Today in History: March 10

“Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman,” by Sylvia Townsend Warner was published in 1926, and on this date that year, 90 years ago today, it was the first announced selection of the Book of the Month Club, which exists to this day. The first selection committee featured Christopher Morley, Dorothy Canfield, and Heywood Broun; the current committee includes Craig Ferguson. In the late 1980s, the Club reached its peak membership of 1.5 million subscribers, but that has dwindled in subsequent years.

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Alexander Graham Bell successfully contacted his assistant, Thomas Watson, 140 years ago today. (It is not true that Watson immediately began work on inventing voicemail.) It was three days after Bell was awarded the patent for his “Improvement in telegraphy,” and it was the first proof that their invention, the telephone, worked. Watson heard his boss’ voice transmitted on the experimental apparatus in a legendary moment: “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you.”

Less than ten years later, on April 15, 1885, Bell recorded his own voice on a wax and cardboard disc. This was never a great medium for recording, but it was one of many that was experimented with as a medium. Flimsy from the moment it was recorded and then dried out with age, the disc had never been played, its contents never transposed to a more permanent medium, until 2013 when audio technicians used optical scanners to recover the recording. Here (below the fold) is Alexander Graham Bell in 1885 introducing himself to us here in the 2010s:

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One of Neil Simon’s best-loved plays, “The Odd Couple,” premiered on Broadway on this date in 1965. Walter Matthau starred as Oscar Madison, Art Carney played Felix Unger, and the production was directed by the late Mike Nichols. Matthau, Simon, and Nichols won Tony Awards.

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Harriet Tubman died on this date in 1913. Ray Milland died 30 year ago today. Dave Allen died on this date in 2005. Dave Allen:

Richard Jeni died on this date in 2007.

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Henry Watson Fowler of Fowler’s “Dictionary of Modern English Usage” was born on this date in 1858.

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Chuck Norris is 76. David Rabe is 76 today. Prime Minister Kim Campbell is 69. Bob Greene is 69. Paul Haggis is 63. Sharon Stone is 58 today. Pam Oliver is 55 today. Edie Brickell is 50 today.

Paget Brewster is 47 today. Jon Hamm is 45. Robin Thicke is 39. Carrie Underwood is 33 today.

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