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Blog Posts from May 2018:

May 10, 2018
May 10th, 2018

Quiz: What was the difference between a musket and a rifle?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: When designing the character Speed Racer, Japanese artist Tatsuo Yoshida was inspired by an American star. Who?
History for 5/10/2018
Birthdays: Fred Astaire, Phil Silvers, Nancy Walker, French royal minister Turgot, Marshal Jean Lannes, Marshal Nicolas Davout, John Wilkes Booth (assassin of Lincoln) Mark David Chapman (assassin of John Lennon), David O. Selznick, Mother Maybelle Carter, Ariel Durant, Jim Abrahams, Nancy Walker, Donovan, Homer Simpson, Gen. Lasalle*, Bono, Paige O’Hara the voice of Belle in Beauty & the Beast.

(*Lasalle was the dashing French cavalry leader who said " Tout hussard qui n'est pas mort à 30 ans est un jean-foutre!-Any hussar who's not dead by 30 is a coward!" In 1813, while leading an attack, he was shot through the head. He was 34.)

1650- The British take Jamaica from the Spanish. At this time Britons were discovering the delights of a new condiment made on that island- sugar!

1726- Philosopher Francois Voltaire visited England.

1748- English slave trader John Newton’s ship was caught in a violent Mid Atlantic storm and was about to go under. When Newton prayed to God he would reform his life if he made it through this gale, the storm broke. Newton not only stopped his slave trading ways but he wrote a hymn, Amazing Grace. "Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, to Save a Wretch Like Me! I was lost, but now I’m found, etc."

1774- King Louis XV of France died. Before he died he muttered "apres moi, le deluge.." after me, the deluge. His grandson the Duke du Berry became King Louis XVI. He was the king guillotined in the Revolution.

1775- FT. TICONDEROGA- Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen surprise the great fortress in the dead of night and capture the cannons Washington needed to drive the British out of Boston. 20 years earlier the British took huge losses taking that same fort from the French. All the British commander lost this time was his trousers, he was captured in his nightclothes. As Allen and Arnold woke him he scowled: "By who's authority do you do this?" Allen retorted: " In the name of Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

1796- THE BATTLE OF LODI- The Austrian Army in Italy attempted to slow Napoleons pursuit of them by blocking a bridge with 14 cannon and daring the French to cross. This is where the beginning of Napoleons legend among his men starts to form. He whips up the confidence of his men to the point where they enthusiastically rush across the bridge and overrun the cannon. Even though Napoleon is the army’s commander he is out in front sharing the danger from shot and shell sighting his cannon like a corporal. This is when men start to call him "The Little Corporal". He later told a friend’ They haven’t seen anything yet." An older general said:" You know, that little bastard scares me."

1815- Before any of the armies march to Waterloo, Napoleon’s police minister and cousin Nicolas Fouche’ sneaked copies of all his battle plans to Wellington in Brussels. After Napoleon’s defeat this little act of treachery got Fouche’ a plum job in the post war Royal French Government.

1837-THE SEPOY REBELLION- Indian troops serving in the British army go on a rampage after they learn that their new rifle cartridges are greased with tallow made from pig and beef fat. To load your gun you had to bite the paper at the end of the cartridge, in effect tasting the fat, which is forbidden by the Hindu and Moslem religions. The Sepoy's thought it was a British trick to rob their souls and make them Christians. The British army withdrew the offending cartridges when they learned of the mistake but it was too late. The mutinying Indian soldiers were soon joined by the Hindu Maharratas and Moslem Moghul sultan. It became the biggest armed revolt ever in the history of British India.

1837- The Wall Street Panic of 1837 began a seven year depression. The militia was called in to keep the peace on Wall Street.

1861- First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln decided the White House looked like a dump and went off to New York to buy new furnishings. She was heavily criticized for her lavish spending during such dark days for the country, but her habit of dealing with stress was to go shopping. She learned from a White House long timer how to pad and hide expenses in credit statements so her husband wouldn’t find out. She once bought 300 pairs of gloves, some which she never opened from the boxes. When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping!

1863- Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson died of his wounds after being shot by his own men in an accident during the Battle of Chancellorsville. His last words were" Lets us cross over the bridge and rest under the shade of the trees." Years after the Civil War ended Robert E. Lee once meditated on his big loss at Gettysburg: " If Jackson had been there we would not have lost Gettysburg."

1865- One month after Richmond fell and Lee surrendered Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the remains of his government was arrested by U.S. cavalry while on the run in Georgia. One version says Davis was wearing a dress, and the first lady tried to pass him off to the Yankees as her mother.
One enduring mystery is the fate of the Confederate Gold Reserve. While the rebel government was on the run after the fall of Richmond several wagons in their train were carrying nine million dollars in gold bullion. Around Darien Georgia the wagons disappear from history...

1865- QUANTRILL FELL- William Clark Quantrill was a Confederate guerilla who was so brutal and uncontrollable that the Richmond government refused to admit he was ever in their army. Quantrill’s Raiders raised hell across Missouri and Kansas. One month after Lee surrendered to Grant, he was operating under an alias in Kentucky. Union authorities enlisted a vigilante posse led by Capt. Edmund Tyrell to kill him. Tyrell was as lawless as Quantrill, but he got the desired result.

In an ambush near Louisville, Quantrill was brought down in a hail of bullets. He lingered with a broken spine for a month before expiring. He was 27. On his deathbed he converted to Catholicism and left all his money to his mistress. The priest officiating at the burial encouraged people to strew garbage and defecate on his grave. Some of Quantrill’s junior soldiers went on to have even more famous careers: outlaws Jesse & Frank James, Cole & Bob Younger.

1868- Women's Rights advocate Victoria Woodhull declared she was a candidate for President of the United States with black activist Frederick Douglas as her running mate. Advocate of Free Love, Socialism and Spiritualism, Mrs. Woodhull had to campaign from jail where she was placed for distribution of pornography. She not as well remembered as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady-Stanton because the main women’s rights movement distanced themselves from her outlandish behavior.

