“Mandy” is Barry Manilow’s first #1 pop hit

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mandy-is-barry-manilows-first-1-pop-hit

Barry Manilow’s scores his first #1 single with “Mandy” on January 18, 1975. He would go on to sell more than 75 millions records over the course of his career.

At the height of Barry Manilow’s popularity, none other than Frank Sinatra himself said of Manilow, “He’s next.” Yet even in his heyday, the more youthful arbiters of “cool” were not kind to him. They called Manilow’s music bombastic and schmaltzy, even as Americans devoured his every release. But critics may have missed the point. Barry Manilow never fancied himself hip or cool—far from it. “I have purposely tried not to stay in sync with the times,” he has said. “I just do what feels good.” Even as a teenager in the 1950s, Barry preferred pop standards and Broadway show tunes to Elvis Presley records, and it was his love of this style of music that led to his big break.

While working as a commercial jingle writer/performer and pursuing a recording career with limited success, Manilow met a kindred spirit named Bette Midler. He first became her piano player then graduated to musical director, lending his arranging and orchestration talents to her Divine Miss M album and tour (think “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”) on the condition that he be allowed to perform a short set of his own songs during her intermission. It was this experience that landed Manilow a gig as Dionne Warwick’s opening act, which in turn led Clive Davis to take him under his wing at the newly formed Arista Records. Then came “Mandy,” “It’s a Miracle,” “I Write the Songs,” “Looks Like We Made It” and a string of 21 more top-40 hits between 1975 and 1983—hits that helped earn Barry Manilow recognition by Billboard and Radio & Records as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time. His days as a chart artist may now be behind him, but Barry Manilow continues to fill concert venues around the world with fans whose enjoyment of his music seems undiminished by the jokey barbs of the pop-critical establishment.

Americans overthrow Hawaiian monarchy

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/americans-overthrow-hawaiian-monarchy

On the Hawaiian Islands, a group of American sugar planters under Sanford Ballard Dole overthrow Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawaiian monarch, and establish a new provincial government with Dole as president. The coup occurred with the foreknowledge of John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii, and 300 U.S. Marines from the U.S. cruiser Boston were called to Hawaii, allegedly to protect American lives.

The first known settlers of the Hawaiian Islands were Polynesian voyagers who arrived sometime in the eighth century, and in the early 18th century the first American traders came to Hawaii to exploit the islands’ sandalwood, which was much valued in China at the time. In the 1830s, the sugar industry was introduced to Hawaii and by the mid-19th century had become well established. American missionaries and planters brought about great changes in Hawaiian political, cultural, economic, and religious life, and in 1840 a constitutional monarchy was established, stripping the Hawaiian monarch of much of his authority. Four years later, Sanford B. Dole was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to American parents.

During the next four decades, Hawaii entered into a number of political and economic treaties with the United States, and in 1887 a U.S. naval base was established at Pearl Harbor as part of a new Hawaiian constitution. Sugar exports to the United States expanded greatly during the next four years, and U.S. investors and American sugar planters on the islands broadened their domination over Hawaiian affairs. However, in 1891 Liliuokalani, the sister of the late King Kalakaua, ascended to the throne, refusing to recognize the constitution of 1887 and replacing it with a constitution increasing her personal authority.

In January 1893, a revolutionary “Committee of Safety,” organized by Sanford B. Dole, staged a coup against Queen Liliuokalani with the tacit support of the United States. On February 1, Minister John Stevens recognized Dole’s new government on his own authority and proclaimed Hawaii a U.S. protectorate. Dole submitted a treaty of annexation to the U.S. Senate, but most Democrats opposed it, especially after it was revealed that most Hawaiians did want annexation.

President Grover Cleveland sent a new U.S. minister to Hawaii to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne under the 1887 constitution, but Dole refused to step aside and instead proclaimed the independent Republic of Hawaii. Cleveland was unwilling to overthrow the government by force, and his successor, President William McKinley, negotiated a treaty with the Republic of Hawaii in 1897. In 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out, and the strategic use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the war convinced Congress to approve formal annexation. Two years later, Hawaii was organized into a formal U.S. territory and in 1959 entered the United States as the 50th state.

