January 25, 2020
Day 25 of 366
January 25th is the twenty-fifth day of the year. It is Burns Night in Scotland, which is a celebration of poet Robert Burns.
It is also the Lunar New Year based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Today marks the beginning of the Year of the Rat.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Florida Day, National Opposite Day, National Irish Coffee Day, and National Seed Swap Day. The last one is typically celebrated on the last Saturday of January.
Historical items of note:
- In 1759, Scottish poet and songwriter Robert Burns was born. He brought “Auld Lang Syne” to the world.
- In 1783, William Colgate, founder of Colgate-Palmolive, was born.
- In 1858, a long-standing tradition was started at the wedding of Victoria (daughter of Queen Victoria) and Friedrich of Prussia: Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March was played and became immensely popular as a wedding processional.
- In 1881, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell formed the Oriental Telephone Company.
- In 1882, English novelist Virginia Woolf was born.
- In 1909, Richard Strauss’s opera Elektra debuted at the Dresden State Opera.
- In 1915, Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated the United States transcontinental telephone service by speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.
- In 1931, actor Dean Jones was born.
- In 1937, The Guiding Light debuted on NBC radio from Chicago. In 1952, it moved to CBS television and ran until September 18, 2009.
- In 1943, director and filmmaker Tobe Hooper was born.
- In 1945, the Battle of the Bulge ended in the Ardennes. The conflict ran for forty days, was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II, and was the third deadliest campaign in American history.
- In 1947, Thomas Goldsmith Jr. filed a patent for the “Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device”. It was the first-ever electronic game.
- In 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered the first live presidential television news conference.
- In 1971, Charles Manson and three female members of the “Family” were found guilty of the 1969 Tate–LaBianca murders.
- In 1981, singer-songwriter Alicia Keys was born.
In 1970, the film version of M*A*S*H premiered. Directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner Jr., it was based on MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors.
The dark comedy depicts the antics of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, though the subtext was really about the ongoing Vietnam War. The film starred Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt, and Elliott Gould, with Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, René Auberjonois, Gary Burghoff, Roger Bowen, Michael Murphy, and professional football player Fred Williamson in his film debut.
The film received five Academy Award nominations and won for Best Adapted Screenplay. It also inspired the landmark television series M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983. While many of the characters made the leap from film to television, the only actor from the movie to make the transition was Gary Burghoff in his role of Walter “Radar” O’Reilly.
The original novel was written by H. Richard Hornberger (a former military surgeon) and W. C. Heinz (a former World War II war correspondent), under the pseudonym Richard Hooker. Hornberger, writing as Hooker, continued with M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, a novel focused on the post-war lives of the surgical team.
As the television series became increasingly popular, twelve novels were written by William E. Butterworth that took the M*A*S*H team around the world in the comical but unrealistic “M*A*S*H Goes to ______” series. In 1977, a third and final Hooker novel was published (M*A*S*H Mania) that ignored everything published after M*A*S*H Goes to Maine.
The television series ended after eleven seasons, wrapping up with the most-watched final episode in television history. Actors Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher carried the torch for two seasons in AfterMASH, a series that followed Colonel Potter, Max Klinger, and Father Mulcahy after the war ended. A pilot for W*A*L*T*E*R, a series centered on Radar O’Reilly, was aired but not picked up for a series option.
The most successful spinoff of the franchise was Trapper John, MD, a medical drama centered on the character of Trapper John McIntyre. Even though the pilot episode shows a photograph of Wayne Rogers and Alan Alda, the series is more of a sequel to the film rather than the television series.
The franchise itself maintains immense popularity through continuous reruns and great success in home media sales.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.