1869- THE GOLDEN SPIKE- At Promontory Utah the Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific met, finally connecting the entire U.S. continent by rail. Before this when you wanted to go from New York to San Francisco you had to take a boat to Havana, then Nicaragua, take a mule train through jungle then get a third ship up the Pacific coast to California. The millionaire directors of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific came to Utah for the ceremony. The racing rail gangs had actually passed each other and had to correct a detour of 250 miles.

When the rich men were called upon to swing the large sledgehammers to drive in the golden spike both missed and hit the ground -one had a hangover. A workman had to actually accomplish the deed. The link completed an electric circuit to send telegraph news of the event simultaneously to New York and San Francisco. They celebrated by the synchronized firing of cannon east over the Atlantic and west out over the Pacific, symbolically telling the world to watch out! That America was now a continental power that has got its act together.

1869- CREDIT MOBILIER SCANDAL- The stock company that handled the transcontinental railroad's budgets, Credit Mobilier, billed the government $175 million dollars for the job when it actually only cost $86 million. When the figures were disputed gov't officials were given bribes of Credit Mobilier stock to keep quiet.

When the scandal finally broke in 1872 many of Republican Pres. Grant's top officials were implicated. When Vice President Schuyler Colfax was asked about a deposit slip for $10,000 marked the same day as a Credit Mobilier payroll slip made out for the same amount, he remarked it was a political donation from a benefactor whose name he couldn't remember who died shortly after anyway. He said the check fell out of his morning newspaper at breakfast.

1885- Geronimo goes on the warpath. For the next 15 months he holds off 5,000 U.S. troops with just 16 Apache warriors, 12 women and 6 children.

1893- The U.S. government declares the Tomato officially a vegetable and not a fruit.

1908- The First Mother's Day celebrated, it became a national holiday in 1914. The holiday was inspiration of a lady named Anna Jarvis, who spent the rest of her life trying to keep it from being commercially exploited. She died broke, and surrounded by mothers day cards sent from well wishers.

1908- An article in the New York Times advised women to wash their hair every two weeks. The norm for women then was shampooing every three months!

1924- J. Edgar Hoover given control of F.B.I.- Hoover was the third director of what was up until then a small powerless division of the treasury dept that wasn't even allowed to carry guns until the late 1920's. He built up and dominated the bureau until 1972.

1928- General Electric starts up WG4 Schenectady, the first T.V. Station.

1929- Yankee slugger Babe Ruth signs new contract that brings him more money than President Herbert Hoover. "I had a better year than he had" was the Babe’s reply.

1929- Walt Disney’s animated short Skeleton Dance premiered. Animated mostly by Mickey Mouse designer Ubb Iwerks, it marked the beginning of tightly done musical sync animation.

1933- Nazis Leader Josef Goebbels holds the first mass book-burning in Berlin. " We consign everything unGerman to the flames." 20,000 works by Thomas Mann, Hemingway, Dos Passos, Freud and Einstein are burned.

1940- THE BLITZKRIEG IN THE WEST BEGAN-Nazi Panzer tanks roll into Belgium and Holland in violation of their neutrality, beginning their massive offensive on Anglo-French forces. This ended the stalemate that existed for several months after the September declaration of war, nicknamed the 'Stitzkrieg', or 'sit-down war'. The French had spent millions building a complex system of underground mountain bunkers called the Maginot Line. The German tanks merely drove around them. Once flanked the bunkers discovered they couldn’t turn their guns around to shoot behind them.

1940- Old Kaiser Wilhelm was in exile in Holland since 1918. Today he refused to come home to Germany on Hitler's invitation, because he knew he'd be used for propaganda. He died peacefully that same year.

1940- British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned. Winston Churchill took over as Prime Minister to deal with the war crisis. He told Britons "I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." In the 1960’s, a rock band thought that was a great name for a band- Blood Sweat & Tears.

1941- THE STRANGE FLIGHT OF RUDOLPH HESS. Rudolph Hess was Adolph Hitler’s trusted right hand and one of the top Nazis in the German Reich. This day at the height of Nazis power Hess commandeered a Messerschmitt fighter and flew alone to England. He claimed to be on a secret mission to reach Churchill and negotiate peace. Allied leaders refused to meet with him, and Hitler declared Hess had lost his mind. After the war, Hess was sentenced to life in prison at Spandau. To eyewitnesses at the Nuremberg trial he did indeed appear deranged. Historians have always speculated what the secret message Hess was carrying from Hitler to Churchill. In 1991 on the 50th anniversary, historians expected the secret files to at last be declassified, but the British government put them under a new top secret seal for another 100 years.

1948- Just five days before declaring independence Jewish diplomat Golda Meir sneaked through Palestine dressed in an Arab woman’s burkha to have a secret meeting with King Abdallah of Jordan. Abdallah had no use for the Palestinian leaders and tacitly supported the Zionists, but as subjects to his plan for a greater Jordan. Now the other Arab nations were pressuring him to join them in a war against the new Jewish state.

1963- On the advice of George Harrison and Little Richard, Decca Records signed a new teen band called the Rolling Stones to a recording contract.

1972-Over the skies of Vietnam, Navy pilot Randy “Duke” Cunningham had dogfights with enemy planes. This day he shot down three Mig 21s, and he dueled and shot down the top North Vietnamese ace, nicknamed Colonel Toon. Duke Cunningham parlayed his fame into a career in politics. He became a conservative Republican congressman who built a notorious record of taking bribes. He accumulated Rolls Royces, mansions, and a yacht he named the Dukester. He actually circulated a price list for his vote. Eventually, Duke Cunningham went to prison for bribery.

1977- Joan Crawford died of cancer and a heart attack. Once the most beautiful woman in Hollywood, now a neglected old recluse. She was 74. Soon after her daughter Christine published the memoir Mommy Dearest, in which she alleged years of abuse and neglect.

1993- 188 young women died in a fire in a toy making factory near Bangkok, Thailand. They were locked into the building by their employer like the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire victims in 1911. They were making Bart Simpson dolls for America.

1994- Nelson Mandela inaugurated as first black president of South Africa.

1994- Former children’s party clown and serial killer John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection. Police found 28 children buried around his house. His last words: "Kiss My Ass!"

1996- DEADLIEST DAY ON MOUNT EVEREST- One dozen mountain climbers with their veteran guides and Sherpas are caught on the summit by a hurricane-like blizzard. Pinned down by 100 mile an hour winds and a wind chill of one hundred degrees below zero. They soon run out of oxygen 29,800 feet above sea level. Eight die, two blindly walked off the South Escarpment and plunged 7,000 feet. Two had to have limbs amputated from frostbite. The groups leader Rob Hall called his base camp on his cellular phone who connected him with his pregnant wife in New Zealand so he could say goodbye before dying. The climbers were doctors, lawyers and executives who paid $65,000 apiece, not counting airfare and Tibetan permits. Mount Everest would claim 11 more lives that spring, and 21 Sherpa’s in 2014, yet a waiting list remains of hundreds of people wanting to climb to the top of the world.
Yesterday’s Question answered below: When designing the character Speed Racer, Japanese artist Tatsuo Yoshida was inspired by an American star. Who?

Answer: Yoshida based his design on Elvis Presley in the film Viva Las Vegas. When Elvis raced his sports car, he wore a blue shirt, white straight chino slacks and a yellow neckerchief.

May 9, 2018
May 9th, 2018

Quiz: When designing the character Speed Racer, Japanese artist Tatsuo Yoshida was inspired by an American star. Who?

Yesterday’s Question: What was a blunderbuss?
History for 5/9/2018
Birthdays: John Brown, James M. Barrie the creator of Peter Pan, Henry J. Kaiser of Kaiser Aluminum, Glenda Jackson is 82, Billy Joel, Candice Bergen is 72, Mike Wallace, Pancho Gonzales, James L. Brooks, Rosario Dawson, John Corbett, Albert Finney is 82
To the ancient Romans this was the Lemuria, the Festival of Death. Like the ancient Greek Anthesterion in February, the Lemuria was a deal made with the Underworld that the dearly departed were allowed to visit the surface world and you should leave your door open and leave out food for them. This way they won't haunt you, and so you'll have good luck all year.
At sunset tomorrow the head of the house (Pater Familias) walks through the house hitting a little bronze gong, he throws a handful of black beans over his shoulder and chants 'With These Beans I Redeem Myself and My Family. O Shades of My Ancestors Depart! Lemuria has Ended!'

310 a.d. This is the Feast of Saint Pachonius, the first monk to bring other monks and nuns together to live communally, instead of living in caves as solitary hermits.

1421- A fire destroyed part of the just completed Forbidden City in Beijing.

1503- Columbus sails home to Spain from his fourth and final voyage. He traveled down the Central American coast as far as Venezuela. Despite revisionist history extolling his genius, Columbus never stopped thinking he had discovered Asia. Because the Nicaraguan Indians told him there is another ocean just beyond the jungle in his diary he confuses it with the Indian ocean, so he thinks he is in VietNam. (Cochin China)

1662- London diarist Samuel Pepys noted today he first saw a Punch & Judy puppet show in Convent Garden.

1754- THE FIRST NEWSPAPER CARTOON- Ben Franklin in his Pennsylvania Gazette prints a drawing of a segmented snake with each piece named for a colony with the inscription: Join or Die. (Okay, it's not Calvin and Hobbs, but it's a start).

1775- LUMBERJACKS ATTACK THE ROYAL NAVY- One of the stranger engagements of the American Revolution. Captain Henry Mowat, RN, anchored his warship off Falmouth Maine (present day Portland) to reassert Royal authority on the Maine seacoast. Suddenly several little boats rowed out to his ship. At first he thought they were royalists come out to greet him. But when they scampered up on board he saw they were Maine lumberjacks wielding their huge double bladed axes. Mowat and his startled crew surrendered and were roughly taken into custody. It was the first time a warship was ever captured by axe.
The Maine men, not having any central authority or instructions about what exactly to do with prisoners, eventually let them go. Once back on his ship Capt. Mowat ‘s revenge was to haul off shore, and bombard the coastline with red-hot cannonballs, burning the town of Falmouth to the ground. The incident created a violent resentment in the colonies, many of whom were still hoping for reconciliation with the Mother England.

1785 - British inventor Joseph Bramah patents the beer-pump handle. So pull us a dram for a pint of pure.-i.e. I’d like a glass of Guinness Stout, please.

1812- Napoleon left Paris to begin his March to Moscow.

1844-THE PHILAPELPHIA SECTARIAN RIOTS- in Philadelphia arguments between Irish and Protestant gangs over public funding of religious schools erupted into four days of rioting. 20 were killed, Catholic Churches were burned and the city placed under martial law. As news of the riots spread the Irish Catholic Bishop of New York warned the mayor that if one church were harmed in New York Irishmen would burn down the city. “We’ll make New York another Moscow!”- recalling that cities burning in 1812.
These are the first anti-immigrant fighting in U.S. history. Also it was the first time Americans would have to understand that some immigrants could be loyal Americans without assimilating into an Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture. Anti-Irish anger would seethe until respect was won on the bloody battlefields of the Civil War.
Another fact about the Philadelphia Riot was newspapermen Will & Frederick Langeheim point their daguerreotype box camera out of the window and photographed the troops around City Hall. It was the first News Photo.

1865- In Gainesville Alabama hard fighting rebel cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest received news of the fall of Richmond and the surrender of the armies of Lee and Joe Johnston. He and a friend went on an all night ride to meditate what to do. “If one road led to Hell and the other to Mexico, I would be indifferent as to which to take.”

Finally Forrest announced to his men his decision: they would not go to Mexico, and they would not continue on as guerrillas, they would surrender and go home. When the governor of Mississippi protested, Bedford Forrest growled: “ Any man who is in favor of further prosecution of this war is a fit subject for a lunatic asylum! The attempt to establish and independent confederacy has failed, we should now meet our responsibilities like men.”
And despite Sherman offering a price for Forrest ‘s head, saying “There can be no peace in the land until he is dead!” Nathan Bedford Forrest was allowed to go home in peace.

1887- Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show did its first performance in Europe. In London the English public, several European kings and writer Oscar Wilde thrilled to displays of trick riding, wild red Indians, cowboys and little Annie Oakley the trick shooter.

1896 - 1st horseless carriage show in London. It featured 10 models.

1919- Mustapha Kemal, called Ataturk, is ordered to disband his Turkish Army at Samsun in accordance with the armistice agreement ending the Great War. Instead he declared a revolt and resists the Greek invasion. It is the beginning of modern Turkey.
One of the interesting conflicts in Turkey today is the Islamic fundamentalist movements coming up against the legacy of strict church-state separation and state espoused by Ataturk. Today in Turkey it is a state crime to even criticize Ataturk.

1926- Commander Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett left Spitzbergen Norway, flew over the North Pole in a Fokker monoplane called the Josephine Ford. He beat by two days Norwegian explorer Roald Ammundsen, who flew over the Pole in a dirigible built by Mussolini. Remember Lindbergh hadn’t flown across the Atlantic yet, and it was ten years before the Hindenberg disaster, so a dirigible was considered much safer than an aeroplane.
Commander Byrd won the Medal of Honor and became a household name. Modern scholarship based on his diary and testimony by Floyd Bennett now shows Byrd really didn’t go over the Pole but turned back 150 miles short because of an oil leak. He was too drunk to tell anyway. Although a former World War I pilot by now Byrd had grown skittish about flying.

1932 – London’s Piccadilly Circus first lit by electricity.

1935- The First Belch heard on nationwide radio. Melvin Purvis (the FBI man who killed John Dillinger) was doing an ad for Fleischmann’s Yeast when he committed the offense, which was dubbed “The Burp Heard Round the World”.

1937- ACTOR’S SHOWDOWN WITH L.B. MAYER- In a dramatic confrontation the heads of the Screen Actor’s Guild Robert Montgomery and Franchot Tone go to MGM boss Louis B. Mayer’s beach house during a Sunday garden party. While IATSE-Capone mob gangster Willie Bioff stood by to give Mayer support, Montgomery told Mayer he had a 96% strike vote from the actors, so if Mayer didn’t recognize SAG as the sole bargaining agent for actors they would paralyze Hollywood Monday morning!
Mayer thought about it, then gave in. Bioff got from the actors a deal that the IA would back off if the actors would withdraw their support from a rival union to IATSE’s organizing the behind the scene’s technical artists. That night 5,600 actors and friends celebrated at Hollywood Legion Stadium. Next morning 200 waited in line to get their SAG cards including Garbo and Jean Harlow.

1937- Burne Hogarth began drawing the Tarzan comic strip. Hal Foster had been in contract negotiations with the syndicate over money and the right to his originals. He had created Prince Valiant as a bargaining chip when the syndicate called his bluff by giving the Tarzan job to Hogarth. Foster went on to greater glory with Valiant but remained angry at Burne.

1950- The French Premier Schumann warned that more deadly world wars would occur in Europe unless Europeans started to unite as one country.

1950- Former Naval reserve officer and pulp science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, his book defining his new religion Scientology.

1955- HAPPY BIRTHDAY KERMIT THE FROG! Washington D.C. station puts on a young Univ of Maryland grad named Jim Henson as filler before the TODAY Show. He antics with his green frog called Kermit, fashioned from fabric from one of his mothers old green coats. The Muppets are born.

1960- Dr. Gregory Pincus introduced the Birth Control Pill Enovid-10, aka The Pill.

1961- John F. Kennedy's newly appointed head of the FCC, Newton Minow, did his first major address to a luncheon of top television executives. In his speech he blasted them for TV’s mindless content and violence. He called television: " A Vast Wasteland."
What makes it historic is it's the first time anybody had noticed just how lousy TV is and how badly we are all addicted to it. In the show Gilligan’s Island, the boat they were on was named the Minnow for Newton Minnow.

1970- THE MORATORIUM DAY- Largest of the nationwide youth protests against the U.S. War in Vietnam and Cambodia. President Nixon was obsessed by the protests. He had a bunker command post built under the White House where video monitors observed the “long haired peaceniks” outside. When Nixon told his staff he was going to go watch some football, he meant he was going to brood over the monitors. Retired CIA director Bill Gates confessed in his memoirs that as a young operative he took the day off to go protest as well as did a lot of other CIA agents. In Chicago young student and future comic John Belushi was dragged off by friends after being struck in the chest with a fired tear gas shell.
In 2000 it was revealed that President Nixon was so depressed at this time, he was taking a mood altering prescription barbiturate named Dilantin. It was given him by Jack Dreyfus of the Dreyfus Fund without a doctors permission. He was so out of it that Secretary of Defense John Schlesinger ordered military and nuclear installations to ignore the orders of our stoned President, unless first cleared by the Defense Department.

1978- Italian authorities found the bullet-riddled body of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in a car trunk. He had been kidnapped and murdered by a left wing extremist group called the Red Brigade. The cruelty of the act backfired on the brigade. They lost any public support they may have had and were soon gone.

1995- The Center of Disease Control published findings on a new deadly strain of virus appearing near Kinshasha Zaire. They called it the Ebola Virus.

2005- Columnist Arianna Huffington started the on-line newspaper The Huffington Post. It’s progressive slant was considered an answer to blatantly conservative blogs like Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What was a blunderbuss?

Answer: A large muzzle version of an early shotgun. It’s large mouth conveniently shot many things other than bullets, like nails, salt, or small rocks. In Europe it was popular with men guarding stagecoaches from highwaymen, because it was hard to miss with one.

May 8, 2018
May 8th, 2018

Quiz: What was a blunderbuss?

Yesterday’s Quiz Answered Below: What should you do when someone points a harquebus at you?
History for 5/8/2018
Birthdays: Harry Truman, Roberto Rossellini, Leopold Bakhunin, Louis Gottschalk, Oscar Hammerstein, Ted Sorenson, Sonny Liston, Toni Tennille, Ricky Nelson, Peter Benchley, Thomas Pinchon, David Attenborough is 92, Keith Jarrett, Alex Van Halen, Melissa Gilbert, French illustrator Jean Giraud aka Moebius, Enrique Inglesias, Bob Clampett, Don Rickles

1429- St. Joan of Arc saved the City of Orleans. The English had never captured the capitol of the Loire Valley but were besieging it from a string of powerful fortresses built around it. At one point in the battle for a castle called La Tourelles, a big English knight stood in the breach in the wall, hewing down Frenchmen with his two-handed broadsword. He seemed invincible, until a knight named Jean De Montesclere brought up one of those newfangled hand held firetubes. From a safe distance, Jean put a stone bullet through the Englishman. The unknown knight was the first man ever shot by a gun.

