BACK to Blog Posts

Just got another box of books from Amazon. I have to find more room on my shelves now. In honor of the anniversary of the birth of Hollywood Ten Writer Alvah Bessie, I wanted to mention that his son Dan Bessie wrote a memoir entitled REELING THROUGH HOLLYWOOD.

It not only talks about his life with his famous but periodically persecuted parent, but that for awhile Dan Bessie was an assistant animator at MGM on Tom & Jerry, as well as Linus the Lionhearted, and other animated shows. He later became a well known independent filmmaker. Thanks to my old friend Maddy Diaz of Van Eaton Gallery for telling me about it.

Robert McKinnon has done a warm biography of the great Warner Bros designer Maurice Noble entitled STEPPING INTO THE PICTURE. I'm glad Robert didn't edit Maurice's salty sense of justice and his political acumen. Maurice was proud of his striking Disney's in 1941 and was always angry when artists didn't stand up for themselves. He never shirked from telling me how a good union-man should act.

Also I finally scored a copy of the late Prof Bill Moritz biography of famed German abstract filmmaker Oskar Fischinger OPTICAL POETRY. Although I never met Oskar, I knew Bill and Oskar's widow Elfriede. Elfriede was a tireless champion of Oskars legacy. The man who is mostly known now for the Toccatta and Fugue part of Disney's FANTASIA had an amazing life, escaping from the Nazis and creating amazing abstract films that were as inspiring to the pioneers of CG as Muybridge was to early film. Bill Moritz died much too early from cancer, but I am pleased he was able to complete his history of the great filmmaker. It is a pretty good read.

Quiz: What does it mean when you say:” Read them the Riot Act”?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What do George Washington, Casanova and Mozart all have in common?
History for 6/4/2008
Birthdays: King George III, Alvah Bessie, Rosalind Russell, Gene Barry, Dennis Weaver, Robert Merrill, Bruce Dern, Andrea Jaeger, Dr Ruth Westheimer, Freddy Fender, Noah Wylie, Rachael Griffiths, Angela Jolie is 33

1070- THE BIRTHDAY OF ROCQUEFORT CHEESE. Legend has it on this day in the town of Roquefort a shepherd found in a cave some cheese he had been saving but had forgotten about. He noticed it was covered with mold but he was hungry and ate it anyway, and lo and behold, it tasted much better than before...

1249-King Louis IX of France (St. Louis) arrives in the HolyLand on Crusade.

1259- Kubilai Khan, the grandson of the Genghis Khan, was elected council the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. Kubilai then shattered Mongol tradition by dividing the huge Empire into three pieces. His uncles Kaidu and Batu would rule the Mongol homeland and Western section (the Golden Horde) respectively while Kubilai preferred to rule China as it's emperor. In doing this he was acknowledging the reality that the master plan of Genghis for world conquest was unfeasible. The empire which extended from Korea to Budapest to Baghdad was unmanageable and would break up anyway. Kubilai Khan's Yuan Dynasty in China would last. He was the Chinese Emperor who met Marco Polo.

1666- Moliere’s play"Le Misanthrope"premiered.

1717- FREEMASONS- The Grand Lodge of England was inaugurated in London on St John the Baptist Day. This is considered by some the birth of Freemasonry, but many alleged histories claim the practices of the Brotherhood of the Craft go back to ancient Egypt and was brought to England by the Knights Templar in the 1300’s. There is some validity to the reports of independent Lodges already existing in the 1630’s in England and earlier in Scotland. The Freemason movement spread throughout Europe and became an alternative to religion for many intellectuals in the 1700’s. Mozart, Haydn, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Casanova, Voltaire and many more were members.

1896-Henry Ford tests out his automobile with headlights in a nighttime drive around Detroit.

1916-THE HERO PIGEON OF VERDUN- During the horrific battle of Verdun the Germans had surrounded the French strongpoint of Fort Vaux. The fighting in the underground 15 foot high concrete tunnels of the fort was ghastly, men killed each other with hand grenades and flamethrowers at close quarters while groping through the blackness and gagging at the stench of rotting corpses. The French commander Captain Reynal, his telephone communications cut, sent his last carrier pigeon to get help. The pigeon, despite being badly gassed and perching on the roof of the fort for a little while, got through to the high command. Delivering his message like Phiddipides of Marathon he then fell over dead. Help never got through, and Captain Reynal had to surrender, but the dead pigeon was awarded the medal of the Legion d'Honneur. Go figure.

