John Winston Lennon -- composer; musician; one fourth of the famed rock group, The Beatles; husband of Yoko Ono; father of Julian and Sean -- was born on this day in 1940 in Liverpool, England. It’s hard to imagine what the world would be like without his influence on music.
There is hardly a soul anywhere in the world who isn’t familiar with the songs he wrote as half of the team of Lennon and McCartney. When The Beatles were no longer touring, John Lennon collaborated with Yoko Ono in avant-garde works. He then began to express his political views through his music, and in some cases, his actions. Live Peace in Toronto was his first gesture for world peace. And, he returned the coveted Order of the British Empire award (the MBE) to protest British involvement in the Nigerian Civil War. He continued his quest for peace in Give Peace a Chance and with his bed-in for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton following his marriage to Yoko Ono.
His music traced his lifestyles, his views, his childhood, his pain, and jubilation: Cold Turkey, Instant Karma, Mother, Working Class Hero, Jealous Guy, Crippled Inside and How Do You Sleep. Imagine, from the LP of the same title, became his best known work. It also made a statement, paying homage to nonmaterialism. Then there was the LP, Sometime in New York City, filled with anti-establishment verses. Mind Games and Walls and Bridges followed.
Whatever Gets You Through the Night was cause for celebration. It was his first solo #1 hit in the U.S. Lennon then recorded an LP with Yoko, each alternating songs on Double Fantasy. He celebrated his son Sean with Beautiful Boy, his wife with Woman and his new life with both in Just like Starting Over.
1855 - The sewing machine motor was patented by Isaac Singer (the Singer sewing machine guy) of New York. Thank you, Isaac for keeping us in stitches lo these many years.
1855 - Another patent was awarded this day -- to one Joshua C. Stoddard, for the calliope. The Worcester, MA inventor originally sold the colorful and somewhat noisy instrument (it produces 135 decibels, compared to the 100 decibels of sound produced by a jet plane at takeoff) to churches, believe it or not! Sales, however, took off when Stoddard sold the instrument to circuses and steamboat operators (not a bad idea since the calliope is powered by steam).
1858 - Mail service via stagecoach between San Francisco and St. Louis was started. It took 23 days, four hours for that first run.
1872 - The first mail order catalog was delivered. It was only one page but it worked. No, it wasn’t the Victoria’s Secret catalog ... nor Land’s End, J. Crew or Lillian Vernon. It was sent out by Mr. Aaron Montgomery Ward of the famous Montgomery Ward catalog and department stores.
1931 - Russ Columbo’s Prisoner of Love was recorded -- on Victor Records.
1935 - Cavalcade of America was first broadcast on radio this very day. The CBS show featured some of Hollywood and Broadway’s most famous stars in leading roles in the half hour radio dramas. Thomas Chalmers narrated the stories about obscure incidents and people in American history. The orchestra (yes, radio shows had live orchestras back then) was led by Donald Voorhees. The show aired from 1935 to 1953, changing from CBS to NBC in 1939; with one sponsor for its entire duration. The DuPont Company introduced its slogan on Cavalcade of America ... “Better things for better living through chemistry...”
1943 - ABC Radio presented Land of the Lost for the first time. The opening phrase for the show was, “In that wonderful kingdom at the bottom of the sea...” This children’s adventure-fantasy serial took the audience underwater where the main characters, Isabel and Jimmy, were guided by their friend, a red fish named Red Lantern and played at first by Junius Matthews and later, by Art Carney. Land of the Lost found a large audience and remained on the air until 1948.
1946 - The first electric blanket went on sale -- for $39.50 -- in Petersburg, VA.
1947 - High Button Shoes, opened on Broadway in New York City with an entertainer named Phil Silvers in the lead. The popular show ran for 727 performances.
1953 - Anne Jeffreys played Marion Kirby, Robert Sterling was George Kirby and the lead character of Topper was played by Leo G. Carroll on CBS-TV. Topper was called the first of the ‘spirit’ shows of the day. Marion and George Kirby had died along with their dog Neil (a St. Bernard) in an avalanche while on a skiing vacation. The three characters returned to their home -- now occupied by Topper. The adventures of the Kirbys, their dog and Topper were quite chaotic and a lot of fun to watch. The story was loosely based on the writings of Thorne Smith.
1967 - “And now...heeeeeeeeerrrree’s the Doctor!” Coming out of the NBC Tonight Show Orchestra to become musical director of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Doc Severinsen replaced Skitch Henderson on this night. Doc became famous for an eccentric wardrobe, quick wit, great trumpet solos and fabulous charts. Tommy Newsome became Doc’s backup arranger for many of the tunes the band played. Later, Doc and the band would move to solo albums, group CDs and incredibly successful concert tours. Doc went on to play with various symphony orchestras and even became the owner of a custom trumpet company in the San Francisco Bay Area.
1973 - Priscilla Presley, was divorced from Elvis -- in Santa Monica, CA. ‘Cilla’ got $1.5 million in cash, $4,200 per month in alimony, half interest in a $750,000 home plus about 5% interest in two of Elvis’ publishing companies.
1973 - Speaking of riches, Paul Simon got a gold record this day for his hit, Loves Me like a Rock.
1975 - John Lennon turned 35. To celebrate, Yoko Ono presented John with a newborn son, Sean Ono Lennon.
1979 - Styx released what would become a megahit. Babe hit number one on December 8, 1979.
1985 - A 2½-acre garden memorial was dedicated to John Lennon by his widow, Yoko Ono, this day. The memorial in New York City’s Central Park is named Strawberry Fields.
