The Year was 1969

You have seen him on TV. Maybe thousands of times. He has done more than 4,000 shows. But you would not recognize him. If he was introduced to you, you would not recognize his name. It is Caroll Spinney. He just retired this week as, yes, Big Bird. Caroll met fellow puppeteer Jim Henson at…

The Year was 1983

After nearly choking to death as a child, Tennessee Williams had a fear of dying in that way, Tennessee was a brilliant publicist – his own.  His name was not Tennessee. And he was not even born in Tennessee. But those lies were necessary for him to be eligible to enter a playwriting contest. So…

The Year was 1896

What is May Irwin famous for? The very first kiss every filmed. May Irwin was born in Canada and named Georgina May Campbell. When she was 13, her father died. Her mother, in need of money to support herself and her two daughters, Adeline and Georgia, had them do a vaudeville act as “The Irwin…

The Year was 1906

I used to be Snow White but I drifted. Mae West The daughter of a corset model, little Mae was on a vaudeville stage by the time she was five. At 13, billed as the Baby Vamp, she was doing the new dance, the shimmy, to packed houses in New York City. Decades ahead of…

The Year was 1937

The brothers were born two years apart. The younger one died in 1937, when he was 38. The older one lived to be 86. Yet it is the younger one who became the most famous. He was George Gershwin, born in 1898 in Brooklyn. Their parents had emigrated from Russia. They wanted Ira, the first…

The Year was 1956

“Do not focus your cameras below his waist.” This was the directive to the cameramen on the Ed Sullivan Show Sept. 9, 1956. You could do that on television. In a live concert, there was no way to censor Elvis’s gyrations. Whatever Ed Sullivan and the show’s producers expected, they were surprised by the polite…

The Year was 1564

The most successful fraud ever? True, according to none other than Sigmund Freud. And Charles Dickens. And Mark Twain. Who were they talking about? Shakespeare. William was born in April of 1564 to a wool merchant. His parents, John and Mary, his sisters and brothers and all three of his children were unable to read…

The Year was 1902

Selma Leeman: A Finnish-American Immigrant Girl’s Success Story From guest contributor Bruce Matson Selma Liimatainen started life in the small Village of Kivijärvi, Finland in 1889. As an 11-year-old, she arrived in America in 1902. Selma Sofia (she later changed her last name to Leeman) came to Quincy, Massachusetts to join her father and her…

The Year was 1986

What do you do when you can’t sleep? You read novels. And what do you do when you want to encourage authors to write more novels? You buy a 13th century castle in Scotland and set up a writers’ retreat – all expenses paid. Doreen Mary English did just this. Born in England in 1915…

The Year was 1971

A Muppet Chemist singing “Time in a Bottle”… If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do is to save every day ‘til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you. These magical words were not written for lovers. They were written for Jim Croce’s unborn child….