336th day of 2010 - 29 remaining
Thursday, December 2, 2010
MODEL A DAY

Sales of Henry Ford’s fabulously successful Model T had slipped noticeably in 1926. Those who lived during the prosperous 1920s had had their fill of pure utility and were ready for a larger measure of comfort and beauty.

The Ford car simply had not kept up with America’s rising standard of living. And so, production of the Model T ceased at the end of May, 1927, a few days after the 15-millionth car had come off the assembly line. A new car would take its place.

The most extraordinary aspect of Henry Ford’s plunge into the future was that his old car expired before his new car had been born. No matter what vehicle he might come up with, no one knew how it would be powered because no plan for a new engine existed. Nevertheless, movement in the Direction of a totally new car forged ahead. Ford’s basic concept was for a car that would deliver the speed, power and comfort suited to the improved roads and the quickened pace of life in that day. The body would be lower than the T, longer, wider, more pleasing in its proportions, available in a variety of models and an assortment of colors (the Model T had been available in black only). And it would be named after the first car made by Ford Motor Company back in 1903: the Model A.

To produce the new car, retooling on an unprecedented scale would be required. According to one historian, a changeover of this scope and urgency was, at the time, “unknown in American industrial history.”

During the months between the discontinuance of Model T and delivery of the first Model A, 400,000 orders had piled up for a car that not a single customer had seen.

The first Model A was unveiled on this day in 1927 in New York City’s Waldorf Hotel and in 35 other cities around the U.S., Canada and Europe. The car was priced affordably: the Phaeton sold for $395.00 and the Tudor Sedan for $495.00. The lag between cars available and orders on hand had mounted to 800,000 by the spring of 1928. Ford made almost two million Model A cars in 1929 alone. But Black Thursday came on October 24th of that year, ushering in the Great Depression, and from that time on it was downhill all the way. In 1931, sales dropped to 620,000 units. Production of Model A was shut down in August, and early the following year, the ‘new order’ took over in the form of the radically different Ford V-8.

By that time, a total of well over 20 million Fords had been manufactured, and almost 5 million of these had been the brilliant little Model As.

Events December 2

1816 - The first savings bank in the United States, the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, opened for business.

1823 - U.S. President James Monroe presented his Monroe Doctrine to Congress. His policy opposed European expansion into the Western Hemisphere and stating that America would tolerate no further colonization in the New World.

1932 - Charlie Chan was first heard on the NBC Blue radio network. The Chinese detective became even more popular on the movie screen in the 1930s and 1940s.

1939 - New York’s La Guardia Airport began operations as an airliner from Chicago landed at one minute past midnight.

1940 - A seat on the New York Stock Exchange would have set you back $33,000, the lowest price for a seat since 1899, when they sold for the bargain price of just $29,500.

1943 - Carmen Jones, a contemporary reworking of the Bizet opera Carmen by Oscar Hammerstein II with an all-black cast, opened at the Broadway Theatre on Broadway. It ran for 502 performances.

1947 - The thirteenth Heisman Trophy was awarded to John Lujack, quarterback of the University of Notre Dame.

1950 - Vic Toweel of South Africa set a record for knockdowns -- in a title fight in Johannesburg, South Africa. He floored Danny O’Sullivan of England 14 times in 10 rounds before the bantamweight fight was stopped. During a post-fight interview, O’Sullivan told reporters, “Adkeivhaep oi er,” then, keeled over, again.

1952 - Denver’s KOA-TV transmitted, for 49 stations on the NBC network, the first human birth to be seen on TV. It was a part of the program, The March of Medicine.

1952 - Keeping his campaign promise, President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived in Korea to promote a settlement to end hostilities in that war-ravaged country.

1952 - George Jorgensen, a former G.I. who had gone to Denmark in 1950, prepared to return to the U.S. this day -- as Christine Jorgensen. She, er, he, had undergone 2,000 hormone injections and six operations performed by sex change surgeons.

1954 - The U.S. Senate voted to condemn Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for what it called “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.” A Senate committee formed to investigate McCarthy’s hunt for communists in the U.S. called his behavior inexcusable, reprehensible, vulgar and insulting. The condemnation permanently ended McCarthy’s effectiveness as a legislator.

1959 - Behind the Great Wall, a truly stinking motion picture, was seen at the Mayfair Theatre in New York City. A somewhat noxious scent was piped through the ceiling vents during certain portions of the show. The effect was called AromaRama. It didn’t catch on...

