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In the spring of 1977 I was in New York working as an inbetweener on the animated film The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy. I was working on Emery Hawkins Taffy Pit monster with Dan Haskett, Kevin Petrilak, James Wong and Carol Millican among many others. Mike Sporn was our head of cleanup and Eric Goldberg, Jim Logan and Lou Scarborough were among our crew. In those days,New York had comic conventions much like the San Diego comicon, but a bit more modest. And it was a great place to sneak preview upcoming films.

Another Raggedy artist named Lester "Skeets" Pegues went to a comicon screening at the old Commodore Hotel by Grand Central Station. I didn't go because it was showing too late and I had to commute back to Canarsie, Brooklyn. Skeets came in to work the next day raving about this cool new movie called "Star Wars" he said he never saw anything like it. I was unimpressed at first. I had seen Silent Running and Dark Star. No one really made Sci-fi films anymore, certainly nothing as intriging as 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. I was looking forward to real films like the French Connection II and Revenge of Billy Jack.

I was always the type that stayed away from films with humongous waiting lines. So I resisted the Star War phenomenon for a few more months until I saw it in Hollywood. It had moved from Mann's Chinese across the street to the Hollywood Theater, now called the El Capitan.

Well, I watched the title card move by and listened to the big music score and thought it wasn't that bad. Then the big Imperial Cruiser came overhead and I WAS HOOKED! It was one of the great cathartic moments in cinema. Nothing like it had ever been seen in movies before.

That year it was as if there was only one movie playing in any theater, Star Wars. The mania ran so far ahead of the planning that Christmas kids got Star Wars games under the tree that were an empty box with an IOU in it. It promised to provide a game as soon as they printed more.

You were right Skeets, it was pretty amazing. Happy Birthday Star Wars.

If you were fast enough, the other day several sites like You Tube posted the trailor for the film THE ENCHANTED by Kevin Lima with animation by James Baxter's group. I managed to see it before Disney Lawyers yanked it.
I don't know what they're worried about, I thought it was great.
Congrads, mon freres!

Birthdays: Miles Davis, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Josef Broz Tito, Igor Sikorsky, Pontormo, Bennett Cerf, Claude Akins, Leslie Uggams, Bill Bojangles Robinson, Beverly Sills, Anne Heche, Mike Myers the voice of Shrek is 44

1878- Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore premiered at the Savoy in London. “So Stick to your desk and never go to Sea, and You can be the Leader of the Queen’s Naveeee”

1950- Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened in NYC.

1957- Sid Caesar's Your Show of Show's cancelled after nearly a decade. The show used future star playwrights like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Neil Simon. The show pioneered the executive strategy of network programmer Pat Weaver to not let the show be owned by an entire sponsor but the network would produce the show and would sell the sponsor commercial time in 30 second chunks. Pat Weaver’s daughter is Sigorney Weaver.

1961- THE SPACE RACE- The United States had been chafing about how far ahead the Soviet Union was in the exploration of space. In an address to Congress this day President John F. Kennedy pledged the wealth and resources of the U.S. to beating Russia to the Moon. "Our pledge is within the next ten years to send a man to the moon and return him safely to Earth… We choose to go to the Moon not because it will be easy but because it is hard!" The Moon landing was achieved in 1969. Today it is acknowledged that without the motivation of the Cold War the conquest of the Moon would have happened much more slowly. In 2004 President Bush made a similar pledge to go to Mars, but not much has happened since.

1965- The Saint Louis Gateway Arch dedicated.

1968- The Rolling Stones release Jumping Jack Flash.

1977- Star Wars opened.

1979- Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic Alien opened.

1980- Evangelist Oral Roberts sees a 900-foot Jesus over his bed.

1986- Hands Across America stunt to help hunger has 7 million people at one time holding hands at noon.

2000- It was revealed that in 1958 US scientists planned to explode an atomic bomb on the moon. There would be no mushroom cloud because that requires an atmosphere, and the flash would only be visible for a few seconds. What the purpose would be other than to scare the BeeJeezus out of the Russkies no one knew. This dumb-ass idea was soon scrapped.