Eisenhower bids farewell

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eisenhower-bids-farewell

On January 17, 1961, in a nationally televised speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses the American people for the last time as president. Expressing ideas that seem prophetic in retrospect, Eisenhower offered his fears and hopes for the future, warning against the unfettered growth of the “military-industrial complex,” as he coined it, and calling for diplomacy, restraint, and compassion in dealing with future crises with the Soviet Union. Despite his sadness that peace was not in sight, the great Allied commander offered a closing prayer to the world from America. “We pray,” he said, “that people of all faiths, all races, all nations…will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

Three days later, Eisenhower left the White House and retired with his wife, Mamie, to their farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, their permanent home until Eisenhower’s death on March 28, 1969. The couple had been fond of sitting on their back porch, which looked east toward the famous Civil War battlefield.

H-bomb lost in Spain

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/h-bomb-lost-in-spain

On this day, a B-52 bomber collides with a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain’s Mediterranean coast, dropping three 70-kiloton hydrogen bombs near the town of Palomares and one in the sea. It was not the first or last accident involving American nuclear bombs.

As a means of maintaining first-strike capability during the Cold War, U.S. bombers laden with nuclear weapons circled the earth ceaselessly for decades. In a military operation of this magnitude, it was inevitable that accidents would occur. The Pentagon admits to more than three-dozen accidents in which bombers either crashed or caught fire on the runway, resulting in nuclear contamination from a damaged or destroyed bomb and/or the loss of a nuclear weapon. One of the only “Broken Arrows” to receive widespread publicity occurred on January 17, 1966, when a B-52 bomber crashed into a KC-135 jet tanker over Spain.

The bomber was returning to its North Carolina base following a routine airborne alert mission along the southern route of the Strategic Air Command when it attempted to refuel with a jet tanker. The B-52 collided with the fueling boom of the tanker, ripping the bomber open and igniting the fuel. The KC-135 exploded, killing all four of its crew members, but four members of the seven-man B-52 crew managed to parachute to safety. None of the bombs were armed, but explosive material in two of the bombs that fell to earth exploded upon impact, forming craters and scattering radioactive plutonium over the fields of Palomares. A third bomb landed in a dry riverbed and was recovered relatively intact. The fourth bomb fell into the sea at an unknown location.

Palomares, a remote fishing and farming community, was soon filled with nearly 2,000 U.S. military personnel and Spanish civil guards who rushed to clean up the debris and decontaminate the area. The U.S. personnel took precautions to prevent overexposure to the radiation, but the Spanish workers, who lived in a country that lacked experience with nuclear technology, did not. Eventually some 1,400 tons of radioactive soil and vegetation were shipped to the United States for disposal.

Meanwhile, at sea, 33 U.S. Navy vessels were involved in the search for the lost hydrogen bomb. Using an IBM computer, experts tried to calculate where the bomb might have landed, but the impact area was still too large for an effective search. Finally, an eyewitness account by a Spanish fisherman led the investigators to a one-mile area. On March 15, a submarine spotted the bomb, and on April 7 it was recovered. It was damaged but intact.

Studies on the effects of the nuclear accident on the people of Palomares were limited, but the United States eventually settled some 500 claims by residents whose health was adversely affected. Because the accident happened in a foreign country, it received far more publicity than did the dozen or so similar crashes that occurred within U.S. borders. As a security measure, U.S. authorities do not announce nuclear weapons accidents, and some American citizens may have unknowingly been exposed to radiation that resulted from aircraft crashes and emergency bomb jettisons. Today, two hydrogen bombs and a uranium core lie in yet undetermined locations in the Wassaw Sound off Georgia, in the Puget Sound off Washington, and in swamplands near Goldsboro, North Carolina.

The execution of Gary Gilmore

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-execution-of-gary-gilmore

Gary Gilmore, convicted in the double murder of an elderly couple, is shot to death by a firing squad in Utah, becoming the first person to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, in violation of the eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states used capital punishment in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. However, in 1976, with 66 percent of Americans supporting the death penalty, the court ended the constitutional ban on capital punishment, provided that states create specific guidelines for imposing death sentences. In 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who had murdered the elderly couple because they would not lend him their car, was the first person to be executed since the end of the ban. Defiantly facing a firing squad, Gilmore’s last words to his executioners before they shot him through the heart were “Let’s do it.”

