[Info!] This Day In History January 31


31st day of 2011 - 334 remaining
Monday, January 31, 2011

U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower received a telephone call shortly after 10:48 a.m. on this day in 1958. The call was on his direct line to Cape Canaveral, Florida. What the President heard was that the launch of the Explorer I satellite was successful.

Explorer I was put into orbit around the earth by a Jupiter-C rocket. Radio signals from the transmitter aboard the 30.8 pound satellite were picked up in California within a few minutes after the launch.

Just 56 days earlier, the first U.S. attempt to launch a satellite had failed. This time, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency’s research team headed by Wernher von Braun, a former German rocket scientist, and their Director of the Development Operations Division, worked in conjunction with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to produce a modified Jupiter-C rocket that could carry Explorer I.

The first U.S. space satellite, Explorer I, orbited the earth every 114 minutes at a maximum height of 2,000 miles and a minimum altitude of 230 miles. Its purpose was to measure cosmic radiation found in space and send the data back to earth; a scientific experiment of James A. Van Allen. Van Allen was the scientist who discovered the radiation belts that bear his name (the Van Allen Belt).

This event marked the beginning of discussions, debates and decisions that would lead to the formation of NASA and eventually to the creation of Saturn launch vehicles.

Events January 31

1885 - C.D. Wright was appointed as the first Commissioner of Labor in the United States. A lofty job for a gentleman whose salary was $3,000. Of course, in 1885, you could buy a house for $3,000 and a cow.

1927 - Twenty years before the famous record by Art Mooney was recorded, Jean Goldkette and his dancing orchestra recorded, I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover. Though the name of the bandleader may not be so famous, two of his sidemen on this Victor recording session certainly were: Big band fans know Bix Beiderbecke and Joe Venuti.

1930 - Lt. Ralph S. Barnaby of the U.S. Navy became the first glider pilot to have his craft released from a dirigible -- a large blimp -- at Lakehurst, NJ (where the Hindenberg exploded). Lt. Barnaby’s glider was released at an altitude of 3,000 feet.

1934 - Jim Londos defeated Joe Savoldi in a one-fall match in Chicago, IL. One of the largest crowds to see a wrestling match (20,000 spectators) looked on.

1936 - The Green Hornet was introduced by its famous theme song, The Flight of the Bumble Bee. The radio show was first heard on WXYZ radio in Detroit, MI on this day. The show stayed on the air for 16 years. The Green Hornet originated from the same radio station where The Lone Ranger was performed. You may remember that the title character in The Green Hornet was really named Britt Reid. He was, in fact, supposed to be the great nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger. Both popular series were created by George Trendle and Fran Striker.

1940 - The very first monthly retirement check was issued by the U.S. Government -- to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont. Ida May’s check, numbered 00-000-001, was in the amount of $22.54. Fuller, a Legal Secretary, retired in November 1939 and lived to be 100 years old (she died in 1975).

1943 - After a week of heavy fighting, German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Russians at Stalingrad. 24 other German commanders surrendered with Paulus.

1945 - Private Eddie Slovik became the only American soldier since the Civil War to be executed for desertion. He was shot by an American firing squad in France on this day.

1946 - Yugoslavia adopted new constitution and became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

1951 - Paul Pettit signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He set a record for baseball bonuses when he signed to collect nearly $100,000 in bonuses and guarantees.

1953 - A sudden ‘surge’, or wall of water, caused by a fierce storm and high spring tide, burst through the dikes and over the banks of low-lying coastal areas of eastern England, northern Belgium and southern Netherlands. 1,800 drowned in Belgium and the Netherlands. Thousands lost their homes, hundreds of animals died and farmland was unusable for years to come. The North Sea’s saltwater had left its mark. Only the receding waters of low tide had prevented the River Thames from flooding central London and killing thousands more.

1957 - A U.S. Air Force F-89J Scorpion jet fighter and a Douglas DC-7B airliner, both being flown on test flights, collided in midair over the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles. The collision killed one of two pilots on the fighter jet and all four test flight crew members aboard the DC-7. The crippled passenger jet crashed in flames onto the Pacoima Junior High athletic field, killing three students and injuring 70 others.

