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Tuesday, November 03, 2015

November 3, 1990

Welcome to the first Tuesday Timeline (and first post) of November!  We're into the final stretch of 2015, and I hope that you're in for the ride because I've got some fun stuff planned for the last part of the year!

But before we get started on all that, I want to take the time to wish my mother a very happy birthday today!  I won't reveal the age here, but let's just say that it is a milestone of a birthday!  That's all I'm going to say though.

So, what subject have I chosen for today's Tuesday Timeline entry?  Well, I can tell you that while the following events for November 3 are interesting, none of them are the main topic.  These are merely for fun.

1493 - Christopher Columbus sights the island of Domenica in the Caribbean Sea

1534 - English parliament passes the Act of Supremacy

1793 - French playwright/feminist Olympe de Gouges is guillotined

1817 - Canada's oldest chartered bank, The Bank of Montreal, opens in Montreal, Quebec

1883 - "Black Bart the poet" gets away with his final stagecoach robbery during the American Old West

1911 - Chevrolet introduces its first automobile

1918 - Austria-Hungary enters into armistice with the Allied Forces

1943 - Wilhelmshaven Harbor in Germany is devastated by an attack by five hundred aircraft of the United States 8th Air Force during World War II

1954 - The first Godzilla movie is released

1957 - The first animal - a dog named Laika - goes into outer space, aboard Sputnik 2

1964 - Washington D.C. residents are finally able to vote in a presidential election

1979 - The Greensboro Massacre takes place in North Carolina, which sees five members of the Communist Workers Party shot dead by members of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis

1986 - Lebanese magazine "Ash-Shiraa" reports that the United States has been secretly selling weapons to Iran to secure the release of seven hostages taken prisoner in Lebanon

1991 - Singer Chris Bender is shot and killed in Brockton, Massachusetts - he was only 19 years old

2002 - Actor Jonathan Harris passes away at age 87

2013 - Africa, Europe, and parts of the United States bear witness to a solar eclipse

2014 - One World Trade Center opens to the public - thirteen years after the original World Trade Center was destroyed

And here are the people who like my mom are turning one year older today; Peggy McCay, Mable John, Lois Smith, Ken Berry, Roy Emerson, Tom Savini, Lulu, Larry Holmes, Anna Wintour, Roseanne Barr, Jim Cummings, Kate Capshaw, Dennis Miller, Adam Ant, Phil Simms, Kevin Murphy, Dolph Lundgren, Mike O'Neill, Robert Miles, Sticky Fingaz, Jane Monheit, Sean Ringgold, Julie Marie Berman, LaMarr Woodley, Beth Kingston, Gemma Ward, Angus McLaren, and Kendall Jenner.

So, for today's topic, I've chosen a date that could be considered a sad day, given that this date was the last day that a talented actress passed away...but at the same time, I have a good story to tell you that is related to a production that made this actress a star.

First though, let's set the clock back twenty-five years to November 3, 1990.  And, I think it was right around this time that this memory occurred.

I remember this date quite well.  After all, it was my mom's birthday.  But I was also nine years old and if I remember correctly, our NBC affiliate was broadcasting a television special right around this time of year.  Upon retrospect, I suppose the network could have aired this as a tribute to the actress who passed away, but it could also have been an anniversary tribute for the special itself.  The original did air on December 8, 1960.

(Okay, I just looked it up, and I was close.  The rebroadcast of this special was on March 31, 1991 - about three months afterwards.  I was close though!)

Anyway, the special that was broadcast was a re-telling of the 1954 Broadway musical based on the story of "Peter Pan".  And I'm sure that many probably remember the Disney film of the same name, or have read several interpretations of the story.  But the main gist of it all is that a young boy gifted with the power of flight and the inability to grow old takes Wendy, John, and Michael Darling to Neverland where they face adventures and take on the evil Captain Hook.

What made the NBC special from 1960 special was that the whole show was done in live-action.  Which meant that you had to have some incredible talent to make the production run smoothly.

