1915: Something About (Typhoid) Mary
In 1900, Mary Mallon worked as a cook for a family in New York City. Within two weeks, some of the residents there developed typhoid fever. In 1901, she moved to Manhattan to work as a cook for another family where some developed fevers and one died. She then went to work for another family but left after seven of the eight members became ill. In 1906, she worked for a family in Oyster Bay, Long Island where 10 of the 11 household members were hospitalized with typhoid. This continued to happen for three more families before one family hired George Soper, a typhoid researcher, to investigate. (This woman must have had an impeccable resume!) Soper came to the conclusion that many of the illnesses could be traced back to Mallon. When he finally tracked her down (she often left each job without giving a forward address) and told her about her possible role in spreading typhoid. She rejected his requests for samples. The New York City Health Department stepped in and Mallon was then convinced that she was just being persecuted and felt that she hadn’t done anything wrong. She did however admit to poor hygiene and said that she didn’t understand the importance of washing her hands since she “knew” that she didn’t pose a risk for the disease. Doctors were later able to diagnose that Mallon had typhoid bacteria in her gallbladder. As scandalous as the Kardashians are today, Mallon made headlines being referred to as “Typhoid Mary.” After being in quarantine for three years, Mallon was set free as long as she changed her occupation and embraced good hygiene habits. However, after working a lower paying job as a laundress, Mary changed her last name to Brown and returned to cooking. For the next five years the cycle began again. It was on this day in 1915 when Soper finally caught up to her and placed her back in quarantine where she stayed until she died on November 11, 1938 from a bout of pneumonia. Mary was 69 years of age when she died.
1939: The Madness in March
The first NCAA men’s basketball tournament finished up on this day in 1939. The University of Oregon beat the Ohio State University 46-33. The Final Four or March Madness has grown considerably since then and not just with fans, but with gamblers too. It is said that by 2005, the sport become the second most popular game among them. (The first was the Super Bowl of course.) At first, only eight teams were invited to participate. Today, 65 teams are broken down into four groups of 16. The winning teams of those groups become the Final Four.
1952: ‘Singin’ in the Rain’
On this day in 1952, the film Singin’ in the Rain premiered at Raio City Music Hall in New York City. The musical romantic comedy featured the struggles of three Hollywood actors stuggling to make it from silent movies to the “talkies.” The film starred Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen with Kelly creating much of the film’s choreography with Stanley Donen. Though considered iconic today, Singin’ in the Rain was only a modest hit. However, O’Connor won the Golden Globe for Best Actor and Betty Comden and Adolph Green won the Writers Guild of America Award for their screenplay. Hagen was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Kelly was sick with a fever when he literally went singing (and dancing) in the rain and it took three days to film in its entirety. Reynolds once said that the film and childbirth were two of the hardest things she ever had to do in life.
- 1901: Carl Barks (cartoonist)
- 1963: Quentin Tarantino (film director)
- 1970: Mariah Carey (singer)
- 1971: Nathan Fillion (actor)
- 1975: Fergie (singer)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.