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On This Day in History


Schmidt Meister
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On May 23, 1934, notorious criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are shot to death by Texas and Louisiana state police while driving a stolen car near Sailes, Louisiana.
Bonnie Parker met the charismatic Clyde Barrow in Texas when she was 19 years old and her husband (she married when she was 16) was serving time in jail for murder. Shortly after they met, Barrow was imprisoned for robbery. Parker visited him every day, and smuggled a gun into prison to help him escape, but he was soon caught in Ohio and sent back to jail. When Barrow was paroled in 1932, he immediately hooked up with Parker, and the couple began a life of crime together.
After they stole a car and committed several robberies, Parker was caught by police and sent to jail for two months. Released in mid-1932, she rejoined Barrow. Over the next two years, the couple teamed with various accomplices to rob a string of banks and stores across five states, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico and Louisiana. To law enforcement agents, the Barrow Gang, including Barrow’s childhood friend, Raymond Hamilton, W.D. Jones, Henry Methvin, Barrow’s brother Buck and his wife Blanche, among others, were cold-blooded criminals who didn’t hesitate to kill anyone who got in their way, especially police or sheriff’s deputies. Among the public, however, Parker and Barrow’s reputation as dangerous outlaws was mixed with a romantic view of the couple as “Robin Hood”-like folk heroes.
Their fame was increased by the fact that Bonnie was a woman, an unlikely criminal, and by the fact that the couple posed for playful photographs together, which were later found by police and released to the media. Police almost captured the famous duo twice in the spring of 1933, with surprise raids on their hideouts in Joplin and Platte City, Missouri. Buck Barrow was killed in the second raid, and Blanche was arrested, but Bonnie and Clyde escaped once again. In January 1934, they attacked the Eastham Prison Farm in Texas to help Hamilton break out of jail, shooting several guards with machine guns and killing one.
Texan prison officials hired a retired Texas Ranger, Captain Frank Hamer, as a special investigator to track down Parker and Barrow. After a three-month search, Hamer traced the couple to Louisiana, where Henry Methvin’s family lived. Before dawn on May 23, Hamer and a group of Louisiana and Texas lawmen hid in the bushes along a country road outside Sailes. When Parker and Barrow appeared, the officers opened fire, killing the couple in a hail of bullets.
All told, the Barrow Gang was believed responsible for the deaths of 13 people, including nine police officers.

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On May 23, 1949, The Federal Republic of Germany (popularly known as West Germany) is formally established as a separate and independent nation. This action marked the effective end to any discussion of reuniting East and West Germany.
In the period after World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones, with the British, French, Americans, and Soviets each controlling one zone. The city of Berlin was also divided in a like fashion. This arrangement was supposed to be temporary, but as Cold War animosities began to harden, it became increasingly evident that the division between the communist and non-communist controlled sections of Germany and Berlin would become permanent. In May 1946, the United States halted reparation payments from West Germany to the Soviet Union. In December, the United States and Great Britain combined their occupation zones into what came to be known as Bizonia. France agreed to become part of this arrangement, and in May 1949, the three zones became one.
On May 23, the West German Parliamentary Council met and formally declared the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany. Although Konrad Adenauer, the president of the council and future president of West Germany, proudly proclaimed, “Today a new Germany arises,” the occasion was not a festive one. Many of the German representatives at the meeting were subdued, for they had harbored the faint hope that Germany might be reunified. Two communist members of the council refused to sign the proclamation establishing the new state.
The Soviets reacted quickly to the action in West Germany. In October 1949, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was officially announced. These actions in 1949 marked the end of any talk of a reunified Germany. For the next 41 years, East and West Germany served as symbols of the divided world, and of the Cold War animosities between the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1990, with Soviet strength ebbing and the Communist Party in East Germany steadily losing its grip on power, East and West Germany were finally reunited as one nation.

