January 22, 2020
Day 22 of 366
January 22nd is the twenty-second day of the year. It is Grandfather’s Day in Poland.
Historical items of note:
- In 1506, the first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrived at the Vatican.
- In 1552, Sir Walter Raleigh was born. He was an English poet, soldier, courtier, and explorer.
- In 1905, Bloody Sunday occurred in Saint Petersburg, thus beginning the 1905 Russian revolution.
- In 1932, actress Piper Laurie was born.
- In 1940, actor Sir John Hurt was born.
- In 1946, the Central Intelligence Group was created. It was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.
- In 1947, KTLA began operations in Hollywood. It was the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River.
- In 1959, actress Linda Blair was born.
- In 1965, actress Diane Lane was born.
- In 1968, Apollo 5 lifted off carrying the first Lunar module into space.
- In 1969, actress and singer-songwriter Olivia d’Abo was born.
- In 1973, The Supreme Court of the United States delivered its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.
- In 1984, Airwolf premiered on CBS.
- In 1992, Dr. Roberta Bondar became the first Canadian woman and the first neurologist in space. She flew on the STS-42 Discovery mission.
- In 2002, Kmart became the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
January 22nd is a big day for classic comic book actors.
In 1934, actor and director Bill Bixby was born. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry because he portrayed Dr. David Banner on The Incredible Hulk for 80 episodes and five television movies from 1977 to 1990.
He was born in San Francisco and honed his love of performance from a young age. He was kicked out of the choir in seventh grade, took ballroom dance lessons, and perfected his drama and oratory skills in high school. Against his parents’ wishes, he majored in drama at City College of San Francisco.
He was drafted during the Korean War and joined the Marine Corps, reaching private first class before being discharged in 1956. He eventually reached Hollywood and debuted on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. As a highly-regarded character actor, he guest-starred on many television series including My Favorite Martian, Ben Casey, The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show, Dr. Kildare, Straightaway, and Hennesey. In the 1970s, he expanded to Ironside, Insight, Barbary Coast, The Love Boat, Medical Center, Love, American Style, Fantasy Island, The Streets of San Francisco and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.
Bixby was the only choice for The Incredible Hulk series creator Kenneth Johnson. The success of the pilot movie convinced CBS to expand into a regular series which started in the spring of 1978. The show ran for five seasons, and Bixby reprised his role in the three follow-on TV movies (which he executive produced). He also directed parts of the first one and both of the later films.
His directing career included one episode of The Incredible Hulk as well as several other projects across his 34 years in Hollywood. He finished his career by directing 30 episodes of the NBC sitcom Blossom. He died six days after his final episode of Blossom, on November 21, 1993, of complications from prostate cancer.
In 1955, actor John Wesley Shipp was born in Norfolk, Virginia. After graduating from Indiana University, he began his career with a regular role on the daytime soap opera Guiding Light from 1980 to 1984. He bounced around the daytime soap landscape including As the World Turns, Santa Barbara, One Life to Live, and All My Children, winning two Daytime Emmys along the way.
He won the title role of Barry Allen/The Flash on the 1990-1991 CBS series The Flash, which is where I was introduced to him. He was also cast as Mitch Leery, the father of the lead character in Dawson’s Creek, as well as various film and television roles through the years.
Shipp returned to the Flash mythos in the 2010s. He was the voice of Professor Eobard “Zoom” Thawne, also known as the Reverse-Flash, on an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. His big win with the franchise was in 2014’s The Flash where he was cast as Henry Allen, the father of Barry Allen/The Flash. He expanded his presence with the second season finale where he took the role of Jay Garrick, a parallel Earth version of The Flash. He added a third role on the show during recent crossover events as The Flash from Earth-90, which is effectively the continuation of his role from the 1990s.
John Wesley Shipp is still acting today and travels the convention circuit. He’s a regular at Dragon Con where I hope to one day shake his hand and get his autograph on my 90s The Flash DVD boxset.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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