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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

June 9, 1981

This Tuesday Timeline entry is brought to you by the letter T, and by the number 9.

Wait.  Note to self.  Don't watch old Sesame Street videos while typing out this blog.

But I can tell you that like last week's entry, today's Tuesday Timeline spot will be game show themed.  That's all that I'll say for now at the moment.

In the meantime, we have some other business to take care of.  Like, why don't we have a look at some of the historical events that took place in the world on this date years ago.  Beginning with...

53 - Roman Emperor Nero marries Claudia Octavia

68 - Roman Emperor Nero commits suicide (unsure if the marriage had anything to do with it)

1534 - Jacques Cartier becomes the first European explorer to discover the St. Lawrence River

1772 - The British schooner Gaspee is burned off the shores of Rhode Island

1873 - After being only open for sixteen days, London's Alexandra Palace burns to the ground

1900 - Birsa Munda - an important figure in the Indian Independence Movement - dies under unusual circumstances in a British prison

1930 - Jake Lingle, a reporter from the Chicago Tribune, is killed by Leo Vincent Brothers over an alleged $100,000 debt owed to Al Capone

1934 - Donald Duck makes his official debut in "The Wise Little Hen"

1944 - In one of the darkest moments of World War II, ninety-nine civilians are hanged from lampposts and balconies by German forces in Tulle, France in response to maquisards attacks

1957 - Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Hermann Buhl, and Kurt Diemberger become the first climbers to ascend Broad Peak

1968 - Lyndon B. Johnson declares a national day of mourning following the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy

1972 - 238 people lose their lives after heavy rains cause a dam in the Black Hills of South Dakota to breach

1973 - Secretariat wins the United States Triple Crown

1978 - The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints opens its priesthood to "all worthy men", which eliminates the colour lines that were drawn 148 years prior

1979 - Seven people lose their lives when a fire erupts on the Ghost Train Ride in Australia's Luna Park amusement park

1999 - The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and NATO sign a peace treaty, which would lead to the conclusion of the Kosovo War two days later

2007 - "The Real World: San Diego" cast member Frankie Abernathy dies of cystic fibrosis at the age of 25

2014 - British comedian and actor Rik Mayall dies at the age of 56

And we also have to wish the following people a very happy birthday; Tony Britton, Joe Santos, Jackie Mason, Dick Vitale, Charles Webb, David Troughton, Paul Chapman, Gregory Maguire, Elizabeth May, George Perez, Patricia Cornwell, Steve Paiken, Michael J. Fox, Aaron Sorkin, Johnny Depp, David Koepp, Gloria Reuben, Nick Kiriakis, Iain Lee, Michaela Conlin, Shandi Finnessey, Hayden Schlossberg, Brian Patrick Wade, Natalie Portman, Thomas Aldridge, Adamo Ruggiero, Mae Whitman, Andrew Walker, and Danielle Chuchran.

So, what date are we going to go back in time to this week?

Well, we're going back in time thirty-four years ago to June 9, 1981.  And, I wish I could tell you that I remember it...but I was only three weeks old at the time.

But what I can tell you is that this date unfortunately signals the end of one man's life.  A man who practically dedicated most of his life to hosting a plethora of game shows between 1959 and 1980.

But who could it be?

Well, we can eliminate Bob Barker.  He's still alive.  We can also eliminate Bill Cullen.  He died in 1990.  Nor is it "Match Game" host Gene Rayburn.  He died in 1999.

Hmmm...maybe I need some help here.  Maybe what I need is a password.  Something like "Allen" or "Ludden" or "Betty White" or something like that.

Hmmm...Allen Ludden.  That name sounds really familiar.

Oh, yes, of course.  That's why.  He's the subject of today's Tuesday Timeline entry.  And sadly, Allen Ludden passed away on this date thirty-four years ago at the relatively young age of 63.

But in those sixty-three years, he definitely managed to do a lot with his life.

He was born in Mineral Point, Wisconsin on October 5, 1917 with the birth name of Allen Packard Ellsworth.  His father died when Allen was just a year old from the Spanish flu (an epidemic took place in the United States of the illness during the winter of 1918-1919), and his mother remarried a man named Homer Ludden Jr.  This explains how Allen ended up with the surname of Ludden.  Though, he did keep his birth name of Ellsworth as a middle name to honour his late father.

Ludden's family would eventually settle in Texas, and after graduating high school, Ludden majored in English and Dramatic Arts at the University of Texas and graduated with a Master of Arts in English in 1941.  Shortly after that, Ludden enlisted in the United States Army where he received a Bronze Star for his service.  He was discharged with the rank of Captain in 1946.

But it wouldn't be until the year 1959 that his broadcasting career would take off, and over the next twenty-one years he would serve as host of several game shows from "To Tell The Truth" and "The Joker's Wild" to "Liar's Club" and "Stumpers!".  He even served as a special guest panelist in such shows as "What's My Line?" and "Match Game".

However, if one could name one game show that would be easily considered Allen Ludden's signature show, it would be this one.

Yes, "Password".  The game that Allen hosted off and on between 1961 and 1975, and again from 1979-1980. 

Now, "Password" is a game that is easy to play.  There are teams of two - one celebrity guest and one contestant.  One of them is given a clue by the host, and the person who has the clue must get the other person to guess what the word is without actually saying the word.  If the person guesses the word correctly, they earn a point.

Now, there were lots of celebrity guests who played the game of "Password" to help the contestants win lots of cash and prizes, but one you probably saw a lot of back in those days was "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" star and future Golden Girl Betty White.

There's a reason for that.  Betty White was Ludden's second wife, having married him in June 1963 (Ludden's first wife passed away in 1961, shortly before their 18th wedding anniversary).

Interestingly enough, Ludden himself would pass away just a few days before he celebrated his 18th wedding anniversary with White. 

But even though Allen Ludden has been gone for thirty-four years now, his legacy isn't forgotten.  Aside from the fact that "Password" reruns can occasionally be found on the Game Show Network, he has a walkway named after him at the Los Angeles Zoo, an artificial lake named after him in his hometown of Mineral Point, Wisconsin, and several artifacts from Ludden's own collection was donated to the Free Public Library in Mineral Point, courtesy of his widow, Betty White.

As for Betty herself, she was quoted as saying about her late husband after he died "once you've had the best, who needs the rest?"

And true to Betty White's word, she hasn't remarried since.

1 comment:

  1. 68 AD: "After Nero forgets their anniversary for the 15th year in a row, his wife finally snaps. History records it as a suicide."