History for November 15-22

By Tom Sito | November 14, 2001

November 15, 1926: NBC hooks up 20 American cities for the radio program "The Steinway Hour". The feature artist was Arthur Rubinstein and the program was broadcast from the Steinway building penthouse on 57th St. in Manhattan. It was the first Network Broadcast.

November 16, 1906- Opera star Enrico Caruso was charged for pinching a ladies bottom while visiting a zoo. Caruso claimed a monkey did it. 1946: The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences founded. It was either Ernie Kovacs or Fred Allen who said: "We call television a ‘medium’ because nothing on it is rare or well done."

November 17, 1965– Battle of Ia Drang, the first large battle fought between North Vietnamese regulars and U.S. combat troops ends, and the first major military battle fought with helicopters. Although the Vietnamese forces were defeated it told their generals that their men could stand up to the Americans in a fight and that the system of moving down the Ho Chi Minh trail through neutral Laos and Cambodia then crossing into South Vietnam was working. Today magazines advertise the Ho Chi Minh Trail as a great place to mountain bike. A multi-lane freeway is planned

November 18, 1902- The birth of the Teddy Bear: The Washington Evening Star published a story of how President Teddy Roosevelt, while hunting, couldn’t bring himself to shoot a grizzly bear cub. Cartoonist Cliff Berryman illustrated the incident with one of his signature "dingbat" bear cubs in a gesture of "oh no!" Brooklyn toymaker Morris Mitchcom sewed a doll from the illustration in the newspaper and sent the first one to the White House.

November 19, 1703– The "Man in the Iron Mask" dies in the Bastille, where Louis XIV had him imprisoned for forty years. He was first mentioned in Voltaire’s History of the Age of Louis XIV as having a velvet mask, and it was writer Alexandre Dumas who went for the iron dramatization. No one ever discovered who he was or why his face was covered. Speculations about his identity had him as everything from an Italian diplomat to the son of Oliver Cromwell to a twin brother of King Louis XIV.

November 20, 1975– Spanish Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died at age 89, despite sleeping with the mummified arm of St. Theresa of Avila for a cure. Patriotic Spaniards start partying. Stores sold out of champagne by 10 a.m. As planned King Juan Carlos takes over and Spain becomes a constitutional monarchy.

November 21, 1963– Robert Stroud, the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ died behind bars at 73. Jailed for good in 1916 for murdering a man who beat up his girlfriend, he spent 54 years in prison, 42 in solitary confinement. His study of birds enabled him to become an expert in bird diseases and he wrote three books. Burt Lancaster played him in the movies as a tragic hero, but those who knew him said he was a morose psychopath who stabbed another inmate and murdered a guard. He was known to shave off all his body hair and drink alcohol distilled from the birdseed admirers sent him. His own mother hoped he’d never be paroled.

November 22, 1916– Author Jack London died at 40 in Glen Ellen California of kidney disease. The author of White Fang and Call of the Wild was a lifelong socialist and supporter of the labor movement. In 1919 Emma Goldman eulogized in an article in The Masses: "It’s a pity that brother Jack never lived long enough to see the Red Flags of Freedom flying over the Kremlin!"


  • Tom Sito

    A twenty six year veteran of animated film production, Tom Sito's screen credits include most of the respected feature-length animated films you can think of, including Who Framed Roger Rabbitt? Dinosaur, Antz, Shrek and Fantasia 2000.

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