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This Day in Pop Culture for August 31

Mister Rogers Neighborhood

2001: The Final Episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

The Rev. Fred Rogers had his start on TV beginning in 1953 as a puppeteer for the show, The Children’s Corner which aired on the Pittsburgh public station, WQED. It is there that he learned that wearing sneakers on the set was much quieter than his regular dress shoes. In 1963, Rogers moved to Toronto, Ontario to work on the CBC show, Misterogers, where he appeared in front of the camera, and he acquired familiar set pieces such as a trolley and a castle. In 1966, Rogers moved back to WQED to create the regional show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood. The show was a hit, but was cancelled in 1967 due to a lack of funds. However, The Sears Roebuck Foundation came through with funding that allowed the program to be seen nationwide. The show continued until 1976. Then the crew started up the show once again to run from 1979 to this day in 2001. (Image: Wikimedia)

1943: First Navy Ship to be Named After an African American

On November 13, 1942, during World War II, the USS San Francisco was attacked by Japanese gunfire where nearly every officer on the bridge was killed. Mess Attendant Leonard Roy Harmon, who had been trained in damage control, rushed to help evacuate the wounded officers. He was assigned to assist Pharmacist’s Mate Lyndford Bondsteel in caring for these officers. While helping Bondsteel bringing the wounded to a dressing station, he protected Bondsteel by standing between him and the gunfire which resulted in his death. In addition to posthumous award of the Navy Cross, Buckley-class destroyer was named the USS Harmon in his honor on this day in 1943. A poster announcing the title called it “A fighting ship named for a fighting man.” (Image: Wikipedia)

2022: The World’s Largest Food Fight

Every year, thousands of people go crazy and throw tomatoes at each other for one hour and then go their separate ways. Known as Tomatina, the street fight “celebrated” its 75th anniversary on this day in 2022 after being scuttled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that up to 20,000 participated in the pelting of overripe tomatoes on the streets of Buñol, Spain which is pretty something since the town has a population of just 9,000 residents. The very first fight took place in 1945 when during a parade featuring “Giants” and “Big-Heads” figures, a group of teens jumped in to be a part of the parade. As a result, one of the Big-Heads fell off one of the participants and he got really mad and went swinging. Soon, a brawl started that crashed into a fruit and vegetable stand. People began throwing tomatoes at each other and the local police broke up the fight. Here is where it gets interesting: The following year, a group of teens pre-planned their own battle bringing with them their own tomatoes. That fight was also stopped, but Tomatina has been a tradition during the last Wednesday of August ever since. (Cropped image: Flydime/Wikimedia)

Movies Released

  • Secret of the Wings (2012)
  • The Constant Gardener (2005)

TV Series Debuts

  • Dog the Bounty Hunter (2004)
  • Jack Ryan (2018)
  • Only Murders in the Building (2021)

Famous Birthdays

  • 1924: Buddy Hackett (actor)
  • 1928: James Coburn (actor)
  • 1949: Richard Gere (actress)
  • 1970: Debbie Gibson (singer)
  • 1971: Chris Tucker (comedian)
  • 1984: Ted Ligety (Olympic skier)

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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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