Last Ford Thunderbird produced

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/last-ford-thunderbird-produced

The last Thunderbird, Ford Motor Company’s iconic sports car, emerges from a Ford factory in Wixom, Michigan on July 1, 2005.

Ford began its development of the Thunderbird in the years following World War II, during which American servicemen had the opportunity to observe sleek European sports cars. General Motors built the first American sports car: the Chevrolet Corvette, released in 1953. The undeniably sleek Corvette’s initial engine performance was relatively underwhelming, but it was gaining lots of attention from the press and public, and Ford was motivated to respond, rushing the Thunderbird to the market in 1955. The 1955 Thunderbird was an immediate hit, selling more than 14,000 that year (compared to just 700 Corvettes). The success of the Thunderbird led Chevrolet to continue production of (and improve upon) the Corvette, which soon became a tough competitor in the sports car market.

In addition to the powerful V-8 engine that Ford was known for, the Thunderbird boasted all the conveniences consumers had become accustomed to, including a removable hard convertible top, soundproofing and the accessories standard to most Ford cars. In 1958, to satisfy critics who thought the T-Bird was too small, Ford released a four-seater version with a roomier trunk and bucket seats. The Beach Boys elevated the Thunderbird to pop- culture-icon status in 1964 by including it in the lyrics of their hit single “Fun Fun Fun” (“she’ll have fun, fun, fun ’til her daddy takes the T-Bird away”). By that time, President John F. Kennedy had already included 50 Thunderbirds in his inaugural procession in 1961, and a T-Bird would also feature prominently in the 1973 film “American Graffiti.”

Thunderbird sales slowed during the 1990s, and Ford discontinued the Thunderbird in 1997. In 2002, however, in an attempt to capitalize on car buyers’ nostalgia, the company launched production of a retro T-Bird, a two-seater convertible that took some of its styling from the original classic. The luxury retailer Neiman Marcus offered an early special edition version in their 2000 Christmas catalog, priced at just under $42,000; their stock of 200 sold out in two hours and 15 minutes. Despite brisk early sales and good reviews, sales of the new Thunderbird couldn’t justify continued production, and Ford discontinued it again in mid-2005.

READ MORE: The Cars That Made America

The Battle of Gettysburg begins

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-battle-of-gettysburg-begins

One of the largest military conflicts in North American history begins on July 1, 1863, when Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The epic battle lasted three days and resulted in a retreat to Virginia by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Two months prior to Gettysburg, Lee had dealt a stunning defeat to the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, Virginia. He then made plans for a Northern invasion in order to relieve pressure on war-weary Virginia and to seize the initiative from the Yankees. His army, numbering about 80,000, began moving on June 3. The Army of the Potomac, commanded by Joseph Hooker and numbering just under 100,000, began moving shortly thereafter, staying between Lee and Washington, D.C. But on June 28, frustrated by the Lincoln administration’s restrictions on his autonomy as commander, Hooker resigned and was replaced by George G. Meade.

READ MORE: How the Battle of Gettysburg Turned the Tide of the Civil War

Meade took command of the Army of the Potomac as Lee’s army moved into Pennsylvania. On the morning of July 1, advance units of the forces came into contact with one another just outside of Gettysburg. The sound of battle attracted other units, and by noon the conflict was raging. During the first hours of battle, Union General John Reynolds was killed, and the Yankees found that they were outnumbered. The battle lines ran around the northwestern rim of Gettysburg. The Confederates applied pressure all along the Union front, and they slowly drove the Yankees through the town.

By evening, the Federal troops rallied on high ground on the southeastern edge of Gettysburg. As more troops arrived, Meade’s army formed a three-mile long, fishhook-shaped line running from Culp’s Hill on the right flank, along Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge, to the base of Little Round Top. The Confederates held Gettysburg, and stretched along a six-mile arc around the Union position. Lee’s forces would continue to batter each end of the Union position, before launching the infamous Pickett’s Charge against the Union center on July 3.

“Mr. X” article on Soviet Union appears in Foreign Affairs

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mr-x-article-appears-in-foreign-affairs

State Department official George Kennan, using the pseudonym “Mr. X,” publishes an article entitled “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” in the July edition of Foreign Affairs. The article focused on Kennan’s call for a policy of containment toward the Soviet Union and established the foundation for much of America’s early Cold War foreign policy.

