 - An English-born comedian named Leslie Townes Hope became an American citizen. He had lived in the United States since 1908 and became one of the nation’s true ambassadors for show business and charity. We say, “Thanks for the memory,” to Bob Hope.

1928 - For the first time, a living actress in the United States had a theatre named after her. The Ethel Barrymore Theatre opened in New York City.

1928 - Mail delivery by dog sled began -- in Lewiston, Maine.

1932 - Al Jolson recorded April Showers on Brunswick Records.

1938 - Vladimir Kosma Zworykin of Wilkinsburg, PA patented the iconoscope television system. The system did catch on, but the name didn’t. No one could say, “You can be sure if it’s Zworykin.”

1941 - Japanese troops landed and took over Davao on the island of Mindanao.

1944 - U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was promoted and given his 5th star.

1949 - Harry Belafonte had his second session with Capitol Records. Included in the session were Whispering and Farewell to Arms. With eight tunes then recorded and little enthusiasm from record buyers, Capitol decided to part company with Belafonte by not renewing the singer’s contract. He went to RCA Victor in April, 1952 and the rest is musical history. Day-O!

1951 - EBR-I (Experimental Breeder Reactor-I) ushered in a new era in nuclear history when it became the first reactor to generate useable amounts of electricity from nuclear energy. It accomplished this feat by lighting four light bulbs this day at the National Reactor Testing Station of Argonne National Laboratory, Butte County, Idaho. EBR-I was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

1952 - Jimmy Boyd reached the #1 spot on the record charts with the Christmas song of the year, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.

1954 - Buick Motor Company signed Jackie Gleason to one of the largest contracts ever entered into with an entertainer. Gleason agreed to produce 78 half-hour shows over a two-year period for $6,142,500. How sweet it was!

1962 - A world indoor pole-vault record was set by Don Meyers in Chicago, IL as he cleared 16 feet, 1-1/4 inches.

1963 - The Berlin Wall was opened for the first time. It remained open for the holiday season, but Closed again on January 6, 1964. 4,000 people crossed over to visit relatives during this period.

1967 - The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, premiered.

1968 - Author John Steinbeck, 66, died from heart failure in New York City. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in 1940.

1969 - Peter, Paul & Mary’s Leaving on a Jet Plane reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

1972 - Jack Albertson and Sam Levine starred as two retired vaudevillians in Neil Simon’s classic comedy, The Sunshine Boys, which opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in NYC. The play had a run of 538 performances. The movie version later became a box office smash, as well.

1973 - Singer Bobby Darin died following open-heart surgery at the age of 37. He left a legacy of memories in rock ’n’ roll and pop tunes, as well as on television and in movies (even an Oscar nomination for his role in Captain Newman, M.D.). The story of Darin being groomed to replace Frank Sinatra at Capitol Records is absolutely true. Unfortunately, Capitol didn’t think the grooming was going so well, and withheld many of Darin’s songs for many years; releasing them in a compilation CD in 1995. Good stuff to listen to: Splish Splash, Queen of the Hop, Dream Lover, Mack the Knife, Beyond the Sea, If I Were a Carpenter, etc. At the end, Darin, who had recorded for Atco, Capitol and Atlantic Records had just begun recording for Motown.

1975 - Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to leave Your Lover jumped on U.S. singles charts. It hit number one (for three weeks) Feb 7, 1976. For you trivia fans out there, this is Paul Simon’s only #1 single (so far). “Just slip out the back, Jack; Make a new plan, Stan; You don't need to be coy, Roy; Just get yourself free...”

1978 - Former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman was released from prison after serving 18 months for his role in the Watergate cover-up.

1980 - Shirley Temple Black became a grandmother. Her oldest daughter gave birth to a baby girl ... with curls, no doubt.

1980 - TV experimented, as NBC covered the meaningless NFL game between the New York Jets (4-11) and the Miami Dolphins (8-7). No announcers were in the booth. The only sounds heard were field noise and spectators as the pictures tried to convey the emotion of the game. Headlines the next day read, “Jets Silence Dolphins 24-17.”

1983 - Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins was named NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press. He became the first head coach to receive this honor in consecutive years since 1961-62 (when Allie Sherman, of the New York Giants, was so honored). Joe Gibbs took the Redskins to a 14-2 finish in the 1983 season.

1985 - Robert Penn Warren was designated Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the U.S. Library of Congress for 1986-1987. The library has used consultants since 1937, when Joseph Auslander was appointed the first Consultant in Poetry, but Robert Penn Warren was the first to be called Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

1986 - The Bangles’ Walk like an Egyptian moved to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It was #1 for three weeks. “Foreign types with the hookah pipes say; Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh; Walk like an Egyptian...”

