On this day in 1947, the actor Ted Danson, who will become best known for his role as bar owner Sam Malone on the mega-hit TV sitcom Cheers, which originally aired from 1982 to 1993, is born in San Diego, California.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied drama, Danson appeared on the 1970s soap opera Somerset and starred in TV commercials, most notably for the men’s fragrance Aramis. Danson catapulted to Hollywood stardom with his role as Sam Malone, a former professional baseball player and ladies man who runs a Boston-based bar called Cheers in the sitcom of the same name. The show, which premiered on NBC on September 30, 1982, and opened with the now-classic theme song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” centers around a group of regulars who hang out at Cheers, including lovable but dim-witted bartender Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), frequently unemployed Norm Peterson (George Wendt), feisty waitress Carla (Rhea Perlman) and snooty psychiatrist Fraser Crane (Kelsey Grammer). (Crane later got his own long-running sitcom, Frasier, which originally aired from 1993 to 2004). Among the main storylines on Cheers were Sam Malone’s lengthy on-again, off-again romantic relationships with waitress-grad student Diane Chambers (Shelley Long, who was a Cheers cast member from 1982-1987) and businesswoman Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley, a regular from 1987-1993). During its 11-season run, Cheers featured guest appearances by a number of celebrities and public figures, including Johnny Carson, then-Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.
Created by James Burrows and brothers Glen and Les Charles, Cheers was almost cancelled due to poor ratings during its first season; it hung on, however, and eventually became a massive hit with audiences. The show was nominated for a total of more than 100 Emmy Awards, and it won 28. The final episode of Cheers aired on May 20, 1993, and attracted more than 80 million viewers, making it one of the top-rated finales in TV history. (The all-time record holder, the 1983 M*A*S*H finale, was seen by some 106 million people, while more than 76 million viewers tuned in to the 1998 finale of Seinfeld.)
Following Cheers, Danson starred as a cranky doctor in the TV sitcom Becker,which aired on CBS from 1998 to 2004. Among his more recent TV credits are recurring roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Damages. Danson has also appeared in a number of movies, including 1979’s The Onion Field, which marked his big-screen debut; 1981’s Body Heat, featuring Kathleen Turner and William Hurt; the 1987 hit comedy Three Men and a Baby, with Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg; Made in America (1993), which co-starred Danson’s then-paramour Whoopi Goldberg; and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Danson has been married to his third wife, the actress Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Elf) since 1995.
Truman announces development of H-bomb
U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announces his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.
Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan. Then, several weeks after that, British and U.S. intelligence came to the staggering conclusion that German-born Klaus Fuchs, a top-ranking scientist in the U.S. nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to approve massive funding for the superpower race to complete the world’s first “superbomb,” as he described it in his public announcement on January 31.
On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated “Mike,” the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device, built upon the Teller-Ulam principles of staged radiation implosion, instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater more than a mile wide. The incredible explosive force of Mike was also apparent from the sheer magnitude of its mushroom cloud–within 90 seconds the mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet and entered the stratosphere. One minute later, it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test, the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the head joining the stem at 45,000 feet.
Three years later, on November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the “hell bomb,” as it was known by many Americans, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist.
Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence. Gandhi was an unremarkable student but in 1888 was given an opportunity to study law in England. In 1891, he returned to India, but failing to find regular legal work he accepted in 1893 a one-year contract in South Africa.
Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man. When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launched a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.
In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. He reorganized the Indian National Congress as a political force and launched a massive boycott of British goods, services, and institutions in India. Then, in 1922, he abruptly called off the satyagraha when violence erupted. One month later, he was arrested by the British authorities for sedition, found guilty, and imprisoned.
U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elects first members
On January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elects its first members in Cooperstown, New York: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson.
The Hall of Fame actually had its beginnings in 1935, when plans were made to build a museum devoted to baseball and its 100-year history. A private organization based in Cooperstown called the Clark Foundation thought that establishing the Baseball Hall of Fame in their city would help to reinvigorate the area’s Depression-ravaged economy by attracting tourists. To help sell the idea, the foundation advanced the idea that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story proved to be phony, but baseball officials, eager to capitalize on the marketing and publicity potential of a museum to honor the game’s greats, gave their support to the project anyway.
In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939—thought by many to be the centennial of baseball—the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound.
Today, with approximately 350,000 visitors per year, the Hall of Fame continues to be the hub of all things baseball.
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