The Thing About Today – March 23

March 23, 2020
Day 83 of 366

 

March 23rd is the eighty-third day of the year. It is World Meteorological Day, celebrating the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization on this day in 1950.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chia Day, National Chip and Dip Day, National Near Miss Day, National Melba Toast Day, and National Puppy Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1775, during the American Revolutionary War, Patrick Henry delivered his famous speech – “Give me liberty, or give me death!” – at St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Richmond, Virginia.
  • In 1857, Elisha Otis’s first elevator was installed at 488 Broadway in New York City.
  • In 1889, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian, British India.
  • In 1904, Joan Crawford was born.
  • In 1910, Japanese director and screenwriter Akira Kurosawa was born.
  • In 1956, Pakistan became the first Islamic republic in the world. This date is now celebrated as Republic Day in Pakistan.
  • In 1965, NASA launched Gemini 3. It was the United States’ first two-man space flight, crewed by Gus Grissom and John Young.
  • In 1976, Michelle Monaghan was born.
  • Also in 1976, Keri Russell was born.
  • In 1977, The first of The Nixon Interviews was videotaped with British journalist David Frost interviewing former United States President Richard Nixon about the Watergate scandal and the Nixon tapes. It was the first of twelve to be recorded over four weeks.
  • In 2001, the Russian Mir space station was disposed of. It broke up in the atmosphere and fell into the southern Pacific Ocean near Fiji.

 

In 1940, Truth or Consequences was first broadcast on radio.

Truth or Consequences was a game show mixing the quiz show element with wacky stunts. It was originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards from 1940 to 1957. It later moved to television with Ralph Edwards (1950-1954), followed by hosts Jack Bailey (1954-1956), Bob Barker (1956-1975), Steve Dunne (1957-58), Bob Hilton (1977-1978), and Larry Anderson (1987–1988).

Contestants received roughly two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly. It was usually an off-the-wall question that no one was expected to answer. If the contestant could not complete the “Truth” portion, there would be “Consequences,” which usually meant a zany and embarrassing stunt. Strangely enough, most contestants preferred to answer the question wrong to perform the stunt.

One of the more popular segments involved an emotional surprise for a contestant, such as being reunited with a long-lost relative or with an enlisted son or daughter returning from military duty.

Ralph Edwards got the idea for a new radio program from a favorite childhood parlor game called “Forfeits”. Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on broadcast television, although it was initially a one-time experiment on July 1, 1941. When the television medium caught on nine years later, it returned to television.

Ralph Edwards also pioneered several technologies for recording live television programs. When Truth or Consequences established itself as a permanent television presence in 1950, he arranged to have it be recorded on 35mm film while using multiple cameras simultaneously, making it the first televised program recorded before a live audience to do so. Desilu would later use a similar process for I Love Lucy.

On January 22, 1957, the show became the first program to be broadcast in all time zones from a prerecorded videotape, a technology that was only a year old and used for time-delayed broadcasts to the West Coast. In 1966, it became the first successful daily game show in first-run syndication (as opposed to reruns) to not air on a network, having ended its NBC run one year earlier. This version continued through 1975.

The show and its concepts maintain a lasting presence in pop culture, especially in Hot Springs, New Mexico. The town agreed to host a radio episode in 1949 in exchange for changing its name to Truth or Consequences. It continues to use that name today and remains a tribute to the program’s impact on popular culture.

 

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.

 

 

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