1587- THE LOST COLONY- The Roanoke settlers left England for Virginia. When a supply ship reached their colony three years later in 1590, the houses were intact, but the colonists had all disappeared, leaving no bodies, or signs of violence. Only a mysterious message, CROTOAN, carved on a tree. Their ultimate fate has never been successfully determined.

1776- While the American Congress was debating whether to declare independence or not, the British Navy reminded them what was at stake. This day two warships, HMS Roebuck and Liverpool tried to shoot their way up the Delaware River to Philadelphia. They were finally turned back by the Yankee shore batteries.

1778- Sir George Clinton arrived in occupied Philadelphia to relieve British commander Sir William Howe. Clinton’s instructions from London were that since the French had entered the American Revolution on the American side, he was to abandon the rebel capitol of Philadelphia and consolidate British forces in New York. Instead of being reinforced with more troops, he was to detach a few regiments for an attack on Saint Lucia in the Caribbean.

1824- Ludwig Von Beethoven performed his Ninth (Choral) Symphony and Missa Solemnis in concert for the first time. Even though he was stone deaf he was still in demand as a conductor. The orchestra trained themselves to ignore the Maestro's baton waving and follow the lead of the concert-master (first violinist). It was said when they finished and the audience was cheering, poor Beethoven was still flapping his arms about and moaning the melody, unaware of the sound of his own voice.

1874- Massachusetts adopted a ten-hour workday for women, down from 12-14 hours.

1878- David Hughes invented the Microphone while trying to get over bronchitis.

1910-Russian-Jewish immigrant glove salesman Schmuel Gelpfisch married Blanche Lasky, the daughter of vaudeville performer Jesse Lasky. Gelpfisch later changed his name to Sam Goldfish, then Sam Goldwyn. He and his father in law Jesse Lasky went into the new flicker business and started the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. They soon moved to Hollywood.

1912- The movie studio Famous Players Lasky born. In 1914 they changed their name to Paramount Pictures.

1927- When Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic, there were other aviators who attempted the same feat. This day French daredevils Charles Nungesser & Francois Coli took off from Paris to fly to New York in their plane L’Oiseau Blanc. They were never seen again, and their remains were never recovered. Later that year, authorities noticed that the $30,000.00 in prize money that crooked NY Mayor Jimmy Walker was supposed to present them with had mysteriously disappeared as well…

1933- When the Rockefellers were building their huge office complex Rockefeller Center in New York City they decided to get one of the greatest living Mexican painter Diego Rivera to design the murals for the interior of the atrium ’Man at the Crossroads". This despite the fact that Rivera was well known as a radical communist.
Soon Nelson Rockefeller noticed Rivera was painting in the center of the mural a huge portrait of Lenin stepping on his father John D. Rockefeller’s face! Over Rivera’s protests Rockefeller ordered the mural painted over and no record of it’s existence ever kept. But on the night before the painting was to be destroyed Swiss art student Lucienne Bloch slipped a camera into her shirt. While Frida Kahlo distracted the guards, she took the only photos of the mural for posterity.

1943- Tex Avery's "Red Hot Riding Hood"- Ooohh Wolfy !

1945- Victory Day- Nazi's repeat the surrender signing done for Eisenhower, now for the Russians in Berlin. The announcements were made, V-E day celebrations broke out around the world.

1947- Department store mogul Harry Gordon Selfridge died in poverty in Putney, a suburb of London. He was 89. Even though his store Selfridges made millions, in his old age he wasted so much money on gambling and women, his exec board stripped him of his power. In 1943 he was arrested for vagrancy for loitering in front of his own store.

1954- DIEN BIEN PHU- The Communist Viet Minh guerrillas decisively defeat the French in Indochina. The French strategy was to place a forward base in the heart of the guerrilla infested jungle to lure the Vietnamese into the open and defeat them. Instead they got a modern version of the Little Big Horn with the French Legionairies going down under endless waves of attacking Vietnamese. The guerrilla forces had carried large howitzers in small pieces up mountaintops and assembled them to rain shells down on the French.

1962-"A Funny thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Forum" opened on Broadway.

1962- Director Joe Mankiewicz shot the climactic spectacle scene of Cleopatra –Elizabeth Taylor, entering Rome through the Arch of Titus on a mobile sphinx surrounded by thousands of extras. The shot had been delayed six months after a stunt woman fell off an elephant, and then the light in the Forum had not been right. When Elizabeth Taylor appeared in the scene, the Italian extras were supposed to shout "Hail Cleopatra!, but instead they all shouted "Liz! Liz!"

1973-A.I.M. Indian movement surrendered Wounded Knee to the F.B.I.

1978- Postman David Berkowitz confessed to being "Son-of-Sam" or the "44 caliber killer", the serial killer who terrorized New York City by shooting to death teenage couples at random and toying with letters to journalist Pete Hamill. Berkowitz said he received his orders to shoot people from his neighbor's Labrador dog Sam.

1991- President Bill Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas, propositioned waitress Paula Jones at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock. With her legal bills financed by the Clinton-hating Neo-Cons, her case went as far as a Supreme Court. They decided to allow her to sue a President while in office. Clinton’s attorney didn’t help things with statements like :" Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park and who knows who you’ll turn up. "She got a lot of publicity, an $850,000 settlement and a nude spread in Penthouse Magazine.

1996- South Africa adopted its first post-apartheid constitution.

1998- The impotence drug Viagra gains national prominence when retired Senator Bob Dole confessed on the Larry King talk show that he participated in the drugs test trials and the had "thoroughly enjoyed himself."

Yesterday’s Quiz: What should you do when someone points a harquebus at you?

Answer: Duck! In the 1500s it was an early form of rifle.

May 7, 2018
May 7th, 2018

Quiz: What should you do when someone points a harquebus at you?

Yesterdays Quiz: What is a Grand Guignol?
History for 5/7/2018
Birthday: Johannes Brahms, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Gary Cooper, Gabby Hayes, Ichiro Honda, Robert Browning, Marcus Loew of Loews Theater chain, Darin McGavin, Edward Land (inventor of the Polaroid lens and camera), Amy Heckerling, Traci Lords

Greek Festival of the Birth of Apollo.

