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This Day in Pop Culture for November 18

Ben Hur

1959: Release of ‘Ben Hur’

There have been six different movie versions of the film Ben Hur, but the most famous is Charlton Heston’s version that was released on this day in 1959. At the time, Ben Hur  had the largest budget ($15.175 million), the largest sets, a wardrobe staff of 100, over 200 artists, about 200 camels and 2,500 horses and about 10,000 extras. Filming began on May 18, 1958 and didn’t wrap up until January 7, 1959. Filming lasted about 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week. The chariot race scene lasts for nine minutes in the finished film and Miklos Rozsa’s film score is the longest ever composed for a film. (Image: MGM)

1928: Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse made his first public debut on this day in 1928 at the Colony Theatre in New York with his appearance in Steamboat Willie. Today is also considered Mr. Mouse’s birthday. However this was actually Mickey’s third cartoon. His first was Plane Crazy followed by The Gallopin’ Gaucho. Both were silent films but Walt Disney had trouble finding a distributor. However, by the time Walt was working on Steamboat Willie, the technology had changed and his studio was able to create the first sound cartoon. Contrary to popular belief, Disney did not animate the early versions of Mickey. That was the job of Ub Iwerks. However, Walt was the voice of the Mouse for many years, but his first words were not spoken until 1929’s The Karnival Kid where he uttered, “Hot dog!” In 1978, he would become the first cartoon character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Minnie didn’t receive hers until 2018. (Image: Disney)

1988: Oliver Becomes a Kitten

Loosely based on the Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, Oliver and Company became Walt Disney Picture’s 27th animated feature film and was released on this day in 1988. This time around, Oliver is played by kitten and becomes an unlikely member of a gang of dogs. Oliver was voiced by a very young Joey Lawrence and the pooches were voiced by Billy Joel, Natalie Gregory, Cheech Marin, Bette Midler, Richard Mulligan, Roscoe Lee Browne and Sheryl Lee Ralph (although her singing voice was that of Ruth Pointer). Dom DeLuise played the role of Fagin. The movie received mixed reviews, but did okay with the box office. (Image: Wikipedia/Disney)

1963: Hello?

Now almost obsolete, the first push button phones were first distributed to customers living in various places of Pennsylvania on this day in 1963. (Image: Wikipedia)

Birthdays

  • 1901: George Gallup (statistician)
  • 1908: Imogene Coca (actress)
  • 1939: Brenda Vaccaro (actress)
  • 1942: Linda Evans (actress)
  • 1944: Wolfgang Joop (founder of JOOP!)
  • 1960: Elizabeth Perkins (actress)
  • 1960: Kim Wilde (singer)
  • 1968: Owen Wilson (actor)
  • 1970: Mike Epps (actor)
  • 1970: Megyn Kelly (journalist)
  • 1975: Shawn Camp (baseball player)

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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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