Feb 4, 1974:
Patty Hearst Kidnapped
~~"On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19-year-old daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California, by two black men and a white woman, all three of whom are armed. Her fiance, Stephen Weed, was beaten and tied up along with a neighbor who tried to help. Witnesses reported seeing a struggling Hearst being carried away blindfolded, and she was put in the trunk of a car. Neighbors who came out into the street were forced to take cover after the kidnappers fired their guns to cover their escape.
Three days later, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a small U.S. leftist group, announced in a letter to a Berkeley radio station that it was holding Hearst as a "prisoner of war." Four days later, the SLA demanded that the Hearst family give $70 in foodstuffs to every needy person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. This done, said the SLA, negotiation would begin for the return of Patricia Hearst. Randolph Hearst hesitantly gave away some $2 million worth of food. The SLA then called this inadequate and asked for $6 million more. The Hearst Corporation said it would donate the additional sum if the girl was released unharmed.
In April, however, the situation changed dramatically when a surveillance camera took a photo of Hearst participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank, and she was also spotted during a robbery of a Los Angeles store. She later declared, in a tape sent to the authorities, that she had joined the SLA of her own free will.
On May 17, Los Angeles police raided the SLA's secret headquarters, killing six of the group's nine known members. Among the dead was the SLA's leader, Donald DeFreeze, an African American ex-convict who called himself General Field Marshal Cinque. Patty Hearst and two other SLA members wanted for the April bank robbery were not on the premises.
Finally, on September 18, 1975, after crisscrossing the country with her captors--or conspirators--for more than a year, Hearst, or "Tania" as she called herself, was captured in a San Francisco apartment and arrested for armed robbery. Despite her claim that she had been brainwashed by the SLA, she was convicted on March 20, 1976, and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 21 months before her sentence was commuted by President Carter. After leaving prison, she returned to a more routine existence and later married her bodyguard. She was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001."
Feb 4, 1789:
First U.S. President Elected
~~"George Washington,the commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, is unanimously elected the first president of the United States by all 69 presidential electors who cast their votes. John Adams of Massachusetts, who received 34 votes, was elected vice president. The electors, who represented 10 of the 11 states that had ratified the U.S. Constitution, were chosen by popular vote, legislative appointment, or a combination of both four weeks before the election.
According to Article Two of the U.S. Constitution, the states appointed a number of presidential electors equal to the "number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in Congress." Each elector voted for two people, at least one of whom did not live in their state. The individual receiving the greatest number of votes was elected president, and the next-in-line, vice president. (In 1804, this practice was changed by the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which ordered separate ballots for the office of president and vice president.)
New York--though it was to be the seat of the new United States government--failed to choose its eight presidential electors in time for the vote on February 4, 1789. Two electors each from Virginia and Maryland were delayed by weather and did not vote. In addition, North Carolina and Rhode Island, which would have had seven and three electors respectively, had not ratified the Constitution and so could not vote.
That the remaining 69 unanimously chose Washington to lead the new U.S. government was a surprise to no one. As commander-in-chief during the Revolutionary War, he had led his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers to victory over one of the world's great powers. After the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, Washington rejected with abhorrence a suggestion by one of his officers that he use his preeminence to assume a military dictatorship. He would not subvert the very principles for which so many Americans had fought and died, he replied, and soon after, he surrendered his military commission to the Continental Congress and retired to his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.
When the Articles of Convention proved ineffectual, and the fledging republic teetered on the verge of collapse, Washington again answered his country's call and traveled to Philadelphia in 1787 to preside over the Constitutional Convention. Although he favored the creation of a strong central government, as president of the convention he maintained impartiality in the public debates. Outside the convention hall, however, he made his views known, and his weight of character did much to bring the proceedings to a close. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and on September 17, 1787, the document was signed.
The next day, Washington started for home, hoping that, his duty to his country again served, he could live out the rest of his days in privacy. However, a crisis soon arose when the Constitution fell short of its necessary ratification by nine states. Washington threw himself into the ratification debate, and a compromise agreement was made in which the remaining states would ratify the document in exchange for passage of the constitutional amendments that would become the Bill of Rights.
Government by the United States began on March 4, 1789. In April, Congress sent word to George Washington that he had unanimously won the presidency. He borrowed money to pay off his debts in Virginia and traveled to New York. On April 30, he came across the Hudson River in a specially built and decorated barge. The inaugural ceremony was performed on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street, and a large crowed cheered after he took the oath of office. The president then retired indoors to read Congress his inaugural address, a quiet speech in which he spoke of "the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." The evening celebration was opened and closed by 13 skyrockets and 13 cannons.
