Shirley Temple receives $50,000 per film


Year
1936
Month Day
February 27

On February 27, 1936, Shirley Temple receives a new contract from 20th Century Fox that will pay the seven-year-old star $50,000 per film.

Temple was born in 1928 in Santa Monica, California, and started appearing in a series of short films spoofing current movies, called Baby Burlesks, at the age of four. At six, she attracted attention with her complex song-and-dance number “Baby Take a Bow,” performed with James Dunn, in the 1934 movie Stand Up and Cheer. Based on the film’s success, 20th Century Fox signed little Shirley to a seven-year contract. 

She would appear in a string of films that year and the next, including Little Miss Marker, Change of Heart, Bright Eyes (which featured one of her most famous songs, the bouncy tune “On the Good Ship Lollipop”), and Curly Top. At the depths of the Great Depression, Temple’s films provided a cheery alternate universe for audiences suffering the effects of widespread unemployment and general economic hardship.

Knowing they had a cash cow on their hands, 20th Century Fox refined the terms of Temple’s contract in 1936, paying her the unprecedented sum of $50,000 per picture. They also famously altered the year on her birth certificate, making it appear that she was a year younger in order to prolong her adorable child-star status. By 1938, Temple was the No. 1 box-office draw in America. The public loved her, and she routinely upstaged her adult counterparts on the big screen. Over the course of the 1930s, the box-office success of her more than 40 films, including Poor Little Rich Girl, Wee Willie Winkie, Heidi and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, went a long way towards helping Fox weather the Depression.

Temple’s career began to peter out in her teenage years, however, and her later films met with less and less success with audiences. In 1950, she retired from movies, though she narrated the television series Shirley Temple’s Storybook from 1957 to 1959. Also in 1950, she married naval officer Charles Black, changing her name to Shirley Temple Black. (She had been previously married to Jack Agar; they wed when she was 17 and divorced after having one child, Linda.) With Black, she had two more children, Charles Jr. and Lori.

Some 20 years after retiring from Hollywood, Temple Black launched a political career, running as the Republican candidate for a congressional seat in San Mateo, California, in 1967 and coming in second of 14 candidates. The following year, President Richard Nixon appointed her as an ambassador to the United Nations; she worked for the State Department in the United States and overseas for more than two decades. She was the first woman to ever serve as chief of protocol, a post she held for 11 years under President Gerald R. Ford, and President George H.W. Bush named her ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989; by the end of her term in 1993, it had become the Czech Republic.

Temple Black published her autobiography, Child Star, in 1988. She served on the Institute of International Studies. The former child star also became a spokeswoman for breast cancer awareness after she discovered a malignant lump in her breast in 1972 and underwent a simple mastectomy. In 1999, at an event hosted by then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, Temple Black received a medal from the Kennedy Center for lifetime achievement to the United States and the world.

On February 10, 2014, Temple died at her Woodside, California, home at 85.

READ MORE: 7 Facts About Shirley Temple

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Walt Disney announces $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar


Year
2006
Month Day
January 24

By the end of 2005, Pixar had become a giant in the world of movie animation, and on January 24, 2006, the company that brought the world the blockbuster hits Toy Story (1995), A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003) and The Incredibles (2004) was sold to the Walt Disney Company, their longtime distributor, for a staggering $7.4 billion.

Since 1993, when Disney and Pixar signed their first three-picture deal, Pixar’s films had won 19 Academy Awards and grossed more than $3 billion at the box office. Their pioneering techniques in digital animation–Toy Story was the first animated film to be completely computer-generated–had set a new standard, blazing a trail that other companies had struggled to follow. In the same time period, Disney’s own animation unit had released more traditional animated films that were either modest successes, such as Lilo & Stich (2002), or flops, such as Home on the Range (2004). Its first completely computer-generated effort, Chicken Little (2005) was profitable, but had nowhere near the success of The Incredibles, which grossed $200 million domestically and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Despite the success of the Pixar-Disney collaboration, Pixar CEO (and Apple co-founder) Steve Jobs had reportedly clashed with Disney’s longtime chairman and CEO, Michael Eisner, and in January 2004, Jobs announced that Pixar would begin talks with other distributors. Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney subsequently led a shareholder revolt, and in the spring of 2004 Eisner received a 45 percent no-confidence vote from shareholders and was stripped of his chairmanship.

