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 1884

What did the richest man in the world go to great lengths (pun intended) to hide? John D. Rockefeller, the world’s first billionaire, had not been a happy kid. The problem was his father, William, a wandering snake oil salesman and scam artist, who had two wives (plus a couple of kids by a mistress)….

The year was 1955

James Dean, 24, was a box office gold. He was also a race car driver. He had to sign a clause in his contract that that he would not enter any races during the filming of Giant, the movie he was starring in with Elizabeth Taylor. Dean had entered UCLA as a pre-law student, joined…

The year was 1962

With fear in his heart, Nobuo Fujita, carrying an ancient samurai sword, was bravely going to face his fate. He expected the worst – imprisonment. He was coming from Japan, headed for Oregon. What had he done? It had been 20 years earlier… On Sept. 9, 1942, Fujita and his co-pilot, Okuda Shoji, had taken…

The year was 1903

Langley insisted his contraption was “capable of flight.” Not that it could fly. It couldn’t. Langley wasn’t just anybody. He was Samuel Pierpont Langley, blue blood, Harvard graduate, astronomer. Determined to be first with a manned flying machine, Langley built two ¼-scale models that seemed to succeed. But were they flying? Or were they being…

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 1920

The Republican Party needed a candidate. Someone who looked “presidential” – Ohio senator, Warren G. Harding. Harding had a formidable secret weapon – his wife Florence, five years his senior. If Florence could not be president, she could be married to one. They hired a public relations guru, Albert Lasker. He emphasized Harding’s president-ability. But…

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 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 1949

That was the year Jacob Rodney Cohen, 28, gave up his dream and became an aluminum siding salesman. He had been writing jokes for other comics for years. Calling himself Jack Roy, he struggled for nine years to make it as a stand-up comic, even including a stint as a singing waiter (he got fired!)…