Little Bits of History

March 15

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2017

1956: My Fair Lady premieres on Broadway. The musical was based on George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion. Book and lyrics for the production were by Alan Jay Lerner with music by Frederick Lowe. In the 1930s, Gabriel Pascal had acquired rights to make several of Shaw’s plays into movies. Shaw had a bad experience with one of the earlier attempts and refused to give permission to turn Pygmalion into a musical. After Shaw died in 1950, Pascal began work on turning Shaw’s play into the musical he had envisioned decades before. It had previously been attempted by well-known composer/lyricists and even Rogers and Hammerstein had failed in their attempts. It was deemed to be impossible and so Lerner and Lowe abandoned the projects. Pascal died without his musical.

Lerner read the obituary and began to wonder if they could pull it off and he and Lowe began working on the project again. The musical had its pre-Broadway run at New Haven’s Shubert Theatre and Rex Harrison, playing the lead role of Henry Higgins, was unused to having a live orchestra in the pit. He refused to go on. Everyone was sent home but Harrison finally relented. They were all called back and the first performance was a hit. They moved from there to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for four weeks. Finally, on this day, they opened on Broadway with Harrison still as Higgins and Julie Andrews playing Eliza Dolittle.

Opening night was at the Mark Hellinger Theater before it moved to Broadhurst Theatre and then The Broadway Theatre. It ran for 2,717 performances before closing on September 29, 1962. Eventually Edward Mulhare and Sally Ann Howes replaces Harrison and Andrews for the leads. The original cast recording became a best-selling album. The original costumes were created by Cecil Beaton and are part of a museum collection today. The stars left the Broadway production in order to open in London’s West End which opened on April 30, 1958 where it ran for 2,281 performances before closing in 1963.

There have been many more reprisals of the award-winning musical along with movie production of My Fair Lady which again had Rex Harrison playing Higgins, but Audrey Hepburn took over the Eliza role. Shaw wrote the original work based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor. He creates the most perfect statue of his ideal woman and because he loved the work so purely, Aphrodite granted his wish and the statue came to life and the two were married and lived happily ever after. In My Fair Lady, the ending is not so certain. Eliza returns to Henry, but the story is left with an ambiguous ending.

We will write the show without the rights, and when the time comes for them to decide who is to get them, we will be so far ahead of everyone else that they will be forced to give them to us. – Frederick Lowe, when the rights to Shaw’s work were in dispute

[He] announced that under no circumstances would he go on that night…with those thirty-two interlopers in the pit. – Alan Jay Lerner, referring to Harrison’s refusal to work with a live orchestra

The Lerner-Loewe songs are not only delightful, they advance the action as well. They are ever so much more than interpolations, or interruptions. – Robert Coleman

Eliza, where the devil are my slippers? – Henry Higgins (last line of the musical)


High Rollers

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2015
Rolls-Royce, the early years

Rolls-Royce, the early years

March 15, 1906: Rolls-Royce is founded in Manchester, England. Henry Royce opened an electrical and mechanical shop in 1884 and produced his first car, a two-cylinder Royce 10, in 1904. He met Charles Rolls, owner of an early car dealership (C.S.Rolls & Co.), in Manchester on May 4, 1904. Rolls preferred three to four cylinder cars, but was impressed by Royce’s model. On December 23, 1904 they made an agreement with Rolls willing to broker all the cars Royce could provide. Royce had four models: a 10 hp two-cylinder model for £395 ($61,000 today), a 15 hp three cylinder model for £500 ($76,000 today), a 20 hp four-cylinder model for £650 ($91,000 today), and a 30 hp six-cylinder model for £890 ($122,000 today). All models would be badged as Rolls-Royce and sold exclusively by Rolls.

Rolls-Royce Limited was formed on this day. It was already known that a new method for production was needed. The two men looked for a place to build a new plant and Derby’s offer of cheap electricity led them to that region. They purchased 12.7 acres on the southern edge of town and Royce designed the new factory. In order to raise more capital, they held an IPO on December 6, 1906 for £100,000. Rolls-Royce bought out C.S.Rolls & Co. in 1907 (and the non-motor interests continue to operate separately even to this day). Production at the new plant began in early 1908 with a formal opening in July.

In March 1908, Claude Johnson, sometimes called the hyphen in Rolls-Royce, convinced Royce and others on the board to concentrate on the new 30 hp six-cylinder model. They did and the earlier models were discontinued. The Phantom model came out in 1925, referred to as the Silver Ghost. This car helped establish the company’s reputation and 6,000 were built. In 1931, Rolls-Royce acquired the smaller rival car company, Bentley, whose finances were not able to withstand the Great Depression. Between the mid-1940s until 2002, the two cars were often identical except for the radiator grille and some minor details.

