Your Week in History: Controversial deaths and a talk show story - KPTV - FOX 12

Your Week in History: Controversial deaths and a talk show tradition

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An artist's rendering of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton on July 11, 1804. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) An artist's rendering of the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton on July 11, 1804. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
A drawing of the first ascent of the Matterhorn on July 14, 1865, by Gustave Dore. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) A drawing of the first ascent of the Matterhorn on July 14, 1865, by Gustave Dore. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
A drawing of the tragic descent following the first ascent of the Matterhorn on July 14, 1865, by Gustave Dore. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) A drawing of the tragic descent following the first ascent of the Matterhorn on July 14, 1865, by Gustave Dore. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
An artist's depiction of the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) An artist's depiction of the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) – Last week was massive and required separate articles to do it all justice. Mercifully, this week is not nearly as involved.

I hope your weekend was full of fun and fireworks and didn't include any trips to the emergency room due to severed fingers, undercooked hamburgers, over-served alcohol or anything else that could land someone in the emergency room.

We're entering the doldrums of summer where there isn't a major holiday worth speaking of for nearly two months. That's the second longest streak of the year. But don't worry, keep reading each week and I'll keep you up-to-date on what's worth celebrating (or not celebrating) while we sweat it out until Labor Day.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between July 8 and July 15.

Life and Death

It's always a good day when True Grit is involved. Kim Darby was born July 8, 1947. That made Darby 22 when True Grit came out in 1969, which is eight years older than her character, Mattie Ross, was supposed to be. Nevertheless, she goes toe-to-toe with Wayne at times and shoots her father's murderer.

John Wayne's son, Patrick Wayne, was born July 15, 1939. He was cast in nine of his father's movies, including his film debut at age 11 in Rio Grande, and auditioned for the movie role of Superman.

Kevin Bacon, who was born July 8, 1958, can be connected to John Wayne at least seven ways using just one additional actor, including Robert Duvall through Jayne Mansfield's Car and True Grit and Ed Asner through JFK and El Dorado. Additionally, at least two actors who were in The Longest Day with Wayne also appeared in a movie with Bacon.

High gas prices were born July 8, 1839, which is the birthday of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller was the first American billionaire and is generally considered the richest man in the history of the world when adjusted for inflation. He was also a pioneer of philanthropy and donated untold sums of his money to various causes and organizations.

Two great American beverage heroes were born this week. Coca-Cola creator John Pemberton was born July 8, 1831, and Anheuser-Busch cofounder Adolphus Busch was born July 10, 1839.

Tom Hanks was born July 9, 1956, John Quincy Adams was born July 11, 1767, Gerald Ford was born July 14, 1913, and Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821), John Jacob Astor (1864) and Harrison Ford (1942) all were born July 13. Frank Dux was born July 13, 1956, and Jay Thomas was born July 12, 1948.

Dux was the subject of the bad-yet-strangely-good Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport and Thomas visits David Letterman every Christmas to knock a meatball off his Christmas tree with a football and tell Dave's favorite story.

Alexander Hamilton died July 12, 1804, the day after being shot in a duel with Aaron Burr. Hamilton had helped defeat Burr in his attempt to become New York's governor and Burr was displeased with comments Hamilton had made about him in which he called him "a dangerous man," but a news report claimed he thought even less of Burr, who was the sitting vice president, than he was letting on.

Burr demanded an apology, Hamilton refused and the men sent angry letters to each other before scheduling their duel.

It isn't known who shot first, but Hamilton's shot missed and Burr's hit Hamilton in the hip and lodged near his vertebra. It is still disputed whether Hamilton missed on purpose.

Another controversial death involved Billy the Kid, who was killed by Pat Garrett in 1881. The day was either July 14 or 15. Garrett was questioning a friend of Billy the Kid when he walked into the room not knowing Garrett was there. What is known from that point is that Garrett shot him, but it is disputed what led to the shooting and if Garrett even knew who he had shot.

It's also been suggested Garrett set a trap and ambushed him, or that it was nothing but a hoax perpetuated by Garrett to allow Billy the Kid to escape.