1961 - Fidel Castro proclaimed “a Marxist-Leninist program adapted to the precise objective conditions existing in our country.”

1963 - 39-year-old actor Sabu (Jungle Book, Drums) died of a heart attack.

1964 - Student activist Mario Savio made a speech on behalf of the Free Speech Movement that inspired hundreds of students to take over Sproul Hall at U.C.-Berkeley. Savio said, “There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies on the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve go to make it stop.” (Police moved in the next day and arrested 780 people, which in turn, prompted a general student strike.)

1967 - Singer Jimmie Rodgers (Honeycomb, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine) was found in a car in Los Angeles, near death, suffering from a fractured skull. He had been the victim of a “mysterious assault”.

1969 - The Boeing 747 jumbo jet was given its first public demonstration as 191 people, most of them reporters and photographers, flew from Seattle WA to New York City on the huge new plane.

1970 - The U.S. Senate voted to give 48,000 acres of New Mexico, including the sacred Blue Lake, back to the Taos Indians. Nixon signed the bill on Dec 15, 1970.

1971 - United Arab Emirates declared independence from the United Kingdom. Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujeira, Sharjah & Umm ak Qiwain formed the U.A.E. Zayid BIN Sultan Al Nuhayyan of Abu Dhabi became president.

1972 - Motown’s Temptations reached the #1 spot on the top 40 charts with Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone. It was the fourth #1 hit for the Temptations, joining My Girl (1965), I Can’t Get Next to You (1969) and Just My Imagination (1971).

1978 - Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond’s You Don’t Bring Me Flowers hit #1 in the U.S.

1979 - A new constitution was approved in Iran, giving the revolutionary Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini absolute power. (The referendum spanned two days, Dec 2 and 3, 1979.)

1982 - Barney B. Clark became the first recipient of an artificial heart. The 61-year-old retired dentist from Seattle underwent a 7½-hour operation at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City. The operation was performed by a surgical team headed by Dr. William C. DeVries. Clark survived with the artificial heart for over 3 months. He died on March 23, 1983.

1984 - Dan Marino connected for four touchdown passes and set an NFL record for TD passes in a season (37 to that point; he finished the season with 48). Miami’s Dolphins lost the game, however, to the Los Angeles Raiders, 45-34.

1985 - The highest-rated Monday Night Football telecast was seen this night on ABC-TV. The Miami Dolphins beat the Chicago Bears, 38-24. The Miami win snapped the Bears’ 12-game winning streak.

1989 - U.S. President George Bush (I) and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev held the first talks of their wind-tossed Malta Summit aboard the Soviet cruise ship Maxim Gorky.

1990 - Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s ‘center-right’ coalition won the first free all-German election to be held since 1932.

1993 - Infamous Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar was killed in a shoot-out with police and soldiers in Medellin, Colombia.

1994 - ‘Hollywood Madam’ Heidi Fleiss was convicted in Los Angeles of three counts of pandering.

1995 - R. Kelly’s R. Kelly was the #1 album in the U.S for one week. The tracks: Intro--The Sermon, Hump Bounce, Not Gonna Hold On, You Remind Me of Something, Step in My Room, Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, Be Happy, Down Low, I Can’t Sleep Baby, Thank God It’s Friday, Love is on the Way, Heaven If You Hear Me, Religious Love, Tempo Slow, As I Look Into My Life and Trade in My Life.

1997 - Diana, Princess of Wales: Tribute double album was released. The collection included songs from Sinead O’Connor, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey, Queen, George Michael, U2, Paul McCartney, REM, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and many others.

1998 - Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was acquitted of all counts in a corruption case for accepting sports tickets and travel from companies doing business with his department.

1998 - Bill Gates of Microsoft announced a $100-million gift to deliver vaccines against four childhood diseases in developing countries. The Seattle non-profit Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) would get the money over a ten-year period.

1999 - Joey Adams, borscht-belt comedian, died at age 88 in Manhattan. Adams wrote over forty books, including The Joey Adams Encyclopedia of Humor.

1999 - Jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd died. He was 74 years old.

2000 - Al Gore sought a recount of votes in south Florida. George W. Bush (II) flatly stated, “I’m soon soon to be the insider. I’m soon to be the president,” as he met with GOP congressional leaders.

2001 - Nicolas Escude gave France its ninth Davis Cup, defeating Australian Wayne Arthurs in the deciding fifth match.

