---- - Just when is Christmas Day, people ask? Is it really December 25? Actually it is; but it wasn’t officially, until sometime between the years 337 and 352 A.D. This means that the date celebrated as the birth of Christ was not set until the time of Julius I, Bishop of Rome. To that time, the day known as Christmas was celebrated on one of three dates in the first 352 years of the Julian calendar: January 6, March 29 and September 29. January 6th, the Day of Epiphany, is still considered Christmas Day to many folks around the world; especially those who are Eastern Orthodox. Some of us receive gifts on both days, some on January 1 -- right down the middle. Others celebrate for days, beginning December 6, 13th, 16th or 21st and ending on January 6th. You’ve heard of the twelve days of Christmas? Well, it’s not just a song! It’s a schedule.
1896 - Getting a little tired of "Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree", "Merry Christmas Darling", "Jingle Bell Rock", "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" and all the rest? You are not alone. John Philip Sousa wrote the melody to a song that had haunted him for days. On Christmas Day, that melody was finally titled, "The Stars and Stripes Forever". Either that, or Mr. Sousa really thought it was the Fourth of July instead. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, please.
1917 - The play, "Why Marry?", opened at the Astor Theatre in New York City. Jesse Lynch Williams won a Pulitzer the following year; "Why Marry?" was the first dramatic play to win a Pulitzer Prize.
1930 - The Mt. Van Hoevenberg bobsled run at Lake Placid, NY opened to the public. It was the first bobsled track of international specifications to open in the United States.
1931 - Lawrence Tibbett was the featured vocalist as radio came to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The first opera was "Hansel und Gretel", heard on the NBC network of stations. In between acts of the opera, moderator Olin Downes would conduct an opera quiz, asking celebrity guests opera-related questions. The program’s host and announcer was Milton Cross. He worked out of the Met’s Box 44.
1937 - Arturo Toscanini conducted the first broadcast of "Symphony of the Air" over NBC radio.
1939 - The Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol", was read by Lionel Barrymore on "The Campbell Playhouse" on CBS radio. The reading of the tale became an annual radio event for years to come.
1942 - The longest, sponsored program in the history of broadcasting was heard on NBC radio’s Blue network. The daylong "Victory Parade’s Christmas Party of Spotlight Bands" was heard over 142 radio stations. The marathon broadcast was sponsored by Coca-Cola.
1949 - Dick Tracy got married on Christmas Day. The comic strip hero married Tess Trueheart. The couple later became parents of a daughter. The little girl’s name was Bonnie Braids.
1950 - NBC-TV got Walt Disney to lend his creative genius to a one-hour special which marked the cartoonist’s first jump into TV.
1964 - "Goldfinger" opened in Hollywood U.S.A., three days after its premiere in New York City. "Goldfinger" was the third James Bond film, as well as the third to star Sean Connery as MI6 agent 007.
1971 - The longest pro-football game finally ended when Garo Yepremian kicked a field goal in the second quarter of a sudden death overtime. Miami’s Dolphins nipped Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24. The game lasted 82 minutes and 40 seconds.
1985 - Ending the year, hot hits included: Swatches, those trendy Swiss-made watches, and Cherry Coke, which grabbed about four percent of the total beverage market after being reintroduced in the early spring. Back in the 1950s, there was a lot of Cherry Coke sipping; especially at the corner drugstore.
1991 - Mikhail Gorbachev announced his resignation as President of the USSR. During his leadership (1985 to 1991), Gorbachev brought about sweeping internal reforms, created greater openness in political and cultural affairs and set the stage for historic developments throughout Eastern Europe with his program of economic, political, and social restructuring, known as ‘perestroika’.
1993 - Mariah Carey had the #1 single in the U.S., "Hero", from the #1 album in the U.S., "Music Box". The single topped the charts for four weeks. The album was up there for eight weeks.
1995 - Legendary singer/crooner, actor, comedian, and Rat-Pack member Dean Martin died at age 78 in Beverly Hills, California. On his tomb at Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles are the words “EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY SOMETIME”.
1996 - These films debuted in the U.S.: "Michael", (drama, fantasy, comedy and romance) with John Travolta, Andie MacDowell and William Hurt; and "The Portrait of a Lady" (the screen adaptation of the classic Henry James novel), starring Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey and Mary-Louise Parker.
1997 - These blockbusters had openings in the U.S.: "An American Werewolf in Paris" (“Things are about to get a little hairy.”), with "Tom Everett Scott and Julie Delpy"; "As Good as It Gets", starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt who won Academy Awards for their efforts; "Jackie Brown" (“Six players on the trail of a half a million in Cash. There's only one question... Who's playing who?”), with Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda and Robert Deniro; "Mr. Magoo" (“Look Out!”), starring Leslie Nielsen; and "The Postman", starring (and directed by) Kevin Costner.