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On May 23, 1915, Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary, entering World War I on the side of the Allies, Britain, France and Russia.
When World War I broke out in the summer of 1914, Italy declared itself neutral in the conflict, despite its membership in the so-called Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary since 1882. Over the course of the months that followed, Italy and its leaders weighed their options; wooed by both sides, they carefully considered how to gain the greatest benefit from participation in the war. The decision to join the fray on the side of the Allies was based largely on the assurances Italy received in the Treaty of London, signed in April 1915. By its terms, Italy would receive the fulfillment of its national dream: control over territory on its border with Austria-Hungary stretching from Trentino through the South Tyrol to Trieste. In addition, the Allies promised the Italians parts of Dalmatia and numerous islands along Austria-Hungary’s Adriatic coast; the Albanian port city of Vlore (Italian: Valona) and a central protectorate in Albania; and territory from the Ottoman Empire.
On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. The Italian declaration opened up a new front in World War I, stretching 600 kilometers, most of them mountainous, along Italy’s border with Austria-Hungary. Italy, which had become a unified nation only as recently as 1859, was, like Russia, not yet a fully industrialized power. It was certainly not prepared for large-scale warfare, and although it managed to mobilize 1.2 million men in the spring of 1915, it possessed equipment for just 732,000. Upon declaring war, the Italian army immediately advanced into the South Tyrol region and to the Isonzo River, where Austro-Hungarian troops met them with a stiff defense. The snowy and treacherous terrain made the region poorly suited to offensive operations, and after several quick Italian successes, combat settled into a stalemate.
By late 1917, the Austrians and Italians had fought no fewer than 11 battles along the Isonzo River, with negligible progress and heavy losses on both sides. In late October 1917, German intervention to help Austria-Hungary resulted in a spectacular victory over the Italians in the Battle of Caporetto (also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo), during which Italian forces suffered some 300,000 casualties (90 percent of which were prisoners) and were forced to retreat. The defeat sparked a crisis in Italy, prompting the dismissal of the army’s chief of staff, Luigi Cadorna, his replacement with Armando Diaz, and the formation of a coalition government under Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando. After Caporetto, Italy’s allies jumped in to offer increased assistance, as British and French, and later American, troops soon arrived in the region, and the Allies began to take back the initiative.
By the time fighting ended on the Italian front on November 4, 1918, a week before the general armistice, 615,000 Italians had been killed in action or died of wounds sustained in World War I. In the ensuing peace negotiations in Paris, the Italian government struggled against great opposition from the other Allied leaders to see that they were given all they had been promised in the Treaty of London. At one point in the negotiations, the entire Italian delegation walked out of the peace conference, returning only days later. Though Italy would eventually receive control of the Tyrol and a permanent seat on the newly formed international peace-keeping organization, the League of Nations, many within the country were dissatisfied with their lot and continued to nurse resentments of the other Allied powers, resentments that would later drive the success of Benito Mussolini and his fascist movement.

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On May 23, 1960, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announces to the world that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann has been captured and will stand trial in Israel. Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who organized Adolf Hitler’s “final solution of the Jewish question,” was seized by Israeli agents in Argentina on May 11 and smuggled to Israel nine days later.
Eichmann was born in Solingen, Germany, in 1906. In November 1932, he joined the Nazi’s elite SS (Schutzstaffel) organization, whose members came to have broad responsibilities in Nazi Germany, including policing, intelligence, and the enforcement of Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies. Eichmann steadily rose in the SS hierarchy, and with the German annexation of Austria in 1938, he was sent to Vienna with the mission of ridding the city of Jews. He set up an efficient Jewish deportment center and in 1939 was sent to Prague on a similar mission. That year, Eichmann was appointed to the Jewish section of the SS central security office in Berlin.
In January 1942, Eichmann met with top Nazi officials at the Wannsee Conference near Berlin for the purpose of planning a “final solution of the Jewish question,” as Nazi leader Hermann Goring put it. The Nazis decided to exterminate Europe’s Jewish population. Eichmann was appointed to coordinate the identification, assembly, and transportation of millions of Jews from occupied Europe to the Nazi death camps, where Jews were gassed or worked to death. He carried this duty out with horrifying efficiency, and between three to four million Jews perished in the extermination camps before the end of World War II. Close to 2 million were executed elsewhere.
Following the war, Eichmann was captured by U.S. troops, but he escaped the prison camp in 1946 before having to face the Nuremberg International War Crimes Tribunal. Eichmann traveled under an assumed identity between Europe and the Middle East and in 1950 arrived in Argentina, which maintained lax immigration policies and was a safe haven for many Nazi war criminals. In 1957, a German prosecutor secretly informed Israel that Eichmann was living in Argentina. Agents from Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, were deployed to Argentina, and in early 1960 they finally located Eichmann. He was living in the San Fernando section of Buenos Aires, under the name Ricardo Klement.
In May 1960, Argentina was celebrating the 150th anniversary of its revolution against Spain, and many tourists were traveling to Argentina from abroad to attend the festivities. The Mossad used the opportunity to smuggle more agents into the country. Israel, knowing that Argentina might never extradite Eichmann for trial, had decided to abduct him and take him to Israel illegally. On May 11, Mossad operatives descended on Garibaldi Street in San Fernando and snatched Eichmann away as he was walking from the bus to his home. His family called local hospitals but not the police, and Argentina knew nothing of the operation. On May 20, a drugged Eichmann was flown out of Argentina disguised as an Israeli airline worker who had suffered head trauma in an accident. Three days later, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion announced that Eichmann was in Israeli custody.
Argentina demanded Eichmann’s return, but Israel argued that his status as an international war criminal gave it the right to proceed with a trial. On April 11, 1961, Eichmann’s trial began in Jerusalem. It was the first trial to be televised in history. Eichmann faced 15 charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes. He claimed he was just following orders, but the judges disagreed, finding him guilty on all counts on December 15 and sentencing him to die. On May 31, 1962, he was hanged near Tel Aviv. His body was subsequently cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea.

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May 23rd In Music

1973 - Jefferson Airplane were prevented from giving a free concert in Golden Gate Park when San Francisco authorities passed a resolution banning electronic instruments. The group later wrote 'We Built this City' about the ban.

2006 - The King of Sweden presented the surviving members of Led Zeppelin with the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm recognizing them as "great pioneers" of rock music. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were joined by the daughter of drummer John Bonham, who died in 1980. The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, manager of Swedish pop group ABBA who named it after his record label, Polar Records.

Birthdays:

1934 - Dr. Robert Moog. Inventor of the synthesizer. He built his first electronic instrument, a theremin, at the age of 14 and made the MiniMoog, "the first compact, easy-to-use synthesizer" in 1970. Born in New York City. He died on 8.21.2005.

1946 - Daniel Klein. Bassist with American rock band The J Geils Band, who had the 1982 US No. 1 single 'Centerfold' which was taken from their US No. 1 1981 album Freeze Frame. Born in The Bronx, New York City.

1947 - Bill Hunt. Keyboardist and horn player for Electric Light Orchestra. Born in Birmingham, England.

1953 - Rick Fenn. English rock guitarist, best known for being a member of 10cc since 1976. He has also collaborated with Mike Oldfield, Rick Wakeman and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Born in England.

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On May 24, 1844, in a demonstration witnessed by members of Congress, American inventor Samuel F.B. Morse, inaugurated the world’s first commercial telegraph line by dispatching a telegraph message from the U.S. Capitol to Alfred Vail at a railroad station in Baltimore, Maryland. The message, “What Hath God Wrought?”, was telegraphed back to the Capitol a moment later by Vail. The message, a question that was fitting given the invention’s future effects on American life, was taken from the Bible (Numbers 23:23), and had been suggested to Morse by Annie Ellworth, the daughter of the commissioner of patents.
Morse, an accomplished painter, learned of a French inventor’s idea of an electric telegraph in 1832 and then spent the next 12 years attempting to perfect a working telegraph instrument. During this period, he composed the Morse code, a set of signals that could represent language in telegraph messages, and convinced Congress to finance a Washington to Baltimore telegraph line.
Just a decade after the first line opened, more than 20,000 miles of telegraph cable crisscrossed the country. The rapid communication it enabled greatly aided American expansion, making railroad travel safer as it provided a boost to business conducted across the great distances of a growing United States.

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On May 24, 1941, Germany’s largest battleship, the Bismarck, sinks the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood.
The Bismarck was the most modern of Germany’s battleships, a prize coveted by other nation’s navies, even while still in the blueprint stage (Hitler handed over a copy of its blueprints to Joseph Stalin as a concession during the days of the Hitler-Stalin neutrality pact). The HMS Hood, originally launched in 1918, was Britain’s largest battle cruiser (41,200 tons), but also capable of achieving the relatively fast speed of 31 knots. The two met in the North Atlantic, northeast of Iceland, where two British cruisers had tracked down the Bismarck. Commanded by Admiral Gunther Lutjens, commander in chief of the German Fleet, the Bismarck sunk the Hood, resulting in the death of 1,500 of its crew; only three Brits survived.
During the engagement, the Bismarck‘s fuel tank was damaged. Lutjens tried to make for the French coast, but was sighted again only three days later. Torpedoed to the point of incapacity, the Bismarck was finally sunk by a ring of British war ships. Admiral Lutjens was one of the 2,300 German casualties.

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On May 24, 1543, Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus dies in what is now Frombork, Poland. The father of modern astronomy, he was the first modern European scientist to propose that Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.
Prior to the publication of his major astronomical work, “Six Books Concerning the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs,” in 1543, European astronomers argued that Earth lay at the center of the universe, the view also held by most ancient philosophers and biblical writers. In addition to correctly postulating the order of the known planets, including Earth, from the sun, and estimating their orbital periods relatively accurately, Copernicus argued that Earth turned daily on its axis and that gradual shifts of this axis accounted for the changing seasons.
He died the year his major work was published, saving him from the outrage of some religious leaders who later condemned his heliocentric view of the universe as heresy. By the late 18th century, the Copernican view of the solar system was almost universally accepted.

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On May 24, 1943, the extermination camp at Auschwitz, Poland, receives a new doctor, 32-year-old Josef Mengele, a man who will earn the nickname “the Angel of Death.”
Born March 16, 1911, in Bavaria, Mengele studied philosophy under Alfred Rosenberg, whose racial theories highly influenced him. In 1934, already a member of the Nazi Party, he joined the research staff of the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene.
Upon arriving at Auschwitz, and eager to advance his medical career by publishing “groundbreaking” work, he began experimenting on live Jewish prisoners. In the guise of medical “treatment,” he injected, or ordered others to inject, thousands of inmates with everything from petrol to chloroform. He also had a penchant for studying twins, whom he used to dissect.
Mengele managed to escape imprisonment after the war, first by working as a farm stableman in Bavaria, then by making his way to South America. He became a citizen of Paraguay in 1959. He later moved to Brazil, where he met up with another former Nazi party member, Wolfgang Gerhard. In 1985, a multinational team of forensic experts traveled to Brazil in search of Mengele. They determined that a man named Gerhard, but believed to be Mengele, had died of a stroke while swimming in 1979. Dental records later confirmed that Mengele had, at some point, assumed Gerhard’s identity, and was in fact, the stroke victim.