2001 - Enron Corporation, under CEO Kenneth Lay, filed for bankruptcy. Employee fury in November had persuaded Lay to give up a severance package worth about $60 million.

2002 - Venezuela’s opposition launched a general strike to protest President Hugo Chavez’s refusal to call a referendum on his rule. Hundreds of businesses in Caracas closed.

2003 - A senior adviser to President Vladimir Putin said that Russia could not ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse gas emissions. (The pact required Russia’s ratification to take effect.)

2004 - Typhoon Nanmadol was nearing landfall in the Philippines. Nanmadol was the fourth storm to smash ashore in a two-week period. The toll from the first three storms was well over 1,000 with 479 dead and 560 missing.

2005 - Aeon Flux debuted in the U.S. The sci-fi action flick stars Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Johnny Lee Miller, Marton Csokas, Sophie Okonedo, Amelia Warner and Caroline Chikezie.

2005 - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) postponed plans to create the .xxx domain for pornography Web sites. (The idea was dropped completely in May 2006.)

2006 - The National World War I Museum opened in Kansas City, MO. The $26.5-million museum at the Liberty Memorial was designated by Congress as the official WWI Museum of the U.S.

2007 - The prestigious Kennedy Center Honors committee recognized singer, songwriter Brian Wilson, filmmaker Martin Scorsese, actor Steve Martin, singer Diana Ross and pianist Leon Fleisher for their contributions to the the performing arts. And they were honored at a White House reception given on this day.

2007 - Venezuelans voted in a referendum on granting President Hugo Chavez expanded powers and ending term limits under sweeping constitutional changes. Voters narrowly rejected the changes (51% to 49%).

2007 - Russians voted in a parliamentary election giving Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party 70 percent of the seats in parliament.

2008 - Ted Rogers, founder of Rogers Communications, died in Toronto at 75 years of age. Rogers transformed a single FM radio station into a North American broadcasting, publishing and wireless telecommunications conglomerate.

2008 - The Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC opened to the public. The 580,000 square-foot, $621-million structure is an underground addition to the United States Capitol complex which serves as a gathering point for up to 4,000 tourists at a time.

2008 - Meanwhile, upstairs in the Capitol, Detroit’s ‘Big Three’ auto makers (GM, Ford, Chrysler) presented recovery plans to Congress and sought $34 billion in additional aid.

2008 - An Iraqi court sentenced Saddam Hussein’s notorious cousin, ‘Chemical’ Ali Hassan al-Majid, to death after convicting him of crimes against humanity for his part in the crushing of a 1991 Shiite uprising in southern Iraq (where many thousands were killed).

2009 - An Italian-led team of scientists said a robotic hand had been successfully connected to an amputee, allowing him to feel sensations in the artificial limb and control it with his thoughts.

2009 - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. agreed to pay $40 million to 87,500 Massachusetts employees who claimed the retailer denied them rest and meals breaks, manipulated their time cards and refused to pay them overtime.

Birthdays December 2

1859 - Georges Seurat
French painter: Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte; died Mar 29, 1891

1863 - Charles Ringling
circus entrepreneur; died Dec 3, 1926

1902 - Howard Koch
screenwriter, producer: Casablanca, Hostage Flight, The Fox, Voice of the Hurricane, The 13th Letter, Rhapsody in Blue, Sergeant York; died Aug 17, 1995

1906 - Donald Woods
actor: True Grit, A Time to Sing, Kissin’ Cousins, 13 Ghosts, A Wind From the South, Born to the Saddle, The Du Pont Story; died Mar 5, 1998

1908 - Hy Gardner
journalist: Miami, New York radio/TV: Hy Gardner Calling; died June 17, 1989

1909 - June Clyde
actress: Behind the Mask, A Study in Scarlet Branded Men; died Oct 1, 1987

1910 - Robert (John) Paige
actor: Bye Bye Birdie, Hellzapoppin, Son of Dracula, The Green Promise, The Monster and the Girl; TV emcee: The Big Payoff, The Colgate Comedy Hour; died Dec 21, 1987

1914 - Adolph Green
Tony Award-winning playwright: Applause, Hallelujah, On the Twentieth Century, Bells are Ringing, Auntie Mame, On the Town, The Barkleys of Broadway; lyricist: collaborated with Betty Comden: Singin’ in the Rain, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; died Oct 23, 2002