1989 - The U.S. launched Operation Just Cause, sending 12,000 troops into Panama to topple the government of General Manuel Noriega after he had declared war on the U.S. Noreiga found sanctuary in the Vatican Embassy in Panama City and later gave himself up to U.S. authorities and was flown to Miami, Florida for trial.

1990 - Russian Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, a key figure in the Soviet reform that helped end the Cold War, resigned.

1993 - Alina Fernandez Revuelta, a daughter of Cuban President Fidel Castro, flew to Spain, where she was granted political asylum by the U.S. Embassy.

1994 - Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk died in Athens, GA at age 85.

1995 - Nixon opened in U.S. theatres. The film starred Anthony Hopkins as Richard M., Joan Allen as the president’s wife, Pat, Powers Boothe as Alexander Haig, Ed Harris as E. Howard Hunt, Bob Hoskins as J. Edgar Hoover, E.G. Marshall as John Mitchell, David Paymer as Ronald Ziegler, David Hyde Pierce as John Dean, Paul Sorvino as Henry Kissinger, Mary Steenburgen as Hannah Nixon, J.T. Walsh as John Ehrlichman, and James Woods played H.R. Haldeman.

1995 - 163 people aboard an American Airlines passenger jet en route from Miami died when it crashed into a mountain while on approach to the Cali, Columbia airport. Four people did survive the crash.

1996 - Astronomer, educator and Pulitzer Prize-winning author (1978: The Dragons of Eden) Carl Sagan died after a two-year battle with a bone marrow disease at age 62. Sagan became one of the best-known scientists in the U.S. by enthusiastically conveying the wonders of the universe to millions of people on TV and in books. Dr. Sagan was also familiar to TV viewers from appearances in the 1970s and 1980s on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, who was known to don a black wig and perform a Sagan impersonation. Carson delighted in parodying Sagan’s references to “billions and billions of stars” in the universe.

1996 - Movies that opened in the U.S.: Ghosts of Mississippi (“In 1963, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was gunned down in front of his wife and children. In 1994, the time was right for justice.”), with Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, James Woods and Craig T. Nelson; My Fellow Americans (“A comedy about life, liberty and the pursuit of two ex-presidents.”), starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner; and One Fine Day (“She was having a perfectly bad day... Then he came along and spoiled it.”), with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney.

1998 - Green Bay’s Brett Favre connected three times with Antonio Freeman in the first half against the Tennessee Oilers en route to a 30-22 victory this day. In doing so, Favre became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 30 or more touchdowns in five consecutive seasons (33 in 1994, 28 in 1995, 39 in 1996, 35 in 1997, and 30 in 1998).

1999 - The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as married couples of the opposite sex.

1999 - Country music legend Hank Snow died in Nashville, TN. He was 85 years old.

2000 - U.S. President-elect George Bush (II) appointed Paul O’Neill (65) head of the Treasury Dept., Ann Veneman (51) Sec. of Agriculture, Mel Martinez (54) Sec. of Housing and Urban Development, and Don Evans (54) Sec of Commerce. Andrew Card (53) was appointed Chief of Staff and Karen Hughes (43) Communications Director.

2001 - Argentine President Fernando De la Rua resigned, just hours after his economic minister. The resignations following two days of anti-government unrest that left some two dozen people dead and more than 200 injured.

2001 - Comedian Foster Brooks, known for his fake drunk act, died in Encino, CA at age 89.

2002 - Movies opening in the U.S: Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, Cameron Diaz, Pete Postlethwaite and Henry Thomas; Two Weeks Notice, with Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Alicia Witt, Mark Feuerstein, Dana Ivey and Robert Klein; and the animated adventure The Wild Thornberrys Movie, starring the voices of Brenda Blethyn, Jodi Carlisle, Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett, Flea, Danielle Harris, Tom Kane, Lynn Redgrave, Marisa Tomei and Alfre Woodard.

2002 - Trent Lott of Mississippi stepped down as U.S. Senate Majority Leader, two weeks after igniting a political firestorm with racially charged remarks. Lott’s resignation followed weeks of mounting pressure after Lott made comments at the hundredth birthday party for former Senator Strom Thurmond -- comments that appeared to condone racial segregation.

2003 - A rescue team found two injured British adventurers whose helicopter had crashed in the Antarctic during a round-the world voyage. Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill, who were attempting to circumnavigate the Earth across both poles, were found “safe and well.”

2004 - Jack Newfield, New York City reporter and columnist, died. He was 66 years old. His books included Robert Kennedy: A Memoir (1969).

2004 - Robbers made off with more than £26.5 million ($39 million) from the Belfast headquarters of Northern Bank in the biggest robbery in Northern Ireland history. The gang gained entry by kidnapping the families of two executives and forcing the executives to open the vault.

2005 - Judge John E. Jones III ruled (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom in the U.S.

2005 - Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union called a New York City transit strike after negotiations failed. The strike shut down the largest subway and bus system in the U.S. Millions of commuters were affected and the strike was ended in two days.