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May 24th In Music

1975 - Earth, Wind & Fire went to No. 1 on the US singles chart with 'Shining Star', the group's first and only US No. 1.

Birthdays:

1938 - Tommy Chong. Comedian of Cheech & Chong. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Not a musician, but I don’t care.)

1944 - Patti Labelle. American singer, songwriter, who scored the 1975 US No. 1 single 'Lady Marmalade', and the 1986 US No. 1 single with Michael McDonald, 'On My Own'. Labelle became the the first African-American vocal group to land the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1947 - Albert Bouchard. Drummer, guitarist, songwriter, from American hard rock band Blue Oyster Cult who scored the 1976 US No. 12 single '(Don't Fear) The Reaper'. Blue Oyster Cult have sold over 24 million records worldwide. Born in Watertown, New York.

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On May 25, 1787, four years after the United States won its independence from England, 55 state delegates, including George Washington, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, convene in Philadelphia to compose a new U.S. constitution.
The Articles of Confederation, ratified several months before the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, provided for a loose confederation of U.S. states, which were sovereign in most of their affairs. On paper, Congress, the central authority, had the power to govern foreign affairs, conduct war, and regulate currency, but in practice these powers were sharply limited because Congress was given no authority to enforce its requests to the states for money or troops. By 1786, it was apparent that the Union would soon break up if the Articles of Confederation were not amended or replaced. Five states met in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss the issue, and all the states were invited to send delegates to a new constitutional convention to be held in Philadelphia.
Delegates representing every state except Rhode Island convened at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House for the Constitutional Convention. The building, which is now known as Independence Hall, had earlier seen the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the signing of the Articles of Confederation. The assembly immediately discarded the idea of amending the Articles of Confederation and set about drawing up a new scheme of government. Revolutionary War hero George Washington, a delegate from Virginia, was elected convention president.
During three months of debate, the delegates devised a brilliant federal system characterized by an intricate system of checks and balances. The convention was divided over the issue of state representation in Congress, as more populated states sought proportional legislation, and smaller states wanted equal representation. The problem was resolved by the Connecticut Compromise, which proposed a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation of the states in the upper house (Senate).
On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.
Beginning on December 7, five states, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut, ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve un-delegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789.
On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written national constitution in operation in the world.

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May 25th In Music

1967 - Procol Harum's 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' entered the UK chart for the first time, where it went on to become a No. 1 hit. 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' became the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK (as of 2009). The first video for the song was shot in the ruins of Witley Court in Worcestershire, England.

1974 - Rick Wakeman became the first member of the group Yes to have a No. 1 album when 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth' went to the top of the charts.

1977 - The Star Wars title theme, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, is a No. 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and John Williams takes home numerous awards for the soundtrack, including an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Grammy Award.

Birthdays:

1936 - Donnie Elbert. American soul singer and songwriter who had a 1972 US No. 22 single with ‘I Can’t Help Myself, Sugar Pie Honey Bunch’ and a hit with 'A Little Piece of Leather'. He died on 1.26.1989.

1948 - Klaus Meine. From German rock band Scorpions. Their 1990 power ballad 'Wind Of Change' topped the European charts and was a No. 4 hit in the US. The Scorpions hold the record for the best-selling single by a German artist and band. Born in Hanover, Germany.

1950 - Robert Steinhardt. From American rock band Kansas, who scored the 1978 US No. 3 single 'Dust In The Wind', and the 1978 hit single 'Carry On Wayward Son'. which was the second-most-played track on US classic rock radio in 1995 and No. 1 in 1997. Born in Illinois.

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On May 26, 1864, anxious to create new free territories during the Civil War, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs an act establishing the Montana Territory. However, as Montana was on the unstable frontier, it did little to add to the integrity of the Union, and Sidney Edgerton, the territory’s first governor, fled after suffering through several months of Indian raids.
Among those Indians known to have inhabited Montana in the 19th century were the Sioux, the Blackfoot, the Shoshone, the Arapaho, the Cheyenne, the Kutenai, and the Flathead. The vast area of what we now call Montana became a U.S. possession in 1803 under the terms of the Louisiana Purchase. Two years later, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark became the first known explorers of European origin to explore the region on their journey to the Pacific Ocean.
Significant U.S. settlement did not begin in Montana until the 1850s, when the discovery of gold brought people to mining camps such as those at Bannack and Virginia City. In 1864, Montana was deemed worthy of territorial status and 25 years later entered the Union as the 41st state.

