This Day in Pop Culture for January 19
1940: Three Stooges Spoof Hitler
The Three Stooges’ 44th short film was probably the trio’s most controversial. Starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard, You Natzy Spy! was the first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler and satirize the Nazis and the Third Reich. At the time, the United States were pretty neutral about World War II, and the Hays code discouraged Hollywood from making films with political or satirical messages in them. They felt that prominent people of other countries should be portrayed fairly, but since this was a short, it didn’t ruffle too many feathers the way a feature film would have. While it was the first anti-Hitler movie, it wasn’t the last. Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator was released on October 15, 1940 and Walt Disney’s Der Fuehrer’s Face with Donald Duck was released on January 1, 1943.
1953: Everyone Watched Lucy Give Birth
During the 1950’s, TV networks refrained from every mentioning that a woman was “pregnant” and instead used phrases like “with child” or “expecting.” During the second season of I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball was “with child” in real life and the pregnancy was incorporated into the show’s storyline. Jess Oppenheimer, a writer for the show has said in his memoir that the initial idea was to match the sex of the Ricardo baby to be the same as Arnaz baby. However, it was impossible to predict back then and the idea was scrapped. The episode titled “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” aired on this day in 1953 which coincided with Ball’s real-life delivery of her baby. An astounding 71.7% of the population were glued to their TV screens making the episode one of the most watched shows ever presented on TV. That same day, Desi Jr. was born and Desi called Oppenheimer and said, “Lucy followed your script. Ain’t she something?”, to which Oppenheimer replied “Terrific! That makes me the greatest writer in the world!”
- 1809: Edgar Allen Poe (writer)
- 1923: Jean Stapleton (actress)
- 1930: Tippi Hedren (actress)
- 1939: Phil Everly (singer)
- 1943: Janis Joplin (singer)
- 1944: Shelley Fabares (actress)
- 1946: Dolly Parton (singer)
- 1947: Paula Deen (TV chef)
- 1949: Robert Palmer (singer)
- 1953: Desi Arnaz, Jr. (actor)
- 1954: Katey Sagal (actress)
- 1956: Carman (singer)
- 1958: Thomas Kinkade (artist)
- 1982: Jodie Sweein (actress)
- 1992: Shawn Johnson (gymnast)
- 1883: The first electric lighting system using overhead wires, built by Thomas Edisoon, began service in Roselle, New Jersey.
- 1937: Howard Hughes set an air record by flying from Los Angeles to New York City in seven hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds.
- 1978: The last Volkswagen Beetle to be made in Germany.
- 1983: The Apple Lisa personal computer was released.