Eisner announced he would step down as CEO in September 2005, one year before his contract was set to expire. His replacement was the company’s president, Robert A. Iger. One of Iger’s first moves was to work on repairing the relationship with Pixar, whose latest contract with Disney was set to expire in June 2006, with the delivery of its next film, Cars.

Under the deal announced that January, and formally completed on May 5, Jobs would serve as a director on Disney’s board, while John Lasseter, a former Disney animator and the leading creative force behind Pixar’s films, would become chief operating officer of the animation studios, as well as the principle creative adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company’s theme parks. In a conscious effort by Pixar to maintain its unique creative process and non-traditional corporate culture, the two companies remained physically separate, with Pixar maintaining its headquarters in Emeryville, California (Disney is based in Burbank).

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Sitcom actress murdered; death prompts anti-stalking legislation

Year
1989
Month Day
July 18

On July 18, 1989, the 21-year-old actress Rebecca Schaeffer is murdered at her Los Angeles home by Robert John Bardo, a mentally unstable man who had been stalking her. Schaeffer’s death helped lead to the passage in California of legislation aimed at preventing stalking.

Schaeffer was born November 6, 1967, in Eugene, Oregon. She worked as a teenage model and had a short stint on the daytime soap opera One Life to Live, but was best known for co-starring with Pam Dawber in the television sitcom My Sister Sam. Bardo, born in 1970, had written Schaeffer letters and unsuccessfully tried to gain access to the set of My Sister Sam, before showing up at her apartment on July 18, 1989. The obsessed fan had reportedly obtained the actress’s home address through a detective agency, which located it through records at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. On the day of the murder, Schaeffer reportedly complied with Bardo’s request for an autograph when he appeared at her home and then asked him to leave. He returned a short time later and the actress, who reportedly was waiting for someone to deliver a script, answered the door again. Bardo then shot and killed her.

Arrested the next day in Tucson, Arizona, Bardo was later prosecuted by the Los Angeles County district attorney Marcia Clark, who later became famous as a prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial. In 1991, Bardo was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 1994, California passed the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which prevented the Department of Motor Vehicles from releasing private addresses.

The 2002 film Moonlight Mile, loosely inspired by Schaeffer’s story, was written and directed by Brad Silberling, who had been dating the young actress at the time of her death.

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Julia Roberts collects $20 million for Erin Brockovich


Year
2000
Month Day
March 17

With Erin Brockovich, released on March 17, 2000, Julia Roberts becomes the first actress ever to command $20 million per movie.

Born in Smyrna, Georgia, on October 28, 1967, Roberts followed her brother Eric into acting, making her film debut in 1988’s girl-band drama Satisfaction. Her bona-fide breakout onto Hollywood’s A-list came in 1990, with the release of the box-office smash Pretty Woman. As Vivian Ward, a Hollywood Boulevard prostitute who charms a wealthy businessman (Richard Gere) into a happily-ever-after ending, Roberts grinned her way to her first Best Actress Oscar nomination. She had previously snagged an Academy Award nomination, in the Best Supporting Actress category, for her performance in the 1989 tear-jerker Steel Magnolias.

After another blockbuster (1993’s The Pelican Brief) and a string of relative disappointments (including 1996’s Mary Reilly), Roberts returned with a box-office bang in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), in which she deftly upended her “America’s sweetheart” reputation by playing a character who desperately schemes to steal another woman’s fiancee., In 1999, Roberts made two more high-profile romantic comedies, Notting Hill and The Runaway Bride, which re-teamed her with Gere; though critics panned the latter film, both were huge hits.

Roberts then signed on for the title role in the director Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich.

By that time, $20 million had become the standard paycheck for Hollywood’s A-list male movie stars, including Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone, among others. Roberts was the first female performer to command this amount. As was reported in Newsweek at the time of Erin Brockovich’s release, Universal Pictures was initially reluctant to hand Roberts her record-breaking paycheck. Her agent, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, reportedly convinced the studio by pointing out the injustice of Hollywood’s double standard. With five movies that grossed more than $100 million, Goldsmith-Thomas argued, Roberts was well worth the same paycheck as male stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio or Adam Sandler, each of whom had commanded $20 million after scoring only one hit of that magnitude.

Roberts’ Erin Brockovich haul put her far out in front of her closest peers at the time, Meg Ryan and Jodie Foster, who had reportedly each made $15 million for a single movie. In Erin Brockovich, Roberts proved worthy of her enormous paycheck, leading the film to more than $125 million at the U.S. box office and five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Dressed in black-and-white vintage Valentino, a tearful and triumphant Roberts took home the statuette for Best Actress at the 73rd annual Academy Awards. 

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“Spider-Man” becomes first movie to top $100 million in opening weekend

Year
2002
Month Day
May 05

Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire in the title role, the eagerly awaited comic book adaptation Spider-Man was released on Friday, May 3, 2002, and quickly became the fastest movie ever to earn more than $100 million at the box office, raking in a staggering $114.8 million by Sunday, May 5.

After a genetically altered spider bites the teenager Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) during his class field trip to a university laboratory, he discovers that the bite has given him supernatural powers. Though his principal goal is pursuing his longtime crush, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Parker soon transforms himself into Spider-Man in order to combat evil, in the form of the Green Goblin, the villainous result of an experiment that the scientist Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) has performed on himself.

By the time the film was released, four decades had passed since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Spider-Man for Marvel in 1962. The comic’s enduring popularity, as well as a massive marketing campaign by Columbia Pictures and Marvel, seemed to predict commercial success for Spider-Man, which opened in more than 3,600 theaters nationwide. In addition, super-hero movies traditionally faired well at the box office, as evidenced by the hit Superman and Batman films. Reviewers also praised Raimi’s film for its smart script and generally good acting, as well as its high-tech special effects. The combination of all these factors helped explain Spider-Man’s record opening-day haul of $39.4 million. The previous mark was $32.3 million, set by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had taken five days to pass the $100 million mark, as had 1999’s Stars Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. Spider-Man would go on to earn some $403.7 million domestically, more than any other comic book movie to that date.

Both Spider-Man sequels, in 2004 and 2007, would break their predecessor’s opening day record, earning $40.4 million and $59 million, respectively. Spider-Man 3, shown on more than 10,000 screens at 4,252 locations, boasted an opening weekend haul of $151.1 million. That record would stand until July 2008, when The Dark Knight, the fifth film in the Batman franchise, grossed $155 million in its first weekend. Only 19 days after its release, The Dark Knight had taken in $405.7 million in the United States alone, passing the first Spider-Man. 

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Christopher Cross has his first of two #1 hits with “Sailing”

Year
1980
Month Day
August 30

The music video that famously played during MTV’s first minutes on the air was “Video Killed The Radio Star,” by the British synth-pop duo The Buggles. Four weeks later, a young American singer-songwriter named Christopher Cross completed a meteoric rise from obscurity when his hit ballad “Sailing” reached the top of the Billboard pop chart on August 30, 1980. In the years since, many observers have linked the first of these two events to the eventual decline of the man who accomplished the second. But even if MTV is what “killed” the radio star Christopher Cross, it did so only after he accomplished a run of success as great and unexpected as any in pop history.

“Biography: I Want My MTV” premieres September 8 at 9/8c on A&E. Watch a preview

Released in January 1980, Cross’s self-titled debut album was one of the biggest soft-rock hits of all time. The first single was “Ride Like The Wind,” which featured a memorable backup vocal by Doobie Brothers singer Michael McDonald and rose to #2 on the pop charts the following summer. “Sailing” was the follow-up single, and it rose even faster and higher, hitting #1 on this day in 1980. It also transformed Christopher Cross from a complete unknown to the biggest name in pop almost overnight, propelling him to a still-unmatched sweep at the 1981 Grammy Awards, where “Sailing” won Grammys for Best Record and Best Song, Christopher Cross won for Best Album and Cross himself won for Best New Artist. Cross would have another #1 pop hit later that year with “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do),” co-written with Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager and winner of the 1982 Oscar for Best Song. But Cross’s next top-10 hit, “Think Of Laura” (1983), would be his last.

