This Day in Pop Culture for July 31

Harry Potter

1980: Harry Potter is Born

Though he is a fictional character, the star of the Harry Potter book series was born on this day in 1980 and first appeared in J.K. Rowling’s book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which was published in 1997. The book didn’t arrive in the United States until 1998. Hugely popular, the book spawned six sequels ending with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which was published in 2007. Though there are only seven books in the series, Warner Bros. produced eight Harry Potter movies from 2001 to 2011. Two more books were released in October of 2017 to coincide with the British Library’s Harry Potter exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the book series. Incidentally, Daniel Radcliffe who portrays Harry in the movies, was born on July 23, 1989. (Image: Wikimedia)

1930: ‘The Shadow’ makes His First Appearance on Radio

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, it was Frank Marvin Readrick Jr. who first uttered the famous lines “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” followed by super creepy laughter for The Shadow radio program. (He’s the same guy who played the reporter for the 1938 radio production of The War of the Worlds.) The Shadow was a collection of serialized dramas originally published as pulp novels. On this day in 1930, the Shadow aired his first radio show which was followed by a magazine series, comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video games, and at least five motion pictures, the most recent being 1994’s starring Alec Baldwin.


1975: ‘Almost Anything Goes Premieres

Intervilles was a French comedy game show that pitted towns against each other with a series of silly games, some of which included interacting with live cows and bulls. It was first broadcast in 1962 and continued on and off until 2009. However, it spurred the British game show, It’s a Knockout! which aired from 1966 to 1982. And that show helped to create Almost Anything Goes which premiered here in America on ABC on July 31, 1975. For AAG, three teams representing home towns in the U.S. would compete against each other for money and prizes. The competitions included wacky obstacle courses, pie throwing contests, swing relays and other crazy hijinks. The second (and last) season ran from January 24 to May 2, 1976. Sports announcers Charlie Jones and Lynn Shackelford did the play-by-play. It was followed by the Junior Almost Anything Goes, hosted by Soupy Sales, (which ran on Saturday mornings from September 11, 1976 to September 4, 1977) and All Star Anything Goes from September 16, 1977 to September 1978.


  • 1886: Fred Quimby (animation producer)
  • 1932: Ted Cassidy (actor)
  • 1958: Mark Cuban (TV personality)
  • 1962: Wesley Snipes (actor)
  • 1963: Fatboy Slim (singer)
  • 1965: J.K. Rowling (author)
  • 1966: Dean Cain (actor)
  • 1978: Zac Brown (singer)
  • 1979: B.J. Novak (actor)

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