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On May 26, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge signs into law the Immigration Act of 1924, the most stringent U.S. immigration policy up to that time in the nation’s history.
The new law reflected the desire of Americans to isolate themselves from the world after fighting World War I in Europe, which exacerbated growing fears of the spread of communist ideas. Many Americans saw the enormous influx of largely unskilled, uneducated immigrants during the early 1900s as causing unfair competition for jobs and land.
Under the new law, immigration remained open to those with a college education and/or special skills.
A quota was set that limited immigration to two percent of any given nation’s residents already in the U.S. as of 1890, a provision designed to maintain America’s largely Northern European racial composition. In 1927, the “two percent rule” was eliminated and a cap of 150,000 total immigrants annually was established.
The law particularly angered Japan, which in 1907 had forged with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt a “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” which included more liberal immigration quotas for Japan. By 1924, strong U.S. agricultural and labor interests, particularly from California, which had already passed its own exclusionary laws against Japanese immigrants, favored the more restrictive legislation signed by Coolidge.
The Japanese government viewed the American law as an insult, and protested by declaring May 26 a national day of humiliation in Japan. The law fanned anti-American sentiment in Japan, inspiring a Japanese citizen to commit suicide outside the American embassy in Tokyo in protest.
Coolidge also established the Statue of Liberty as a national monument in 1924.

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On May 26, 1907, John Wayne, an actor who came to epitomize the American West, is born in Winterset, Iowa.
Born Marion Michael Morrison, Wayne’s family moved to Glendale, California, when he was six years old. As a teen, he rose at four in the morning to deliver newspapers, and after school he played football and made deliveries for local stores. When he graduated from high school, he hoped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. However, after the school rejected him, he accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
In the summer of 1926, Wayne’s football coach found him a job as an assistant prop man on the set of a movie directed by John Ford. Ford started to use Wayne as an extra, and he eventually began to trust him with some larger roles. In 1930, Ford recommended Wayne for Fox’s epic Western The Big Trail. Wayne won the part, but the movie did poorly, and Fox let his contract lapse.
During the next decade, Wayne worked tirelessly in countless low-budget western films, sharpening his talents and developing a distinct persona for his cowboy characters. Finally, his old mentor John Ford gave Wayne his big break, casting him in his brilliant 1939 western, Stagecoach. Wayne played the role of Ringo Kid, and he imbued the character with the essential traits that would inform nearly all of his subsequent screen roles: a tough and clear-eyed honesty, unquestioning valor, and a laconic, almost plodding manner.
After Stagecoach, Wayne’s career took off. Among the dozens of Westerns he appeared in, many of them directed by Ford, were memorable classics like Tall in the Saddle (1944), Red River (1948), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Bravo (1959), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). In all these films, The Duke, as he was known, embodied the simple, and perhaps simplistic, cowboy values of decency, honesty, and integrity.
Besides Westerns, Wayne also acted in war films. It was a small leap from the valorous cowboy or cavalry soldier to the brave WWII fighters of films like Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and Flying Leathernecks (1951). Deeply conservative in his politics, Wayne also used his 1968 film, The Green Berets, to express his support of the American government’s war in Vietnam.
By the late 1960s, some Americans had tired of Wayne and his simplistically masculine and patriotic characters. Increasingly, western movies were rejecting the simple black-and-white moral codes championed by Wayne and replacing them with a more complex and tragic view of the American West. However, Wayne proved more adaptable than many expected. In his Oscar-winning role in True Grit (1969), he began to escape the narrow confines of his own good-guy image. His final film, The Shootist (1976), won over even his most severe critics. Wayne, who was himself battling lung cancer, played a dying gunfighter whose moral codes and principles no longer fit in a changing world.
Three years later, Wayne died of cancer. To this day, public polls identify him as one of the most popular actors of all time.

John Wayne And Ronald Reagan.jpg

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On May 26, 1897, horror writer Bram Stoker’s classic vampire tale, Dracula, is first offered for sale in London.
Through fictional journal entries and letters written by the novel’s principal characters, Dracula tells the story of a Transylvanian vampire and his English victims. Stoker had been publishing horror stories since 1875 and published his first novel, Snake’s Pass, in 1890. The horror genre, which was born of folk tales and legends, had received a boost in 18th century England through the Gothic movement. It persisted in the 19th century thanks to works like Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Stoker was born in Dublin and bedridden for his first seven years of life. However, he later distinguished himself as an athlete at the University of Dublin. He worked in civil service for a decade while writing drama reviews. In 1878, he became the manager of Sir Henry Irving, an actor he admired. He managed Irving for 27 years. Stoker wrote several other novels before his death in London in 1912, but none equaled the popularity of Dracula.

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May 26th In Music

1966 - The Rolling Stones were at No. 1 on the UK singles chart with 'Paint It Black', their sixth UK No. 1 single. It was the first No. 1 single to feature a sitar on the recording.

1967 - The Beatles release their landmark album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in the UK.