Prohibition is ratified by Congress

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/prohibition-ratified

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” is ratified by Congress on this day in 1919.

The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

Nine months after Prohibition’s ratification, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. One year and a day after its ratification, prohibition went into effect—on January 17, 1920—and the nation became officially dry.

Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, repealing prohibition.

The Persian Gulf War begins

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-persian-gulf-war-begins

At midnight in Iraq, the United Nations deadline for the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait expires, and the Pentagon prepares to commence offensive operations to forcibly eject Iraq from its five-month occupation of its oil-rich neighbor. At 4:30 p.m. EST, the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf on bombing missions over Iraq. All evening, aircraft from the U.S.-led military coalition pounded targets in and around Baghdad as the world watched the events transpire in television footage transmitted live via satellite from Baghdad and elsewhere. At 7:00 p.m., Operation Desert Storm, the code-name for the massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, was formally announced at the White House.

The operation was conducted by an international coalition under the command of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf and featured forces from 32 nations, including Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. During the next six weeks, the allied force engaged in a massive air war against Iraq’s military and civil infrastructure, and encountered little effective resistance from the Iraqi air force or air defenses. Iraqi ground forces were helpless during this stage of the war, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s only significant retaliatory measure was the launching of SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saddam hoped that the missile attacks would provoke Israel to enter the conflict, thus dissolving Arab support of the war. At the request of the United States, however, Israel remained out of the war.

On February 24, a massive coalition ground offensive began, and Iraq’s outdated and poorly supplied armed forces were rapidly overwhelmed. Kuwait was liberated in less than four days, and a majority of Iraq’s armed forces surrendered, retreated into Iraq, or were destroyed. On February 28, President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire, and Iraq pledged to honor future coalition and U.N. peace terms. One hundred and twenty-five American soldiers were killed in the Persian Gulf War, with another 21 regarded as missing in action.

On March 20, 2003, a second war between Iraq and a U.S.-led coalition began, this time with the stated U.S. objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power and, ostensibly, finding and destroying the country’s weapons of mass destruction. Hussein was captured by a U.S. military unit on December 13, 2003. No weapons of mass destruction were found. Although U.S. President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003, an insurgency has continued an intense guerrilla war in the nation that has resulted in thousands of coalition military, insurgent and civilian deaths.

Shah flees Iran

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/shah-flees-iran

Faced with an army mutiny and violent demonstrations against his rule, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the leader of Iran since 1941, is forced to flee the country. Fourteen days later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the Islamic revolution, returned after 15 years of exile and took control of Iran.

In 1941, British and Soviet troops occupied Iran, and the first Pahlavi shah, who they regarded with suspicion, was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza. The new shah promised to act as a constitutional monarch but often meddled in the elected government’s affairs. After a Communist plot against him was thwarted in 1949, he took on even more powers. However, in the early 1950s, the shah was eclipsed by Mohammad Mosaddeq, a zealous Iranian nationalist who convinced the Parliament to nationalize Britain’s extensive oil interests in Iran. Mohammad Reza, who maintained close relations with Britain and the United States, opposed the decision. Nevertheless, he was forced in 1951 to appoint Mosaddeq premier, and two years of tension followed.

In August 1953, Mohammad Reza attempted to dismiss Mosaddeq, but the premier’s popular support was so great that the shah himself was forced out of Iran. A few days later, British and U.S. intelligence agents orchestrated a stunning coup d’etat against Mosaddeq, and the shah returned to take power as the sole leader of Iran. He repealed Mosaddeq’s legislation and became a close Cold War ally of the United States in the Middle East.

In 1963, the shah launched his “White Revolution,” a broad government program that included land reform, infrastructure development, voting rights for women, and the reduction of illiteracy. Although these programs were applauded by many in Iran, Islamic leaders were critical of what they saw as the westernization of Iran. Ruhollah Khomeini, a Shiite cleric, was particularly vocal in his criticism and called for the overthrow of the shah and the establishment of an Islamic state. In 1964, Khomeini was exiled and settled across the border in Iraq, where he sent radio messages to incite his supporters.