1914 - Eddie Sauter
musician: drums, trumpet, arranger: for Benny Goodman: Superman, Benny Rides Again, All the Cats Join In, Clarinet A La King; for Artie Shaw: The Maid with the Flaccid Air, composer; orchestra leader: Sauter-Finegan Orchestra; died Apr 21, 1981

1914 - Ray Walston
Emmy Award-winning actor: Picket Fences [1995-96]; My Favorite Martian, Fast Times, Silver Spoons, **** Yankees, South Pacific, The Apartment, Of Mice and Men, Popeye, Silver Streak, The Sting; died Jan 1, 2001

1916 - Charlie Ventura
musician: tenor sax: played w/Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Count Basie; band leader: LPs: Charlie Boy, In Chicago, Bop for the People, Euphoria, Charlie Ventura Quintet in Hi-Fi, Chazz; died Jan 17, 1992

1917 - Ezra Stone
actor: The Aldrich Family; director: Fireball Fun-For-All; author; died Mar 3, 1994

1918 - Milton DeLugg
bandleader: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; Milton DeLugg and His Orchestra: Abe Burrows’ Almanac, The Chuck Barris Rah Rah Show, Dagmar’s Canteen, Doodles Weaver, The Gong Show, Judge for Yourself, Your Hit Parade; musician: accordion: The Milton DeLugg Quartet: Broadway Open House; songwriter: Orange Colored Sky

1922 - Leo Gordon
actor: Alienator, Devil’s Angels, Soldier of Fortune, Ten Wanted Men, Hondo, Circus Boy; died Dec 26, Dec 2000

1923 - Maria Callas (Calogeropoulous)
singer: opera: dramatic soprano; died Sep 16, 1977

1924 - Alexander Haig
U.S. Secretary of State [1981-1988]; died Feb 20, 2010

1925 - Julie Harris
Emmy Award-winning actress: Hallmark Hall of Fame: Little Moon of Alban [1958-1959], Victoria Regina [1961-1962]; Knots Landing, The Family Hovak, Backstairs at the White House, Carried Away, Scarlett, The Dark Half, Gorillas in the Mist, The Bell Jar, Voyage of the ****ed, Harper, A Doll’s House, I Am a Camera, East of Eden, Member of the Wedding

1929 - Lowell North
yachtsman: Olympic gold medal [w/Peter Barrett]: Mexico City, 1968; founder of North Sails [one of largest sail makers in world]

1934 - Bill McCreary
hockey: NHL: NY Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, SL Blues; NHL referee

1934 - Andre (Kenneth Ian) ‘Andy’ Rodgers
baseball: NY Giants, SF Giants, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates; died Dec 13, 2004

1940 - Willie Brown
Pro Football Hall of Famer: Oakland Raiders corner back: Super Bowl: II, XI; Denver Broncos

1942 - Ted Bluechel Jr.
singer, musician: drums: group: The Association

1943 - Zeke Moore
football: Houston Oilers

1943 - William Wegman
photographer: photographs, videotapes, paintings and drawings exhibited in museums and galleries internationally; film and video works for Saturday Night Live, Sesame Street and Nickelodeon; works for children: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Mother Goose, Alphabet Soup; The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold [screened at 1996 Sundance Film Festival]

1944 - Cathy Lee Crosby
actress: Wonder Woman, World War III, Roughnecks, The Dark, Coach; TV host: That’s Incredible!

1946 - Pedro (Rodriguez) Borbon
baseball: pitcher: California Angels, Cincinnati Reds [World Series: 1972, 1975, 1976], SF Giants, SL Cardinals

1946 - Gianni Versace
fashion designer; died July 15, 1997

1948 - Wayne (Kirby) Simpson
baseball: pitcher: Cincinnati Reds [all star: 1970], KC Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, California Angels

1950 - John Wesley Ryles
singer: Kay

1952 - Michael McDonald
singer, songwriter, musician: keyboard: group: The Doobie Brothers: What a Fool Believes, Real Love; solo: I Keep Forgettin’ [Everytime You’re Near], On My Own [w/Patti LaBelle], LP: If That’s What It Takes, No Lookin’ Back, Sweet Freedom

1953 - Jay Haas
golf: champ: nine PGA Tour wins, three Champions Tour wins

1954 - Stone Phillips
news correspondent: 20/20; TV anchor: Dateline NBC

1955 - Dennis Christopher
actor: The Silencers, It’s My Party, Boys Life, Stephen King’s It, Jake Speed, Chariots of Fire, The Last Word, Alien Predators, Elvis: The Movie, California Dreaming, Breaking Away, The Young Graduates, Sweet Dreams