Rolls-Royce was nationalized in 1971 as Rolls-Royce Limited and de-merged in 1973 as Rolls-Royce Motors Limited. The company was privatized in 1987 as Rolls-Royce plc. Henry Royce was made a baronet of Seaton in the County of Rutland in 1930 for his services to British Aviation. He died on April 22, 1933 at the age of 70. Charles Rolls was the third son of the 1st Baron Llangattock. He was born in London but held strong ties to the family home, The Hendre, located near Monmouth, Wales. He bought his first car, a Peugeot Phaeton in 1896 at the age of 18. His love of speed was also evidenced in his aviation work. He made over 170 balloon ascents and was a founder of the Royal Aero Club. After he was bought out by Royce, he turned to aviation. On July 12, 1910 he was killed in air crash – the first Briton to die in an aeronautical accident. He was 32.

At a certain age, sitting in the front is not as appealing. Chauffeur included. – Rolls-Royce slogan

For power, style and presence, a Rolls-Royce phantom has only one serious rival. The person who owns it.  – Rolls-Royce slogan

Both art and craftsmanship, when they reach their highest expression, enrich the age to which they belong. Rolls-Royce. The best car in the world.  – Rolls-Royce 1951 slogan

At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.  – Rolls-Royce 1959 slogan

Also on this day: Voting Booths – In 1892, Myers Voting Booths were introduced in New York.
Ides of March – In 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated.
The Ashes – In 1877, the first Test Cricket Match between England and Australia began.
Dot Com – In 1985, the first Internet domain name was registered.
Too Special Effects – In 1931, the SS Viking exploded.

Too Special Effects

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2014
Varick Frissell

Varick Frissell

March 15, 1931: The SS Viking explodes. The ship was built by Nylands Shipyards in Oslo, Norway and launched in 1882. Her first voyage was to explore the Arctic with Fridtjof Nansen in command. After this first trip, the wooden hulled whaling ship was used for many years to hunt saddleback seals off the coast of Greenland. In 1904 she was purchased by the Bowring Brothers and placed under the command of Captain William Bartlett and was still used for seal hunting. The Bowring Brothers chartered the ship to Varick Frissell who was planning to film a documentary of the annual seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland.

While shooting the film in 1930, Captain Bob Bartlett was in command. The film finished production and was shown at Nickel Theatre in St. John’s and it was felt that more sensational footage was needed. In order to secure this post-production addition, the ship was taken back to the same location and some special effects were to be created. For this trip, Captain Abram Kean was in charge. On this day, about eight miles off Horse Islands, the ship exploded. The plan had been to blow up some giant icebergs so there was dynamite stored in the hold. Somehow, the dynamite went off and set the ship on fire. Twenty-seven of the 147 people aboard were killed. Some of the survivors managed to go over ice to Horse Islands while other were rescued by other ships sent out to pick them up. Frissell and his dog were lost to the sea.

Frissell was born in 1903 in Boston, Massachusetts. His family was both wealthy and politically influential. His father was the founder and president if the Fifth Avenue Bank of New York. There were governors and congressmen in his family tree as well as generals. Frissell studied at Yale and in 1921 heard a lecture by Dr. Wilfred Grenfell which piqued his interest in exploration in the frigid north. He went to Labrador to explore and volunteered with the International Grenfell Association, driving a dog-team and working on a hospital boat.

Frissell and Hamilton River, another Yale student, began filming nature documentaries. Frissell also wrote a book about finding the source of a river spoken of in Indian legend as well as making a movie about it. He formed his own company, the Newfoundland-Labrador Film Company and got backing from Paramount Pictures. The filming of the seal hunt was the first Hollywood style sound film ever made in Canada. The film, The Viking, had some action scenes, but more realistic footage was needed. And so, they went out to film and on this fateful day, Frissell’s career ended.

God help me if I ever do another movie with an explosion in it. If you see me in a movie where stuff is exploding you’ll know I’ve lost all my money. – Ben Affleck

There’s only one thing that can kill the movies, and that’s education. – Will Rogers

It’s difficult to find a movie that feels true to itself. You feel the hand of Hollywood, the moviemaking by committee, on everything. – Zack Snyder

Usually a lot of moviemaking is boring. – Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Also on this day: Voting Booths – In 1892, Myers Voting Booths were introduced in New York.
Ides of March – In 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated.
The Ashes – In 1877, the first Test Cricket Match between England and Australia began.
Dot Com – In 1985, the first Internet domain name was registered.

