August 31, 2009
For many people, she was. She was beloved for her beauty, her un-royal-like rapport with the public and her work for charities, such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Diana’s tragic death in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997 led to a huge outpouring of emotion.
Tony Blair, Leader of Britain’s Labour Party, was British Prime Minister at the time of Lady Di’s fatal crash. On the night of her death, he was one of many notable people the press asked for reactions.
Blair responded: “She was the people's princess and that is how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and our memories forever.”
Thereafter, the phrase “the People’s Princess” became forever linked to Diana.
In his Yale Book of Quotations, quote expert Fred Shapiro notes that Blair’s use of the phrase was actually not the first. Over a decade earlier, it had been used in a souvenir booklet about Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s 1983 tour of Australia. The heading of a section in it was “Diana: the People’s Princess.”
But it was Blair’s more widely known use that made the phrase forever linked to the beautiful, doomed Diana.
August 30, 2009
What term invented during the Cold War is associated with August 30?
OK, I don’t really expect you to know the answer. If everybody knew that kind of language trivia there wouldn’t be any reason for this blog.
The answer is that on August 30, 1963, the “hot line” between the White House and the Kremlin first went into service.
News about this new tool for avoiding nuclear war cemented the term into our language and added it and the image of the red phones into movies and TV shows.
Two of my favorite examples were released not long after the new hot line was established: Fail-Safe (1964) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).
The term “hot line” had existed in some other contexts, but not in the political context we know today. That idea is generally credited to Jess Gorkin (1936-1985). Gorkin was the respected and influential editor of Parade Magazine, the widely circulated Sunday newspaper insert.
In the March 20, 1960 issue of Parade, Gorkin published an open letter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. In it, he advocated “the establishment of a direct telephone line between you...to prevent the possibility of an accidental war.” He ended it with the rhetorical question: “Must a world be lost for want of a telephone call?”
Gorkin didn’t use the term “hot line” in that open letter, but he did in a subsequent editorial in Parade, promoting the idea to presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
After Kennedy was elected President, Gorkin ran more editorials encouraging the hot line idea. And, after reaching the brink of nuclear Armageddon during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev decided it was a pretty good idea. On June 20, 1963, in Geneva, they signed an agreement to create the crisis communication link system Gorkin had suggested.
The Washington-Kremlin “hot line” officially went live on August 30, 1963 and Kennedy publicly gave credit for proposing it.
But despite what we’ve seen in the movies, forget the red phones. The “hot line” was actually a secure teletype link. Sorry, movie fans.
NOTE: Gorkin’s open letter to Eisenhower and Khrushchev, his later editorials, and thousands of other news articles dating back to the 1700s are available on NewspaperArchive.com, an indispensible tool for history and genealogy buffs.
August 26, 2009
On August 26, 1920, these words officially became part of the Constitution of the United States when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution went into effect.
The long, hard fight for women’s suffrage started in earnest in the mid-1800s. But it wasn’t until 1919 that both houses of Congress finally passed a proposed constitutional amendment to allow women to vote and sent it to the states for ratification.
On August 23, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th – and final necessary state – to ratify the amendment. Three days later it was officially declared effective as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
In 1971, at the request of pioneering Congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-NY), the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”
Since then, Women’s Equality Day has been celebrated every year on this date by women – and men – who care about equal civil rights.
(Hi, Phyllis. Happy Women’s Equality Day!)
August 25, 2009
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
On August 25, 1939, moviegoers throughout the U.S. heard that line for the first time, when the film version of The Wizard of Oz was released nationwide.
It’s said by actor Frank Morgan, as the scammer who pretends to be “The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.”
His cover is blown when the little dog Toto pulls back the drapes “the Wizard” has been hiding behind.
The Wiz then makes one last futile attempt to bluff Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her posse – the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Man (Jack Haley) and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr).
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” he blusters. “The Great Oz has spoken!”
The movie is based on the venerable children’s book by Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. (The “pay no attention line” is not in the book.)
August 24, 2009
"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."
This old piece weather humor used to be attributed to Mark Twain. But then quotation mavens determined it doesn’t exist in Twain’s works. Now, it’s generally attributed to American newspaper editor and author Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900).
The origin of both attributions is an editorial published in the August 24, 1897 issue of the Connecticut newspaper, the Hartford Courant.
The actual words of the editorial were: “A well known American writer said once that, while everybody talked about the weather, nobody seemed to do anything about it.” Those words apparently morphed into the cliché we know today.
Warner was the editor of the Hartford Courant in 1987. He was also a good friend of Twain’s. So, it has been assumed that Warner wrote the editorial and that the “well known American” was Twain.
However, the editorial was unsigned. So, the truth is, while everybody talks about giving Warner or Twain credit for the old “everybody talks about the weather” bit, nobody seems to have done anything to decisively prove it.
BTW, some sources give the date of the editorial as August 27, 1897. But books I consider the most authoritative sources on quotations – like the The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred Shapiro and the Cassell Companion To Quotations by the UK’s prolific quote expert Nigel Rees – say it was published on August 24th.
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