This Day in Pop Culture for October 7


1960: ‘Spartacus’ Arrives in Theaters

Inspired by the true-life events of a leader of a slave revolt during the Third Servile War, Spartacus arrived in movie theaters on this day in 1960. It starred Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis. The film was to be directed by Anthony Mann, but was removed after the first week of shooting. Douglas replaced him with Stanley Kubrick and became the only film that Kubrick directed where he did not have complete artistic control. The screenwriter for the film, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted at the time in Hollywood, so Douglas publicly announced that Trumbo was the screenwriter. John F. Kennedy, who the President-elect at the time, crossed the American Legion picket line to watch the film as a way of protesting the blacklisting. The movie won four Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ustinov), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. Spartacus became a huge hit for Universal Studios that wasn’t surpassed until 1970’s Airport.

1982: People Love ‘Cats’

T.S. Eliot originally wrote his poetry book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, for his godchildren. The book was a childhood favorite of Andrew Lloyd Webber who created the musical stage show, Cats of which it is based. The show doesn’t feature any dialogue outside of the song numbers and the thin storyline is loosely built around the poems. The show features a group of cats called the Jellicles who gather every year for an event called the “Jellicle choice” where the group decides which one of the group will be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (aka heaven). Each of the poems introduces another cat. It is most famous for the song “Memory” which was portrayed by Betty Buckley. Cats premiered in London on May 11, 1981 and on Broadway on this day in 1982. A huge hit, the American production finished its run on December 30, 2017 after 16 previews and 593 performances. A film version of the musical was released in 2019 which starred James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and Francesca Hayward. It was not so beloved. Critics and audiences pretty much hated the movie. As for Webber, he said that film convinced him to get a therapy dog.

Movies Released

  • Never Say Never Again (1983)
  • Dr. No (1962)
  • Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022)
  • Pillow Talk (1959)
  • Punchline (1988)
  • Spartacus (1960)
  • The French Connection (1971)
  • The Snowman (2017)

TV Series Debuts

  • Arthur (1996)
  • Ghosts (2021)
  • Hey Arnold! (1996)
  • One of Us is Lying (2021)
  • The Flash (2014)

Famous Birthdays

  • 1915: Walter Keane (painter plagiarist)
  • 1942: Joy Behar (TV show host)
  • 1955: Yo-Yo Ma (cellist)
  • 1957: Michael W. Smith (singer)
  • 1959: Simon Cowell (TV show producer)
  • 1967: Toni Braxton (singer)

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