Birthdays - December 25
1642 - Sir Isaac Newton (mathematician, apple fancier: “What goes up must come down. Ouch!”; author: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica; died Mar 20, 1727)
1821 - Clara Barton (nurse: founder of American Red Cross; died Apr 12, 1912)
1876 - Mohammed Ali Jinnah (founder: Republic of Pakistan: governor general; died Sep 11, 1948)
1887 - Conrad Hilton (hotel magnate; died Jan 3, 1979)
1895 - Cal Farley (‘America’s greatest foster father’: founded Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch ; died Feb 19, 1967)
1899 - Humphrey (DeForest) Bogart (Academy Award-winning actor: The African Queen ; The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, The Barefoot Contessa, Tokyo Joe, Key Largo, Action in the North Atlantic, High Sierra, The Harder They Fall, We’re No Angels, Sabrina [over 50 films]; died Jan 14, 1957)
1907 - Cab Calloway (Cabell Calloway III) (‘Highness of Hi-De-Ho’: bandleader, singer: Minnie the Moocher, Blues in the Night; films: Stormy Weather, St. Louis Blues; The Cotton Club Comes to the Ritz; died Nov 18, 1994)
1913 - Tony Martin (Alvin Morris) (singer: It’s a Blue World, To Each His Own, Kiss of Fire, Stranger in Paradise, Here; actor: Casbah, Hit the Deck; married dancer Cyd Charisse; died Jul 27, 2012)
1915 - Pete Rugolo (bandleader, arranger: Stan Kenton; scored TV’s The Fugitive; died Oct 16, 2011)
1918 - Anwar el-Sadat (Egyptian president; Nobel Peace Prize winner with Israel’s Menachim Begin ; assassinated Oct 6, 1981)
1924 - Rod (Edwin Rodman) Serling (scriptwriter: The Twilight Zone, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Planet of the Apes, Seven Days in May; died June 28, 1975)
1937 - O’Kelly Isley (singer: Grammy Award-winning group: The Isley Brothers: It’s Your Thing ; Shout, Twist and Shout, That Lady, This Old Heart of Mine; died Mar 31, 1986)
1943 - Hanna Schygulla (actress: Dead Again, The Summer of Miss Forbes, Forever, Lulu, Casanova, Delta Force, Berlin Alexanderplatz, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Gods of the Plague)
1944 - Henry Vestine (musician: guitar: group: Canned Heat: On the Road Again, Going Up the Country; sideman for Frank Zappa; died Oct 20, 1997)
1945 - Noel Redding (musician: bass: Noel Redding Band; group: The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hey Joe, Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Burning of the Midnight Lamp, All Along the Watchtower; died May 13, 2003)
1945 - Gary Sandy (actor: WKRP in Cincinnati, All That Glitters, Troll, Hail)
1945 - Ken Stabler (‘The Snake’: football: Oakland Raiders quarterback: Super Bowl XI)
1946 - Jimmy Buffett (songwriter, singer: Margaritaville, Come Monday, Changes in Latitudes - Changes in Attitudes; main ‘Parrot Head’)
1946 - Larry Csonka (Pro Football Hall of Famer: Miami Dolphins running back: Super Bowl VI, VII, VIII)
1948 - Barbara Mandrell (CMA Entertainer of the Year [1980, 1981], Female Vocalist of the Year ; Standing Room Only, I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool, Sleeping Single in a Double Bed, If Loving You Is Wrong)
1949 - Sissy (Mary) Spacek (Academy Award-winning actress: Coal Miner’s Daughter ; Missing, The River, Carrie, The Migrants)
1950 - Manny (Jesus Manuel Marcano) Trillo (baseball: Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs [all-star: 1977], Philadelphia Phillies [World Series: 1980/all-star: 1981, 1982], Cleveland Indians [all-star: 1983], Montreal Expos, SF Giants, Cincinnati Reds)
1954 - Robin Campbell (musician: guitar, singer: group: UB40: King, Food for Thought, My Way of Thinking, I Think It’s Going to Rain, Dream a Lie, The Earth Dies Screaming, Red Red Wine, Sing Our Own Song)
1954 - Annie Lennox (singer: group: Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams are Made of This, Belinda, Never Gonna Cry Again, Love is a Stranger, Who’s That Girl, Right by Your Side, Here Comes the Rain Again, Sexcrime; [w/Aretha Franklin]: Sisters [Are Doin’ It for Themselves]; solo: It’s Alright [Baby’s Coming Back], When Tomorrow Comes)
1957 - Shane MacGowan (songwriter, musician: guitar, singer: group: The Pogues: Transmetropolitan, Streams of Whiskey, Dark Streets of London, The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Dirty Old Town, Sally MacIennane, A Pair of Brown Eyes)
1958 - Rickey (Henley) Henderson (baseball: Oakland Athletics [all-star: 1980, 1982-1984, 1990, 1991/World Series: 1988, 1989/Baseball Writers’ Award, American League: 1990]; NY Yankees [all-star: 1985-1988], Toronto Blue Jays [World Series: 1993], SD Padres)
Chart Toppers - December 25
The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Ole Buttermilk Sky - The Kay Kyser Orchestra (vocal: Mike Douglas & The Campus Kids)
Divorce Me C.O.D. - Merle Travis
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes
Count Your Blessings - Eddie Fisher
More and More - Webb Pierce
Telstar - The Tornadoes
Limbo Rock - Chubby Checker
Go Away Little Girl - Steve Lawrence
Don’t Let Me Cross Over - Carl Butler & Pearl (Dee Jones)
The Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It a Pity - George Harrison
One Less Bell to Answer - The 5th Dimension
Coal Miner’s Daughter - Loretta Lynn
Le Freak - Chic
Too Much Heaven - Bee Gees
My Life - Billy Joel
The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
Walk Like an Egyptian - Bangles
Everybody Have Fun Tonight - Wang Chung
Notorious - Duran Duran
Too Much is Not Enough - Bellamy Brothers