And certainly the actress who played Peter Pan - Mary Martin - did just that.  I still remember watching her on television being Peter Pan, and I tell you, she was so good in the role that at times I completely forgot that she was played by a female performer!  I was actually quite sad to learn from my parents that she had passed on not long after I watched the encore performance of the Peter Pan show during the spring of 1991.

So, who was Mary Martin?  Well, let me share a few things about her with you.  She was born on December 1, 1913 in Weatherford, Texas, and she had a very happy childhood being very close to her parents and siblings.  And she developed a love for singing from a very early age - after all, some of her first experiences with singing involved performing outside of a courtroom where her father worked as well as singing outside of a fire hall.  But singing always came natural for her.  She had a photographic memory which allowed her to memorize lyrics with hardly any trouble, and she had the gift of being able to mimic celebrity voices as well through their singing styles.

It almost seemed destined that she would be a star from the very beginning!

She married fairly young, and gave birth to her first child when she was just seventeen years old - a boy that was given the name of Larry Hagman. 

Larry Hagman...where have I heard that name before?

Anyway, back to Mary Martin.  Even though Mary had gotten married and had a child, she wasn't happy in the marriage at all.  It was suggested to her by her older sister that she try to teach people how to dance so that she could have a creative outlet to vent her frustrations, and it lead to her opening up her own dance studio which was successful - until her studio became the victim of an arsonist whose motive was that he felt that dancing was a sin.

But it was this fire that sparked something in Mary.  And it caused her to reevaluate everything about her life and how she wanted more out of it.  And in 1936, with her divorce from her first husband finalized, she relocated to Hollywood and tried out for everything and anything she could get.  She tried out for so many projects that she was given a nickname - "Audition Mary".  And let's just say that for the first few years of her time in Hollywood, she really struggled to get noticed.

That is, until 1938 - when she was cast in Cole Porter's "Leave It To Me".  That was the year that she made her Broadway debut, and she did it by singing the song "My Heart Belongs To Daddy".  It was a song that could have been considered autobiographical, as Mary had a very special relationship with her own father.  She reportedly sang it to him at the hospital while he was comatose just before he passed away.

She would eventually appear in several other Broadway musicals, such as "South Pacific" (where she played Nellie Forbush), "Annie Get Your Gun", "The Sound of Music", and "I Do, I Do".  But she never played any of the characters on film.  Although Mary Martin did do a few films during her Hollywood career, she actually preferred to be on stage, saying that she felt closer to her audience in a theatre setting, rather than on a Hollywood soundstage.

And this brings us to "Peter Pan", the role that most associate with her.  She first started playing the role in 1954, and as mentioned above, she reprised the role in 1960 where it was rebroadcast in 1989 and 1991.  And, if you click HERE, you can have a chance to watch that performance.  Just enjoy it while you can.  You never know how long videos stay up online!

Throughout her whole career though, Mary Martin earned several accolades and awards.  She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1973, and received the Kennedy Center Honours in 1989.  She is also one of the rare people to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - one for recording, and one for radio.  And that's not even counting the number of Tony Awards that she won throughout her entire career - a total of four in all.

Oh, and that television performance of "Peter Pan"?  She won an Emmy for that.

In her later years though, Mary still acted - one of her last roles was in a 1986 performance of "Legends", where she acted alongside Broadway legend Carol Channing - but her career significantly slowed down following a car accident in 1982 which saw Mary sustaining a punctured lung, a fractured pelvis, and two fractured ribs.

And just a year after receiving the Kennedy Center Honours, on November 3, 1990, Mary Martin passed away at the age of 77 from colorectal cancer.  And with that, a Broadway legend faded into the sky forever.

But you know...her work will forever be immortalized in so many people.  After all, her son carried on the acting tradition in the family and played an astronaut attracted to a genie and the most heartless oil tycoon in Texas, amongst other roles.

Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us, Mary Martin.

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