2006 - In the United Arab Emirates, hand-selected voters cast the third and final round of votes to choose members of a government advisory panel. It was the oil-rich country’s first elections.

2006 - Pennsylvania cleared the way for five slot machine casino licenses -- two in Philadelphia, one in Pittsburgh, one in Bethlehem, and one in the Pocono Mountains.

2007 - U.S. regulators cleared a plan by search giant Google to acquire online advertising giant DoubleClick.

2007 - Global investment bank Bear Stearns reported the first quarterly loss in its 84-year history as it wrote down $1.9 billion in mortgage assets.

2008 - Good news: China announced its dispatching of two destroyers and a supply vessel to the seas off Somalia to back international efforts to fight piracy.

2008 - Bad news: The New York Times said China had blocked access to the Times Web site. This, just days after the central China government defended its right to censor online content it deemed illegal.

2009 - Old Man Winter was blowing up storms: One blanketed swaths of the mid-Atlantic U.S. with nearly 2 feet of snow and reaching southern New England, causing several deaths, crippling travel and leaving stores empty that would normally be crammed with holiday shoppers. Another left tens of thousands of European travelers stranded in rail stations, traffic jams and airports as heavy snow and ice caused massive disruption at the start of the Christmas holiday season.

2009 - 32-year-old actress Brittany Murphy, star of films such as Clueless and 8 Mile, died after collapsing at her Hollywood Hills home. On February 4, 2010, the Los Angeles County coroner stated that the primary cause of Murphy‘s death was pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication. On February 25, 2010, the coroner released a report stating that Murphy had been taking a range of over-the-counter and prescription medications, probably to treat a cold or respiratory infection. The drugs included hydrocodone, acetaminophen, L-methamphetamine and chlorpheniramine. All of the drugs were legal and her death was ruled to be an accident...

Birthdays December 20

1868 - Harvey Firestone industrialist: founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company; died Feb 7, 1938

1881 - (Wesley) Branch Rickey ‘The Mahatma’: baseball: SL Browns, NY Highlanders; died Dec 9, 1965

1895 - Susanne Langer philosopher; author: Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art; died July 17, 1985

1898 - Irene (Marie) Dunne actress: Leathernecking, Cimarron, Back Street, Magnificent Obsession, Roberta, Show Boat, Theodora Goes Wild, The Awful Truth, Love Affair, A Guy Named Joe, Anna and the King of Siam, Life with Father, I Remember Mama, My Favorite Wife, It Grows on Trees; Alternate Delegate to the United Nations; Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award [1985]; died Sep 4, 1990

1900 - Gabby (Charles Leo) Hartnett Baseball Hall of Fame catcher: Chicago Cubs [World Series: 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938/all-star: 1933-1938/NL MVP: 1935]; .297 lifetime average w/236 home runs; caught 100 or more games 12 times; manager: Chicago Cubs [as rookie manager in 1938, he hit homer in near darkness to beat Pirates and lead Cubs to pennant]; died Dec 20, 1972

1902 - Sidney Hook philosopher, writer: From Hegel to Marx : Studies in the Intellectual Development of Karl Marx, The Metaphysics of Pragmatism, The Hero in History : A Study in Limitation and Possibility; died Jul 12, 1989

1902 - Max Lerner educator, author, columnist: New York Post; died June 5, 1992

1908 - Dennis Morgan (Stanley Morner) singer; actor: 21 Beacon Street, Pearl of the South Pacific, It’s a Great Feeling, Christmas in Connecticut, The Great Ziegfeld, Two Guys from Milwaukee, Desert Song, Kitty Foyle, My Wild Irish Rose; died Sep 7, 1994

1911 - Hortense Calisher novelist: In the Slammer with Carol Smith, The Hollow Boy; died Jan 13, 2009

1918 - Audrey Totter actress: The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Carpetbaggers

1921 - George Roy Hill director: Funny Farm, The World According to Garp, A Little Romance, Slap Shot, The Sting, Slaughterhouse Five, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hawaii, The World of Henry Orient, Toys in the Attic, Period of Adjustment, Min & Bill, Kraft Television Theatre; died Dec 27, 2002

1925 - Mahathir BIN Mohamed Malaysia’s prime minister [May 15, 1983-Sep 29, 1994]

1926 - David Levine caricaturist: New York Review of Books; “Probably the greatest American caricaturist.” -- The New York Times

1928 - Jack Christiansen Football Hall of Famer: Detroit Lions: NFL Individual Record: 8 Career punt returns for touchdowns [1951-1958]; died June 29, 1986

1931 - Mala Powers actress: Cyrano de Bergerac, Tammy and the Bachelor, Surfside 6, 77 Sunset Strip, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Doomsday Machine; died Jun 11, 2007

