Today In History – March 3, 2012

1845 – The U.S. Congress passed legislation overriding a President’s veto. It was the first time Congress had done so. President John Tyler was in office at the time. 1845 – Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America. The word ‘Florida’ comes from the Spanish ‘feast of flowers’. But we call it the Sunshine State. The capital of the Sunshine State is … no, not Walt Disney World … Tallahassee. The state flower is the fragrant orange blossom and the mockingbird is the state bird. Do you think the mockingbird can mimic Donald Duck? Or maybe it sings the Florida state song, “Suwannee River”. The Florida state motto is: “In God we trust.”

1915 – The now-famous film, “The Birth of a Nation”, debuted in New York City. The motion picture brought Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh and Wallace Reid to the silver screen in what has frequently been called the greatest silent film ever produced.

1923 – The first issue of the weekly periodical “TIME” appeared on newsstands. The first issue was 32 pages and featured a charcoal sketch of Congressman Joseph Gurney Cannon on the cover. It was the United States’ first, modern, news magazine. Today, the worldwide news weekly, founded by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, is printed in several languages and is among the most popular magazines in history with readership of 3.3 million.

1930 – Bert Lahr (“The Wizard of Oz”) and Kate (“God Bless America”) Smith starred in “Flying High” as it opened at the Apollo Theatre in New York City. The show had a run of 45 weeks at what is now the most famous black entertainment theatre in America.

1931 – Cab Calloway and his orchestra recorded “Minnie the Moocher” on Brunswick Records. It was the first recording of the famous bandleader’s theme song. The song was featured prominently in the motion picture, “The Blues Brothers” (1980), starring John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd.

1931 – “The Star-Spangled Banner”, written by Francis Scott Key, officially became the national anthem of the United States. Despite the fact that millions sing (in a manner of speaking) the anthem before sporting events, civic club meetings and other public gatherings, it is still ranked as the most difficult national anthem on earth to sing.

1938 – A world record for the indoor mile run was set at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Glenn Cunningham made the distance in 4 minutes, 4.4 seconds.

1939 – Oh, those crazy college kids: A new craze began to sweep college campuses. The much publicized fad began to take shape at the Ivy League’s Harvard University. It was perceived as being kind of ‘fishy’, however, coming from the button-down minds at Harvard. In fact, it was deemed quite unbelievable for such a prestigious school of higher learning. The fad? Goldfish swallowing. (Gulp!)

1945 – Mystery fans remember this day when they gathered around the radio set to listen to the Mutual Broadcasting System as Superman encountered Batman and Robin for the first time. POW! ZING! BONK!

1952 – “Whispering Streets” debuted on ABC radio, remaining on the air until Thanksgiving week, 1960. The end of that show brought down the curtain on what is called “the last day of the radio soap opera” (November 25, 1960).

1959 – The new home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team was officially named Candlestick Park. The name was chosen in a contest to name the newly-built stadium. The contest winner didn’t have to look far, as the windswept and chilly confines of the National League stadium are located just a few hundred feet from Candlestick Point, on San Francisco Bay. In 1995, the venerable name, Candlestick Park was changed to 3Com Park, after a relatively small (at the time) local area computer software developer bid a half-million dollars for the rights to the stadium name — beating out such giants as Apple Computer, IBM and others.

1966 – Lou Christie was striking gold for his hit “Lightnin’ Strikes”. Christie was born Lugee Sacco and joined a group called The Classics before making his first recording in 1960. In 1961, he recorded under the name Lugee & The Lions until changing to Lou Christie for a string of hits beginning in 1963. Other notable tunes from Christie’s top 40 appearances include: “The Gypsy Cried”, “Two Faces Have I”, “Rhapsody in the Rain” and “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” — all displaying his trademark falsetto voice, similar to that of Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons. “Lightnin’ Strikes” was Christie’s only million seller.

1985 – Kevin McHale from the University of Minnesota set a Boston Celtics scoring record this night as he poured in 56 points in a 138-129 win over the Detroit Pistons.

1987 – Actor, singer, dancer, comedian, broadcaster and American entertainment icon, Danny Kaye, died in Los Angeles at the age of 74.