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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

October 8, 1949

Are you ready for another look back through time with today's edition of the Tuesday Timeline?

I am definitely trying to make the month of October a spooky one, so I've done some extra research when it comes to choosing appropriate topics for the Tuesday Timeline.  Sometimes, it was darn near impossible to find a scary topic (see last week's Tuesday Timeline).  But this week's edition is certainly tied to a lot of Halloween traditions.  After all, the subject of our blog for today happens to be connected with some of the most frightening movies ever made. the very least, is connected to several movies that have inspired some of the most elaborate and popular Halloween costumes over the last three and a half decades.

Of course, before we continue with the Tuesday Timeline, there's a lot of other things that we have to talk about first.  After all, October 8 was a busy day throughout history with a lot of significant events and a lot of famous people being born.

What do you want to talk about first?  Historical events?  Why not?

1645 - Jeanne Mance opened the first lay hospital in North America - The Hotel-Dieu de Montreal

1806 - Forces of the British Empire lay siege to the port of Boulogne in France using Congreve rockets during the Napoleonic Wars

1871 - Four major fires break out along the shores of Lake Michigan, causing significant damage to Chicago, Illinois, Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Holland, Michigan, and Manistee, Michigan

1904 - Two Canadian communities - Edmonton, Alberta and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan - are incorporated as cities

1918 - American Corporal Alvin C. York kills twenty-eight German soldiers and captures another 132 in France's Argonne Forest

1921 - KDKA in Pittsburgh's Forbes Field conducts the first live broadcast of a football game

1932 - The Indian Air Force is established

1939 - Germany annexes West Poland during World War II

1944 - The Battle of Crucifix Hill takes place

1948 - Johnny Ramone of the Ramones (d. 2004) is born in Long Island, New York

1956 - Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched the only perfect game in a World Series and only one of twenty-one perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball

1967 - Che Guevara and his men are captured in Bolivia

1973 - Over 150 Israeli tanks are destroyed in an attack orchestrated by Gabi Amir during the Yom Kippur War

1974 - Franklin National Bank collapses, and at the time is the largest bank failure in American history

1978 - Ken Warby of Australia sets the current world water speed record at nearly 318 miles per hour

1982 - The musical "Cats" opens on Broadway and enjoys an eighteen year run

2001 - George W. Bush announces the establishment of The Office of Homeland Security

2005 - An earthquake measuring 7.6 strikes in parts of India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, killing thousands of people

So, again, as with most days that we feature in the Tuesday Timeline, there is a mixture of good and bad.  And, just as with every Tuesday Timeline, the number of famous people celebrating a birthday range from actors and directors to singers to politicians, to athletes, to fashion models.  Not suggesting that all of these people have an October 8 birthday, but for the following people listed here, they are going to be one year older today!  So, a happy birthday to Bill Maynard, Rona Barrett, Walter Gretzky, Paul Hogan, Jesse Jackson, Chevy Chase, R.L. Stine, Stephen Shore, Sarah Purcell, Robert Bell (Kool & The Gang), Michael Dudikoff, Bill Elliott, Darrell Hammond, Stephanie Zimbalist, Nick Bakay, Simon Burke, CeCe Winans, Matt Biondi, Peter Greene, Karyn Parsons, Emily Procter, Jeremy Davies, Dylan Neal, Matt Damon, Kristanna Loken, Nick Cannon, Bruno Mars, Angus T. Jones, and Bella Thorne.

I told you that there were a lot of people celebrating a birthday today!  And, that's not even the full list.

I've saved the best for last.  Because today's blog subject happens to be celebrating a birthday today too.  I believe it's number sixty-four in the series.

Which makes her birthday fall on October 8, 1949.

What some may find amazing is that even though her theme song for today may very well be Paul McCartney warbling "When I'm 64", she does not even look it.  For a sixty-four year old woman, she has aged extremely well.  It's only when I watch her performing in the dozens of movies that I've seen her in that I realize that yes, she really is sixty-four.

I mean, this actress has done it all in every single one of her films.  She's tangled with a working girl.  She's been haunted by ghosts.  She's been confronted by aliens.  She's even played with gorillas!

But then again, nobody can ever accuse actress Sigourney Weaver of being absolutely boring.  On the contrary, she's one of the most talented actresses that has emerged from Hollywood over the course of the last forty years.  I've wanted to do a blog on her for quite some time, and what better way to do that than by using the Tuesday Timeline to wish her a happy birthday!

Now, some of you probably already knew this about her, but as catchy and elegant a name as Sigourney Weaver is, it wasn't exactly the name that she was given at birth.  In fact, it may disappoint you to know that her real first name is Susan.  Susan Alexandra Weaver, to be exact.

Though, most of us know her by her stage name of Sigourney, adopted by Sigourney herself when she was in her teens.  The origin of the name?  A character that appeared in F. Scott Fitzgerald's book, "The Great Gatsby".

Sigourney Weaver was born in Manhattan, New York, the daughter of British actress Elizabeth Ingles and television pioneer Sylvester "Pat" Weaver.

And, here's something that you might not have known about Ms. Weaver.  By the time Sigourney was in the ninth grade, she was already at a height of five feet, ten inches tall!  She would eventually stop growing just before she reached six feet tall!  It's a wonder she didn't go into modelling when she was younger.  Of course, as we all well know, she found more success in acting anyway.  All the better anyway.