2016 - A set of stamps celebrating 50 years of Pink Floyd were unveiled by the Royal Mail. The ten stamps which would be available the following month marked five decades since the band turned professional. The collection included the band's most famous album covers as well as live performance shots.

Birthdays:

1945 - Gary Peterson. Drummer from Canadian rock band Guess Who who had the 1970 US No. 1 single 'American Woman'. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

1948 - Stevie Nicks. American singer-songwriter, from Fleetwood Mac who scored the 1977 US No. 1 single 'Dreams', taken from the world-wide No. 1 album Rumours and the 1987 UK No. 5 single 'Little Lies.’ She scored the solo, 1981 US No. 1 album Bella Donna, and the 1989 hit single 'Rooms On Fire'. Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 along with her then boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham. Born in Phoenix, Arizona,

1964 - Lenny Kravitz. American singer, songwriter, who had the 1990 UK hit single 'Let Love Rule', the 1999 UK No. 1 single 'Fly Away', and the 1993 UK No. 1 album 'Are You Gonna Go My Way'. Kravitz has also worked with Mick Jagger, Madonna and David Bowie. Born in Manhattan, New York.

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On May 27, 1941, the British navy sinks the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic near France. The German death toll was more than 2,000.
On February 14, 1939, the 823-foot Bismarck was launched at Hamburg. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler hoped that the state-of-the-art battleship would herald the rebirth of the German surface battle fleet. However, after the outbreak of war, Britain closely guarded ocean routes from Germany to the Atlantic Ocean, and only U-boats moved freely through the war zone.
In May 1941, the order was given for the Bismarck to break out into the Atlantic. Once in the safety of the open ocean, the battleship would be almost impossible to track down, all the while wreaking havoc on Allied convoys to Britain. Learning of its movement, Britain sent almost the entire British Home Fleet in pursuit. On May 24, the British battle cruiser Hood and battleship Prince of Wales intercepted it near Iceland. In a ferocious battle, the Hood exploded and sank, and all but three of the 1,421 crewmen were killed. The Bismarck escaped, but because it was leaking fuel it fled for occupied France.
On May 26, the ship was sighted and crippled by British aircraft, and on May 27 three British warships descended on the Bismarck, inflicting heavy damage. By mid-morning, the pride of the German navy had become a floating wreck with numerous fires aboard, unable to steer and with her guns almost useless because she was listing badly to port. Soon, the command went out to scuttle the ship, and the Bismarck quickly sank. Of a 2,221-man crew, only 115 survived.

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On May 27, 1831, Jedediah Smith, one of the nation’s most important trapper-explorers, is killed by Comanche Indians on the Santa Fe Trail.
Smith’s role in opening up the Far West was not fully appreciated until modern scholars examined the records of his far-ranging journeys. As with all of the mountain men, Smith ventured west as a practical businessman working for eastern fur companies. His goal was to find new territories to trap beaver and otter and make trading contacts with Native Americans.
Nonetheless, beginning in 1822 when he made his first expedition with the fur trader William Ashley, Smith’s travels provided information on western geography and potential trails that were invaluable to later pioneers. Smith’s most important accomplishment was his rediscovery in 1824 of the South Pass, an easy route across the Rocky Mountains in modern-day western Wyoming. The first Anglo-Americans to cross the pass were fur traders returning east from a Pacific Coast trading post in 1812, yet the news of their discovery was never publicized. Smith, by contrast, established the South Pass as a well known and heavily traveled route for fur trappers. A few decades later, it became a part of the Oregon Trail and greatly reduced the obstacles faced by wagon trains heading to Oregon and California.
During the next seven years, Smith filled in many other blank spots on the map of the Far West. Despite having opened many new territories for future pioneers, Smith had little to show for his years of dangerous efforts. In 1830, he returned to St. Louis, determined to go into the mercantile business and draft detailed maps of the country he had explored. Before he could get started, however, an associate convinced him to take a supply of goods to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
With a party of 83 men, Smith left St. Louis in early 1831 and headed south along the Cimarron River, a region known to be nearly devoid of potable water. Despite his years of wilderness experience, Smith was apparently overconfident in his ability to find water and did not take adequate supplies from St. Louis. By mid-May, the party’s water supplies were almost exhausted, and the men started separating each day to search for waterholes.
Smith was riding alone when a hunting party of Comanche Indians attacked him. Dazed and weakened by lack of water, Smith nonetheless managed to shoot one of the Comanche before he was overwhelmed and killed.

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May 27th In Music

1957 - Buddy Holly and the Crickets released 'That'll Be The Day' which became a US No. 3 hit. The song had its genesis in a trip to the movies by Holly, Allison and Sonny Curtis in June 1956. The John Wayne film The Searchers was playing. Wayne's frequently used, world-weary catchphrase, “That'll be the day" was the Inspiration behind the song.

Birthdays:

1948 - Pete Sears. Bassist, keyboardist, guitarist for Jefferson Starship. Born in Bromley, Kent, England.

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On May 28, 1937, the government of Germany, then under the control of Adolf Hitler of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party, forms a new state-owned automobile company, then known as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Later that year, it was renamed simply Volkswagenwerk, or “The People’s Car Company.”
Originally operated by the German Labor Front, a Nazi organization, Volkswagen was headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. In addition to his ambitious campaign to build a network of autobahns and limited access highways across Germany, Hitler’s pet project was the development and mass production of an affordable yet still speedy vehicle that could sell for less than 1,000 Reich marks (about $140 at the time). To provide the design for this “people’s car,” Hitler called in the Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1938, at a Nazi rally, the Fuhrer declared: “It is for the broad masses that this car has been built. Its purpose is to answer their transportation needs, and it is intended to give them joy.” However, soon after the KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude)-Wagen (“Strength-Through-Joy” car) was displayed for the first time at the Berlin Motor Show in 1939, World War II began, and Volkswagen halted production. After the war ended, with the factory in ruins, the Allies would make Volkswagen the focus of their attempts to resuscitate the German auto industry.
Volkswagen sales in the United States were initially slower than in other parts of the world, due to the car’s historic Nazi connections as well as its small size and unusual rounded shape. In 1959, the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach launched a landmark campaign, dubbing the car the “Beetle” and spinning its diminutive size as a distinct advantage to consumers. Over the next several years, VW became the top-selling auto import in the United States. In 1960, the German government sold 60 percent of Volkswagen’s stock to the public, effectively denationalizing it. Twelve years later, the Beetle surpassed the longstanding worldwide production record of 15 million vehicles, set by Ford Motor Company’s legendary Model T between 1908 and 1927.
With the Beetle’s design relatively unchanged since 1935, sales grew sluggish in the early 1970s. VW bounced back with the introduction of sportier models such as the Rabbit and later, the Golf. In 1998, the company began selling the highly touted “New Beetle” while still continuing production of its predecessor. After nearly 70 years and more than 21 million units produced, the last original Beetle rolled off the line in Puebla, Mexico, on July 30, 2003.

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May 28th In Music

1968 - Creedence Clearwater Revival released their debut album. The band had played for years as the Golliwogs, Saul Zaentz who had bought Fantasy Records offered the band a chance to record an album on the condition that they change their name. The album features an 8 minute version of the Dale Hawkins song 'Suzie Q' which became the band's only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogerty.

1973 - Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon was on both the UK and US album charts. It remained in the US charts for 741 discontinuous weeks from 1973 to 1988, longer than any other album in history. (After moving to the Billboard Top Pop Catalog Chart, the album notched up a further 759 weeks, and had reached a total of over 1,500 weeks on the combined charts by May 2006).

Birthdays:

1917 - Papa John Creech. American blues violinist, with Jefferson Airplane Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna. He had also worked with Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole. Born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. He died in 1994 aged 76.

1945 - John Fogerty. American musician, singer, and songwriter from Creedence Clearwater Revival who had the 1969 US No. 2 single 'Bad Moon Rising', plus ten other US Top 30 hits and the 1970 US No. 1 album Cosmo's Factory. After CCR parted ways in 1972 Fogerty had a successful solo career. Born in Berkeley, California.

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On May 29, 1942, on the advice of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler orders all Jews in occupied Paris to wear an identifying yellow star on the left side of their coats.
Joseph Goebbels had made the persecution, and ultimately the extermination, of Jews a personal priority from the earliest days of the war, often recording in his diary such statements as: “They are no longer people but beasts,” and “[T]he Jews… are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is pretty barbaric and is not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews.”
But Goebbels was not the first to suggest this particular form of isolation. “The yellow star may make some Catholics shudder,” wrote a French newspaper at the time. “It renews the most strictly Catholic tradition.” Intermittently, throughout the history of the papal states, that territory in central Italy controlled by the pope, Jews were often confined to ghettoes and forced to wear either yellow hats or yellow stars.

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May 29th In Music

1962 - Chubby Checker won a Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Recording for ‘Let's Twist Again’ and Ray Charles won Best Rhythm & Blues Recording for ‘Hit The Road Jack’.

1965 - The Beach Boys started a two week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with 'Help Me Rhonda', the group's second US No. 1.

1969 - Crosby, Stills & Nash released their self-titled debut on Atlantic Records label. It spawned two Top 40 hits: 'Marrakesh Express' and 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes'.

1971 - The Rolling Stones started a two week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with 'Brown Sugar', from Sticky Fingers. The first single released on Rolling Stones Records, it was the bands sixth US No. 1.

Birthdays:

1945 - Gary Brooker. English singer, songwriter, pianist and founder and lead singer of the rock band Procol Harum who had the 1967 UK No.1 and US No.5 single A Whiter Shade Of Pale. (one of the few singles to have sold over 10 million copies) and scored the hits 'Homburg', 'Conquistador'. Brooker founded The Paramounts in 1962 with his guitarist friend Robin Trower and has also worked with Eric Clapton, Alan Parsons and Ringo Starr. Born in Hackney, East London, England.

1955 - Mike Porcaro. Bassist with American rock band Toto who had the 1980s Top 5 hits 'Hold the Line', 'Rosanna', and 'Africa'. The band has released 17 studio albums, and has sold over 40 million records worldwide. Born in Windsor, Connecticut. Porcaro died on 3.15.2015.

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On May 30, 1431, at Rouen in English-controlled Normandy, Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who became the savior of France, is burned at the stake for heresy.
Joan was born in 1412, the daughter of a tenant farmer at Domremy, on the borders of the duchies of Bar and Lorraine. In 1415, the Hundred Years War between England and France entered a crucial phase when the young King Henry V of England invaded France and won a series of decisive victories against the forces of King Charles VI. By the time of Henry’s death in August 1422, the English and their French-Burgundian allies controlled Aquitaine and most of northern France, including Paris. Charles VI, long incapacitated, died one month later, and his son, Charles, regent from 1418, prepared to take the throne. However, Reims, the traditional city of French coronation, was held by the Anglo-Burgundians, and the Dauphin (heir apparent to the French throne) remained uncrowned. Meanwhile, King Henry VI of England, the infant son of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, the daughter of Charles VI, was proclaimed king of France by the English.
Joan’s village of Domremy lay on the frontier between the France of the Dauphin and that of the Anglo-Burgundians. In the midst of this unstable environment, Joan began hearing “voices” of three Christian saints, St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret. When she was about 16, these voices exhorted her to aid the Dauphin in capturing Reims and therefore the French throne. In May 1428, she traveled to Vaucouleurs, a stronghold of the Dauphin, and told the captain of the garrison of her visions. Disbelieving the young peasant girl, he sent her home. In January 1429, she returned, and the captain, impressed by her piety and determination, agreed to allow her passage to the Dauphin at Chinon.
Dressed in men’s clothes and accompanied by six soldiers, she reached the Dauphin’s castle at Chinon in February 1429 and was granted an audience. Charles hid himself among his courtiers, but Joan immediately picked him out and informed him of her divine mission. For several weeks, Charles had Joan questioned by theologians at Poitiers, who concluded that, given his desperate straits, the Dauphin would be well-advised to make use of this strange and charismatic girl.
Charles furnished her with a small army, and on April 27, 1429, she set out for Orleans, besieged by the English since October 1428. On April 29, as a French sortie distracted the English troops on the west side of Orleans, Joan entered unopposed by its eastern gate. She brought greatly needed supplies and reinforcements and inspired the French to a passionate resistance. She personally led the charge in several battles and on May 7 was struck by an arrow. After quickly dressing her wound, she returned to the fight, and the French won the day. On May 8, the English retreated from Orleans.
During the next five weeks, Joan and the French commanders led the French into a string of stunning victories over the English. On July 16, the royal army reached Reims, which opened its gates to Joan and the Dauphin. The next day, Charles VII was crowned king of France, with Joan standing nearby holding up her standard: an image of Christ in judgment. After the ceremony, she knelt before Charles, joyously calling him king for the first time.
On September 8, the king and Joan attacked Paris. During the battle, Joan carried her standard up to the earthworks and called on the Parisians to surrender the city to the king of France. She was wounded but continued to rally the king’s troops until Charles ordered an end to the unsuccessful siege. That year, she led several more small campaigns, capturing the town of Saint-Pierre-le-Moitier. In December, Charles ennobled Joan, her parents, and her brothers.
In May 1430, the Burgundians laid siege to Compiegne, and Joan stole into the town under the cover of darkness to aid in its defense. On May 23, while leading a sortie against the Burgundians, she was captured. The Burgundians sold her to the English, and in March 1431 she went on trial before ecclesiastical authorities in Rouen on charges of heresy. Her most serious crime, according to the tribunal, was her rejection of church authority in favor of direct inspiration from God. After refusing to submit to the church, her sentence was read on May 24: She was to be turned over to secular authorities and executed. Reacting with horror to the pronouncement, Joan agreed to recant and was condemned instead to perpetual imprisonment.
Ordered to put on women’s clothes, she obeyed, but a few days later the judges went to her cell and found her dressed again in male attire. Questioned, she told them that St. Catherine and St. Margaret had reproached her for giving in to the church against their will. She was found to be a relapsed heretic and on May 29 ordered handed over to secular officials. On May 30, Joan, 19 years old, was burned at the stake at the Place du Vieux-Marche in Rouen. Before the pyre was lit, she instructed a priest to hold high a crucifix for her to see and to shout out prayers loud enough to be heard above the roar of the flames.
As a source of military inspiration, Joan of Arc helped turn the Hundred Years War firmly in France’s favor. By 1453, Charles VII had reconquered all of France except for Calais, which the English relinquished in 1558. In 1920, Joan of Arc, one of the great heroes of French history, was recognized as a Christian saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day is May 30.

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