In February 1946, Kennan, then serving as the U.S. charge d’affaires in Moscow, wrote his famous “long telegram” to the Department of State. In the missive, he condemned the communist leadership of the Soviet Union and called on the United States to forcefully resist Russian expansion. Encouraged by friends and colleagues, Kennan refined the telegram into an article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” and secured its publication in the July edition of Foreign Affairs. Kennan signed the article “Mr. X” to avoid any charge that he was presenting official U.S. government policy, but nearly everyone in the Department of State and White House recognized the piece as Kennan’s work. In the article, Kennan explained that the Soviet Union’s leaders were determined to spread the communist doctrine around the world, but were also extremely patient and pragmatic in pursuing such expansion.

In the “face of superior force,” Kennan said, the Russians would retreat and wait for a more propitious moment. The West, however, should not be lulled into complacency by temporary Soviet setbacks. Soviet foreign policy, Kennan claimed, “is a fluid stream which moves constantly, wherever it is permitted to move, toward a given goal.” In terms of U.S. foreign policy, Kennan’s advice was clear: “The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.”

Kennan’s article created a sensation in the United States, and the term “containment” instantly entered the Cold War lexicon. The administration of President Harry S. Truman embraced Kennan’s philosophy, and in the next few years attempted to “contain” Soviet expansion through a variety of programs, including the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. Kennan’s star rose quickly in the Department of State and in 1952 he was named U.S. ambassador to Russia. By the 1960s, with the United States hopelessly mired in the Vietnam War, Kennan began to question some of his own basic assumptions in the “Mr. X” article and became a vocal critic of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In particular, he criticized U.S. policymakers during the 1950s and 1960s for putting too much emphasis on the military containment of the Soviet Union, rather than on political and economic programs.

READ MORE: Cold War: Definition and Timeline

Kobe Bryant accuser goes to police

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/kobe-bryant-accuser-goes-to-police

A female employee at a Colorado resort goes to police to file sexual misconduct charges against basketball star Kobe Bryant on July 1, 2003. A few days later, an arrest warrant was issued for Bryant, and the ensuing case generated a media frenzy.

On the night of June 30, 2003, Bryant checked into the Lodge and Spa in Cordillera, located in Edwards, Colorado, near Vail. The 24-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard was scheduled to have knee surgery the following day. A 19-year-old employee at the resort agreed to show Bryant around and he later invited her to his room. The two reportedly flirted and kissed; however, the accuser claimed that when she decided to leave, Bryant became upset and sexually assaulted her. The following day, July 1, she went to the police to file a complaint. Bryant was questioned by the authorities and provided a DNA sample. On July 3, an arrest warrant was issued for the basketball phenom, who the next day turned himself in to authorities in Eagle County, Colorado, and was released on $25,000 bail. On July 18, with his wife by his side, Bryant held a news conference in which he admitted to having sex with the accuser but maintained it was consensual.

Bryant, who was drafted into the NBA after high school in 1996, went on to play for the Lakers during the 2003-2004 season, but faced intense scrutiny and lost many of his endorsement deals as a result of the rape case. The accuser, whose identity was mistakenly made public as a result of court clerical errors, endured media speculation about her personal life and received death threats.

On September 1, 2004, after jury selection had begun, the district attorney dropped the rape charge against Bryant because the accuser decided not to testify or participate in the trial. In early March 2005, Bryant and the accuser settled her civil lawsuit against him for an undisclosed sum. 

Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. He was 41 years old. 

Tort Tales, Gold Diggers, and the Crusade against Heart Balm

Previously posted at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363199020937761?ai=2b4&mi=ehikzz&af=R

Journal of Family History, Ahead of Print.
Beginning in the early 1930s, US citizens made a concerted effort to ban lawsuits for breach of promise, seduction, criminal conversation, and alienation of affection. By 1940, ten states had outlawed so-called heart balm torts. Yet there is no empirical evidence that rates of heart balm lawsuits were increasing. This article analyzes 1930s media representations to show how the movement against heart balm grew from “tort tales” about allegedly outrageous lawsuits. Heart balm narratives drew from stylized representations of “gold diggers” found in popular culture, and they reflected divisions around gender and social class exacerbated by the Great Depression.

PG-13 rating debuts

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pg-13-rating-debuts

On July 1, 1984, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which oversees the voluntary rating system for movies, introduces a new rating, PG-13.