Some say that the extremely talented but not terribly telegenic Christopher Cross was undone by the esthetic imperatives brought on by the dawning of the MTV era. But it is just as reasonable to suggest musical fashions were already shifting away from Cross’s “lite” Adult Contemporary sound without the help of MTV. In any event, Cross disappeared from the pop scene almost as quickly as he entered it.

“Would I have rather had a career like Peter Gabriel’s or Sting’s or somebody that grows over a long period of years and sustains like they have?” Cross asked himself in an interview 20 years after his heyday. “I’d prefer that as opposed to the sort of meteoric curve of my career…[but] I hear my music in grocery stores and people do know who I am, and I continue to tour so it’s great. Given the options, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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National Hockey League (NHL) opens its first season


Updated:
Original:
Year
1917
Month Day
December 19

On December 19, 1917, four teams of the National Hockey League (NHL) play in the fledgling league’s first two games. At the time of its inception, the NHL was made up of five franchises: the Canadiens and the Wanderers (both of Montreal), the Ottawa Senators, the Quebec Bulldogs and the Toronto Arenas. The Montreal teams won two victories that first day, as the Canadiens beat Ottawa 7-4 and the Wanderers triumphed over Toronto 10-9.

The first professional ice hockey league was the International Pro Hockey League, founded in 1904 in Michigan. After it folded, two bigger leagues emerged in Canada: the National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast League (PCL). In 1914, the two leagues played a championship series, and the winner was awarded the famous silver bowl donated for Canada’s amateur hockey leagues by Lord Stanley, the English governor general of Canada, in 1892. The NHA stopped operating during World War I, and after the war the five elite teams from Canada formed the NHL in its place. Despite that early defeat, Toronto went on to win the inaugural season. In March 1918, they defeated the PCL champions, the Vancouver Millionaires, three games to two for the Stanley Cup.

By 1926, the PCL had folded, and the 10 teams of the NHL divided into two divisions. The champions of each those two divisions–the Eastern and the Western Conference–now face each other at the end of each season in the Stanley Cup Championship.

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Adolf Hitler becomes the leader of the Nazi Party

Year
1921
Month Day
July 29

On July 29, 1921, Adolf Hitler becomes the leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party. Under Hitler, the Nazi Party grew into a mass movement and ruled Germany as a totalitarian state from 1933 to 1945.

Hitler’s early years did not seem to predict his rise as a political leader. Born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau am Inn, Austria, he was a poor student and never graduated from high school. During World War I, he joined a Bavarian regiment of the German army and was considered a brave soldier; however, his commanders felt he lacked leadership potential and never promoted him beyond corporal.

Frustrated by Germany’s defeat in the war, which left the nation economically depressed and politically unstable, Hitler joined a fledgling organization called the German Workers’ Party in 1919. Founded earlier that same year by a small group of men including locksmith Anton Drexler and journalist Karl Harrer, the party promoted German pride and anti-Semitism, and expressed dissatisfaction with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement that ended the war and required Germany to make numerous concessions and reparations. Hitler soon emerged as the party’s most charismatic public speaker and attracted new members with speeches blaming Jews and Marxists for Germany’s problems and espousing extreme nationalism and the concept of an Aryan “master race.” On July 29, 1921, Hitler assumed leadership of the organization, which by then had been renamed the Nationalist Socialist German Workers’ Party.

