A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
1901 – Ed Sullivan, the only television personality who never really had one. The Ed Sullivan Show dominated the Baby Boomers’ Sunday nights forever. It was the last whole family entertainment program with something for everybody. Ed, of course, did nothing, except introduce the acts, point out people in the audience and play with Topo Gigio.
1934 – Brigitte Bardot, once considered the most beautiful woman in the world. In her day she was certainly the sexiest. Even by today’s standards, her film And God Created Woman is one of the most sensuous movies ever made. She retired from public life at 39 and now prefers the company of dogs, cats and baby seals.
1960 – In true American hero fashion, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox used his last at bat in Major League Baseball to hit a home run. Williams is considered one of the greatest hitters of all time and is the last man to hit over .400 in the major leagues (1941). He interrupted his baseball career twice for long terms of military service as an aviator in the Marine Corps. Coincidentally, for a time during the Korean War, he was John Glenn’s wing man.
1972 – In true Canadian fashion, hockey player Paul Henderson scored the winning goal in Game 8 of the Canada/Soviet Summit Series. Henderson has been attached to that goal ever since, mainly because everybody thinks that’s the only thing he ever did. Nobody remembers that he also scored the winning goals in Games 6 and 7. Fortunately, in true Canadian fashion, Henderson has been good-natured about it, even though he’s had to tell the same old story about a half a million times.
1891 – Herman Melville, the author who created Moby Dick, the scourge of high school students everywhere. The novel was not a success during Melville’s lifetime and barely sold 3,000 copies. However, in the early 20th century, there was a Melville revival, and Moby has been inflicted on us ever since. In truth, even though it is considered a Great American Novel, the only redeeming quality I can find in the book is the character Starbuck who lends his name to the coffee chain.
1895 – Louis Pasteur, the guy who discovered that it’s germs that kill people and not evil spirits. He then developed a process to prevent milk and wine from carrying these germs and called it pasteurization. He also produced the first vaccine against rabies. He is buried in the Pasteur Institute in Paris where today young French doctors sit on the steps, smoke cigarettes and discuss modern medical theories.