Today in History, March 4

In “A Study in Scarlet,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes novel, Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson began their first-ever crime scene investigation on March 4, 1881.

* * * *
Before the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution established January 20 as Inauguration Day, U.S. presidents were inaugurated on March 4, which was the date in 1789 that Congress declared that the Constitution was in effect. Each presidential inauguration—from George Washington’s second to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first—took place on March 4, except for the inaugurations of those presidents who took office after a presidential death and those inaugurations that would have taken place on a Sunday: James Monroe’s second term, Zachary Taylor, Rutherford Hayes, and Woodrow Wilson’s second term.

The inauguration of William McKinley in 1897 is the earliest one to have been filmed:

* * * *
“Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror,” a film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok, opened in movie theaters in Germany on this date in 1922. It was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, “Dracula,” and because it was an unauthorized adaptation, names were altered and certain plot points changed. (SPOILER ALERT: sunlight kills the Count in the film.) Stoker’s estate sued for copyright infringement anyway and won. The company that produced the film went out of business and courts ordered that all prints of the film be destroyed. Not all of them were destroyed; one copy had already been copied for global distribution, and that copy yielded every copy that exists today. For example:

* * * *
LZ 129 Hindenburg, the airship Hindenburg, made its debut flight 80 years ago today. It made 17 Atlantic round trips in its one and only season in operation, ten trips to America and back and seven that brought it from Europe to Brazil and back. After one successful round trip in 1937, it left for Lakehurst, New Jersey, in May 1937, where it burst into flames and crashed while docking on May 6. The airship era came to a sudden and complete end that day. (There is one survivor of the disaster still alive, Werner Doehner, who was an eight-year-old passenger who lost his father and a sister in the wreck.)

* * * *
John Candy died on this date in 1994. Minnie Pearl died 20 years ago today. Del Close died on this date in 1999. Governor Harold Stassen died 15 years ago today.

* * * *
Antonio Vivaldi was born on this date in 1678. Knute Rockne was born in 1888 on this date. Lois Wilson was born on this date in 1891. The card magician John Scarne was born on this date in 1903. Sir Patrick Moore was born on this date in 1923. The late Bobbi Kristina Brown was born on this date in 1993.

* * * *
Richard DeVos, who co-founded Amway, is 90 today. James Ellroy is 68 today. Catherine O’Hara is 62 today.

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  1. rogershipp · March 4, 2016

    Sherlock is one of my favorite characters in literature! I think that I will watch it today! A great idea for a post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. angloswiss · March 4, 2016

    I am a strong fan of Sherlock Holmes and read them all at the beginning of my teenage years. I have downloaded the complete collection on my Kindle (they cost nothing) and re-read Study in Scarlet some time last year. It still has its suspense, in a logical way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lola · March 5, 2016

    Thanks for this, Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

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