The initial rating categories were G (appropriate for all ages), M (for mature audiences, but all ages admitted), R (persons under 16 not admitted without an accompanying adult) and X (no one under 17 admitted). The M category was eventually changed to PG (parental guidance suggested), the R age limit was raised to 17 and on July 1, 1984, the PG-13 category was added to indicate film content with a “higher level of intensity.” According to the MPAA, the content of a PG-13 film “may be inappropriate for a children under 13 years old” and “may contain very strong language, nudity (non-explicit), strong, mildly bloody violence or mild drug content.” On August 10, 1984, the action film Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, became the first-ever PG-13 movie to be released in theaters.

Starting in 1990, every film given an R rating also received a short explanation as to whether it contained violence, drug use, nudity or hard language. This policy was later expanded to PG and PG-13 movies. Additionally, the X rating was changed to NC-17 (anyone 17 and under not admitted) because it was believed that “X” had come to connote pornography. Henry & June, which opened in U.S. theaters in October 1990, was the first film to be rated NC-17. According to the MPAA, the NC-17 rating “does not mean ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic’ in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience.” All MPAA movie ratings are voted on by a Los Angeles-based ratings board. 

Boston doctor found guilty of killing wife

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/boston-doctor-found-guilty-of-killing-wife

On June 29, 2001, Boston doctor Dirk Greineder, 60, is found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Mabel Greineder, 58, his wife of more than 30 years.

Dirk Greineder was a distinguished allergist. His wife, known as May, worked for him as a nurse and was pursuing an advanced degree in healthcare. The couple had raised three children, and lived in Wellesley, a tony–and usually crime-free–Boston suburb. Neighbors and friends saw the couple as especially close and devoted to each other. Nearly every day, they walked their German shepherds together in a nearby park.

On October 31, 1999, Dirk called 911 from his cell phone to report that his wife had been attacked near a pond at their local park while the two were out for a walk. According to his testimony, he had left his wife to exercise their dog because she had been experiencing back pain, and when he returned to her, he found her beaten body prostrate on the path. She had been nearly decapitated and stabbed in the chest. Police found gloves, a hammer and a pocketknife believed to be used in the murder in a nearby storm drain.

In the course of their investigation, it was discovered that the well-respected and accomplished Dirk Greineder had been living a secret life. Using the alias “Thomas Young,” he had frequently downloaded internet pornography; rang up substantial phone sex bills; and regularly arranged meetings with prostitutes in hotels and at his home office. In fact, police found that he had contacted a prostitute the day after his wife’s murder. Believing that the doctor had killed his wife in order to more freely pursue his extramarital sexual activities, he was arrested in mid-November 1999.

Over the course of the trial, prosecutors described how Dirk had set up a phony company and used it to apply for a corporate credit card in the name “Thomas Young”; that he had frequently solicited group sex and escorts; and that this behavior seemed to become almost obsessive in the week before his wife’s murder. In those seven days, the doctor contacted several prostitutes, had sex with at least one, and sometimes spent more than four hours per day on internet porn sites, in addition to keeping up with a demanding career. Several witnesses testified that May had become increasingly insecure about the marriage, and had become focused on buying new clothes, exercising more often and had even thought about getting a face lift. Prosecutors pointed to the conclusion that May either had discovered her husband’s secret life, or was getting very close, and that Dirk wanted her out of the way.

Prosecutors also stressed that witnesses placed Greineder in the moments after the murder emerging from the area where the murder weapons were found hidden instead of heading in the most likely place to find help, the main road. The prosecution also introduced evidence that the doctor had delayed making the 911 call, that the gloves and hammer likely belonged to Dirk and that the blood found at the scene, including on Dirk’s body, was not consistent with his story.

Despite some seemingly damning evidence, Dirk Greineder enjoyed strong support from friends and family, including the couple’s three children. The doctor testified about how much he loved his wife and that they were looking forward to their daughter’s upcoming wedding. Although he said he was unsure if his wife knew of his sexual affairs, he intimated that the outside sex may have contributed to the strength of their relationship. The defense contended that the doctor had no reason at all to kill his wife.