Ides of March

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2013

15 Julius Caesar15, 44 BC: Beware the Ides of March for Julius Caesar was assassinated on this day. The Ides of each month was originally the day of the full moon, a lucky omen. Each month began with Kalenda or the day of the new moon and also where we get the word “calendar.” It was the day interest on outstanding debt was due. Nones was the day of the half moon. The word “Ides” comes Latin and means “half division.” The Ides of March and May, July, and October falls on the 15th of the month. For the other eight months, the Ides falls on the 13th day.

Julius Caesar had been dictator of the Roman Republic for the previous four-and-a-half years and had spent the time instituting great change. After conquering regions in Britain and Gaul, Caesar returned to Rome and rose to power after a Civil War. He implemented various reforms for both society and government bodies. As he centralized his power base, Senators led by his old friend and half-brother Marcus Junius Brutus became increasingly disaffected.

Caesar was invited to the Forum on the Feast of Mars. He was to be presented with a petition from the Senators asking for a redistribution of power, essentially asking for power to be returned to the Senate. Marc Antony heard of a nefarious plot and went to Caesar to warn him. He was waylaid as he neared the Forum. Caesar was given a false petition and as he began to read, he was stabbed at without much effect. Caesar fought back but was overpowered by the angry men. Eutropius, a local historian, said around 60 men attacked Caesar and stabbed him 23 times. A doctor of the time said only one wound to the chest was lethal.

As the assassins fled the Forum they cried out, “People of Rome, we are once again free!” Caesar had been popular with the middle and lower classes and the general population was horrified by the acts of a few aristocrats. While Marc Antony eulogized his friend, it was not in the words of William Shakespeare and it may have had more to do with political gain than fealty. Instead of freeing Rome, they were once again plunged into a civil war. Gaius Octavianus, Caesar’s nephew and named heir, came to rule what was now the Roman Empire.

“We have to distrust each other. It’s our only defense against betrayal.” – Tennessee Williams

“Trust thyself only, and another shall not betray thee.” – Thomas Fuller

“If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” – E. M. Forster

“To be deceived by our enemies or betrayed by our friends in insupportable; yet by ourselves we are often content to be so treated.” – Francois De La Rochefoucauld

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Marcus Junius Brutus was born in Rome in 85 BC. His father was killed in questionable circumstances by Pompey the Great (the man who led the opposition to Caesar’s rebellion in which he took over control of the Empire). Brutus’s  mother was the half-sister of Cato the Younger as well as one of Caesar’s mistresses. There is some speculation that Caesar may have been Brutus’s real father even though Caesar was only fifteen at the time. Brutus was adopted by Quintus Servilius Caepio in 59 BC and his name was officially changed for a short time, but he reverted to his birth name, although after this assassination, he once again reverted to using his adopted name.

Also on this day: Voting Booths – In 1892, Myers Voting Booths were introduced in New York.
The Ashes – In 1877, the first Test Cricket Match between England and Australia began.
Dot Com – In 1985, the first Internet domain name was registered.

Tagged with: , ,

Dot Com

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2012

Drawing of a domain tree.

March 15, 1985: The first Internet domain name is registered. A domain name is an identification label based on the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS is a hierarchical naming system for the computers, services, and resources that make up the Internet. Humans and machines both process data, but in very different ways. Humans are better at remembering, using, and usually typing out words. Machines “like” numbers. It is easier to write programs using numbers rather than intuitive and interpreted words. The DNS is the Internet phone book that translates human-preferred words into machine-preferred numbers.

The DNS allows hyperlinks and e-mail to be routed appropriately without the user having to worry about the routing procedure or the locations of any of the intermediate or even end-point computers. There was a page called on the Internet. It could be reached by typing in or by typing in The IP address is the four groups of numbers with dots between the groups. Rather than forcing humans to memorize these, DNS looks it up for the user and routs the computer to The domain name consists of the top-level domain (in, it is the “com” portion) and the subdomain (the “example” portion). The host name would be either or but not just the com portion.

The first domain name went to, a computer company in Massachusetts. They produced single user computers running on the Lisp programming language. The company is now privately owned under the name Symbolics, Inc. and still holds the domain name. The second domain name was registered on April 24, 1985 by The tenth registered name went to on March 5, 1986 nearly one year later. By the end of 1986, the Internet had 60 registered names with eleven companies registering on December 11. The 100th to register a dot com name was on November 30, 1987. Intel and Cisco were both among the first 100 .com names with Intel at #13 and Cisco at #73. Apple was in spot 64. Microsoft isn’t on the first 100 list.

Early computers were able to communicate only on the same network. Project RAND first linked computers across the US. The Arpanet helped expand connectivity and increased the need for better procedures. New protocols were devised to get data from here to there. Finally TCP/IP was produced, allowing for more seamless communication. The protocol became a world wide standard and the World Wide Web began to thrive.

