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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 27, 1932

Are we ready to look at the final Tuesday Timeline for 2016?  It's been a wild year, let me tell you.  You'll see what I mean when I go over my annual retrospective of 2016 - a year that many of us wish never happened.

But for now, we're taking a break to go back in time even further than 2016!  Let's have a look at what happened throughout history on December the 27th.

1703 - The Methuen Treaty is signed by both England and Portugal

1814 - The American schooner USS Carolina is destroyed

1831 - Charles Darwin departs on a journey aboard the HMS Beagle - it would be on this journey that he would craft his "Theory of Evolution"

1836 - Eight people lose their lives when an avalanche occurs in Lewes, Sussex

1845 - Ether anesthetic is used for childbirth for the first time

1905 - Actor Cliff Arquette (d. 1974) is born in Toledo, Ohio

1918 - The Great Poland Uprising against Germany begins

1927 - "Show Boat" opens on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Theatre

1935 - In the United States, Regina Jonas is ordained as the first female rabbi

1939 - Over 39,000 lose their lives when a powerful earthquake occurs in eastern Turkey

1945 - The International Monetary Fund is established

1955 - CNN commentator Barbara Olsen (d. 2001) is born in Houston, Texas

1970 - Professional wrestler Joanie "Chyna" Laurer (d. 2016) is born in Rochester, New York

1972 - Former Prime Minister of Canada Lester B. Pearson dies at the age of 75

1975 - Actress Heather O'Rourke (d. 1988) is born in San Diego, California

1978 - After four decades of fascist dictatorship, the country of Spain becomes a democracy

1980 - John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" hits the #1 spot on the charts just three weeks after his death

1981 - Composer/singer Hoagy Carmichael dies at the age of 82

1985 - Palestinian gunmen kill eighteen people in two separate attacks in the airports of Rome, Italy and Vienna, Austria

2001 - China is granted permanent normal trade relations with the United States

2003 - Sir Alan Bates, CBE, passes away, aged 69

And for celebrity birthdays, the following famous faces are one year older today; John Amos, Mike Pinder, Nolan Richardson, Byron Browne, Cokie Roberts, Roy White, Mick Jones, Janet Street-Porter, Gerard Depardieu, Tovah Feldshuh, David Knopfler, Mandie Fletcher, Maryam d'Abo, Eva LaRue, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Slocum, Emilie De Ravin, and Hayley Williams.

Okay, so what date will we be having a look back at this week?

Oh...December 17, 1932.  That was decades before I was born!  My grandparents were all kids during this time!  That's how long ago it was.

And yet it was the date that one of New York City's most visited landmarks was opened to the public.

Perhaps you might have visited it during the Christmas holidays where the world famous Rockettes demonstrated just how limber they were during their annual Christmas show.  Or, perhaps you went there to watch your favourite artists perform a concert or two.  Maybe you were in that building during one of the times the Daytime Emmys were broadcast and you saw your favourite "Days of our Lives" actor win for Outstanding Supporting Actor.  Or if you're old enough to remember this, you may have even watched a couple of motion pictures at this very spot.

A post that is located in Rockefeller Center, New York.  The precise address being 1260 Avenue of the Americas.

It was on this date eighty-four years ago today that Radio City Music Hall opened its doors to the general public.  And in those eighty-four years, some of the finest entertainment has passed through those doors and have appeared on stage.  Having been declared a landmark by the city of New York in 1978, Radio City Music Hall is considered one of the most visited tourist destinations in all of New York.

When Radio City Music Hall was first developed, its original name was going to be the International Music Hall.  The name was changed to Radio City Music Hall because one of the building's first tenants was the Radio Corporation of America.  The building was a project orchestrated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., RCA chairman David Sarnoff, and Samuel Roxy Rothafel - who had opened up the successful Roxy Theatre two years prior and remained until its closure in the early 1960s.

Radio City Music Hall opened with huge fanfare on December 17, 1932, and the first performers were Doc Rockwell, Martha Graham, and Ray Bolger (whom you might remember played the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz").  And when the venue opened up, its original intent was to put the spotlight on high-class variety entertainment.

Unfortunately, that intent was not executed very well, and not many audiences were too receptive of it.  I wonder if the fact that at the time it opened that America was smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression had anything to do with it?  Whatever the case, something had to be done or else the music hall would close its doors just as fast as they had opened.

The decision was made to move the stage show to Roxy Theatre, and put the attention towards showing motion pictures instead.  The format was changed in early 1933, and it became a huge success over the next four decades.  The very first film screened at Radio City Music Hall was "The Bitter Tea of General Yen", and it soon became the premiere source for screening films from the RKO-Radio Studio.  This format would continue until the 1970s, when the venue found it difficult to secure exclusive bookings for film screenings due to changes in how films were distributed. 

In fact, it was right around that time that Radio City Music Hall was experiencing financial difficulties and it was announced in 1978 that it would close up for good.  You can imagine that announcement didn't sit well with a large number of New Yorkers, and shortly after that announcement was made, the protests started to grow.  John Belushi, Johnny Carson, Rosemary Novellino (who at that time was the dance captain of the venue's ballet company), Lt. Gov. Mary Anne Krupsak, Tom Snyder, and thousands of others lobbied the Rockefeller establishment to save Radio City Music Hall, dubbing it "The Showplace of the Nation". 

The protests lasted a couple of months, but the persistence paid off.  The building was declared a historical landmark, was renovated in 1979, and reopened to the public in 1980 where it has stayed ever since.

Of course, with some notable exceptions, Radio City Music Hall no longer shows motion pictures.  It's more or less a concert and performance hall these days.  And the venue has hosted several awards shows such as the MTV Video Music Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards, the Grammy Awards, and the Tony Awards.

And perhaps the defining feature of the hall would be the gigantic Wurlitzer pipe organ that has been around since the theatre opened.  Originally built as a way to incorporate music into the silent films that the theatre used to show, it has now become a part of the theatre's history - having undergone a complete restoration in 1999.

How's that for a history lesson to end off the year?

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