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This Day in Pop Culture for January 3


1996: National Fruitcake Toss Day

Fruitcake is one of those holiday items that many people abhor even though they have never tried it. However, the same can be said for the many people who have. To celebrate the end of the holiday season and to clean out the kitchen of old uneaten Christmas treats, the first Great Fruitcake Toss was held on this day in 1996 in Manitou Springs, Colorado. There’s not much to the event. Entrants compete to see who can throw their mound of fruitcake the farthest.

1952: Just the Facts

Like many radio dramas of the day, NBC’s Dragnet made the move from radio to TV with Sergeant Joe Friday who was always asking for “just the facts.” Debuting on January 3, 1952, the show was the first to be filmed in Hollywood instead of New York and was brought to life by Jack Webb who played Friday as well as the roles of producer and director. The show was unique in other ways including that the stories were based on actual LAPD cases. It goes without saying that the show was a hit earning a spot in the Top 10 through 1956 where it was reported that the show was seen by more than half of all American households. A film version of the show was created in 1954 and the series continued until 1959. Then it was revived in 1967 for three more years. Most will remember the 1987 film of the same name and characters but with a decidedly sillier plot and played as a comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks. In 2003, a remake of the TV show was created for ABC that starred Ed O’Neill as Sergeant Friday. It lasted just shy over a year. Some things should just be left alone.

Jack Webb Dragnet


  • 1892: J.R.R. Tolkien (author)
  • 1932: Dabney Coleman (actor)
  • 1950: Victoria Principal (actress)
  • 1956: Mel Gibson (actor)
  • 1975: Danica McKellar (actress)
  • 1981: Eli Manning (football player)

Other Events

  • 1959: Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state.
  • 2000: The last daily comic strip for Peanuts was printed.

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Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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