Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 1959

We're going to take a brief break from this week's look back on 2014 with the final Tuesday Timeline of the year.

And, as the sands in the 2014 hourglass dwindle down each passing second, it is time to also take a look back on the thirtieth of December to see what events took place on this date.  We will also take a look at celebrity birthdates as well.  And, here's a bit of a clue for's Tuesday Timeline spotlight also happens to be a birthday girl as well.

Of course, before we go ahead with that, we have some unfinished business to take care of.  Let us see what happened in the world on the eve before New Years Eve...

1813 - Buffalo, New York is completely destroyed in fires set by British soldiers during the War of 1812

1816 - The Treaty of St. Louis is proclaimed between the United States and the Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi tribes - and nine years later...

1825 - The Treaty of St. Louis between the United States and the Shawnee Nation is proclaimed

1865 - "The Jungle Book" author Rudyard Kipling (d. 1936) is born in India

1869 - Author/political scientist Stephen Leacock (d. 1944) is born in England

1896 - Ernie McLea scores the first "hat trick" in a Stanley Cup game

1903 - 605 people lose their lives when fire breaks out at Chicago's Iroquois theatre

1920 - Actor Jack Lord (d. 1998) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1928 - American guitarist Bo Diddley (d. 2008) is born in McComb, Mississippi

1931 - Singer Skeeter Davis (d. 2004) is born in Dry Ridge, Kentucky

1934 - Singer Del Shannon (d. 1990) is born in Grand Rapids, Michigan

1936 - The United Auto Workers union stages its first sitdown strike

1945 - Actor/singer/Monkee Davy Jones (d. 2012) is born in England

1948 - "Kiss Me, Kate" opens at the New Century Theatre and subsequently becomes the first Broadway musical to win the Best Musical Tony Award

1977 - Serial killer Ted Bundy escapes from his Colorado jail cell for a second time

1981 - Hockey player Wayne Gretzky breaks a record previously held by Mike Bossy and Maurice Richard by scoring fifty goals in just thirty-nine games

1996 - Services are shut down all over Israel when a quarter of a million people go on strike to protest budget cuts proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu

1999 - Sarah Knauss (b. 1880) - who is considered to have been the second oldest fully documented person ever to have lived, dies in Allentown, Pennsylvania at age 119

2005 - In what was already a record breaking year for hurricanes, Tropical Storm Zeta forms in the open Atlantic Ocean, tying the record for latest tropical cyclone to form around North America

2006 - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is executed

2009 - Nine people are killed after a suicide bomber attacks Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan

Now, let us wish the following famous faces a happy birthday - Joseph Bologna, Russ Tamblyn, Sandy Koufax, Jack Riley, James Burrows, Betty Aberlin, Michael Nesmith, Fred Ward, Concetta Tomei, Patti Smith, Jeff Lynne, Meredith Vieira, Suzy Bogguss, Patricia Kalember, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Matt Lauer, Glenn Robbins, Sean Hannity, Ben Johnson, Chandler Burr, Jay Kay, Jason Behr, Tiger Woods, Laila Ali, Tyrese Gibson, Eliza Dushku, Kristin Kreuk, Josh Sussman, Ellie Goulding, and Kirsty-Leigh Porter.

And, as mentioned before, today's Tuesday Timeline subject also is celebrating a birthday.

And she was born on December 30, 1959.

But, who is it?  Hmmm?  Well, I can tell you this much.  If it weren't for this woman, we probably would not have discovered a slew of comedic talent.  If not for her, we may not have been introduced to a pop singer/choreographer/American Idol judge/jewelry maker.  And, I guarantee you that had it not been for her, we would never have been introduced to one of the most famous sitcom families to ever grace the small screen!

Maybe this song will provide a clue?

ARTIST:  Tracey Ullman
SONG:  They Don't Know
ALBUM:  You Broke My Heart in 17 Places
RELEASE DATE:  September 9, 1983

Ah,'s all coming back to me!  We're talking about Tracey Ullman!  The Tracey Ullman who was born fifty-five years ago today in England!  That Tracey Ullman!

(Or, should I say Trace Ullman?  After all, that is the name she was born with!) 

And Tracey's venture into showbiz started off with a tragic event - the death of her father when Tracey was just six.  Her mother sank into a bit of a depression after her husband's death, so Tracey and her sister would try to cheer her up by performing an impromptu variety show on their mother's bedroom windowsill.  Tracey would also try to mimic celebrity voices as well, which often helped her fit in with her classmates, as she herself admitted to having a posh accent.  She also won a full scholarship to the Italia Conti Academy - a school for performing arts.  But interestingly enough, when Tracey was in her teens, she was told by a clairvoyant that she would one day become a huge star, and that she would eventually grow to be well loved by both British and American audiences.  Little did Tracey know just how true a prophecy that would be.

