Dancer, choreographer, and actor Fred Astaire (born Frederick Austerlitz) was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1899. His career spanned over 76 years while making 31 musical films. The American Film Institute named him the 5th Greatest Male Star of All Time. Ginger Rogers appeared in several of his films. Some of his better-known films include Top Hat (1935), Shall We Dance (1937), and Daddy Long Legs (1955). Astaire was married to jockey Robyn Smith in 1980, who was 45 years younger than he. He died from pneumonia in 1987 at the age of 88.
Mother’s Day was celebrated officially for the first time in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna Jarvis began a campaign to establish a Mother’s Day in 1905. Several states recognized a Mother’s Day in 1919 and then in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation marking Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May. The race to commercialization was now underway.
George Allen “Pat” Summerall was born in Lake City, Florida in 1930. He was a football player better-known as a television sportscaster with CBS, FOX and ESPN. Summerall announced 16 Super Bowl games, 26 Masters Tournaments and 21 U.S. Open Tennis Championships. He had played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks and then played in the NFL from 1952-1961 with the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals, and the New York Giants. In 1994, Summerall was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. He died 2013 from cardiac arrest at the age of 82.
The first rock and roll recording to hit #1 was Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets in 1954. It was their biggest hit that eventually sold over 25 million copies. Bill Haley and the Comets were inducted into the Grammy Hall o Fame in 1982 for this song. More than 100 musicians performed in this group from 1952 until Haley’s death in 1981.
Sony introduced their Betamax videocassette recorder in 1975. The VCR had two recording speeds, normal and half-speed. A 1977 model could record up to four hours on one cassette. Sony, Toshiba, Pioneer, and Aiwa were licensed to manufacture and sell Betamax models. Consumers had the last word when they chose the VHS system over Betamax. VHS won the format war when far more film titles were available in the VHS format and the Betamax faded away for home use. Optical discs eventually made tape obsolete. Watch this 1979 television commercial for Betamax.
Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.