Your Week in History: Oscar comes in and Carson goes out - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Your Week in History: Oscar comes in and Carson goes out

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Mount St. Helens erupts May 18, 1980. (Source: USGS/Wikimedia Commons) Mount St. Helens erupts May 18, 1980. (Source: USGS/Wikimedia Commons)
This drawing shows Aristides, the winner of the first Kentucky Derby held May 17, 1875. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This drawing shows Aristides, the winner of the first Kentucky Derby held May 17, 1875. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
A pinewood derby kit. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) A pinewood derby kit. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) - I was watching TV last week and something caught my attention. Two men were sitting and talking to each other about their birthdays.

I admit that sounds pretty lame, but it struck me as awesome because both those people are born this week. Bob Saget was a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Both were born May 17 - Saget in 1956 and Ferguson in 1962.

Their discussion (birthday talk starts at 5:40) was disjointed, wide-ranging and at times confusing and awkward, and included them making fun of Enya, who shares their birthday. But it was great for me because it gave me something to write about. I don't usually watch Ferguson's show because it's ridiculous, but it features a fake horse named Secretariat, so that's pretty cool.

But Saget draws me in to anything I see him on because I loved Full House, I love his voice on How I Met Your Mother and I like the idea that the wholesome everyman Danny Tanner was played by a guy who is pretty raunchy in his other exploits.

It's also not the first time they've talked about their birthday. I'm kind of birthday obsessed and love knowing people who share my birthday, so when I see other people discussing their shared birthdays, I see a little bit of myself in them, but I also wish they were talking about mine.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between May 13 and May 19.

Life and Death

There aren't a lot of notable births this week, and almost all of them happened May 19. Johns Hopkins (1795), Ho Chi Minh (1890), Malcolm X (1925) and Andre the Giant (1946) all share that birthday.

Star Wars creator/destroyer George Lucas was born May 14, 1944, and Carrie Prejean was born May 13, 1987. Prejean gained notoriety after stating her opposition to same-sex marriage in response to a question during the Miss USA pageant in 2009. She was later involved in a sex scandal that cost her her contract with the organization.

Frank Capra was born May 18, 1897, and directed many classic movies, including It's A Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, which starred Gary Cooper who died May 13, 1961 (I missed his birthday last week, which was May 7, 1901).

Rita Hayworth died May 14, 1987. Hayworth starred in Circus World, which was originally to be directed by Capra, until he had a disagreement with the film's star - wait for it … wait for it … wait for it - John Wayne. Wayne also has a tenuous connection to Cooper, who starred in High Noon. I think it's one of the best westerns ever made (Grace Kelly, enough said), but the Duke thought it was anti-American.

Cooper won an Oscar for his performance in the movie, but Wayne accepted it on his behalf because Cooper was not in attendance.

There's a wonderful story that Wayne and Frank Sinatra, who died May 14, 1998, got into a fight May 15, 1960, but it, sadly, might not be true. It is true, however, that Henry Fonda - who was born May 16, 1905 - starred with Wayne in Fort Apache, In Harm's Way, The Longest Day and How The West Was Won.

Eliot Ness (1957), Andy Kaufman (1984), Margaret Hamilton (1985), Sammy Davis Jr. (1990), Jim Henson (1990) and rodeo bull Bodacious (2000) all died May 16.

June Carter Cash died May 15, 2003, and Ogden Nash (1971) and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1994) died May 19.

Overlooked Anniversaries

Marilyn Monroe entertained John F. Kennedy with a, shall we say, unique version of Happy Birthday on May 19, 1962. You may have noticed Kennedy's name is not included in the above category. That's because his birthday isn't until May 29. But that is of little consequence. When Marilyn Monroe wants to sing to you, she can't be troubled to work around your life. You adjust your life to fit Marilyn Monroe, even if you're the president.

Lina Medina became the youngest confirmed mother at age 5 on May 14, 1939. No one knows the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy because she has never discussed it. She currently lives in South America. Her son was healthy, but died from disease in 1979.

Israel became an independent state May 14, 1948, Jamestown was created as the first permanent settlement in the New World on May 14, 1607, and Lewis and Clark set out on their expedition May 14, 1804.

Mickey Mouse made his debut in a test screening of Plane Crazy on May 15, 1928. Plane Crazy is the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be made, but not the first to be released. That honor goes to Steamboat Willie, which was released later in 1928. Plane Crazy was a silent cartoon, and was only released after sound was added following the success of Steamboat Willie.

The first pinewood derby was held May 15, 1953. I was part of the proud tradition of Boy Scouts whose fathers made a pinewood derby car. All I know for sure is we painted it red and added some weight to it that, at the time, we didn't know was illegal. That mistake was corrected and the car went on to an unblemished record of winlessness.

Johnny Carson made his last TV appearance by delivering the Top Ten list to David Letterman on May 13, 1994.

The first Academy Awards were presented May 16, 1929. Winners were announced three months before the ceremony aired, starting a long tradition of Oscar presentation ceremonies taking three months to complete. Wings was the winner of Outstanding Picture, and Charlie Chaplin received an honorary award.

Andrew Johnson was acquitted in his impeachment trial May 16, 1868. Johnson was impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act, which said the president could not remove someone from their appointed office without the Senate's consent. Johnson removed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and was acquitted by a single vote. Allegations of bribery in the voting process were rampant.

The Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court ruling May 18, 1896, upheld racial segregation. The Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling May 17, 1954, overturned it.

The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric diseases May 17, 1990. Fourteen years later to the day, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980, blowing a huge hole in the side of the mountain and killing 57 people in the most deadly and most destructive volcanic eruption in U.S. history.

Something About Sports

Tired of me talking about Secretariat? Too bad.

Secretariat won the Preakness Stakes on May 19, 1973. The time he won in was disputed for decades. Time for the races included 1:55, 1:54 2/5 and 1:53 2/5. Video was reviewed of the 1973 race and the then-record 1971 race, but it was still disputed as Secretariat appeared to finish first, but was timed slower. Then last year, somebody finally woke up and realized Secretariat is the greatest race horse ever and officially credited him with the record time of 1:53. Here's the race.

The first Kentucky Derby was run May 17, 1875. The race was a mile and a half, which is a quarter mile longer than today's Kentucky Derby and equals the length of the Belmont Stakes, and took more than 2 1/2 minutes to run. Aristides won the race, followed by Volcano and Verdigris. Aristides later took second in the Belmont.

The first rugby match took place May 14, 1870, between Nelson College and Nelson Club in Nelson, New Zealand. Nelson Club won 2-0.

The Week in Warfare

Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met May 19, 1943, and decided on a day for a land invasion of German-controlled France. They decided May 1, 1944, was a good day, but Mother Nature would later decide June 6 was better.

Churchill gave his famous "blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech (3:30 mark) May 13, 1940. It was Churchill's first speech to the House of Commons after becoming prime minister and set the tone for his brash and fiery administration.

The Battle of Palmito Ranch was fought May 13, 1865. The battle was the last major confrontation of the Civil War. It was fought more than a month after the war's official end, but that didn't quell the fighting spirit of the Confederacy, which won. Only five Confederate soldiers were wounded and more than 100 Union soldiers were captured.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Day. Say it with me, Cooooooooooookies!

Preview of next week

"... one more for the road."

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