Christmas Countdown: Just In Time For Christmas
• 1877 ~ Thomas Alva Edison made the first sound recording ever by reciting and recording the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a Little Lamb”. Edison recorded sound on a cylinder, which was then rotated against a needle. The needle moved up and down in the grooves of the cylinder, producing vibrations that were amplified by a conical horn. Edison assumed that this would be useful only for office dictation purposes and not much for recording music.
• 1887 ~ Joseph Lamb, American ragtime composer
• 1896 ~ Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershvin), American librettist and lyricist
1920 ~ Dave Brubeck, American jazz pianist and composer
More information about Brubeck
• 1929 ~ Nikolaus Harnoncourt, German conductor, cellist and musicologist
• 1930 ~ Bobby Van (Bobby King Robert Stein), Actor, dancer
• 1939 ~ Steve Alaimo, Singer, actor
• 1941 ~ Helen Cornelius, Singer
• 1942 ~ Len Barry (Borrisoff), Singer, with The Dovells
• 1944 ~ Jonathan (Kenneth) King, Singer, songwriter, producer
• 1944 ~ Red Bank Boogie, Count Basie’s salute to his hometown, was recorded on Columbia Records. The tune is a tribute to Red Bank, New Jersey.
• 1948 ~ Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts debuted on CBS-TV. The show ran for almost10 years and the redhead introduced such talent as Pat Boone, The Chordettes, Carmel Quinn, The McGuire Sisters, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Connie Francis, Steve Lawrence and Al Martino.
• 1950 ~ Joe Hisaishi, Japanese composer
• 1956 ~ Peter Buck, Guitarist with R.E.M.
• 1956 ~ Rick (Paul) Buckler, Drummer, singer with The Jam
• 1960 ~ Eileen Farrell debuted at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC in the title role of Gluck’s Alcestis.
• 1962 ~ Ben Watt, Guitarist, keyboard, singer with Everything but the Girl
• 1969 ~ Musician Cab Calloway turned actor as he was seen in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of The Littlest Angel on NBC. The big band singer, known for such classics as Minnie the Moocher, became a movie star in The Blues Brothers (1980) with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd.
• 1969 ~ Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, by Steam, reached the #1 spot on the top 40. It stayed at the top for two weeks and was the only major hit for the group.
• 1984 ~ Two former Beatles debuted in two film releases this day. Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street and George Harrison’s A Private Function were finalized for theater audiences.
• 1988 ~ Roy Orbison, Singer, passed away
• 1989 ~ Sammy Fain passed away
More information about Fain
• 2000 ~ Werner Klemperer, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who went on to play the inept German prison-camp commandant Col. Klink on TV’s “Hogan’s Heroes,” died of cancer at the age of 80. Klemperer fled Germany in 1935 with his father, Otto, a distinguished conductor and composer. He won two Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the monocled Col. Wilhelm Klink on the 1960s sitcom about World War II Allied prisoners of war. He was a gifted actor on both film and stage, receiving a Tony nomination in 1988 as a feature actor in a musical for his role in Hal Prince’s revival of “Cabaret.” Other Broadway roles included starring opposite Jose Ferrer in “The Insect Comedy,” and with Tallulah Bankhead in the 1955 production of “Dear Charles.” Most recently, he co-starred in Circle in the Square’s production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” Klemperer also appeared as a narrator with nearly every major symphony orchestra in the United States. His repertoire included such works as Beethoven’s “Egmont” and “Fidelio,” Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” and “Oedipus Rex.” His narration of Mozart’s “The Impresario,” with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, aired on PBS’s “Live from Lincoln Center.” He also performed in various operas, including “The Sound of Music,” with the New York City Opera. He played Prince Orlofsky in “Die Fledermaus” with companies in Seattle and Cleveland.
• 2003 ~ Hans Hotter, the world’s leading Wagnerian bass-baritone of his time, died at the age of 94. The 6-foot-4 Hotter, whose career spanned half a century, was known for his booming, noble voice. He mastered such roles as Wotan in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Gurnemanz in “Parsifal”, the title role in “The Flying Dutchman” and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger. He also won praise for Schubert lieder. Hotter started his operatic career in 1930, and sang in Prague and Hamburg and at the Munich Opera, where he became a leading singer in 1937. He remained with the company until 1972. He also was a member of the Vienna Opera from 1939 until 1970. Hotter created the role of Olivier in the world premiere of Richard Strauss “Capriccio” in 1942. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the role of Jupiter in Strauss’s “Die Liebe der Danae” had been written for him but its premiere was disrupted when all theaters were closed after the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in August 1944. After the war, Hotter began a 12-year association with the Wagner family’s opera house at the Bayreuth festival in 1952. The same year, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut as the Dutchman. He also became a producer. His final production was in 1981 in Chicago of Beethoven’s “Fidelio”.