Sigourney Weaver graduated from high school in 1967, and over the next seven years attended college at some very impressive colleges, including Sarah Lawrence College, Stanford University, and Yale University.  And when Weaver was just eighteen, she visited Israel and volunteered at a kibbutz for several months!

Wow...Sigourney certainly had some huge life experiences, didn't she?

So, how did Sigourney get her big break in show business?  Well, depending on the source you hear it from, you might be mistaken.  Many people believe that Sigourney's first film was in 1977's "Annie Hall", where she acted in a small part opposite Woody Allen.  And yes, certainly it was the film that helped get her noticed by casting directors in future projects.  But the real story is that Weaver's first role was reportedly in 1974's "Serpico" where she had a tiny role as a party guest.  I haven't seen that film myself to verify this however.

Of course, we all know that Sigourney played a slew of roles throughout her near forty years in the movie business.  Here are just five of the most memorable characters that she has ever played.


I would say that of all the parts that Sigourney Weaver ever played in her lifetime, the part that almost everyone remembers her for is in the role of Ellen Ripley in the four-part installment of the “Alien” series. Of course, those four films are Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997). In all four movies, Ripley has to find a way to survive hostile alien attacks. The “Alien” film was Sigourney Weaver's first lead role in a motion picture, and what a film role it was! She broke down gender barriers forever by showing women everywhere that they too could be action heroes who could kick butt. And, certainly, Weaver's performances in all four films certainly improved her star power. She won a Saturn Award for her performance in 1986's “Aliens”, and received a slew of nominations for her work in all four films. And, of course, who could forget the infamous chestbusting scene? 

Not that the alien exploded out of Weaver's chest, but it's still quite cool – though not really recommended for small kids.


How many of you have seen the two Ghostbusters films (the 1984 original and the 1989 sequel)? I have. In fact, “Ghostbusters” was one of the very first films I remember seeing on television. Though, it took me a couple of years to watch the whole thing, as I fell asleep midway through.

(In my defense, I was only four or five at the time, and the movie aired at eleven o'clock at night.)

Anyway, Dana Barrett was Peter Venkman's on-again, off-again relationship for the two part movie series. In the first movie, Dana is a musician living in an apartment building which unbeknownst to her happens to be the gateway to a Sumerian god. She is freaked out by the hauntings within her apartment and calls the Ghostbusters to help her get rid of them. Of course, when one of the ghosts happens to be a gigantic skyscraper sized marshmallow man, the battle definitely proves difficult. In the second film, Dana is a single mother working at a museum, helping with the restoration of portraits. But when a spirit possesses one of the paintings and seems to have a keen interest in Dana's young son, Oscar, the Ghostbusters and Dana cross paths again in hopes of saving Dana's child from doom.

I just included this role in because it was my first introduction to Sigourney Weaver. And, she did a great job.


This role was probably one of the toughest roles that Weaver had to play because it was based on a real-life person. I don't know how many of you remember Dian Fossey, but she was a zoologist who studied the behaviours and psyches of Rwandan gorillas for almost two decades. While she was in Rwanda, she took a huge stand when it came to protecting the natural habitat, being personally responsible for the arrest of several poachers. She also was against taking gorillas out of their natural habitat to be placed in zoos as exhibits, and tried to lobby against the export of two infant gorillas to a zoo in Germany. And she also created the Digit Fund (known in the United States as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International) to raise money for anti-poaching patrols, following the 1977 death of Digit, one of Fossey's favourite gorillas.

Sadly, Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985, and nearly thirty years after her death, the case still remains unsolved.

The 1988 film “Gorillas In The Mist” detailed Dian Fossey's entire journey, with Weaver playing the lead role. And certainly it was one of Weaver's most critically acclaimed roles, with her earning an Golden Globe Award and a nomination for an Academy Award. But would you believe that another film released that same year would also earn Weaver another Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nomination?


That role was of the tough-as-nails Katharine Parker in the 1988 film “Working Girl”. She plays a financial executive who takes on a new secretary (played by Melanie Griffith), but she is not nearly as nice and supportive as she initially appears at the beginning of the film. In fact, she plans on stealing an idea that her secretary came up with herself! Of course, as fate would have it, Katharine breaks her leg, setting the stage for her secretary to put the pieces together and show Katharine that she is not to be messed with! I wish I could find clips of Sigourney in this movie because her performance was absolutely fantastic. She really gave meaning to the phrase “the character you love to hate”. That takes a lot of talent.


2009's “Avatar” was a movie that was incredibly huge. As of 2013, it remains the highest-grossing film ever released in the world, earning a record breaking $2.7 BILLION dollars over the last four years. Ironically enough, the film dethroned another James Cameron directed film, “Titanic” as the biggest moneymaker in the history of motion pictures.

And, of course, Sigourney Weaver had a significant role in the film masterpiece as Dr. Grace Augustine, the head of the Avatar program and advocate of peaceful relations between the human population and the blue-skinned Na'vi. And, what is interesting about this particular performance is the fact that Weaver has reportedly signed on to star in the 2014 sequel to “Avatar”, but people who have seen the film might consider this an impossibility given her character's ultimate fate in the first movie.

But, it is the world of science-fiction. They could find ways to make it happen.

And, those are just FIVE of her movie roles. But, you could also argue that all five of those roles helped Weaver become one of the most respected actresses in film.

That's why I really wanted to do a blog entry on Sigourney Weaver. She is the very definition of Hollywood class, and what better way to honour her than by wishing her a happy birthday!

Happy 64th, Sigourney!

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