Happy Birthday Today

Garroway with J. Fred Muggs

Happy birthday Today. On this date in 1952, The Today Show, starring Dave Garroway, debuts on NBC TV. The program is WAY different today than it was then. (Video)

Quoting Wikipedia, the program was the brainchild of television executive Sylvester Weaver, who was then vice president of NBC. Weaver was president of the company from 1953 to 1955, during which time Todays late-night companion The Tonight Show premiered. In pre-production, the show’s proposed working title was The Rise and Shine Revue.  Today was the first program of its kind when it premiered with original host Dave Garroway. The program blended national news headlines, interviews with newsmakers, lifestyle features, other light news and gimmicks (including the presence of the chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs who served as the show’s mascot during the early years), and local news updates from the network’s stations. It inspired imitators, including ABC‘s Good Morning America, and CBS‘ now-defunct The Early Show. In other countries, the format was copied – most notably in the United Kingdom with the BBC‘s Breakfast Time and TV-am‘s Good Morning Britain, and in Canada with Canada AM on CTV Television Network.

Today has generated it’s share of controversy over the years. Bryant Gumble made waves when a letter he wrote, criticizing his co-workers was leaked to the press. One year after 9/11, the program refused to cut-away from an interview with Kris Jenner from Keeping Up with the Kardashians to a live remembrance at ground zero. Execs ultimately apologized to affiliates, but nothing was every said publicly. Deborah Norville‘s ascension to co-host, which many believe lead to Jane Pauley‘s departure generated bad feelings. Norville was fired after a photo of her breastfeeding her baby appeared in People magazine.

Many remember Willard Scott, as the erstwhile weather presenter on The Today Show. What fewer may remember is that he was the original actor to portray Ronald McDonald.

Led Zeppelin’s debut album was released in United States 52 years ago today. The group, born out of the remnants of the Yardbirds , took 36 hours and spent less than £2,000 to complete the LP. Eva Von Zeppelin, a relative of the creator of the famed dirigible, did not like the album art. It featured the Hindenburg crashing in flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey. She threatened legal action.


Fun Factoids from the Web:

Meet Margaret Hamilton  (No not the wicked witch Margaret Hamilton) the working mom and unsung MIT math wizard who literally wrote the code for the Apollo Missions and won a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Bet you didn’t know: Margaret and H.A. Rey, authors of the beloved children books featuring Curious George, escaped the Nazis and the Holocaust  by bicycle.  They rode 439 miles from Paris to the Spain border with little else besides their unpublished manuscript.

Click to Enlarge

What’s the current all-time most popular image on Instagram? The one at left. Currently, it has over 257 million likes. The photo finally answers, once and for all, the perennial question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Today in History: 

In 1972 “Sanford & Son” premieres. Redd Fox becomes a household name. (Vide0)

Too Many Ads

On this date in  1981 Radio begins its downhill slide as the FCC frees stations to air as many commercials an hour as they wish. Naturally broadcasters overdo it.

Happy Birthday to: Clarence Carter (Patches, Strokin), 1936; Allen Toussaint (Producer), 1938 (d. 2015); Faye Dunaway, 1941; Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed), 1948; LL Cool J, 1968; Dave Grohl, 1969

Much More Music:

Today in 1970, was Diana Ross’ last appearance with The Supremes at The Frontier Hotel, Las Vegas.She introduced Jean Terrell, who would sing lead on 7 more hits for Motown, including ‘Up The Ladder To The Roof‘. (Video)

On this date in 1973 Elvis Presley’s  “Aloha from Hawaii – Via Satellite” becomes the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer. Here’s “Suspicious Minds” from that show. (Video)

Birthday Boy Clarence Carter turns 82 today. Here he is, singing his first hit, “Patches“. The tune was originally recorded by The Chairmen of the Board and written by the band’s lead singer, General Johnson with his songwriting partner Ronald Dunbar. The tune about a sharecroppers son in Alabama became Clarences biggest hit. (Video)

Today’s Quote Worth Re-quoting: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” ~ JK Rowling

We leave you with the Number One song from this date in 1966. It was written and recorded by Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco, better known to his fans as Lou Christie . His record label, MGM reportedly disliked the tune that Christy and his long time writing partner, Twyla Herbert penned, but radio airplay in California launched the record on its way to the stratosphere.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit