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This Day in Pop Culture for May 13

Thomas Edison

1898: Edison Sues Over New Technology

Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb and the phonograph, sued the American Mutoscope Company on this day in 1898. It turns out that Edison had entrusted his assistant, W.L.K. Dickson with a new invention, the Vitascope in which Dickson helped Edison’s competitors develop a similar machine, the Mutoscope. He was fired. However, Dickson then created his own company using this similar technology. In 1902, the courts ruled that Edison did not invent the motion-picture camera, but allowed that he had invented the sprocket system that moved perforated film through the camera. By 1909, Edison helped form the Motion Pictures Patents Corporation who served to keep others from entering the film industry. The courts found the organization to be an unfair monopoly and was later dissolved.


2004: Final Episode of ‘Fraiser’ Airs

The Cheers spin-off, Fraiser aired for 11 seasons on NBC from its premiere on September 16, 1993 to its finale on this day in 2004. The show was created and produced by David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee and starred Kelsey Grammer as a Seattle radio show therapist, David Hyde Pierce as his therapist brother, John Mahoney as the men’s cranky father, Jane Leeves as the cranky father’s nurse and Peri Gilpin as Fraiser’s assistant. The show received 37 Emmy Award, a record at the time for a scripted TV series. It also won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for five consecutive years.

1954: ‘The Pajama Game’ Debuts on Broadway

Based on the 1953 novel, 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell, the musical The Pajama Game opened at the St. James Theatre on Broadway on this day in 1954. The story revolves around a pajama factory where its workers demand for a seven and a half cent raise. The original show ran for 1,063 performances and starred John Raitt, Janis Paige and Eddie Foy and featured choreography by Bob Fosse. It was also a start for the career of the career of Shirley MacLaine who understudied for the show. Warner Bros. created a  film version of the show in 1957 which starred most of the cast except for Paige’s role which was given to Doris Day instead. The musical has had two revivals on Broadway in 1973 and 2006.

The Pajama Game

2020: Tony Vlachos became the winner of 40th season of Survivor: Winners at War.


  • 1931: Jim Jones (American cult leader)
  • 1937: Beverley Owen (actress)
  • 1941: Ritchie Valens (singer)
  • 1943: Mary Wells (singer)
  • 1950: Stevie Wonder (singer)
  • 1961: Dennis Rodman (basketball player)
  • 1964: Stephen Colbert (talk show host)
  • 1986: Lena Dunham (actress)
  • 1986: Robert Pattinson (actor)
  • 1993: Debby Ryan (actress)

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Jeffrey Totey View All

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

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