This Day in Pop Culture for February 21

1878: The First Telephone Directory

While telephone directories are hard to find today, on this day in 1878, the very first was published in New Haven, Connecticut. It wasn’t much. No yellow pages. Just a single piece of cardboard which listed 50 residences and business who had telephones in the area. However, the directory wasn’t alphabetized and none of the numbers were associated with the people included in it. At least it was a start. (Images: Wikimedia)

1925: ‘The New Yorker’ Publishes for the First Time

Founded by Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant, a New York Times reporter, The New Yorker published its first issue on this day in 1925. It started out as a humor magazine but soon became a place where more series fiction literature and non-fiction journalism could be found written by some of the most influential writers including Shirley Jackson whose The Lottery created more mail (most of it negative) in the magazine’s history. Of course, The New Yorker is also well-known for its single-paneled cartoons including many by Charles Addams who created The Addams Family. Many of the early cartoons were drawn with captions written by staff writers. The saying, “Back to the drawing board” originated with Peter Arno’s 1941 cartoon where an engineer walks away from a crashed plane and says, “Well, back to the old drawing board.” The most reprinted comic was drawn in 1993 by Peter Steiner where two dogs sit at a computer and one says, “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Movies Released

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005)
  • Bottle Rocket (1996)
  • Emma (2020)
  • Old School (2003)
  • Pompeii (2014)
  • The Call of the Wild (2020)
  • The Night Clerk (2020)

TV Series Debuts

  • All American: Homecoming (2022)
  • Game of Clones (2019)

Famous Birthdays

  • 1925: Jack Ramsay (sportscaster)
  • 1925: Erma Bombeck (author)
  • 1934: Rue McClanahan (actress)
  • 1946: Tyne Daly (actress)
  • 1946: Anthony Daniels (actor)
  • 1946: Alan Rickman (actor)
  • 1953: William Petersen (actor)
  • 1955: Kelsey Grammer (actor)
  • 1955: Kelsey Grammer (actor)
  • 1961: Christopher Atkins (actor)
  • 1963: William Baldwin (actor)
  • 1979: Jennifer Love Hewitt (actress)
  • 1979: Jordan Peele (actor)
  • 1989: Corbin Bleu (actor)

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