1960 - Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Rex Harrison and Jackie Gleason, appeared in a two-hour TV special titled, The Fabulous Fifties.

1968 - Nauru Island (formerly Pleasant Island) declared its independence from Australia.

1971 - Astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell and Stuart A. Roosa blasted off aboard Apollo 14. It was the first U.S. moon mission since the ill-fated mission of Apollo 13, for a third lunar landing.

1974 - Polish-American film magnate Samuel Goldwyn died. He was 91 years old. Goldwyn was the ‘G’ in MGM.

1976 - Ernesto Miranda, famous from the Supreme Court ruling on Miranda rights, was stabbed to death in Arizona.

1979 - The U.S. and China signed a scientific and cultural exchange accord, ending nearly three decades of estrangement.

1982 - Sandy Duncan of Tyler, Texas gave her final performance as Peter Pan in Los Angeles, CA. The actress completed 956 performances without missing a show. She flew a total of 261.5 miles while on stage.

1984 - Newsman Edwin Newman retired from NBC News after 35 years with the network.

1985 - John Fogerty, former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, returned to the A&M recording studios in Hollywood, CA to give his first ‘live’ performance in 14 years. Actually, Fogerty performed in a video called Rock and Roll Girls.

1987 - Madonna’s tune, Open Your Heart, moved to the #2 spot on the pop charts (right behind At This Moment by Billy Vera and The Beaters). A week later, Open Your Heart became Madonna’s fifth #1 hit since 1983. She had 11 consecutive singles in the Top 10 -- the most for any female artist of the rock era.

1988 - Super Bowl XXII (at San Diego): Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10. The score at the end of the first quarter: Broncos 10, Redskins 0. The score one quarter later: Redskins 35, Broncos 10. In that 2nd quarter Redskins’ QB Doug Williams (MVP) tossed a 70-yard TD pass to WR Ricky Sanders and a 50-yard pass setting up another TD. He threw a 27-yard TD pass to WR Gary Clark, an 8-yard TD pass to TE Clint Didier and handed off to RB Timmy Smith, who ran 58 yards for another TD. That one quarter so inspired the Redskins, the Broncos never had another chance. Tickets: $100.00.

1990 - McDonald’s opened their first restaurant in Russia -- in Moscow. Did somebody say, "Mickey Deeofsky’s?"

1993 - Super Bowl XXVII (at Pasadena): Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17. Cowboys’ QB Troy Aikman (MVP) threw four TD passes, Emmit Smith rushed for 100 yards and Buffalo turned the ball over nine times (five fumbles, four interceptions). Third Super Bowl loss in a row for the Bufflo Bills. Tickets: $175.00.

1994 - The Barcelona opera theater, Gran Teatre del Liceu, burned down.

1996 - Japanese astronomer, Yuji Hyakutake, first sighted the comet that now bears his name. It came to within ten million miles of the Earth on its closest approach on March 26.

1997 - Films opening in U.S. theatres: Meet Wally Sparks, with Rodney Dangerfield, David Ogden Stiers, Debi Mazar, Cindy Williams, Burt Reynolds and Alan Rachins; Shadow Conspiracy, starring Charlie Sheen, Donald Sutherland, Linda Hamilton, Stephen Lang, Ben Gazzara, Nicholas Turturro, Stanley Anderson, Theodore Bikel, Charles Cioffi, Paul Gleason, Terry O’Quinn, Sam Waterston and Gore Vidal; Waiting for Guffman, with Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Lewis Arquette and Matt Keeslar.

1999 - Super Bowl XXXIII (at Miami): Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19. Broncos’ QB John Elway (MVP) completed 18 of 29 passes for 336 yards and one TD -- and ran three yards for another score. Play of the game: Ellway to Rod Smith for a 90-yard touchdown. Tickets: $325.00.

2000 - Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed into the Santa Barbara Channel in California, some twenty miles off Point Mogu. The MD-80 jet carried 88 people bound for San Francisco from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There were no survivors.

2001 - A Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands convicted Libyan Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Co-defendant Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was found not guilty.

2001 - The state of Georgia hoisted its new flag above its statehouse, one featuring a smaller Confederate battle emblem.

2002 - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a speech that the United States had to prepare for potential surprise attacks “vastly more deadly” than the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackings.

2003 - These movies opened in the U.S.: Biker Boyz, starring Laurence Fishburne, Larenz Tate, Meagan Good, Tyson Beckford, Dion Basco, Dante Basco, Brendan Fehr, Derek Luke, Kadeem Hardison, Terrence Dashon Howard, Orlando Jones, Rick Gonzalez, Melissa De Sousa, Vanessa Bell Calloway and Lisa Bonet; and Final Destination 2, with Ali Larter, A.J. Cook, Michael Landes, T.C. Carson, Jonathan Cherry, Keegan Connor Tracy, Sarah Carter, Lynda Boyd, David Paetkau, James Kirk, Tony Todd.

2004 - The Mars rover Opportunity rolled off its landing pad onto the surface of Mars.

2005 - Pop star Michael Jackson pleaded not guilty as his trial for child molestation began in Santa Maria, California.

2006 - Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn in.

2006 - Coretta Scott King, widow of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, died at 78 years of age.

2007 - Ziff Davis Game Group handed out its fourth annual 1Up Awards for computer games. Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess was chosen game of the year by the 13-million voters voicing their choice).

2008 - The European Union ordered Italy to clean up Naples within a month, or face legal action. As of Nov 2009, the clean-up was under way, but had run way past that one-month deadline.

2008 - The U.S. Navy test fired a powerful big gun designed to replace conventional weaponry aboard ships. Navy officials called it the world’s most powerful electromagnetic railgun.

2008 - The Mideast and India suffered through a second day of telecom woes after two undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean sustained damage. Damage to undersea cables, while rare, can result from movement of geologic faults or possibly from a ship’s anchor being dragged.

2009 - The city council of Birmingham, England’s second-largest city decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they’re confusing and old-fashioned.

2009 - Porsche’s new museum, a sprawling monument to 60 years of German engineering, opened to the public in Stuttgart, Germany.

2009 - 31-year-old Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi was detained in Tehran. On April 13, 2009, she was tried and soon sentenced to 8 years in jail for spying. An appeals court later reduced her prison term to a two-year suspended sentence. She was released on May 11, 2009.

2010 - Beyoncé picked up a record six Grammy awards: Song of the Year [Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)], Best Female Pop Vocal Performance [Halo], Best Female R&B Performance [Single Ladies...], Best Traditional R&B Performance: [At Last], Best R&B Song: [Single Ladies...], Best Contemporary R&B Album: [I Am… Sasha Fierce]. The Beyoncé collection was the most wins by a female in one night in the 52-year-history of the Grammys. And it was a big night for pop/country sensation Taylor Swift, who won four Grammys: Album of the Year and Best Country Album [Fearless], Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance [White Horse].

Birthdays January 31

1797 - Franz Schubert
composer: Unfinished Symphony; died Nov 19, 1828

1872 - Zane Grey (Pearl Grey)
dentist; author: The Spirit of the Border, The Last of the Plainsmen, Riders of the Purple Sage; died Oct 23, 1939

1892 - Eddie Cantor (Iskowitz)
‘banjo eyes’: actor, singer: If You Knew Susie like I Know Susie, Alabamy Bound, Dinah, Ida, Makin’ Whoopee, Ma He’s Makin’ Eyes at Me; died Oct 10, 1964

1902 - Tallulah Bankhead
actress: Stage Door Canteen, Die! Die! My Darling!; died Dec 12, 1968

1912 - Patrick Holt
actor: Strike It Rich, The Sea Wolves: The Last Charge of the Calcutta Light Horse, Lillie, Legend of the Werewolf, The Amorous Milkman; died Oct 12, 1992

1913 - Don Hutson
Pro Football Hall of Famer: Green Bay Packers: 488 catches for 7,991 yards and 99 touchdowns, scored 823 points held 18 major records at retirement; died June 26, 1997

1914 - Jersey Joe Walcott (Arnold Raymond Cream)
‘The Barbados Demon’: International Boxing Hall of Famer, World Heavyweight Champion [1952]; lifetime record: 53-18-1, 33 KOs; died Feb 25, 1994

