1940: Billboard Magazine Starts Its Charts
While Billboard Magazine started publication as early as 1894, it began taking a stronger interest in reporting about music in the 1930’s. On this day in 1940, the magazine printed its first “Chart Line” tracking the best-selling records of the day. In 1944, a second chart for jukebox records, Music Box Machine charts were published as well. By 1987, the magazine supported eight music charts focusing on different genres and formats and that number exploded to 28 by 1994. By then, some were declaring that the publication was a “undisputed leader” in music industry news and is still respected today. Even Billboard themselves declared that they were the “bible” of the recording industry in 1990. (Image: Billboard)
1940: The First Bugs Bunny Cartoon
While Porky’s Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a “Bugs Bunny-like” rabbit, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery, was released on this day in 1940 and is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon. It is the first film where Bugs is voiced by Mel Blanc (who would continue to voice the rabbit for many years) and the first for the hare to utter, “What’s Up Doc?” A huge success at the box office, the short also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cartoon Short Subject.
1979: County Music Fails on Broadway
St. James Theater on Broadway was the home of the ambitious seven-and-a-half-week run of the show Broadway Opry ’79: A Little Country in the Big City. Opening on this day in 1979, the show was to feature a number of country western stars that would perform for a few days in the row and switch out with others. Though the show used the term “Opry” which suggest its connection to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, the show had nothing to do with iconic place and none of the show’s producers had even seen a show there. The first show featured acts by Tanya Tucker, Floyd Cramer, Mickey Newbury and Don Gibson. Other acts to follow would have included Buck Owens, Conway Twitty, Dottie West, Roger Miller and more, but the show closed after just two shows. Though the audiences appeared to be full, ticket prices were slashed from $19 to $12 and it was reasoned that the show didn’t attract enough business to warrant continuation. David S. Fitzpatrick, a co-producer of the show blamed the closing on insufficient time for promotion. “Time was our enemy, we had only two months to put it together,” he told The New York Times. Plans for Broadway Opry ’80 was set in motion, but it never came to stage.
1984: Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ is Released
Prince’s American rock musical drama film, Purple Rain debuted on this day in 1984. Playing a version of himself in his first acting role, Prince had originally wanted the story to be darker in tone and have a more coherent storyline. Instead, many of the scenes shot for the film were cut giving more room for many concert sequences. Purple Rain won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score but was also nominated for two Razzies for Worst New Star (Apollonia Kotero) and Worst Original Song (“Sex Shooter”). The soundtrack of the film sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Prince died on April 21, 2016 and both MTV and VHI showed edited versions of the film as a tribute. Special screenings of the film were also shown in theaters the following week.
1999: First 900
Tony Hawk is the first skateboarder to land a “900.”
1982: Killer Plant
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s Little Shop of Horrors opens Off-Broadway.
2018: Me Too?
CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves is accused of sexual misconduct.
- 1931: Jerry Van Dyke (actor)
- 1947: Betty Thomas (actress)
- 1948: Peggy Fleming (Olympic skater)
- 1957: Bill Engvall (comedian)
- 1972: Maya Rudolph (actress)
- 1977: Jonathan Rhys Meyer (actor)
- 1990: Nick Hogan (actor)
- 1990: Cheyenne Kimball (singer)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.