1986 - Joan Rivers debuted her new The Late Show on the fledgling FOX network -- opposite former boss Johnny Carson on NBC. Reportedly, Rupert Murdoch paid up to $25,000 a week for Joan’s lovely gowns. Carson quipped, “The show proves that all that glitters is not watched.”
1993 - Nirvana’s In Utero was the #1 LP in U.S. The rest of the top five albums for the week: #2-In Pieces, Garth Brooks; #3-Music Box, Mariah Carey; #4-Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, Meat Loaf; #5-River of Dreams, Billy Joel.
1997 - After 36 seasons, Dean Smith announced his retirement as basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. Smith left with a record of 879-255, including two national championships [1982, 1993] and 13 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament titles. His former players include Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Phil Ford, Billy Cunningham and Charlie Scott.
1889 - Rube (Richard William) Marquard
Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher: NY Giants [World Series: 1911, 1912, 1913], Brooklyn Dodgers [World Series: 1916, 1920, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Braves; died Jun 1, 1980
1891 - Otto Schnering
candy bar mogul: founded Curtiss Candy Co.: Kandy Kake, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger
1903 - Walter O’Malley
baseball executive: owner: Brooklyn/LA Dodgers [World Series: 1955, 1959, 1963, 1965]; [moved Dodgers to LA in 1957]; died Aug 9, 1979
1905 - Howard St. John
actor: I Died a Thousand Times, L’il Abner, The Tender Trap, Lover Come Back, Hank, The Investigator; died Mar 13, 1974
1909 - Jacques Tati (Tatischeff)
Academy Award-winning director: Mon Oncle ; died Nov 4, 1982
1914 - Edward Andrews
actor: Broadside, Supertrain, Advice and Consent, Elmer Gantry, Sixteen Candles, Tea and Sympathy; died Mar 8, 1985
1918 - Walter Burkemo
champion golfer: PGA 
1923 - Donald Sinden
actor: The Children, The Captain’s Table, Doctor in the House, Simba
1924 - Arnie (Arnold) Risen
Basketball Hall of Famer: Rochester Royals [NBA Championship: 1951], Boston Celtics [NBA Championship: 1957]
1933 - Martin Gottfried
drama critic; author: All His Jazz - The Life and Death of Bob Fosse, Balancing Act - The Authorized Biography of Angela Lansbury
1940 - John Lennon
singer, songwriter, Beatle: shot to death Dec 8, 1980; see Imagine Day [above]
1940 - Joe (Joseph Anthony) ‘Pepi’ Pepitone
baseball: New York Yankees [World Series: 1963, 1964/all-star: 1963, 1964, 1965], Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves
1944 - John Entwistle
musician: bass, French horn: group: The Who: My Generation, Happy Jack, Pinball Wizard, See Me, Feel Me; solo: LPs: Smash Your Head Against the Wall, Whistle Rhymes, Rigor Mortis, Mad Dog, Too Late the Hero; died June 27, 2002
1944 - Freddie (Frederick Joseph) Patek
‘The Flea’: baseball: Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals [all-star: 1972, 1976, 1978], California Angels
1944 - Peter Tosh (Winston McIntosh)
singer: baritone, musician: homemade instruments: reggae with Bob Marley
1947 - Bob (Robert Ralph) Moose
baseball: pitcher: Pittsburgh Pirates [World Series: 1971]; died Oct 9, 1976
1948 - Jackson Browne
songwriter, singer: Doctor My Eyes, Running on Empty, Somebody’s Baby, The Pretender, Lawyers in Love
1949 - Martin Imhof
football: San Diego State Univ., SL Cardinals
1950 - Brian (Jay) Downing
baseball: Chicago White Sox, California Angels [all-star: 1979], Texas Rangers
1951 - Robert Wuhl
Emmy Award-winning writer: The 63rd Annual Academy Awards , The 64th Annual Academy Awards ; actor: A Kiss Goodnight, Cobb, The Bodyguard, Batman, Bull Durham, Good Morning Vietnam, Flashdance
1954 - Scott Bakula
actor: Quantum Leap, Murphy Brown, Gung Ho, Eisenhower & Lutz, Lord of Illusions, The Invaders, Color of Night, Necessary Roughness, Sibling Rivalry, The Last Fling, American Beauty, Enterprise
1958 - Mike Singletary
football: Chicago Bears middle linebacker: Super Bowl XX; UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year [1984, 1985]
1959 - Michael Paré
actor: Village of the Damned, Raging Angels, Solar Force, Point of Impact, Into the Sun, Dragonfight, Killing Streets, Women’s Club, Space Rage, The Philadelphia Experience, Streets of Fire, Eddie and the Cruisers, Houston Knights, The Greatest American Hero
1981 - Zachery Ty Bryan
actor: Home Improvement, Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter, Held for Ransom
1949You’re Breaking My Heart - Vic Damone
That Lucky Old Sun - Frankie Laine
Someday - Vaughn Monroe
Slipping Around - Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely
1957Wake Up Little Susie - The Everly Brothers
Chances Are/The Twelfth of Never - Johnny Mathis
Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley
My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You - Ray Price
1965Yesterday - The Beatles
Treat Her Right - Roy Head
The “In” Crowd - Ramsey Lewis Trio
Behind the Tear - Sonny James
1973Half-Breed - Cher
Loves Me like a Rock - Paul Simon
Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me - Ray Price
1981Endless Love - Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) - Christopher Cross
Who’s Crying Now - Journey
Midnight Hauler - Razzy Bailey
1989Miss You Much - Janet Jackson
Cherish - Madonna
Mixed Emotions - Rolling Stones
I Got Dreams - Steve Wariner