March 2, 2015

It Happened on March 2nd

Theodor Geisel

Theodor Geisel's Birthday, 1904
You know him better as Dr. Seuss, and I don't need to explain to you that he's one of the most beloved children's authors of all time. One thing that I didn't know, however, was that he began using "Seuss" as a pen name back in his college days, when he had been forced to resign from all extracurricular activities after being caught drinking gin in his room. (This was during Prohibition.) In order to keep working on the college humor magazine, he started signing his work "Seuss." I also learned that apparently most of us may have been pronouncing his name incorrectly. Geisel once said that it rhymed with "voice" - although he later adopted the more common pronunciation because he thought it more child-friendly (it rhymes with "Mother Goose") and it was more commonly used. 

Read Across America Day
In honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, the National Education Association has adopted March 2nd as Read Across America Day, a day that urges all parents, teachers, librarians, and adult of every ilk to do everything they can to encourage children to keep reading 365 days a year. 

Sam Houston
Sam Houston's Birthday, 1793
Sam Houston was born on March 2, 1793 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He is best known as a leader in the Texan fight for independence, and the first and third President of the Republic of Texas. One thing that I didn't know about Sam, though, is that he is the only person to have been elected governor of two different states: Texas and Tennessee. He didn't finish out his term in either one of them. 

King Kong Premieres, 1933
This was the original King Kong, of course, and it was an enormously successful film in its day. It grossed $90,000 on its opening weekend. That may not sound like much today, but it was a record at the time. The film is credited with saving RKO Radio Pictures from bankruptcy. (Did you know that the huge gate in this movie was later burned as part of the Burning of Atlanta sequence in Gone with the Wind?) 

Desi Arnaz's Birthday, 1917
You know him best as Ricky Ricardo, but Desi Arnaz had a life long before I Love Lucy. He came from a prominent and wealthy family in Havana that lost everything during the Revolution. Fleeing to Miami, he entered show business and was successful on stage, screen, and vaudeville. (Did you know that Desi is largely credited with bringing the conga line to America?) 

The Sound of Music Film Premiere, 1965
The Sound of Music had been enormously successful as a Broadway musical starring Mary Martin, of course, but no one was really prepared for what a hit the movie would turn out to be. It's considered the third most commercially successful box office hit, figured at inflation-adjusted income (behind Gone with the Wind and Star Wars), and it won five Academy Awards.
It's hard to imagine The Sound of Music with a different cast, but of course other actors had been considered. Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day were both considered for the role of Maria. Choices for Baron von Trapp included Yul Brynner, Sean Connery, and Richard Burton. Auditioning for the kids were Richard Dreyfuss, Kurt Russell, Veronica Cartwright, Liza Minelli, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Leslie Ann Warren, Sharon Tate, and four of the Osmund Brothers.

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