401 B.C. SOCRATES DIED. Contrary to modern perception not everyone in ancient Greece loved philosophy. The Greeks had the same conflicts we have now between faith, tradition and rational thought and science. The scientist Anaxagoras was run out of town for saying that the Sun wasn’t Phoebus in a chariot, but just a burning rock floating in space. Euripides the playwright was also in trouble for doubting that any gods exist.

But Socrates pushed the argument to its most extreme conclusion. The Athenian conservatives convicted Socrates of blasphemy and subverting the public morals. All hoped Socrates would just shut up and pay a fine, but Socrates unrepentant stance forced the law to go all the way to the death penalty. He was ordered to commit suicide by being given a cup of Hemlock. Actually it wasn’t a cup., the poison was held in a leaf of Romaine Lettuce, then called Lettuce of the Isle of Cos. As he drank, he said,
“To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.”

558AD- The dome of the great Byzantine basilica the Haghia Sophia collapsed under its own weight. The Emperor Justinian ordered it immediately rebuilt stronger.

1718- The FIRST BOATLOAD OF FRENCH COLONISTS LAND IN LOUISIANA- Sieur de la Moyne- Bienville established a fort and trading post on some low ground between the Mississippi and Lake Ponchartrain. He named the place for Phillip of Orleans, then ruler of France in the name of the child King Louis XV. The French and Dutch always had a problem with their American colonies, in that nobody wanted to leave home to move there. One solution the French thought up was sweeping the streets of all the hookers, cutthroats and riffraff and shipping them all to America. Though it wasn't exactly "Pilgrim's Progress", this influx of cardsharks and sportin' ladies helped New Orleans quickly establish it's rep as one of the wildest towns of the New World.

1760- A British merchant ship named the Friendship arrived in Virginia from Barbados. On board for his first sea voyage and his first sight of America was a young Scottish apprentice named John Paul, who we would know later as US Navy captain John Paul Jones.

1763- Chief Pontiac attacked Fort Detroit. Angry over British treatment after the French and Indian War, Pontiac had united all the Great Lakes tribes with their French trapper friends to attack all the forts simultaneously from Illinois to Maine. He later took the fort’s fat commander Captain Cambell hostage and gave him to the allied Chippewas who tomahawked him and ate his heart. Yum!

1789- To complete the break with Mother England the Church of England in America renamed itself the Episcopalian Church.

1795- Throughout the French Revolution one region of France, La Vendee’, stubbornly stayed loyal to the monarchy and waged a long guerrilla war. Several French generals were sent to pacify the province but were unsuccessful. This day young whiz kid Napoleon Bonaparte learned he had been posted to the Vendee’. He immediately protested the posting and requested duty elsewhere. He recognized this move would be bad for his career but beyond that Nappy never wanted to be part of a civil war. Even after Waterloo, when he could have stayed in power by enforcing military control he refused because it would have meant fighting other Frenchmen. “There is no honor in spilling the blood of other Frenchmen.”

1800- The US Congress divided up the Northwest Territories, separating Indiana from Ohio.

1847-American Medical Assoc. founded.

1863- Hard-fighting Confederate general Earl 'Buck' Van Dorn was killed, but not in battle. A Tennessee doctor named J.G. Peters made an appointment with the general, went up behind him while he was at his desk and shot him in the back of the head. Peters then calmly got back into his carriage and rode to Union lines. Peters wasn't a Yankee assassin. He was expressing his disapproval of the fact that Van Dorn was having an affair with his wife. William Faulkner alluded to his romantic exploits in books like Absalom Absalom.

1864-The WILDERNESS- LEE MET GRANT FOR THE FIRST TIME- Southern General Robert E. Lee lured Ulysses Grant's army into a dense tangled forest called the Wilderness and defeated him. The superior numbers of the Yankee troops became meaningless crawling about in the thick woods. At one point when the rebel line was in danger of breaking Lee rode to the front himself but was stopped by a Texas brigade. “Texan’s Always Move Them! “ Lee cried, and the inspired Texans threw back the enemy.

That night hundreds of wounded left on the ground burned to death because the cannons had started a brush fire. Grant suffered as many casualties as at previous Union defeats like Chancellorsville yet instead of retreating to Washington to make excuses to Lincoln he circled around and attacked again. The men cheered wildly when they saw Grant quietly sitting atop his horse directing the columns back around for another try. Grant exhibited an iron-like reserve in public but that night alone in his tent he broke down and sobbed like a child. The two armies will maneuver and duel for 60 days straight until Grant boxed Lee into his Richmond defenses.

1896- Dr. H.H. Holmes hanged. One of the worst American serial killers, the doctor set up a practice during the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893. As tourists disappeared around the fair, the doctor offered new medical specimens to the local medical college. Called the Devil of the White City, authorities found remains of as many as 200 victims around his property.

1904 - Flexible Flyer trademark registered

1915- THE LUSITANIA- Off the southern coast of Ireland, the civilian ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20. 1,198 drowned, including 128 Americans. The Kaiser later gave a medal to the U-boat Captain Walter Schweige. These acts outraged American opinion and led us into World War I, despite many pro-German immigrants. It was revealed decades later that the reason Lusitania sank so quickly, just 18 minutes - even Captain Schweige was surprised- was that it's cargo hold was full of explosives.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill fought the German U-boat blockade by covertly transporting purchased American weapons on hospital ships, civilian ocean liners and let some British freighters illegally fly the flags of neutral countries. The German government knew that the Lusitania had been classified by the British admiralty a military cruiser. But regardless, the sinking of an unarmed ship without warning was considered a gross violation of international law. The German government apologized to the American government and stopped the unrestricted U-boat campaign for two years, but the Lusitania shifted neutral U.S. public sympathy irrevocably to the Franco-English side.

1919- Defeated Germany learned just how bad the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty were going to hit them. They expected bad times but were shocked at just how severe and steep the reparation payments were going to be. Millions were to be paid in indemnities and large areas of their industrial heartland would be under foreign occupation. The anger over this treaty did a lot to stoke the fires for revenge that would bring Hitler to power.