In 1923, Hitler and his followers staged the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, a failed takeover of the government in Bavaria, a state in southern Germany. In the aftermath of this event, Hitler was convicted of treason and sentenced to five years in prison, but spent less than a year behind bars (during which time he dictated the first volume of “Mein Kampf,” or “My Struggle,” his political autobiography.) The publicity surrounding the Beer Hall Putsch and Hitler’s subsequent trial turned him into a national figure. After his release from jail, he set about rebuilding the Nazi Party and attempting to gain power through the democratic election process. 

In 1929, Germany entered a severe economic depression that left millions of people unemployed. The Nazis capitalized on this situation by criticizing the ruling government and began to win elections. In the July 1932 elections, they captured 230 out of 608 seats in the Reichstag, or German parliament. In January 1933, Hitler was appointed German chancellor and in March of that year his Nazi government assumed dictatorial powers. The Nazis soon came to control every aspect of German life and all other political parties were banned.

Following Germany’s defeat in World War II, during which some 6 million European Jews were murdered under Hitler’s state-sponsored extermination programs, the Nazi Party was outlawed and many of its top officials were convicted of war crimes. Hitler had committed suicide on April 30, 1945, shortly before Germany’s surrender.

READ MORE: How Did the Nazis Really Lose World War II?

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Bloody Ban Tarleton born in Britain

Year
1754
Month Day
August 21

On August 21, 1754, Banastre Tarleton is born as the fourth child of John Tarleton, the former lord mayor of Liverpool, and a money lender, merchant and slave trader.

After completing his education at Oxford, Tarleton became the most feared officer in the British army during the War for American Independence, memorialized in portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, as well as on film in The Patriot (2000), starring Mel Gibson, as the basis for the character Colonel William Tavington. The treatment of Patriot prisoners by Tarleton and his Loyalist troops in the Southern Campaign led to the coining of a phrase that came to define British brutality during of the last years of the War for Independence: “Tarleton’s Quarter.”

After the surrender of Charleston, South Carolina, on May 12, 1780, the 3rd Virginia, commanded by Colonel Abraham Buford, was virtually the only organized Patriot formation remaining in South Carolina; Colonel Tarleton had been given the mission to destroy any colonial resistance in the state. At Waxhaws on the North Carolina border, a cavalry charge by Tarleton’s men broke the 350 remaining Patriots under Buford. Tarleton and his Tories proceeded to shoot at the Patriots after their surrender, a move that spawned the term “Tarleton’s Quarter,” which in the eyes of the Patriots meant a brutal death at the hands of a cowardly foe. The Continentals lost 113 killed and 203 captured in the Battle of Waxhaws; British losses totaled 19 men and 31 horses killed or wounded. Although they were routed, the loss became a propaganda victory for the Continentals, as wavering Carolina civilians terrified of Tarleton and their Loyalist neighbors were now prepared to rally to the Patriot cause.

After the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, Tarleton returned to Britain where he served in Parliament as a representative from Liverpool and argued for the preservation of the slave trade. He became Sir Banastre Tarleton, 1st Baronet, in 1815. He died in 1833.

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Washington refuses British general’s letter of reconciliation

Year
1776
Month Day
August 30

On August 30, 1776, General George Washington gives the New York Convention three reasons for the American retreat from Long Island. That same day, he rejects British General William Howe’s second letter of reconciliation.

With Howe and a superior British force having recently landed at Long Island—they handed the Continentals a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights on August 27—Washington gave these reasons for his decision to retreat: the need to reunite his forces, the extreme fatigue of his soldiers and the lack of proper shelter from the weather.

For his part, Howe had attempted to reconcile with the Patriots before blood was spilled, but had been rejected by Washington because he had failed to use Washington’s title of “general” when addressing the letter. Even after beating the Continentals at Brooklyn Heights, Howe looked for a peaceful resolution, allowing Washington and his army to escape by boat to Manhattan and sending yet another letter to Washington through American General John Sullivan. Washington refused to accept the missive, but gave Sullivan permission to deliver it to Congress in Philadelphia.

On September 11, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and other congressional representatives accepted Howe’s offer and reopened talks on Staten Island. The negotiations fell through when the British refused to accept American independence as a condition for peace.

The British captured New York City on September 15; it would remain in British hands until the end of the war.

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