Despite a mostly circumstantial case against him, Dirk Greineder was found guilty of first-degree murder on June 29, 2001, after a six-week trial and four days of deliberations. Later in the day, Greineder was given the mandatory sentence, life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Academy Award-winning actress Katharine Hepburn dies at age 96

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/katharine-hepburn-dies-at-age-96

On June 29, 2003, Katharine Hepburn—a four-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress and one of the greatest screen legends of Hollywood’s golden era—dies of natural causes at the age of 96, at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Hepburn was born into a well-to-do New England family, the daughter of a prominent surgeon, Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn, and his wife, Katharine Houghton, a suffragist and birth control advocate. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1928 and became a stage actress; her role in the 1932 Broadway production The Warrior’s Husband led to a Hollywood screen test and a contract with RKO studios. In Hepburn’s debut film, A Bill of Divorcement (1932), she starred opposite John Barrymore and was directed by George Cukor, who would become her close friend and helm many of her films (including 1933’s Little Women, 1935’s Sylvia Scarlett, 1938’s Holiday and 1949’s Adam’s Rib).

Heralded as a fresh, unconventional beauty and a talented actress, Hepburn won her first Best Actress Oscar for only her third film, Morning Glory (1933). A string of films made with RKO had mixed degrees of success, and Hepburn began earning a reputation as arrogant and self-absorbed on set, though she was always meticulously prepared for her roles. She also refused to play by the rules governing typical Hollywood starlets at the time, appearing publicly in pantsuits and without makeup and refusing to sign autographs or grant interviews. After modest successes with Stage Door (1937) and Bringing Up Baby (1938), Hepburn decided to buy out her contract with RKO, a move that gave her unusual control over her career for that time.

Her faltering image was revived by the success of The Philadelphia Story, which had originally been written for Hepburn to play on Broadway and was then adapted into a hit 1940 movie co-starring Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. Several years later, Hepburn met the actor Spencer Tracy while co-starring with him in Woman of the Year (1942). Though Tracy, a devout Catholic, remained married, the two began a romantic relationship that would last until Tracy’s death nearly three decades later. (Hepburn had divorced her husband of six years, Ludlow Ogden Smith, in 1934.) On-screen, they acted in nine films together, including Adam’s Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967). Tracy died just weeks after shooting was completed on the last film, for which Hepburn would win her second Best Actress Oscar.

Hepburn was awarded her third Oscar for her starring turn in A Lion in Winter (1968). She continued to appear in films and on television (including an Emmy-winning performance in 1976’s Love Among the Ruins) throughout the next three decades, winning a fourth Best Actress statuette for 1981’s On Golden Pond. Nominated for 12 Academy Awards in her lifetime (a record that would stand until 2003, when Meryl Streep received her 13th nomination), Hepburn never attended the awards show to collect her honors in person. In 1986, she broke her longtime silence about her relationship with Tracy (his widow had died in 1983) in a televised tribute to the actor. She read aloud a poignant letter she had written to him about his drinking, and about their last years together. She later included the letter in her best-selling 1991 autobiography Me: Stories of My Life.

In her final screen appearance, in 1994’s Love Affair (a remake of the classic 1939 film), Hepburn appeared frail but composed as ever in her portrayal of the aristocratic aunt of Warren Beatty’s character. In 1999, the American Film Institute (AFI) named Hepburn as the greatest female actress in the history of American cinema. When she died on June 29, 2003, the lights on Broadway were dimmed for an hour to mark the passing of one of entertainment’s brightest stars.

The Globe Theatre burns down

Previously posted at: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-globe-theater-burns-down

The Globe Theatre, where most of Shakespeare’s plays debuted, burned down on June 29, 1613.

The Globe was built by Shakespeare’s acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599 from the timbers of London’s very first permanent theater, Burbage’s Theater, built in 1576. Before James Burbage built his theater, plays and dramatic performances were ad hoc affairs, performed on street corners and in the yards of inns. However, the Common Council of London, in 1574, started licensing theatrical pieces performed in inn yards within the city limits. To escape the restriction, actor James Burbage built his own theater on land he leased outside the city limits. When Burbage’s lease ran out, the Lord Chamberlain’s men moved the timbers to a new location and created the Globe. 

Like other theaters of its time, the Globe was a round wooden structure with a stage at one end, and covered balconies for the gentry. The galleries could seat about 1,000 people, with room for another 2,000 “groundlings,” who could stand on the ground around the stage.

The Lord Chamberlain’s men built Blackfriars theater in 1608, a smaller theater that seated about 700 people, to use in winter when the open-air Globe wasn’t practical.

READ MORE: Was Shakespeare the Real Author of His Plays?