On This Day, September 4

Posted on 4th Sep 2012 by ian under On This Day | No Comments »

Gosh, it must be Tuesday…

On this day, in 1774, New Caledonia was first sighted by Europeans, during the second voyage of Captain James Cook.  If he’d gone ashore and whacked up a British flag they wouldn’t be speaking French there today.

Interesting story – nearby Vanuatu was once jointly administered by the British and the French in an arrangement called the Condominium, which was also known as the Pandemonium- you see, they had two legal systems, two prisons, two hospitals, two school systems, Bobbies on one side of the street and Gendarmes patrolling the other –and, for a while, they drove on both sides of the road.  Rather than toss a coin, they decided that whatever side of the road the next vehicle to arrive by ship previously drove on would dictate the road rule – a missionary’s dray arrived from New Caledonia and, voila, the French got the right of way!

In 1888, George Eastman registered the trademark Kodak and received a patent for his camera that uses roll film.  Gosh we now have a generation that would not know what roll film is/was.

In 1972 Mark Spitz became the first competitor to win seven medals at a single Olympic Games.  Michael Phelps put paid to that record.

To those born on this day…

In 1928 – American actor, Dick York.  He played the first Darrin Stephens in the TV sit-com Bewitched.  Once a heavy smoker, York died of emphysema aged 63 . The other Bewitched Dick, Sargent, died of prostate cancer aged 64.

Now, normally replacing one actor with another would jar terribly and spell the beginning of the end for a show, but no one seemed to care that Samantha had taken up with a different looking husband.  Maybe we all thought she changed his face with the twitch of her nose.

In the industry there is a thing called a ‘jump the shark’ moment – that moment being when the show’s integrity/credibility goes beyond an audience’s willingness to accept.  The term comes from an episode in Happy Days when the Fonz wears swimming trunks and his leather jacket and jumps a shark on water-skis.  Nah… that’s not our Fonz…

When I was working on an Australian sit-com called Kingswood Country there was a potential ‘jump the shark’ moment when Ted Bullpitt’s wife Thelma (Judi Farr) left the series.  Rather than ‘do’ a Bewitched, the producers had Thel win an amazing Women’s Weekly World Discovery Cruise and, in every episode, there would be a ‘postcard from Thel’.  Mind you, the postcards probably pushed credibility – I seem to recall her sending one from Monte Carlo… “Fancy naming a place after a biscuit!”

In 1937 Aussie swimmer, Dawn Fraser, was born and finally, on this day in 2006, Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray.  Crikey, it doesn’t seem like six years!