January 29 in History

“Men are not bad. Men are degraded largely by circumstances …. It is the duty of every man … to help them up and let them feel that there is some hope for them in life.”—Louis Brandeis

President Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court of the United States on this date in 1916.

At the time, most presidential nominations were accepted and voted on by the United States Senate in an up-or-down vote, often on the same day that the president submitted the name; the nomination of Brandeis was so controversial that the Senate held public hearings about it.

Part of the controversy stemmed from Brandeis’ reputation as a reformer and progressive and some of it came from the fact that Brandeis was Jewish. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge wrote, “If it were not that Brandeis is a Jew, and a German Jew, he would never have been appointed.”

Brandeis’ nomination was approved by a vote of 47 to 22, and he served 23 years on the Supreme Court.

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Desert Island Discs debuted on BBC Radio on this date in 1942. The BBC has broadcast more than 3000 episodes of this unique talk show, in which famous guests discuss the eight pieces of music, books, and luxury items they would want with them should they be marooned on a deserted island.

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H. L. Mencken died in 1956 on this date. Robert Frost died on this date in 1963. Freddie Prinze died 40 years ago today. Jimmy Durante died in 1980 on this date. Willie Dixon died 25 years ago today. Memphis Slim introduces Jump Jackson on drums and Dixon on stand-up bass and vocals and they perform “Nervous”:

Barbaro, the horse that broke America’s heart, was euthanized ten years ago today. John Martyn died on this date in 2009. “Solid Air”:

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W. C. Fields was born on this date in 1880. The juggling scene from 1934’s The Old Fashioned Way:

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Germaine Greer is 78. Katharine Ross is 77. Tom Selleck is 72. Ann Jillian is 67. Oprah Winfrey is 63. Heather Graham is 47. Speaker Paul Ryan is 47. Sara Gilbert is 42 today.

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