(RNN) - This week is a John Wayne-a-palooza.
It's my personal Christmas before the real Christmas and it doesn't involve avoiding deer on the highway. Everybody wins.
By the way, it's almost unfathomable that I haven't mentioned John Wayne's Facebook page at all during the entire year. What is wrong with me? The Duke tweets too. (Or at least someone does on his behalf since, you know, he's been dead since 1979.)
There's also www.johnwayne.com, where you can read about the Duke, talk about the Duke and buy John Wayne beef jerky. There's also www.shopjohnwayne.com where each day offers a different sale on Wayne wares and you can buy the likeness of America's greatest citizen in the form of a Zippo lighter, pocket knife, bobblehead doll, snow globe and Christmas tree ornament.
Have a merry Christmas, pilgrim.
Anyway, that's not why you called. First, somehow I missed Jeff Bridges' birthday last week. He was born Dec. 4, 1949, and reprised Wayne's Oscar-winning role of Rooster Cogburn in the 2010 remake of True Grit. I discovered this because Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Mattie Ross opposite him, was born Dec. 11, 1996.
Robert Livingston was born Dec. 9 and had a distinguished acting career in the 30s and 40s. He played Stony Brooke in 29 of the 51 low-budget Three Mesquiteers movies. Wayne played the same role in eight of them.
Marie Windsor was known as the "Queen of the B Movies" and though she was a Mormon all her life received Bibles in the mail from people who had seen her movies and were trying to reform her of her many characters' usually immoral behavior. She was born Dec. 11, 1919, and died Dec. 10, 2000. She also had a role with Wayne in Cahill U.S. Marshall.
Victor McLaglen was born Dec. 11, 1883, and starred alongside Wayne in several movies, including The Quiet Man, for which he received an Oscar nomination. In the movie, Wayne is trying to marry his sister and the two get into a prolonged fistfight that includes a brief intermission to drink beer and argue over who gets to pay. (It's hilarious when given the Benny Hill treatment.)
Chill Wills died Dec. 15, 1978. Wills starred with Wayne in Rio Grande, The Alamo and McLintock!.
Kirk Douglas' legendary Hollywood career included the title role in Spartacus, Doc Holliday in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and two roles with the Duke in In Harm's Way and Cast a Giant Shadow. He was born as Issur Danielovitch Demsky on Dec. 9, 1916.
Here are some of the events of note that happened between Dec. 9 and 15.
There isn't much left to discuss here, but Dick Van Dyke was born Dec. 13, 1925, Mary Todd Lincoln was born Dec. 13, 1818, and gymnast McKayla Maroney started on the road to being unimpressed with everything when she was born Dec. 9, 1995.
George Washington died Dec. 14, 1799. Washington died after developing a severe illness after riding around in the snow picking out trees to cut down and refusing to change into dry clothes lest he be late for dinner.
The cause of his death is generally cited as pneumonia, but that is uncertain and widely debated (strep throat is also a leading candidate). His death was almost certainly hastened – maybe even caused - by bloodletting, which was performed multiple times at Washington's request, believing it had healed him in the past. It resulted in him losing nearly half his blood volume over a period of several hours.
A tracheotomy would have likely cured the affliction and one was suggested, but because it was a new treatment, it wasn't trusted by Washington's longtime physicians and wasn't attempted.
A tomb was constructed for Washington's body in the U.S. Capitol building in 1831, but Southern opposition to the removal of his body from his home at Mount Vernon kept the tomb from being used out of fear that secession would result in Washington be buried in a foreign nation to his native Virginia.
Following an attempted theft of his remains, Washington's body was moved to a permanent location at Mount Vernon in 1837.
Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
Mississippi became a state Dec. 10, 1817. Mississippi is full of destructive dirt and fat people. It's where Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane crashed, the teddy bear legend was created, Coca-Cola was first bottled, most farm-raised catfish is grown and was used as filming location in John Wayne's movie The Horse Soldiers and most of O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Mississippi is also home to uninspiring college football teams, the largest supplier of ships for the U.S. Navy, the largest cemetery for Civil War soldiers and is the only state to still use the Confederate battle flag emblem on its state flag.
People who are from Mississippi include Elvis Presley, Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, William Faulkner, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Buffett, B.B. King and me. Mississippi absolutely gets to stay a member of the United States.
Alabama became a state Dec. 14, 1819. Alabama is home to the last four college football national championship teams, and possibly the one from this year. I currently live in Alabama, so it's staying as well. Indiana became a state Dec. 11, 1916, and I'm kicking it out because Notre Dame refuses to join a college football conference.
Somebody stole 300 million yen in Tokyo in the largest heist in Japan's history Dec. 10, 1968. A man dressed as a police officer stopped bank employees transferring the money, claiming there was dynamite under their car. He lit a flare and claimed the dynamite was about to explode. When they all ran off to avoid being blown up, he got in their car and drove away with the money.
The crime has not been solved. The statute of limitations on the crime expired in 1975 and in 1988 the thief was absolved of any punishments, allowing him to come forward without penalty, but no one has ever claimed responsibility.
The first traffic lights were installed outside the Palace of Westminster in London on Dec. 10, 1868, Edward VIII's abdication of the thrown went into effect Dec. 11, 1936, Saddam Hussein was captured and the phrase "we got him" uttered Dec. 13, 2003, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published Dec. 10, 1884, the last moon landing occurred Dec. 11, 1972, the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court ruling installing George W. Bush as president was released Dec. 12, 2000, and Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad on Dec. 14, 2008. On Dec. 1, 2009, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at al-Zaidi.
The first college basketball game was played Dec. 10, 1896. Wesleyan beat Yale 4-3. (Yes, a basketball game ended 4-3.)
The USGA legalized the use of steel-shafted golf clubs Dec. 9, 1926, the first yacht race across the Atlantic Ocean took place Dec. 11, 1866, the first Heisman Trophy was awarded to Jay Berwanger on Dec. 9, 1935, and Charles Woodson became the only defensive player to win the Heisman on Dec. 13, 1997, beating out Peyton Manning.
A rival state declared Kentucky a member of the Confederacy on Dec. 10, 1861. Kentucky wasn't a member and never officially joined, but the Confederacy's emblem needed a star in the middle to tie everything together, so it claimed Kentucky. (I'm speculating on the reasons, of course, but the star in middle of the flag was for Kentucky.)
The USS Cairo was sunk Dec. 12, 1862. The ship was the first one to be sunk by an electrically-detonated mine. It sunk in 12 minutes, but no one in the crew was killed. The wreckage of the ship was discovered in 1956. In 1964 the ship was cut into three pieces and salvaged. It was put on display in 1977 as the centerpiece attraction of the Vicksburg National Military Park. The ship is one of only three Civil War ships on display and the only one belonging to the Union.
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought Dec. 11 to 15, 1862. Despite being outnumbered, the Confederacy achieved a decisive victory and inflicted casualties at a more than 2-to-1 ratio, including the killing of two Union generals.
Ambrose Burnside was relieved of his command of the Union Army following the battle and President Abraham Lincoln wrote the loss put him in "a worse place than hell."
The Toledo War unofficially ended Dec. 14, 1836. Though not actually a war, Ohio and Michigan both claimed a strip of land that included Toledo because of a lack of understanding of the features of the Great Lakes. The area was important for commerce due to railroads and canals, and Michigan eventually agreed to be admitted as a state without it.
Ice Cream Day is Dec. 13. That seems a tad ridiculous, but National Pastry Day is Dec. 9 and that makes all the sense in the world. Obviously, you should bake a pie, pecan being the most acceptable choice.
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