Historian’s Almanac: August 12, 2016

Today is August 12, 2016.  There are 141 days left in the year and only 87 days left until we elect a new President.

It was on August 12, 1927 that the romantic action-packed World War I movie “Wings” premiered at the Criterion Theater, in New York City.  It was awarded the highest honor, Best Picture, at the first Academy Awards ceremony on May 16, 1929 in Los Angeles, California.  “Wings” was the only silent movie so honored by the Academy.  The script was written to accommodate Clara Bow, superstar and cultural icon known to history as the “It” Girl.

“Wings” is one of the most significant movies in cinema history.  The realistic air combat scenes set the standard by which all subsequent aviation movies were judged.  It took 7 months to film, rather than just 1 month, which was normal at that time.  “Wings” cost $2 million ($26,725,988.70 in 2016) to make, a paltry sum compared to the cost of today’s action movies.  Last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” had a budget of $306 million.  “Avatar” (2009) cost $425 million to make.

Frequent bad weather around San Antonio, Texas where “Wings” was filmed left the cast with time on their hands.  By the end of filming, every one of the elevator girls at the St. Anthony Hotel, where the cast was housed, became pregnant.  Clara Bow, who announced her engagement to Victor Fleming upon arrival in San Antonio, had a sizzling affair with Gary Cooper.  It has been said of Cooper, whose career got its big boost from his role in “Wings,” that he bedded every one of his leading ladies during his career.

“Wings” is also remembered as one of the first motion pictures to show nudity.  During a scene at an army recruiting center, the naked backsides of some male recruits being processed can be seen through a cracked door.  Far more titillating, I’m sure, is a brief second during a Paris bedroom scene when movie goers were treated to a glimpse of Clara Bow’s breasts.

[See “Wings” trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9P3XXvleo4]

Janis Joplin gave her last concert on the evening of August 12, 1970 in the Harvard Stadium at Harvard University.  She ended the concert with her own version of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.”  She died of a drug overdose on October 4.  [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn5TNqjuHiU]

Joseph Lister (1827-1912) introduced the use of an antiseptic during surgery on August 12, 1865, when he applied a solution of carbolic acid to a leg wound of a seven-year-old boy.  In 1879, Dr. Joseph Lawrence named his newly developed mouthwash, “Listerine,” in honor of Joseph Lister.

“The more I see of men, the more I like dogs.”  Clara Bow

“Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable.”  Janis Joplin

Until next time, be good to all God’s creatures and always live under the mercy.



One response to “Historian’s Almanac: August 12, 2016

  1. I like the Clara Bow quote. Wasn’t she the “”It Girl”?


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