December 30, 1968: NBC airs Elvis’s “Comeback Special.” Since his 1960 discharge from the army, Elvis concentrated on making films accompanied by singles. The quality of both diminished, and he grew bored and wanted to get back on stage. This TV special initially was designed as a Christmas variety show (even though it was filmed the previous June), but that concept was altered to emphasize Elvis’s singing over performing the same silly schtick he’d done in too many bad films with curvy costars (he was married and had a daughter now).
The show featured Elvis alone debuting several songs including “If I can Dream,” which became a significant hit, along with an informal segment with Elvis—wearing a tight black-leather outfit with a collar up to here—accompanied by his longtime backup players Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana on a slightly raised platform surrounded by a live audience. They performed and then Elvis talked to the people about the song, where he was in life when recording it, etc.
Ratings were through the roof, and Elvis concerts sold out across the globe.
Hail to The King, baby!
Happy 70th birthday Ozzy, born John Michael Osbourne, December 3, 1938 in Aston, Birmingham, England !
Tell me this nutball isn’t devil-spawn! Attaboy, Ozzy.
Happy birthday to Jeffrey Leon Bridges, born December 4, 1949, in Los Angeles. On screen he can do it all, and he’s a talented musician and photographer, as well (monochrome in an old Wideluxe). I like his dad and brother, too!
Have a great birthday, Jeff. The big 7-0 next year!
Happy 86th birthday to “Little” Richard Penniman, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” born December 5, 1932, in Macon, GA. One of a handful of artists who invented rock. Immeasurable energy in those early recordings. He taught the Beatles a few things, as well. Love this guy; listen to him all the time.
Have a great one, Richard!
December 5, 1791: “The taste of death is upon my lips…I feel something, that is not of this earth.” After falling ill in late November, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies in Vienna at 35. Ironically, he was writing a requiem funeral mass for a client. Doctors now believe Mozart succumbed to a streptococcal infection ravaging Vienna at the time.
December 6, 1933: Judge John Woolsey, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, determines that James Joyce’s Ulysses while containing titillating content is not intended to be obscene and is a “serious attempt to devise a new literary method,” clearing the book for distribution in the United States.
Birthday wishes to character actor extraordinaire Agnes Moorehead, born in Clinton, Mass., December 6, 1900. She’s no doubt best remembered for playing Endora, the snooty mother-in-law in TV’s Bewitched, but Moorehead was an original member of the Mercury Theatre, appearing in numerous radio productions as well as in Citizen Kane, and The Magnificent Ambersons. She also starred with Orson as Margo Lane to his Lamont Cranston in The Shadow.
She was a top radio actress for many years and made the jump to early TV dramas. My favorite is her portrayal of the mute woman defending her cabin from diminutive alien invaders in The Twilight Zone.
December 7, 1873: Wilella Siebert “Willa” Cather is born in Virginia’s Back Creek Valley. Willa’s family relocated to Nebraska when she was ten. You think of her as always roaming the prairie, but she spent most of her life in Pittsburgh and Manhattan.
Despite her winning a 1923 Pulitzer (I’d give her the prize just for that hat!), Willa’s work was dismissed as overly nostalgic when the modernists came into vogue. She’s still read, so somebody must like it.
December 8, 1980: Love to you, John.
(firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.
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