The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom. – Jon Stewart

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. – Bill Gates

Looking at the proliferation of personal web pages on the Net, it looks like very soon everyone on Earth will have 15 megabytes of fame. – M.G. Sriram

I have an almost religious zeal – not for technology per se, but for the Internet which is for me, the nervous system of mother Earth, which I see as a living creature, linking up. – Dan Millman

Also on this day:

Voting Booths – In 1892, Myers Voting Booths were introduced in New York.
Ides – In 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated.
The Ashes – In 1877, the first Test Cricket Match between England and Australia began.

Tagged with: , ,

The Ashes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2011

The Ashes urn is reputed to contain a burnt cricket bail. (Photo by Daniel Greef)

March 15, 1877: The first Test Cricket Match between England and Australia begins. Test cricket is the longest form of the game of cricket. It is played by national teams given “Test status” by the International Cricket Council [ICC]. There are four innings played between two teams, each comprised of eleven players. The game is played over a maximum of five days. It is the ultimate test of both ability and endurance. This date did not see the first international cricket match. That was held between Canada and the US on September 24-25, 1844. Today’s date was the first Test match and was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia won by 45 runs.

England rallied and the next meeting between the two rivals had the Brits winning by four wickets. The teams were then tied. In 1977, the two great rivals once again faced each other and were once again playing in Melbourne. Amazingly enough, the match ended with Australia winning – by 45 runs. The Test matches are a subset of “first-class cricket,” which are matches lasting three or more days. At its inception, only the two teams were involved. By 1889, South Africa joined in. West Indies, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh also joined in the contests.

The actual origins of the game are lost to time but seems to have been devised during Saxon or Norman times. The first definite reference to the game being played came from Surrey around 1550. Still a children’s game at the time, it was first noted as an adult entertainment in 1611. We know this because two Sussex men were prosecuted for playing the game on a Sunday rather than attending church services.

The rivalry between Australia and England took on a more ominous turn in 1882 when the teams met in London. The Australians played a great first inning but the Brits came back strong in the next. The match came to an ignominious end when Ted Peate managed to score only two runs before being bowled out – losing the game. In the press the next day, a mock obituary was placed in the papers for English Cricket, stating “The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” Thus began the tradition of The Ashes. To date, Australia has won 123 matches, England 100, and 87 have ended in a draw.

“A cricket ground is a flat piece of earth with some buildings around it.” – Richie Benaud

“Cricket is basically baseball on valium.” – Robin Williams

“Cricket needs brightening up a bit. My solution is to let the players drink at the beginning of the game, not after. It always works in our picnic matches.” – Paul Hogan

“Cricket to us was more than play, it was a worship in the summer sun.” – Edmund Blunden

Also on this day:
Voting Booths – In 1892, Myers Voting Booths were introduced in New York.
Beware the Ides of March – In 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Tagged with: , ,

Voting Booths

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 15, 2010

The County Election by George Caleb Bingham

March 15, 1892: Myers Automatic Ballot Booth is introduced in New York State. In ancient times, voting was done by placing one’s ballot into the appropriate box. The word “ballot” is believed to come from the Italian word for “ball” since one dropped black or white stones or tokens into boxes.

George Caleb Bingham was both a painter and a politician and produced a painting entitled The County Election which gives the viewer an idea of voting procedures in the American frontier. It depicts an election in Missouri in 1846. The judge is administering an oath to the voter who is swearing that he is eligible to vote and this is the only time he is voting. After taking the oath, he then shouts out his preference. Not very secretive.

The first paper ballot used in the US was to elect a pastor to Salem Church in 1629. The 12th Amendment refers to paper ballots which had been in use for some time. First they were simply write-in ballots. Then political parties tried to make it easier to vote and preprinted ballots for their own candidates – making it very difficult to vote a split ticket. These met with some resistance. In 1829 the Massachusetts supreme court validated the use of preprinted ballots. Connecticut passed an amendment to do so in 1844.

The right to a private ballot became an issue. With Myers booth all parties could include possible candidates and the voter could simply pull the lever next to the desired candidate’s name. These levered machines were in most US major cities by the 1930s. Then came punch cards in the 1960s and finally direct recording (computers) voting in 2000.

“It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting. – Tom Stoppard

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” – Emma Goldman

“We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.” – Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard

“There is one category of advertising which is totally uncontrolled and flagrantly dishonest: the television commercials for candidates in Presidential elections.” – David Ogilvy

Also on this day, in 44 BC Julius Caesar was not wary enough of the Ides of March and was killed.

Tagged with: