440 International Those Were the Days
321st day of 2017 - 44 remaining

Friday, November 17, 2017
Satelite view of Suez Canal Over the years, a lot of squabbling has gone on over a 100-mile (160 kilometers) ditch called the Suez Canal. Formally opened on this day in 1869, the canal connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas, eliminating a 4000-mile trip around Africa.

The canal first belonged to France, then to Great Britain and then Egypt. Because of the single direction of the wind in the Suez area and the narrowness of the canal, sailing ships had a hard time navigating and were eventually taken out of service in the British fleets - never to return. They were replaced by steamships. The building of the Suez Canal not only eliminated the African route, it eliminated a whole nautical tradition of sailing that had been a part of society for nearly 4800 years.

The Suez Canal has played a major wartime role. It was blockaded (by Britain) in World War I to keep enemy ships from using the waterway. Axis ships were denied use of the canal in World War II; then in 1950, because of the Arab-Israeli war, Egypt banned Israeli ships from the canal. During the Arab-Israeli war in 1967, it was blocked once again, this time by sunken ships; and didn’t reopen until 1975.

Since 1956, when Egypt seized control and claimed the sovereign right to govern its use, the Suez canal has been a national treasure to the Egyptian people -- earning the country millions of dollars daily.

November 17
1558 - Elizabeth I became Queen of England upon the death of Queen Mary this day. ‘Good Queen Bess’ ruled Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1558 to 1603 and during her reign, England became a world power.

1877 - The first production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Sorcerer, was presented -- in London.

1851 - The U.S. Post Office issued a 1-cent carrier stamp to make it easier to pay fees for delivering and collecting letters. It was the first postage stamp to depict an American eagle; and the last to make it easier to pay the fees.

1891 - Poland’s premier and premier ivory tickler, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, made his American debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In later years, Paderewski, who suffered from arthritis, settled in Paso Robles, CA. The hot mineral baths located there eased his pain. He played only Steinway grand pianos custom-built to his specifications. In fact, five were made just for his use.

1938 - Orchestra leader Kay Kyser, speaking to an audience at the College of the City of New York (CCNY) told of the “inner workings and artistic features of swing music.” It marked the first of a series of lectures on swing music presented by Kyser, who went on to present The Kollege of Musical Knowledge on radio.

1950 - Roberta Peters filled in for the lead in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, making her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She would become one of the Met’s most famous stars.

1954 - Golfer Arnold Palmer signed a contract with Wilson Sporting Goods and became a pro.

1962 - The 4 Seasons, with Frankie Valli as lead singer, began a five-week run at the top of the tunedex with Big Girls Don’t Cry.

1966 - Woody Allen’s first play, Don’t Drink the Water, opened on Broadway.

1968 - The ‘Heidi Game’ happened on TV. The New York Jets/Oakland Raiders football game was cut off to begin a family show (Heidi) on NBC. The TV audience missed Oakland’s two touchdowns (in nine seconds) to win the game 43-32. NBC was flooded with calls and the concept of program delay was instituted immediately by the networks.

1970 - Elton John recorded an album live, on what was WABC-FM in New York City. It marked the first time that a concert was aired live and recorded for release as aired. The LP was titled, 11/17/70.

1980 - Roger Mudd began working as chief Washington correspondent for NBC. Mudd had left CBS after being passed over as Walter Cronkite’s replacement on The CBS Evening News.

1981 - Luke Spencer married Laura Baldwin in what was called “the wedding of the year” on the TV serial General Hospital. An audience of 14 million viewers watched as vows were exchanged on the ABC program.

1986 - Racecar driver Rick Mears set a U.S. closed-course record at the Michigan International Speedway. Mears was timed at an average speed of 233.934 mph, breaking the record set by Mark Donahue in 1975.

1993 - The U.S. House of Representatives approved the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by a vote of 234 to 200. The Senate voted 60 to 38 for approval of the legislation on November 20. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton on December 8, 1993. It took effect on January 1, 1994. Under NAFTA, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico become a single, integrated market with $6.5 trillion worth of goods and services annually.

1995 - These movies debuted in the U.S.: The American President (“Why can’t the most powerful man in the world have the one thing he wants most?”), with Michael Douglas, Annete Bening, Martin Sheen and Michael J. Fox; Goldeneye (“You know the name. You know the number.”), starring Pierce Brosnan for the first time as Bond ... James Bond; and It Takes Two (“Two identical strangers. Two different worlds. One perfect match.”), with Kirstie Alley and Steve Guttenberg.

1997 - Mario Lemieux was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame. On Nov 19 Mario Lemieux’s number 66 was retired in a ceremony at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. And, surprise, on Dec 27, 2000 Lemieux, part-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, became a player again.

2000 - It was opening day in the U.S. for these films: Bounce (“Two strangers fell in love. One knew it wasn’t by chance.”), starring Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tony Goldwyn; Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch!”), with Jim Carrey as the Grinch, Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who, Christine Baranski as Martha May Whovier and Anthony Hopkins narrating; Rugrats in Paris - The Movie (“France never had a chance!”), starring the voices of Susan Sarandon, John Lithgow, Debbie Reynolds, Tim Curry and Casey Kasem; and The 6th Day (“They picked the wrong man to clone.”), with Arnold Schwarzenneger, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rapaport and Robert Duvall.

November 17
1799 - Titian Ramsay Peale
artist, naturalist: travelled with Wilkes Expedition to the South Pacific [1838-1842]; son of artist Charles Willson Peale; died Mar 13, 1885

1887 - Field Marshal Bernard (Law) ‘Monty’ Montgomery
British Army commander of ground forces at Normandy landing [1944]; British Eighth Army; died Mar 24, 1976

1901 - Lee Strasberg (Israel Strassberg)
director; teacher of method acting at Actor’s Studio; died Feb 17, 1982

1905 - Mischa Auer (Ounskowsky)
actor: My Man Godfrey, Brewster’s Millions, Destry Rides Again, You Can’t Take It with You; died Mar 5, 1967

1916 - Shelby Foote
historian, writer: The Civil War; died Jun 27, 2005

1925 - Rock Hudson (Roy Harold Scherer Jr.)
actor: McMillan and Wife, Giant, A Gathering of Eagles, Ice Station Zebra, Magnificent Obsession, Pillow Talk, Written on the Wind; died Oct 2, 1985

1930 - Bob Mathias
Olympic & National Track & Field Hall of Famer: gold medalist decathlon [1948, 1952]; Sullivan Award; graced Wheaties boxes for years; Olympic torch lighter [1984]; U.S. congressman; played himself in The Bob Mathias Story; director: Olympic Training Center; died Sep 2, 2006

1933 - Orlando (Gregorio Quevara) Pena
baseball: pitcher: Cincinnati Redlegs, Cincinnati Reds, KC Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, SL Cardinals, California Angels

1936 - Gary Bell
baseball: pitcher: Cleveland Indians [all-star: 1960, 1966], Boston Red Sox [World Series: 1967/all-star: 1968], Chicago White Sox, Seattle Pilots

1937 - Jim (James Thomas) Brewer
baseball: pitcher: Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers [World Series: 1965, 1966, 1974/all-star: 1973], California Angels; died Nov 16, 1987

1937 - Peter Cook
actor: Beyond the Fringe, Beyond the Fringe ’64, Monty Python Meets Beyond the Fringe, Bedazzled, Monte Carlo or Bust; writer: Bedazzled; died Jan 9, 1995

1938 - Gordon Lightfoot
singer: Sundown, If You Could Read My Mind, Carefree Highway, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald; songwriter: Early Morning Rain, Ribbon of Darkness

1941 - Gene Clark
singer, musician: guitar: group: The Byrds: Turn, Turn, Turn; New Christy Minstrels; died May 24, 1991

1942 - Bob Gaudio
singer: group: The Royal Teens: Short Shorts; The Four Seasons: Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk like a Man, Rag Doll

1942 - Martin Scorsese
director: Mean Streets, The Color of Money, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, New York, New York, The Last Temptation of Christ, Cape Fear, Michael Jackson’s Bad video

1943 - Lauren Hutton
actress: American Gigolo, Lassiter, Paper Lion

1944 - Danny DeVito
Emmy Award-winning actor: Taxi [1980-81]; Twins, Batman Returns, Hoffa, The Jewel of the Nile, Romancing the Stone, Terms of Endearment, director: Throw Mama from the Train, The War of the Roses, Jack the Bear; married to actress Rhea Perlman

1944 - Lorne Michaels
Emmy Award-winning writer: The Paul Simon Special [1977], Saturday Night Live [1976, 1977, 1989], Lily [1974]; Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Three Amigos; Emmy Award-winning producer: Saturday Night Live [1976, 1993, 2002]; Sunday Night, The New Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Stuart Saves His Family, Lassie, The Coneheads, Wayne’s World series, Three Amigos

1944 - Tom ‘Terrific’ (George Thomas) Seaver
Baseball Hall of Famer: NY Mets [World Series 1969, 1973/all-star: 1967-1973, 1975, 1976/Cy Young Award: 1969, 1973, 1975], Cincinnati Reds [all-star: 1977, 1978, 1981], Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox; broadcaster: Reds, Mets, ABC

1945 - Elvin Hayes
Basketball Hall of Famer: ‘The Big E’: San Diego/Houston Rockets, Baltimore Bullets; 5th on list of most games played in ABA/NBA; University of Houston, All America [1967, 1968]

1946 - Martin Barre
musician: guitar: Jethro Tull: Living in the Past

1948 - Herman Weaver
football: kicker: Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks

1950 - Roland Matthes
swimmer: Olympic Gold Medalist: 100 and 200 meter backstroke [1968, 1972]

1951 - Charlie Davis
football: Pittsburgh Steelers DT [Super Bowl IX], SL Cardinals, Houston Oilers

1955 - Yolanda King
actress: Ghosts of Mississippi, America’s Dream, The Secret Path, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.; died May 15, 2007

1958 - Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
actress: The Color of Money, The Abyss, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Class Action, Consenting Adults, Scarface

1959 - William R. Moses
actor: Perry Mason, Falcon Crest, Mystic Pizza, Trial by Jury, The Perfect Wife

1962 - Eric Olson
actor: Apple’s Way, Swiss Family Robinson

1966 - Daisy Fuentes
model: Revlon; TV host: MTV VJ; actress: Loving, America’s Funniest Home Videos

1966 - Sophie Marceau (Maupu)
actress: La Boum, Pacific Palisades, Braveheart, The World is Not Enough, A Midsummer Night's Dream

1967 - Ronnie DeVoe
singer: groups: New Edition, Bell Biv DeVoe

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Chart Toppers
November 17
1948Buttons and Bows - Dinah Shore
On a Slow Boat to China - The Kay Kaiser Orchestra (vocal: Harry Babbitt
& Gloria Wood
A Tree in the Meadow - Margaret Whiting
One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart) - Jimmy Wakely

1956Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley
The Green Door - Jim Lowe
Singing the Blues - Guy Mitchell
Singing the Blues - Marty Robbins

1964Baby Love - The Supremes
Leader of the Pack - The Shangri-Las
Come a Little Bit Closer - Jay & The Americans
I Don’t Care (Just as Long as You Love Me) - Buck Owens

1972I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
I’d Love You to Want Me - Lobo
I’ll Be Around - Spinners
My Man - Tammy Wynette

1980Lady - Kenny Rogers
The Wanderer - Donna Summer
Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
Could I Have This Dance - Anne Murray

1988Wild, Wild West - The Escape Club
The Loco-Motion - Kylie Minogue
Bad Medicine - Bon Jovi
Runaway Train - Rosanne Cash

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end...

Those Were the Days

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Written and edited by Carol Williams and John Williams
Produced by John Williams

Those Were the Days, the Today in History service from 440 International
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