1926- Gangster Al Capone killed 3 men with a baseball bat over dinner.

1937-Nobel Prize winning writer William Faulkner hired by MGM Studios, earning $500 a week. He celebrated by going on a two week long drinking binge. When MGM's Head of Writing Sam Marx had him tracked down to an Oakie farmers migrant camp in the Imperial Valley, he was dragged off boozily whining: " Ah wanna write for Mickey Mouse!!"

1939- Los Angeles Union Station opened. It was built on top of L.A's original China Town.

1941-Glen Miller records the "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" for RCA. the first gold record million seller.

1942- Battle of the Coral Sea-The U.S. Navy, suffering only defeats up till then, stopped a Japanese task force. This is the first engagement in which the two fleets never saw each other, but fought long distance with carrier launched airplanes. Veterans commented that one of the sadder losses was when the aircraft carrier USS Lexington went down, she took the fleet's supply of 6 Bugs Bunny cartoons with her. War is Hell.

1945- V.E. Day. Grand Admiral Doenitz, the successor to Adolf Hitler, officially surrendered the Third Reich to the allies. They repeated the ceremony to the Russians next day. Admiral Doenitz said after the signing:" I feel we shall not see our flag fly over a prosperous Germany in our lifetime." Well, not in your lifetime, Karl....

1945- German fighter ace Eric Hartmann celebrated the end of the war by going up in his Messerschmitt ME109f and shooting down one final allied plane. He caught the Ilushyin Russian fighter doing a victory roll. Hartman was called the Black Devil of the Ukraine, because he shot down 352 enemy planes. After ten years in a Siberian prison camp, he went home to his farm in Holstein and lived peacefully.

1945- In a top secret test at Los Alamos the Manhattan Project scientists detonated in the desert a single blast 100,000 pounds of TNT. This was to measure the effect of a blast that big and provide a control to gauge the effectiveness of the Atomic Bomb. 100,000 pounds of TNT became known as one Kiloton. The Hiroshima A-Bomb was 20 kilotons,
the largest thermonuclear device was 50 kilotons.

1966- “Monday Monday” by the Mammas and the Poppas becomes #1 in the pop charts.

1996- Comedian Martin Lawrence went berserk and ran down a main intersection in Van Nuys Cal. raving and waving a pistol. When asked to explain himself, Lawrence blamed it on “Dehydration.”

1998- Apple Computers introduced the iMac.

2009- Decorated career soldier Lt. Dan Choi directly challenged the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on gay soldiers by outing himself on Rachel Maddow’s national news show. He was discharged by July, but his plea helped make the case for gay service-people. In Dec 2010, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed by Congress with overwhelming popular support.

2012- Vladimir Putin inaugurated for the umpteenth time as Russia’s president, premier, prime minister or whatever.

Quiz: What is a Grand Guignol?

Answer: The "Grand Guignol” was the name of a Paris theatre in the XIX Century that catered to people fascinated by grotesque recreations of horror and gore. Much like the “Saw” horror movies. Today a grand guignol is a metaphor to describe something as a horror show or blood fest.

May 6, 2018
May 6th, 2018

Quiz: What is a Grand Guignol?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: What is the oldest Hollywood studio, that is still in business today?
History for 5/6/2018
Birthdays: Maximillien Robespierre, Sigmund Freud, Rudolph Valentino, Orson Welles, Robert Peary, Willie Mays, Stewart Granger*, Bob Seger, Toots Schoor, Weeb Ewbank, Andriana Caselotti- the voice of Snow White, Ruben Hurricane Carter, Christian Clavier, Tony Blair, George Clooney is 57.

*English actor Stewart Granger had to change his name to get into Hollywood movies. His real name was Jimmy Stewart.

1096- The Massacre of Mainz- As mobs of Crusaders massed to war on the Holyland, they deliberately chose a route of march through Central Europe. As they passed through cities like Prague, Wurms, Mainz and Spier they could vent their religious zeal by slaughtering the Jewish communities there.
Many well-meaning bishops like the Bishop of Mainz tried to stop them and hid Jews, but the pogrom was terrible. In some cities when faced with death or baptizing, hundreds of Jews committed suicide. When at the walls of Jerusalem the Crusaders saw the Jewish community fighting shoulder to shoulder with their Moslem-Arab cousins against them.

1527- THE SACK OF ROME- Pope Clement VII "the Medici Fox" played the diplomatic tango with the world powers a bit too clumsily and Emperor Charles V of Spain, Holland and Germany launched an army at Rome. Charles gave his general Charles De Bourbon a hangman's noose dipped in gold, a "Golden Rope to Hang the Pope"
The Vatican armies were led by the late Pope Julius's bastard son Maria Della Rovere who didn't like Clement, so he kept his army out of the whole war. The city of Rome’s defense was organized by the artist Benevenuto Cellini. He managed to get off one shot before escaping out the back door. That shot killed the enemy general Charles de Bourbon, so now a loot crazed mercenary army with no commander was running amok in the richest city in Europe. The troops pillaged for weeks, only the plague drove them out. Many of the troops were newly converted Protestants, so they looked forward to despoiling the Great Whore of Rome.

They entered the orphanage of Santo Spirito and slaughtered all the patients, then ran into St. Peters and massacred all the harmless people who sought sanctuary there. They dressed a donkey in cardinals robes, proclaimed Martin Luther pope, and made campfires in the Sistine chapel-which is why the fresco was darkened by smoke. 147 of the Pope’s elite Swiss Guard held off the rampaging enemy army until the Pope could escape. They were massacred to a man. Ever since, May 6th is the day new members of the Swiss Guard are installed at the Vatican.
Pope Clement escaped the golden rope, but the Vatican never regained the power it once had and popes actually started to concentrate on spiritual stuff!

1603- After a triumphal procession down from Edinburgh James VI of Scotland enters London as James I of England. Although the treaty of union was not formally signed until 1717 James can truly be called the first king not just of England but of Great Britain.