Famed Looney Tunes voice actor Mel Blanc died July 10, 1989, and Laurence Olivier died the next day.

Zachary Taylor died July 9, 1850, just 16 months after becoming president. Taylor had attended a fundraiser event for the Washington Monument on July 4 and became sick after drinking iced milk and eating cherries during the event. Cholera was cited as the cause, due to Washington's open sewers and the high temperature, which was ideal conditions for the disease to flourish, but several alternate theories, including assassination, abound.

Overlooked Anniversaries

Donkey Kong was released July 9, 1981, and introduced a character named Jumpman, who would later be named Mario and become the mascot of the game's manufacturer, Nintendo. It's difficult in its simplicity.

The first ascent of the Matterhorn was completed July 14, 1865. Seven people made it to the top, but only three of them made it down alive. Of the four who died, three of their bodies were found.

The 14th Amendment was ratified July 9, 1868, the first issue of the Wall Street Journal was published July 8, 1889, the highest temperature ever recorded in the U.S. was 134 degrees in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, William Howard Taft became the only president to serve on the Supreme Court starting July 11, 1921, the Triborough Bridge opened July 11, 1936, To Kill a Mockingbird was published July 11, 1960, the Hollywood sign was dedicated July 13, 1923, and the final space shuttle mission launched July 8, 2011.

The worst riots in American history started July 13, 1863, in New York to protest forced conscription into the Civil War.

Wyoming became a state July 10, 1890. Here's what I know about Wyoming: It contains Yellowstone National Park. It can stay.

Something About Sports

A couple of weeks ago, I regaled you with the greatest story ever told. At least it might be if I knew what it was. It was about cricket, which I do not understand, but because there are sports on this planet that exist regardless of my interest in them, here's another Great Tale from the World of Cricket.

Donald Bradman is regarded as the greatest Test batsman of all time, and he scored 309 runs in one day July 11, 1930. He's the only player to pass 300 in one day. His face was put on postage stamps and coins in Australia, and there is a museum dedicated to him. I'm sure he's deserving, I just have no clue why.

The first Wimbledon Championship started July 9, 1877. It lasted 10 days and only consisted of one event - the men's singles. It was won by Spencer Gore.

Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to play Tarzan in six movies, broke the 1-minute barrier in the 100-meter freestyle July 9, 1922, with a time of 58.6 seconds. The current record is 46.91 seconds set by Cesar Cielo Filho in 2009.

Babe Ruth made his MLB debut July 11, 1914, and the first game of the World Chess Championship in 1972 was played between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. The match was held before Fischer went nuts and is regarded as the Match of the Century. It lasted until Sept. 1 when Spassky resigned.

The Week in Warfare

The Siege of Port Hudson ended July 9, 1863, after the commander learned Vicksburg had surrendered. It was the last place on the Mississippi River under Confederate control.

The Confederacy launched an attack on Washington, DC, on July 11, 1864. The Battle of Fort Stevens was fought over two days before the Confederacy withdrew rather than risk the heavy casualties that would have been required to take the Union capital. President Abraham Lincoln personally watched the battle and was under fire at one point before taking shelter. A man standing next to Lincoln was wounded during the battle.

The Storming of the Bastille occurred July 14, 1789. In the hallmark moment of the French Revolution, demonstrators were attempting to get to the large ammunition storages inside the historic prison. Ninety-eight people were killed in the attack and it led to the abolition of the absolute monarchy form of government in France.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

July 14 is National Nude Day. Perhaps that's a holiday you should NOT celebrate.

Here's one that's safe to enjoy. July 13 is Barbershop Music Appreciation Day. There is a championship for barbershop quartets and everything, and it ended yesterday. YouTube doesn't have video from this year's winner yet, but it does have last year's winner.

Public Service Announcement

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven will give out free Slurpees on July 11 (7/11). If you're fortunate enough to live near one - which means you don't live near me - don't miss your chance.

Preview of next week

"One small step for man..."

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