1915 - Garry Moore (Thomas Garrison Morfit)
Emmy Award-winning entertainer: Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Variety [1961-62]: The Garry Moore Show; I’ve Got a Secret, To Tell the Truth; died Nov 28, 1993

1919 - Jackie (Jack Roosevelt) Robinson
Baseball Hall of Famer: broke baseball’s color barrier when Branch Rickey brought him up to the Dodgers in 1947: Brooklyn Dodgers [World Series: 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956/all-star: 1949-1954/NL MVP [1949]; pictured on US Black Heritage Series postage stamp; died Oct 24, 1972

1921 - John Agar
actor: Body Bags, Curse of the Swamp Creatures, Invisible Invaders, Revenge of the Creature, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Sands of Iwo Jima, Fort Apache; died Apr 7, 2002

1921 - Carol Channing (Lowe)
Tony Award-winning actress: Hello, Dolly! [1964], Thoroughly Modern Millie

1921 - Mario Lanza (Alfred Cocozza)
actor: That Midnight Kiss, The Great Caruso, Because You’re Mine, The Student Prince; singer: Be My Love, The Loveliest Night of the Year, Because You’re Mine; died Oct 7, 1959

1922 - Joanne Dru (LaCock)
actress: Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Wagon Master, All the King’s Men, The Pride of St. Louis, Sincerely Yours, Super Fuzz, Hell on Frisco Bay, Playhouse 90, Guestward Ho!; died Sep 10, 1996

1923 - Norman Mailer
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist: The Armies of the Night; Miami and the Siege of Chicago, The Executioner’s Song, The Naked and the Dead, An American Dream; died Nov 10, 2007

1929 - Jean Simmons
actress: The Big Country, Elmer Gantry, The Robe, Spartacus, Great Expectations, The Thorn Birds, North and South; died Jan 22, 2010

1930 - Jo Bonnier
Swedish auto racer: started in 104 Grand Prix races; killed in 24 Hours of Le Mans race June 11, 1972

1931 - Ernie (Ernest) Banks
Baseball Hall of Famer: Chicago Cubs [all-star: 1955-1962, 1965, 1967, 1969/NL Baseball Writer’s Award: 1958, 1959]; 512 home runs; over 40 in a single season five times; record five grand slams [1955], 47 home runs [1958] most ever hit by a shortstop

1934 - James (Grover) Franciscus
actor: Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Good Guys Wear Black, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy; died July 8, 1991

1937 - Suzanne Pleshette
actress: The Bob Newhart Show, Oh God Book 2, The Birds, If It’s Tuesday This Must be Belgium; died Jan 19, 2008

1938 - Queen Beatrix
Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard) (Queen of the Netherlands [1938-present]

1940 - Stuart Margolin
Emmy Award-winning actor: The Rockford Files [1979, 1980]; Kelly’s Heroes, The Stone Killer, The Gambler, S.O.B., Iron Eagle II, The Sweetest Gift; Mother Trucker: The Diana Kilmury Story, Tom Stone, director: The Tracey Ullman Show [episodes: Meg and Tina in August, Pre-School, Golf], Northern Exposure [episode: Goodbye to All That], Salt Water Moose

1941 - Richard Gephardt
Missouri Democratic member of U.S House of Representatives

1941 - Jessica Walter
Emmy Award-winning actress: Amy Prentiss/NBC Sunday Mystery Movie [1975]; Temptress, The Execution, The Flamingo Kid, She’s Dressed to Kill, Play Misty for Me, Three’s a Crowd, For the People, Dinosaurs, Bare Essence

1946 - Terry Kath
musician: guitar: group: Chicago: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?; died Jan 23, 1978

1947 - Jonathan Banks
actor: Easier, Softer Way, Dark Blue, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, Millennium Man, Foolish, Harvey, Dark Breed

1947 - (Lynn) Nolan Ryan
baseball: pitcher: NY Mets [World Series: 1969], California Angels [all-star: 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979], Houston Astros [all-star: 1981, 1985], Texas Rangers [all-star: 1989]; record for career strike outs [5,714] and no-hitters [7]

1951 - Mike Brumm
songwriter, singer: group: Ohio Express: Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, Nothing Sweeter Than My Baby, Lucky, Sweeter Than Sugar, Nighttime, Chewy Chewy, She’s Not Comin’