Of course, Tracey took on everything that came her way.  She thought she would go into professional dancing and joined a dance troupe in London, but that dream ended when she forgot to wear panties during a performance.  Yeah, I need go no further on that one.  She also took a turn at performing in musicals, with Ullman taking on roles in "Grease" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

But at some point, Tracey decided that she had become disenchanted with the entertainment industry, and resigned herself to working full-time at a paper products distribution company.  Unfortunately, it did not satisfy Tracey, and she ultimately entered a contest at London's Royal Court Theatre entitled "Four in a Million" - which was an improvised play about club acts.  So, basically, the contest was coming up with the best act, so to speak.  Well, Ullman's decision to pose as a born-again Christian singer named Beverly wowed the crowd, and ensured that she would be given a sitcom deal with the BBC.

That sitcom - "Three of a Kind" - ran from 1981-1983, and was the show that got Ullman noticed as an actress.  And it was right around that time that Tracey Ullman started her singing career as well, releasing two albums in 1983 and 1984 respectively.  Although the singing career didn't last, her acting career was just getting good.  And after starring in a couple of other projects in the mid-1980s, she decided to set her sights on America.  And it is here that we get to play the six degrees of separation game.

For you see, Tracey's move to America didn't just help herself helped establish several careers of other famous faces - both real and fictional.

See, Tracey had the idea to do a sketch comedy show on the newly created FOX network, and she teamed up with James L. Brooks to bring "The Tracey Ullman Show" to life.  The series did quite well, running from April 1987 until May 1990. 

Now, in order to have a successful sketch comedy show, you are probably going to have to have at least one (or all) of your cast members doing some sort of dancing.  And to make the dance moves flow as smoothly as possible, you are going to want to have a good choreographer.

Enter Paula Abdul!  Yes, before she made the world notice her for her pop music following the release of her 1988 album "Forever Your Girl", she was the official choreographer of "The Tracey Ullman Show".  So, I suppose you could say that Tracey was one of the people who helped Paula Abdul get noticed.  Good show!

And, of course, you couldn't have a good sketch comedy show without other actors.  And over the course of the four season run, there were five actors who contributed to the show, which included Anna Levine, Sam McMurray, and Joseph Malone.

But there were two other cast members who seemed to stand out more than the others.  One was Julie Kavner, whose previous experience on television was playing Brenda Morgenstern - sister of Rhoda - on the television series "Rhoda".  The other was a relative newcomer named Dan Castellaneta, who had been a member of Second City, and who was hired on the spot after Ullman caught his stand-up comedy act in Chicago.

Now those two names may not mean anything to you initially.  But what if I showed you this clip?

Yeah, you see, "The Tracey Ullman Show" was the first place in which Matt Groening's "The Simpsons" made their debut.  They would often appear in the commercial bumpers (just before or just after a commercial break).  Of course, you know that Kavner plays Marge and Castellaneta plays Homer.  Well, the Simpsons sketches grew so popular that they were given their own spin-off show in December 1989 - which is still running as of December 2014!

So, there you have it.  Without Tracey Ullman, there would be no Simpsons.  Or, there would have still been the Simpsons...they just may not have gotten so popular without that initial exposure.

And, just to show just how successful of a comedienne that Tracey Ullman was?  On her sketch show alone, she is estimated to have played 108 different characters in just four years!  How's THAT for talent?

And, when "The Tracey Ullman Show" was taken off the air in 1990, was that the end for her?  Heck no!

In 1996, for example, Tracey started a show on HBO entitled "Tracey Takes On...", which featured Tracey taking on a different subject for each episode.  Because the show aired on HBO, it allowed Tracey more creative freedom, and allowed her to get away with things that FOX never would have allowed.  And that show too lasted four seasons.  She also hosted a fashion talk show on Oxygen, created another show "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union" in 2008 for Showtime, and most recently played Robin's mother on the television series "How I Met Your Mother".

That's not counting the dozens of stand-up comedy specials that aired in both the USA and the UK over the last thirty years.

In the end, it all paid off for her.  Believe it or not, her talent and wit has earned her seven Emmy Awards, and in 2009, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BAFTA Awards Ceremony.  Now that is making a mark on the world.

And the funny thing is that just judging by her interviews on talk shows, as well as seeing her on television, she continues to be quite humble about everything, and she seems like the kind of gal you could talk to for hours about anything. 

Happy birthday, Tracey Ullman!  Good show! 

No comments:

Post a Comment