1932 - John Hillerman Emmy Award-winning actor: Magnum P.I. [1986-1987]; Hands of a Murderer, Chinatown, Blazing Saddles, Paper Moon, The Last Picture Show

1939 - Kim Weston actress singer: It Takes Two [w/Marvin Gaye]

1942 - Bob Hayes Pro Football Hall of Famer [wide receiver]: Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers; died Sep 18, 2002

1943 - Angel Tompkins actress: Walking Tall, Part II, The Bees

1944 - Bobby Colomby musician: drums, singer: group: Blood, Sweat & Tears: And When I Die, You Made Me So Very Happy, Spinning Wheel, Hi De Ho

1946 - Uri Geller psychic, clairvoyant, spoon-bender

1945 - Peter Criss (Crisscoula) musician: drums: group: KISS [The Catman]: Strutter, Deuce, Got to Choose, Hotter Than Hell, C’Mon and Love, Rock and Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, Shout It Out Loud

1946 - John Spencer Emmy Award-winning actor [The West Wing (2002)]; Carousel [stage], The Patty Duke Show, Black Rain, Presumed Innocent, Ravenous, The Negotiator, Twilight, Cop Land, The Rock, Forget Paris, A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Grimacing Governor, L.A. Law; died Dec 16, 2005

1948 - **** Gibbs basketball: Univ. of Texas at El Paso

1948 - Alan Parsons musician: keyboards; music engineer: worked on The Beatles’ Abbey Road LP and early Wings LPs; producer: The Alan Parsons Project: Eye in the Sky, Games People Play

1948 - Little Stevie Wright singer: group: The Easybeats: She’s So Fine, Wedding Ring, Sad and Lonely and Blue, Woman, Come and See Her, Friday on My Mind, Hello How are You, Good Times; solo LP: Hard Road

1949 - Cecil (Celester) Cooper baseball: Boston Red Sox [World Series: 1975], Milwaukee Brewers [all-star: 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985/World Series: 1982]

1949 - Oscar (Charles) Gamble baseball: Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, NY Yankees [World Series: 1976, 1981], Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers

1950 - Bill Clement hockey: NHL: Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Atlanta Flames, Calgary Flames; TV analyst: ESPN

1952 - Jenny Agutter Emmy Award-winning actress: The Snow Goose [1971-72]; Logan’s Run, An American Werewolf in London, Child’s Play

1957 - Billy (Steven) Bragg songwriter, musician: guitar, singer: The Milkman of Human Kindness, A New England, Man in the Iron Mask, St. Withins Day, Island of No Return, Between the Wars, World Turned Upside Down, Which Side are You On?, Levi Stubbs’ Tears

1960 - Mark Keyloun actor: Separate Vacations, Gimme an F, Mike’s Murder, Sudden Impact

1965 - Rich Gannon football [quarterback]: Univ of Delaware; NFL: Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders

1966 - Chris Robinson singer: group: The Black Crowes

1969 - Chisa Yokoyama actress: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Oki, Kido senkan Nadeshiko: Prince of Darkness, Sakura taisen, Gall Force: The Revolution, Rojin Z, Robotto kânibaru

1970 - Travis Green hockey: New York Islanders, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins

1973 - Cory Stillman hockey [left wing]: Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes

1976 - Aubrey Huff baseball [third base]: Univ of Miami; MLB: Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles

Chart Toppers December 20

1946Ole Buttermilk Sky - The Kay Kyser Orchestra (vocal: Mike Douglas & The Campus Kids)
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
The Whole World is Singing My Song - The Les Brown Orchestra (vocal: Doris Day)
Divorce Me C.O.D. - Merle Travis

1955I Hear You Knocking - Gale Storm
Love and Marriage - Frank Sinatra
Nuttin’ for Christmas - Barry Gordon
Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford

1964Come See About Me - The Supremes
I Feel Fine - The Beatles
Goin’ Out of My Head - Little Anthony & The Imperials
Once a Day - Connie Smith

1973The Most Beautiful Girl - Charlie Rich
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce
Amazing Love - Charley Pride

1982Maneater - Daryl Hall & John Oates
Mickey - Toni Basil
The Girl is Mine - Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney
Somewhere Between Right and Wrong - Earl Thomas Conley

1991Black or White - Michael Jackson
It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday - Boyz II Men
All 4 Love - Color Me Badd
For My Broken Heart - Reba McEntire

2000Independent Woman, Part 1 - Destiny’s Child
Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do) - Mya
If You’re Gone - Matchbox Twenty
My Next Thirty Years - Tim McGraw

2009Empire State Of Mind - Jay-Z + Alicia Keys Bad
Romance - Lady Gaga
TiK ToK - Ke$ha
Need You Now - Lady Antebellum

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Chart Topper December 20th, 1991...For My Broken Heart - Reba McEntire


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