The shah saw himself foremost as a Persian king and in 1971 held an extravagant celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the pre-Islamic Persian monarchy. In 1976, he formally replaced the Islamic calendar with a Persian calendar. Religious discontent grew, and the shah became more repressive, using his brutal secret police force to suppress opposition. This alienated students and intellectuals in Iran, and support for Khomeini grew. Discontent was also rampant in the poor and middle classes, who felt that the economic developments of the White Revolution had only benefited the ruling elite. In 1978, anti-shah demonstrations broke out in Iran’s major cities.

On September 8, 1978, the shah’s security force fired on a large group of demonstrators, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. Two months later, thousands took to the streets of Tehran, rioting and destroying symbols of westernization, such as banks and liquor stores. Khomeini called for the shah’s immediate overthrow, and on December 11 a group of soldiers mutinied and attacked the shah’s security officers. With that, his regime collapsed and the shah fled.

The shah traveled to several countries before entering the United States in October 1979 for medical treatment of his cancer. In Tehran, Islamic militants responded on November 4 by storming the U.S. embassy and taking the staff hostage. With the approval of Khomeini, the militants demanded the return of the shah to Iran to stand trial for his crimes. The United States refused to negotiate, and 52 American hostages were held for 444 days. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi died in Egypt in July 1980.

Pauline Phillips, the original Dear Abby, dies at 94

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pauline-phillips-the-original-dear-abby-dies-at-94

On this day in 2013, Pauline Phillips, who for more than 40 years wrote the “Dear Abby” newspaper advice column, dies at age 94 in Minneapolis after battling Alzheimer’s disease. Using the pen name Abigail Van Buren, Phillips made her “Dear Abby” debut in 1956, and over the ensuing decades dispensed witty advice on a broad range of topics, from snoring to sex. With a daily readership eventually topping 110 million people, “Dear Abby” became the world’s most widely syndicated newspaper column, appearing in some 1,400 newspapers and generating around 10,000 letters per week.

Pauline Esther Friedman, nicknamed Popo, was born July 4, 1918, in Sioux City, Iowa. Her identical twin, Esther Pauline Friedman, dubbed Eppie, would grow up to pen the “Ask Ann Landers” advice column. The twins, whose Russian Jewish immigrant parents owned a chain of movie theaters, attended Sioux City’s Morningside College, where they studied journalism and psychology and wrote a gossip column for the school paper. They dropped out of college to marry in a double ceremony in 1939, shortly before their 21st birthday. Pauline wed Morton Phillips, a businessman from a wealthy family, while her twin tied the knot with Jules Lederer, who would later found Budget Rent a Car.

In 1955 Lederer took over the “Ann Landers” column for The Chicago Sun-Times and soon turned to her sister for help answering some of the letters she received from readers. Phillips, who was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was raising a family and involved in various philanthropic activities, enjoyed responding to these letters and decided she wanted an advice column of her own. She contacted The San Francisco Chronicle and told an editor there she believed she could write a better advice column that the one the paper published. The editor told her to stop by sometime, and the next morning Phillips showed up at the paper’s offices. Skeptical about Phillips’ qualifications, the editor told her to come up with her own responses to some of the letters that appeared in back issues of the paper. Phillips did so that same day and promptly was hired for the job, at $20 a week.

In selecting her pen name, Phillips took Abigail after a character from the Bible and Van Buren after the eighth U.S. president, whose name she liked. The first “Dear Abby” column debuted on January 9, 1956, and was an instant hit with readers. A rift soon developed between Phillips and Lederer as a result of their competing columns, and the two were estranged for a number of years; however, both women became two of the most successful and influential columnists of the 20th century. Over the decades, Phillips tackled a variety of serious and controversial subjects, including abortion (she was pro-choice) and homosexuality (by the early 1980s, she publicly supported gay people). Additionally, Phillips was known to check in by phone with letter writers who sounded particularly distressed.

In 1987 Phillips’ daughter, Jeanne, began co-writing “Dear Abby” with her mother. In 2002 Jeanne Phillips officially took over the column. That same year, Lederer died at age 83 and Pauline Phillips’ family announced she had Alzheimer’s. Phillips died on January 16, 2013.