1955 - Phil Oakey
composer, singer, songwriter, co-founder of group Human League: Don’t You Want Me, Mirror Man, [Keep Feeling] Fascination, Sound of the Crowd, Lebanon, Human, Being Boiled

1956 - Steven Bauer
actor: Primal Fear, Body Count, Wildfire, Scarface, Wiseguy

1958 - Randy Gardner
figure skater: [w/Tai Babilonia] five-time U.S. National Champions and 1979 World Champions [in pairs]

1960 - Rick Savage
musician: bass: group: Def Leppard: LPs: On Through the Night, High ’n’ Dry, Pyromania

1963 - Ron Sutter
hockey: Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Quebec Nordiques, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames

1966 - Kelly Buchberger
hockey: Edmonton Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, LA Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins

1968 - Darryl Kile
baseball [pitcher]: Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals; died Jun 22, 2002

1968 - Lucy Liu
actress: Ally McBeal, Bang, Jerry Maguire, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

1968 - Rena Sofer
actress: Rock Slyde, The Secret of Hidden Lake, Carrie [2002], Traffic, Nightmare Street, The Stepsister, Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style

1968 - Renee Tenison
model: Playboy Playmate of the Month [November 1989], Playmate of the Year [1990]; actress: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, CB4, Shout, Judging Amy

1969 - O.J. McDuffie
football [wide receiver]: Penn State Univ; NFL: Miami Dolphins

1969 - Paul Stankowski
golf champ: 7 PGA Tour victories

1972 - Zack Crockett
football [running back]: Florida State Univ; NFL: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders

1972 - Alan Henderson
basketball [forward]: Univ of Indiana; NBA: Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers

1972 - Sergei Zholtok
hockey: Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators; died Nov 3, 2004 [heart failure] at age 31

1973 - Monica Seles
tennis champion: French Open singles [1990, 1991, 1992]; Australian Open [1991, 1992, 1993]; U.S. Open [1991, 1992]

1975 - Mark Kotsay
baseball: Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics

1977 - Sadie Alexandru
actress: Gamer, Act Naturally, Strawman, Bare Knuckles, 8 Ball; TV: Carpoolers, As the World Turns, All My Children, Guiding Light

1978 - Nelly Furtado
singer: I’m Like a Bird , Turn Off the Light, Hey, Man!, I Will Make U Cry, Legend

1979 - Melissa Archer
actress: One Life to Live

1981 - Britney Spears
dance-pop singer: albums: Baby… One More Time, Oops!… I Did It Again; TV performer: The Mickey Mouse Club, Time Out with Britney Spears, Britney in Hawaii

1987 - Colleen Rennison
actress: Stargate SG-1, Straight Edge, The Book of Ruth, Beautiful, The Story of Us, Marie Curie: More Than Meets the Eye, Unforgettable

Chart Toppers December 2

1946Rumors are Flying - Frankie Carle
Ole Buttermilk Sky - The Kay Kyser Orchestra (vocal: Mike Douglas & The Campus Kids)
The Whole World is Singing My Song - The Les Brown Orchestra (vocal: Doris Day)
Divorce Me C.O.D. - Merle Travis

1955Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford
Autumn Leaves - Roger Williams
Love and Marriage - Frank Sinatra
Love, Love, Love - Webb Pierce

1964Baby Love - The Supremes
Come a Little Bit Closer - Jay & The Americans
She’s Not There - The Zombies
Once a Day - Connie Smith

1973Top of the World - Carpenters
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
Just You ’N’ Me - Chicago
The Most Beautiful Girl - Charlie Rich

1982Truly - Lionel Richie
Gloria - Laura Branigan
Mickey - Toni Basil
It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Easy - Janie Fricke

1991Set Adrift on Memory Bliss - PM Dawn
Black or White - Michael Jackson
It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday - Boyz II Men
Forever Together - Randy Travis

2000With Arms Wide Open - Creed
Independent Woman, Part 1 - Destiny’s Child
Shape of My Heart - Backstreet Boys
We Danced - Brad Paisley

2009Whatcha Say - Jason DeRulo
Paparazzi - Lady Gaga
Party In The U.S.A. - Jay Sean featuring Miley Cyrus
Need You Now - Lady Antebellum

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Happy Birthday Michael McDonald