2003: Man Survives Niagara Falls Fall
On this day in 2003, Kirk Jones became the first person to go over the Horseshoe Falls without a flotation device and survive. At least he was the first recorded person to make the feat. Single and unemployed, Jones and his friend Bob Krueger visited Niagara Falls a few days before. Krueger was to record the event on a video camera, however he never figured out how to operate the machine correctly, so there is no footage of the brave event. Jones jumped in the water at Horseshoe Falls and fell 170 feet where he not only survived, but was also able to pull himself to safety as well. He was transported to the hospital suffering only minor rib injuries. Canadian authorities banned the man for life and was fined nearly $3,000. In 2017, he attempted to try the stunt a second time inside a large plastic ball and his pet snake Misty along for the ride. This time he was not so successful. His body was found on June 2, but authorities believe that he had died as early as April 19, 2017.
1962: A Song Becomes a Graveyard Smash
Though released months earlier in August, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s song “Monster Mash” went to the #1 top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on this day in 1962. Apparently, the origin of the song began when Pickett was singing his band the Cordials. They played their version of The Diamond’s song, “Little Darlin’” and Pickett sang it as if Boris Karloff was singing the tune. The crowd loved it and he was encouraged to do more with the imitation. So, he and Lenny Capizzi composed “Monster Mash” and recorded it with Gary S. Paxton, Leon Russell, Johnny MacRae, Rickie Page and Terry Berg who credited themselves as “The Crypt-Kickers.”
The full-length album, The Original Monster Mash followed later that year featuring 15 other songs including “Blood Bank Blues”, “Monster Minuet” and “Transylvania Twist.” While a hit in the U.S., the BBC banned “Monster Mash” from airplay because they felt that the tune was “too morbid.” That same year, Pickett also recorded a follow song, “Monster’s Holiday” for Christmas. Pickett continued to release parody songs including “Star Drek” (1975), “King Kong (You Song)” (1976), “Monster Rap” during the ‘80s and “It’s Alive” (1993).
CBS Has its Eye on You
It was on this day in 1951 when CBS TV debuted “The Eye” logo for the first time. Designed by creative director Bill Golden, it was inspired by hex symbols resembling the human eye that were drawn on Shaker barns to ward off evil spirits. The finished logo was created by Kurt Weihs. In the 1950s, the logo’s center became a camera iris, but that idea was dropped early on. Though minor changes have been made to the eye, the logo pretty much has stayed the same and is considered one of the best trademark symbols ever created.
- 1882: Bela Lugosi (actor)
- 1907: Arlene Francis (actress)
- 1927: Joyce Brothers (psychologist)
- 1931: Mickey Mantle (baseball player)
- 1935: Jerry Orbach (actor)
- 1950: Tom Petty (singer)
- 1956: Danny Boyle (film director)
- 1971: Snoop Dogg (rapper)
- 1979: John Krasinski (actor)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.