The Year was 1956

Called by many one of the worst films ever made, The Conqueror, a movie about Genghis Khan, packed a secret, lethal punch. It was an RKO movie, made when the studio system was king. Dick Powell, an actor turned director, was given the script. He thought it was horrible. But while he took a break,…

The year 1938

  When 23-year-old Sister Rosetta Tharpe took the stage at Carnegie Hall just before Christmas, 1938, she took the audience’s breath away. First, she was playing a guitar; that was for men, not women. Second, she was playing it in a way no one had ever heard before. No one, that is, except the small…

The Year was 1953

Five days after her father died, Antha Belle was born on Jan. 6, 1953. Her mother had signed away her parental rights to the dad. And he had arranged to have his own mother be legal guardian for the unborn baby. Which she did, then she adopted Antha Belle, giving her a new name: Catherine…

The Year was 2017

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is a cinematic success. But there have been real life wonder women throughout our history. Some were samurai. Tomoe Gozen (c.1157-1247) became an excellent archer and sword handler. In one battle, she threw herself upon an enemy leader and decapitated him. “Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka [Minamoto] sent…

The year was 1392

Geoffrey Chaucer, an accountant, had the good luck to marry the sister of the mistress of John of Gaunt. And John of Gaunt’s father was the King of England. To impress his high-born friends, Chaucer started writing what we would call dirty stories. They were impressed. Chaucer found a way to link his stories together…

The Year was 432

Six years a slave. Irish pirates stole the 16-year-old Brit, calling him Padraig, making him take care of pigs. He escaped, made it back home, and became a cleric and then Padraig did a strange thing – he returned to Ireland in 432 AD. Everything about Padraig, Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is…

The year was 1988

“Never trust anybody.” This is what the tobacco mogul drilled into his little daughter’s head. Too bad Doris forgot it. Doris was the adored only child of James Duke. She lived in the kind of luxury that money could buy before there was an income tax, Her father lived in constant fear that Doris might…

The Year was 1415

Roman Emperor Claudius the Cruel needed Roman soldiers, but they were not volunteering. Why not? Claudius thought the reason was that they wanted to stay home with their wives. His solution? Ban marriage. A Catholic priest, Valentine, disobeyed him, marrying young lovers in secret. Off with his head! The priest was beaten and beheaded in…

The year was 1955

It was 1 a.m., September 15th. On Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, Billy Wilder was trying to shoot a street scene for his movie, The Seven Year Itch. In an instant, a huge crowd materialized, yelling and cheering. What did they see?  Emphasizing the movie’s theme that she was so hot that she had to keep…

The year was 1788

The words were not original. The tune was an old folk song. Scotland’s famed young poet used them and added to them to write one of today’s most sung songs on New Year’s Eve around the world, Auld Lang Syne. The “my Jo” in the song is his wife, Jean Armour. They met when she…