1916 - Mildred J Hill, one of the two Hill sisters who composed the song Happy Birthday To You, died at 56.

1919- The Women's Suffrage Act passes the Senate by one vote. A chorus of women in the visitor's gallery break into :"Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow". The deciding vote was cast by a Utah senator who wanted to please his mother.

1942- The BATTLE OF MIDWAY. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto committed the bulk of his carrier force to destroy the American Navy once and for all. Recent research of Japanese Imperial files reveal he considered this step a prelude to the invasion of the Hawaiian Islands, which he hoped would force America to negotiate peace. But the path of Yamamoto’s fleet was revealed by the breaking of the top Japanese radio codes and the American fleet laid an ambush for him. It was a battle of carrier-based planes where the opposing ships never see each other. The famous suicide attack of TBY-8, was an attack of U.S. torpedo planes on the Japanese carrier fleet without fighter cover. Of 51 planes, 47 were shot down by faster more agile Zeros. But while the zeros were on deck getting refueled and rearmed a cloud of screaming Dauntless divebombers dropped out of the sky and blew Yamamotos four best aircraft carriers to bits- The Akagi, Hiryu, Soryu and Kaga. One American carrier the Yorktown was sunk. The Japanese fleet would never mount an attack of this size again. Its defeat was seen by the U.S. Navy as the turning point of the Pacific War.

1942- Capitol Records opened for business.

1944- American armies at last enter Rome. An Allied beachhead had been established at Anzio last February only a few miles away and scouts had reported the Eternal City wide open, but the American generals Lucas and Clark hesitated until the Germans could bring up reinforcements and bog them down for weeks. But this day they entered the city to the cheers of the populace. A G.I. cartoonist named Vinny solicited laughs from the troops by appearing on Mussolini’s balcony on the Via Del Corso and doing a mock interpretation of Il Duce.

1947- The film "A Miracle on 34th St." opened. Starring Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwen and 8 year old Natalie Wood.

1951- The Supreme Court upholds the anti-Communist Smith Act. This act stated you could be fired from your job or jailed even on a suspicion that you were a communist, no proof required.

1951- Tony Curtis married Janet Leigh. Besides proving Tony wasn’t gay, the result was to produce Jamie Leigh-Curtis.

1965- The Rolling Stones release the single "Satisfaction".

1967- The television show "The Monkees" won the Emmy award for Best Comedy.
go figure... The producers of the Pre-Fab Four raise enough money and clout to fund later projects like the hit movie Easy Rider. This same ceremony saw Bill Cosby become the first African-American to win an Emmy, this for his role in the series I-Spy. The show's producer Sheldon Leonard, used to write for the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.

1977- The Apple II went on sale. It became the Model T of the cyberworld, the first successful mass marketed personal computer.

1989-THE TIENAHMEN SQUARE MASSACRE. Chinese army troops loyal to Deng Zhao Peng crush the student democracy movement in the center of Bejing. The demonstrations started around a funeral for Hu Yao Bang, a party premier who was ousted for his liberal democratizing policy. The crowds gathered in strength and militancy, students joined by workers and soldiers. There was a hope China’s ruling regime would fall to a "people-power" type revolution that had overthrown Marco’s Philippines and the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe. But Premier Deng brought in soldiers from the rural provinces and brutally cracked down. No figures of total casualties exist but the figure ten thousand is thrown around as conservative. Incidentally this incident probably was the beginning of the world popularity of CNN news. Despite threats from commissars correspondent Mike Chinoy remained at his post and continued to broadcast when all other news teams had fled. Deng Zhao Ping’s name was a pun on the word for "little bottle" so people showed their resistance by smashing dozens of small bottles out on the street.

1990- The New York Daily News quietly discontinued its long running comic strip Ching Chow. Besides being ethnically offensive, the little one panel strip of a stereotype Chinese man with a long hair queue saying silly Confucian platitudes, also was the source of racetrack and numbers racket tips.

2003- Martha Stewart, the self-made millionaire leader of a home recipe empire, was indicted for insider stock trading.
Yesterday’s Question: What do George Washington, Casanova and Mozart all have in common?

Answer: They were all Freemasons.