As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, "I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent." He successfully implemented executive authority, making good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his Cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term.
In 1797, he finally began his long-awaited retirement at Mount Vernon. He died on December 14, 1799. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy for the father of the United States: "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
Feb 4, 1938:
Disney Releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
~~"“See for yourself what the genius of Walt Disney has created in his first full length feature production,” proclaimed the original trailer for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released on this day in 1938.
Based on the famous fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, Snow White opened with the Wicked Queen asking her magic mirror the question “Who is the fairest one of all?” The mirror gives its fateful answer: Snow White, the queen’s young stepdaughter. Ordered by the queen to kill the young princess, a sympathetic woodsman instead urges Snow White to hide in the forest; there she encounters a host of friendly animals, who lead her to a cottage inhabited by the Seven Dwarfs: Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful and Happy. Eventually, in the classic happy ending viewers would come to expect as a Disney trademark, love conquers all as the dwarfs defeat the villainous queen and Snow White finds love with a handsome prince.
Walt Disney’s decision to make Snow White, which was the first animated feature to be produced in English and in Technicolor, flew in the face of the popular wisdom at the time. Naysayers, including his wife Lillian, warned him that audiences, especially adults, wouldn’t sit through a feature-length cartoon fantasy about dwarfs. But Disney put his future on the line, borrowing most of the $1.5 million that he used to make the film. Snow White premiered in Hollywood on December 21, 1937, earning a standing ovation from the star-studded crowd. When it was released to the public the following February, the film quickly grossed $8 million, a staggering sum during the Great Depression and the most made by any film up to that time.
Critics were virtually unanimous in their admiration for Snow White. Charlie Chaplin, who attended the Hollywood premiere, told the Los Angeles Times that the film “even surpassed our high expectations. In Dwarf Dopey, Disney has created one of the greatest comedians of all time.” The movie’s innovative use of story, color, animation, sound, direction and background, among other elements, later inspired directors like Federico Fellini and Orson Welles. In fact, Welles’ Citizen Kane features an opening shot of a castle at night with one lighted window that is strikingly similar to the first shot of the Wicked Queen’s castle in Snow White.
Disney won an honorary Academy Award for his pioneering achievement, while the music for the film, featuring Snow White’s famous ballad, “Some Day My Prince Will Come” and other songs by Frank Churchill, Larry Morey, Paul J. Smith and Leigh Harline, was also nominated for an Oscar. The studio re-released Snow White for the first time in 1944, during World War II; thereafter, it was released repeatedly every decade or so, a pattern that became a tradition for Disney’s animated films. For its 50th anniversary in 1987, Snow White was restored, but cropped into a wide-screen format, a choice that irked some critics. Disney released a more complete digital restoration of the film in 1993. Its power continues to endure: In June 2008, more than 60 years after its U.S. release, the American Film Institute chose Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the No. 1 animated film of all time in its listing of “America’s 10 Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres.”
Feb 4, 1983:
Karen Carpenter Dies of Anorexia
~~"Karen Carpenter, a singer who long suffered under the burden of the expectations that came with pop stardom, died on this day in 1983, succumbing to heart failure brought on by her long, unpublicized struggle with anorexia.
Carpenter had a fixation with her weight from her earliest days performing with her brother, Richard, in and around their hometown of Downey, California. As a teenager, she dropped at least 25 pounds on a popular and severe weight-loss program known as "the Water Diet," so that by the time she and Richard burst on the pop scene with their smash hit "Close To You" in the summer of 1970, she was a thin but healthy 20-year-old carrying 120 lbs. on a 5' 5" frame. She maintained that weight through the early years of the Carpenters' success, yet it appears that Karen's insecurities about her appearance only grew, even as she was becoming one of the biggest pop stars of her era.
In pictures printed in Rolling Stone magazine in late 1974, when the Carpenters were one of the most successful acts in all of pop music, Karen looks fit and healthy. Yet by mid-1975, the Carpenters were forced to cancel tours of Japan and Europe after Karen collapsed on stage in Las Vegas. Her weight had plummeted to only 90 lbs., and though it would rebound somewhat after a brief hospitalization, the next seven years were a repeating cycle of dramatic weight loss, collapse and then hospitalization. The name of Karen's condition was virtually unknown to the public at this time, but all that was about to change. Early on the morning of February 4, 1983, while staying in her parents home in Downey, Karen suffered a deadly heart attack, brought on by the physiological stresses placed on her system by the disease whose name soon entered the public consciousness: anorexia nervosa. She was only 32 years old."