1951 - Harry Wayne Casey
musician: keyboard, singer: group: KC and the Sunshine Band: Do It Good, Queen of Hearts, Rock Your Baby, Get Down Tonight, That’s the Way [I Like It], [Shake, Shake, Shake] Shake Your Booty, I’m Your Boogie Man, Keep It Comin’ Love, Please Don’t Go

1951 - Phil Manzanera (Targett-Adams)
musician: guitar: group: Roxy Music: Virginia Plain, Pyjamarama, Do the Strand, Editions of You, In Every Dream a Heartache, All I Want is You, Out of the Blue; solo: LPs: Diamond Head, Listen Now, K-Scope, Primitive Guitars

1951 - Larry McNeill
basketball: Marquette Univ.

1956 - Johnny Lydon (Johnny Rotten)
singer: groups: The Sex Pistols: Anarchy in the UK, God Save the Queen, Pretty Vacant, Holidays in the Sun, Public Image Ltd.: Flowers of Romance, This is Not a Love Song; actor: Cop Killer

1957 - Shirley Babashoff
swimmer: holds the record for American woman winning the most Olympic medals [2 gold, 6 silver, 1972 & 1976]

1959 - Anthony LaPaglia
actor: Without a Trace, All Fall Dow, Winter Solstice, Manhood, I’m With Lucy, The Salton Sea, Jack the Dog, Autumn in New York, Frasier

1961 - Lloyd Cole
musician: guitar, singer: group: Lloyd Cole and The Commotions: Perfect Skin, Forest Fire, Four Flights Up, Down on Mission Street

1963 - Réal Andrews
actor: Simon Says, Mad Dog Time, Hostile Advances: The Kerry Ellison Story, Gridlock, Family of Cops, Red Scorpion 2

1964 - Amelia Bullmore
comedian; writer: This Life, Attachments, Black Cab, The Middle; actress: I’m Alan Partridge, The Truth, The Baader Meinhof Gang Show, Bookcruncher, Tilly Trotter, Frontiers, Stuck on You

1965 - Bobby Dollas
hockey: Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks

1968 - Doug Pederson
football [quarterback]: NFL: Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns

1970 - Minnie Driver
actress: Circle of Friends, GoldenEye, Good Will Hunting, Hope Springs, The Phantom of the Opera

1973 - Portia De Rossi
actress: Better Off Ted, Cursed, Dead and Breakfast, The Night We Called It a Day, America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, Who Is Cletis Tout?

1977 - Kevin Christy
actor: EMR, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Neverland, New Port South, Dude, Where’s My Car?, A Time for Dancing

1978 - Paul Smith
football [running back]: NFL: San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos

1981 - Justin Timberlake
singer: group: ’N Sync: I Want You Back, Tearin’ Up My Heart, Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You, I Drive Myself Crazy, Music of My Heart

Chart Toppers January 31

1952Slowpoke - Pee Wee King
Cry - Johnnie Ray
Any Time - Eddie Fisher
Give Me More, More, More (Of Your Kisses) - Lefty Frizzell

1961Will You Love Me Tomorrow - The Shirelles
Calcutta - Lawrence Welk
Shop Around - The Miracles
North to Alaska - Johnny Horton

1970I Want You Back - The Jackson 5
Venus - The Shocking Blue
Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
A Week in a Country Jail - Tom T. Hall

1979Le Freak - Chic
Y.M.C.A. - Village People
Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? (facts) - Rod Stewart
Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For - Crystal Gayle

1988Need You Tonight - INXS
Could’ve Been - Tiffany
Hazy Shade of Winter - Bangles
Goin’ Gone - Kathy Mattea

1997Un-Break My Heart - Toni Braxton
Don’t Let Go - En Vogue
I Believe in You and Me - Whitney Houston
Nobody Knows - Kevin Sharp

2006Check on It - Beyoncé Knowles
Stickwitu - *****cat Dolls
Don’t Forget About Us - Mariah Carey
She Let Herself Go - George Strait

Chart Topper January 31st, 1961...Will You Love Me Tomorrow - The Shirelles
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