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  • mistermuse 11:50 am on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American Experience, Believe It or Not, Billy Martin, born on Christmas day, , , , Clara Barton, , , , James Brown, Kid Ory, Robert Ripley, Vitaphone   


    Yesterday may have been Christmas, but heaven only knows the exact date of Christ’s birth (Christmas wasn’t celebrated on December 25 until the 4th century A.D.). So, here it is the day after Christmas, which is a lull of a day following as full of a day as there is all year, and I’ve decided to find out who (of note) actually was born on December 25. Why? Not why they were born on that day (presumably, something naughty and nice happened one night nine months previously), but — why do I bother? Because inquiring minds want to know, that’s why….and my readers, being wise men and women, have inquiring minds (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt).

    Believe It or Not, Robert Ripley was born on Christmas day (in 1890). If you’re a lover of trivia, you can thank Robert Ripley for making it a popular pursuit even before you were born. Ripley was a cartoonist and amateur anthropologist who created Believe It or Not! as a panel series in Randolph Hearst’s King Features Syndicate in 1929. A year later, Ripley famously expanded into other media, including radio and short films such as this 1930 Vitaphone curio (it’s a hoot!):

    Can’t get enough of his wonderful stuff? Then tune in January 6th to the PBS series American Experience (here’s a half-minute preview):

    Ripley was voted the most popular man in America by the New York Times in the 1930s, a decade in which he opened (in six cities) museums called Odditoriums. He died 1n 1949 and is buried, appropriately enough, in Oddfellows Lawn Cemetery, Santa Rosa, CA.

    Other notables who were born on Christmas day include Clara Barton, American Red Cross founder (1821); Kid Ory, legendary early New Orleans jazzman (1886); Humphrey (we’ll always have Casablanca) Bogart (1899); and Cab Calloway, jazz band leader (1907).

    And while we’re at it, since Christmas both giveth and taketh away, here are some notable December 25th deaths: Charlie Chaplin (died 1977); two Martins, Billy (1989) and Dean (1995); and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (2006).

    And with that, I believe I’ll call it a day.


    • Joseph Nebus 2:12 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, I thought Jack Benny was also a Christmas baby but, of course, his was Valentine’s Day. I should’ve remembered that.


      • mistermuse 3:11 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Sometimes sources don’t agree on such things.. The first site I checked in researching Dec. 25 birthdays had Isaac Newton born on Dec. 25, 1642; another had Jan 4, 1643….so I checked more sites, and continued to find the same discrepancy. Not knowing which to believe, I didn’t include him in this posting.


    • arekhill1 2:14 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I remember knowing a kid in my extreme youth who was born on Christmas Day. He was regarded by we contemporaries with pity and horror, because he only got presents once a year. Sure, his parents pretended to give him gifts for both the holiday and his b-day, but he, (and we) were always sure he got short-shrifted.


      • mistermuse 4:19 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Another problematic day to be born on might be April Fool’s Day (you get presents, but you’d better open them with caution).


    • ladysighs 2:27 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I liked the video of Believe It or Not…..especially the girl who could speak fast. 🙂


      • mistermuse 4:21 pm on December 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        My wife doesn’t speak fast, but I still can’t get a word in edgewise – hahahaha (just kidding, dear).


    • Don Frankel 3:37 pm on December 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Okay I don’t believe it. What are they going to do? I mean what is the not here?

      I loved this stuff as a kid. They have a Ripley’s in Times Square.


    • mistermuse 4:38 pm on December 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Lucky for you, Ripley’s isn’t a fundamentalist religion – not believing it would be a hell of a bad way to go.
      Very interesting that they have a Ripley’s in Times Square. Not that I’ll ever see it, but I hope it’s not a fast food joint.


  • mistermuse 6:26 pm on December 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1920s, , , Vitaphone   


    I hear tell there are still some out there who, like me, really dig old songs (for you adolescents, by “old” I don’t mean last month’s songs – I refer to songs of the 1920s & early 1930s). If so, and you’re also interested in early sound films, I’d like to let you in on a very interesting blog I’ve stumbled upon: Vitaphone Varieties.

    Old movie buffs will recognize the word Vitaphone in the above blog as the name used by Warner Bros. for their new sound process which synchronized actors’ voices with the film projector, starting in 1927 with the release of the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, which, of course, wasn’t really much of a talking picture – most of it was silent – but that’s another story. If you’ve seen Singing In The Rain, you get the idea.

    Perhaps we will take a look at the further adventures of Vitaphone another time – for now, there is more than enough material posted on the above blog to keep you reading and listening until you ask for more.


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