Milestones: Thursday, July 13, 2023
A CULTURAL ICON — The “HOLLYWOOD” SIGN marks its centennial, having been dedicated on: July 13, 1923. The white wooden sign, which sits on Mount Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains, was an advertisement of a real estate development named “Hollywoodlands.” However, name recognition and the fact that this section of Los Angeles had already become a mecca for the film industry were factors in leaving the sign in place. The sign deteriorated over time and a severe February 1978 windstorm knocked off one of the “O’s”. But when locals called for its demolition, a campaign was organized to save and restore the Hollywood sign.
Nine donors, many of them celebrities, each gave $27,778 (a total of $250,002) to restore one of the nine letters comprising the sign. Among them were Terrence Donnelly (publisher of the Hollywood Independent Newspaper); singer Alice Cooper, Kelley Blue Book founder Les Kelley, actor/singer Gene Autry, a co-founder of the Major League baseball team California Angels; Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, balladeer Andy Williams, Italian film producer Giovanni Mazza; Warner Brothers Records, and a graphics company owner, Dennis Lidtke.
MARATHON CHARITY CONCERT — The “LIVE AID CONCERTS” was a set of 16-hour concerts broadcast worldwide from both Wembley Stadium in London, England and Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 13, 1985. Rock Musician Bob Geldof conceptualized the concert as a fundraiser to relieve hunger on the African continent; opening the event was then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The concert, which raised $100 million, attracted about 1.5 billion viewers and featured Queen, Mick Jagger, David Bowe, Madonna, and Ozzy Osborne, all performing for free.
Queen Elizabeth II knighted Bob Geldof for his part in this benefit. He had been involved with previous charity work projects.
JFK NOMINATED FOR PRESIDENT — Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts was nominated for the presidency on July 13, 1960, during that year’s Democratic Party Convention held in Los Angeles. Although he defeated his colleague and opponent, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, Kennedy named his colleague as his running mate in a unanimous vote. Four months later, on Nov. 8, 1960, Kennedy won the Presidential election by a very narrow margin, with 49.7% of the popular vote, surpassing by only a fraction of the votes that his Republican opponent, Richard M. Nixon won. The electoral vote count was different, in this first Presidential election with Alaska and Hawaii as states: Kennedy received 303 votes to Nixon’s 219. However, Nixon carried four more states than Kennedy did. (Two states — Alabama and Mississippi — rejected these candidates, naming their own).
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson would become President three years later under tragic circumstances and took the oath of office aboard Air Force One after Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.
RALLYING CRY — The phrase “Black Lives Matter,” had its origins as a July 13, 2013 Facebook post that protested the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who killed Black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, after deeming the youth’s presence as “suspicious.” The Facebook poster was Oakland, California resident Alicia Garza, who was outraged at Zimmerman’s exoneration; her phrase went viral, and soon “Black Lives Matter” became a global rallying cry and movement. As the number of whites killing unarmed Black persons increased, disapproval of the movement changed to support.
NPR, in a 2021 story, reported that police had shot at least 135 unarmed Black men and women from 2015 until when the article was published, let alone civilians who have done the same.
A HEALTHY ANIMAL FAT — America marks NATIONAL BEEF TALLOW DAY annually on July 13, a day to celebrate what is again becoming vogue in some nutrition circles. Pure beef tallow, often used for shortening, is considered healthier than other fats because it is minimally processed. Before 1990, when certain fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Hardee’s switched to vegetable oil, they cooked their hamburgers and French fries in a combination of beef tallow — which has a high smoking point — and cottonseed oil.
A significant use of tallow is for the production of shortening. It is also one of the main ingredients of Native American pemmican, a combination of dried meat, rendered fat and even berries. Tallow has also been an ingredient in some beauty products, like moisturizers.
POPULAR BUT WITH UNKNOWN ORIGINS — NATIONAL FRENCH FRY DAY is celebrated annually on July 13. Whether it’s fried in meat tallow or in vegetable oil, this fast-food staple has been around in one style or another since the 17th century, when a Chilean soldier and author Francisco Núñez de Pineda mentioned eating “papas fritas.” France and Belgium have also fought over the claim that they originated these fries, which are cooked through twice, the second round to achieve the crispy golden exterior. White Castle (founded in 1921) was the first fast-food restaurant although there is no record of its serving fries until at least 1959.
French-language textbooks from the 1960s and ‘70s have had food units that mentioned “frites.” Even though a major compendium of historical facts traces the French fry as “proven to be very popular beginning in the 2000s.” French Fries have been a staple in France since the 19th century and in American fast-food restaurants since at least the 1950s.
CHEF AND HUMANITARIAN — José Andrés, born José Ramón Andrés Puerta in Spain on July 13, 1969, is a chef, restaurateur, humanitarian and TV personality. The James Beard Foundation named him Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2003, as well as Humanitarian of the Year in 2018. TIME Magazine has included Andrés, in its list of 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and 2018. He also received the National Humanities Medal in 2015 from President Barack Obama. His “World Central Cookbook,” an anthology of stories and recipes from chefs, local cooks and friends, based on the work of his non-profit to nourish communities affected by natural disasters and humanitarian crises, will be released in September 2023.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s Milestones editor had the opportunity in 2012 to attend a master class with Chef José Andrés at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan’s SoHo. The class focused on making gazpacho and ceviche, a cold-seafood dish that is “cooked” in a citrus and hot pepper marinade instead of on the stove.
CAPTAIN PICARD, AND MORE — British actor Patrick Stewart, born July 13, 1940, in Great Britain’s Yorkshire region, is known for his portrayal of Captain (and later Admiral) Jean-Luc Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series and a later eponymous program. According to “Star Trek” lore, Picard’s birthday is also July 13, but in the futuristic year 2305. He is also an accomplished Shakespearean actor, has played Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” and, being versatile, appeared in the X-Men films. He has won multiple awards.
Stewart at one point reportedly said he would apply for U.S. citizenship as a protest against Donald Trump. Local newspapers have also reported his move (at least purchase of a home) in Park Slope, although he travels regularly across the pond for various productions.
WAS A CLASS ASSIGNMENT — Ernő Rubik, born July 13, 1944, in a Budapest hospital air raid shelter during World War II, is a Hungarian inventor, architect, and professor of architecture who gained fame for the mechanical puzzle named the Rubik’s Cube (1974). He is the namesake of his father, who was a glider engineer, so he developed an early aptitude for mechanics. The original idea for the Rubik’s Cube, which came to him during his time as a professor of architecture at the Budapest College of Applied Arts (Iparművészeti Főiskola), was to give his students an engaging assignment. Realizing this puzzle could be marketed, he completed the first prototype and applied for a patent in 1975.
Rubik’s Cube became an instant success worldwide and won several Toy of the Year awards. As of now, over 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold, making it one of the bestselling educational toys.
See previous milestones, here.
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