1682-THE GLOUCESTER DISASTER- The good ship Gloucester was carrying the Duke of York and his court back from Scotland when it struck a reef off Norfolk and sank. It was said the good Duke, who would soon be King James II, courageously stayed until it was almost too late then escaped in a longboat. Later the Duke of Marlborough revealed in letters to his wife that if James had left sooner instead of worrying about his image they might have been able to save more people. As it was James took the only longboat and filled it with his luggage, hunting dogs and a priest. He then posted guards with drawn swords to keep anyone else coming on board. James and only 40 people survived while 300 perished with the ship. Later as King James II he was overthrown and driven into exile with the help of Marlborough.

1793- American artist Gilbert Stuart arrived back home after a stay in Europe dead broke. In the Age of Gainsborough, Romney and West, Stuart didn’t do so well. He left America because he was tired of being pestered to do copies of his famous portrait of George Washington, the one that is currently on our dollar bill.

1833 - John Deere makes his first steel plow.

1840- Britain issued the Penny-Blacks, the first perforated adhesive postage stamps.

1862- Henry David Thoreau died at age 44. When his sister asked him :"Have you made your peace with God?" Thoreau replied:" I was unaware that we had ever quarreled."
His last words as he faded away were “Moose…Indian…”

1864- Ulysses Grant began moving his armies south towards Robert E. Lee in Virginia. One general cynically noted: ” The fourth act of our comedy has begun.”

1867- MORIARITY! American criminal Adam Worth stole a Gainsborough masterpiece The Duchess of Devonshire from a London museum. Years later he restored it to the authorities to collect the reward. In America he became friends with detective Alan Pinkerton, to whom he bragged about his adventures. That the London police had called him “ The Napoleon of Crime”.
Pinkerton later met fellow Scot Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and related these stories to him. They gave Conan-Doyle the idea for Sherlock Holmes’ evil nemesis, Prof Moriarity.

1877- One year after Custer's Last Stand, Crazy Horse, "the Napoleon of the Plains", surrendered to U.S. authorities. They assassinated him later.

1882 -Congress passed the First Chinese Exclusion Act.

1903-A bronze plaque was attached to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. On it was a poem The New Colossus by a young Jewish immigrant woman named Emma Lazarus. She was disturbed by the Anti-Semitic violence in Russia and wrote this inspired by the symbol of the Statue. “Give Me your Tired, Your Poor..” The French creators had intended the Statue of Liberty to symbolize political liberty, but Lazarus’s poem had confirmed the Statue as“ The Mother of Exiles ”.

1915- Babe Ruth hits his first home run. He was a Boston Red Sox pitcher at the time. He will finish his career with 714 home runs, a record that held for decades until Hank Aaron.

1919- Seattle dockworkers go on strike refusing to load weapons destined to fight fellow workers in the Russian Revolution.

1919- Wizard of Oz creator L. Frank Baum died of heart disease at 62. He was trying at the time to buy real estate in Los Angeles for an Oz- theme amusement park.

1937-The Giant Zeppelin Graf HINDENBURG EXPLODED while landing in Lakehurst New Jersey. Despite the horrible film images 63 of the 90 passengers and crew escaped.
People to this day aren’t sure what happened, from an igniting from static electricity to an anti-nazi saboteur firing a flare gun into the hydrogen gas-bags. The explosion originated behind the large swastika on the tail.
The previous year a visit from a German luxury liner the S.S. Bremen caused a riot on the New York City docks as demonstrators fought police to tear the hated Nazi flag down. It was possible at that time to fly a dirigible with non flammable helium, but it was much more expensive than hydrogen and the worlds chief supplier of helium, the United States, was reluctant to sell Hitler that much of the strategic chemical.

The American ground crew wanted to give a gift to the German captain who was dying of 3rd degree burns, so they presented him with an engraved cigarette lighter! (tacky) My grandparents told me they drove out to see the wreckage with a huge crowd. Even though it was still smoldering people were prying chunks off it for souvenirs.

Zeppelins were once supposed to be moored to the top of the Empire State Building but that never came about. By 1939 Goring ordered all remaining zeppelins and hangers scrapped for their valuable materials.

1937- THE FLEISCHER STRIKE-Cartoonists vote to strike Max Fleischers Studio after Max fires 13 animators for union activity and complaining about the 6 day work week.
The strike was settled several weeks later when parent company Paramount forced Max to concede. Strikers sang "We're Popeye the Union Man! We're Popeye the Union Man! We'll Fight to the Finish, Cause We Can't Live on Spinach! We're Popeye...etc."

1937- The Society of Motion Picture Art Directors formed.

1941- A friend of Bob Hope who was now in the military suggested the comedian come and entertain troops on their army post. Hope takes the suggestion and it becomes his signature event. Into his eighties he entertained servicemen around the world in five wars.

1945- Just as exhausted GI’s in Germany were beginning to celebrate the end of the war in Europe, an announcement in Stars & Stripes newspaper gave them the bad news that they won’t be demobilized and go home until Japan was defeated as well! European armies were scheduled for the invasion of the Japanese home islands in November if the atomic bombs didn’t work.

1946- Curly Howard, was the most outrageous of the comedy troupe The Three Stooges.
While people laughed at his antics, he lived a wild Hollywood life, lots of clubs, drinking, smoking and girls. This day while filming the short Halfwits Holiday, he suffered a massive stroke. He was only 42. He survived 6 more years in debilitated health, moved from hospital to hospital by his brothers. He died in 1952 at age 48.

1949-In Cambridge University England, The computer EDSAC ran its’ first calculations. The first computer that could store data in its memory.

1954- Oxford student Roger Bannister ran the first Four Minute Mile. His time was 3:59.04.

1994- The Channel Tunnel or The Chunnel opened between Folkestone, England and Calais, France.

2001- Variety reported that the Walt Disney Company in promoting their upcoming summer film Pearl Harbor, had canceled plans for Pearl Harbor Happy Meals at McDonalds, as being in bad taste.

2003- A tornado destroyed the factory in Jackson, Tennessee that produced most of the world’s supply of Pringles Potato Chips.
Yesterday’s Question: What is the oldest Hollywood studio, that is still in business today?

Answer: Universal Pictures, founded in 1912. Paramount was founded in 1912 as Famous Players Lasky, but it became Paramount in 1916. Paramount is the oldest Hollywood movie studio that is still actually located in the town of Hollywood.