History Schmistory: October 31. Wait a minute, where’s Joe?

1961: In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin’s body is removed from Lenin’s Tomb. OR WAS IT?

History Schmistory: October 30. Syke!

1938: Orson Welles broadcasts an adaptation of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, performed as the Halloween episode of a radio drama series called Mercury Theatre on the Air. The first two thirds of the story is retold through a series of fake news bulletins, informing listeners that Martians have attacked the Earth and will probably kill all of us. This causes a majority of listeners to completely freak out. The hoax is basically what made Orson Welles a household name.

 

History Schmistory: October 29. Evil Opera

1787: Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni is performed for the first time in Prague, a show chock-full of murder and mayhem, masquerade parties, demon choruses, graveyards, ghostly statues, and ultimately a first class ticket to hell. Top it off with an appropriate moral; he who lives wickedly, dies wickedly, and you’ve got yourself a fulfilling Halloween experience, wouldn’t you say?

History Schmistory: October 28. “This one’s for all the ladies out there.”

1886: In New York Harbor, President Grover Cleveland dedicates the beautiful bronze Statue of Liberty. Always ahead of her time, Lady Liberty went green long before the rest of us.

History Schmistory: October 27. One Philly to go!

1682: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is founded. Eventually followed by the cheesesteak, which coincidentally is also the most popular Halloween costume.

History Schmistory: October 26. …it was OK.

1881: The famous gunfight at the OK Corral takes place in Tombstone, Arizona, lasting only 30 seconds. A shame Kevin Costner’s movie wasn’t that short.
(GO THERE!) The well-preserved town still stands as a major tourist attraction.
-And Val Kilmer still stands as Doc Holiday, in our book.

History Schmistory: October 25. Priceless.

1993: The master of macabre, classic horror film actor Vincent Price, well known for his creepy characters and distinctly chilling voice, dies of lung cancer. And Halloween just wasn’t the same without him.

History Schmistory: October 24. Steel Widow.

1901: With her only child dead and her only husband killed in the Civil War, aging schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor feared she was destined to end up in the poorhouse. But then she came up with a brilliant plan. First, she would pay professional coopers to construct a heavy duty, elongated and well-cushioned barrel. Then, on October 24th, her 63rd birthday, she would climb inside and ride it over the edge of Niagara Falls, a feat that would hopefully bring enough publicity and wealth to carry her comfortably into senectitude.
The stunt is a resounding success, and Annie becomes the first person ever to accomplish it, emerging from the certain-death-capsule with only a small gash on her head, though she made it clear she would rather “walk up to the mouth of a cannon” than ever try it again. Unfortunately, the story ends with Annie spending most of her earnings on private detectives in a futile search for the missing barrel, no doubt sold by her concurrently absent manager. Still, Annie Edson Taylor remains one of the most gutsy people in the history of daredevilry.

History Schmistory: October 23. Smurfin USA?

1958: The Smurfs, a fictional race of blue dwarves, appear for the first time in a weekly French comic-strip by Peyo called Johan and Peewit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right, the Smurfs are actually French.

History Schmistory: October 22. “I wasn’t ready!”

1926: Smarty-pants J. Gordon Whitehead sucker punches legendary magician, escapologist and stunt performer Harry Houdini in the stomach several times, rupturing his appendix. Houdini refuses medical attention and goes on to perform what would be his final show, collapsing several times in the duration. He dies a few days later in a Detroit hospital on Halloween. And this time it was no trick (or treat.)

 

 

 

 

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