Sunday, October 2, 2011

You've just crossed over into . . . the Today in Pop Culture History Zone

2 October 1950: The "Peanuts" comic strip began its 50-year run. The strip was influential in terms of style (the four-panel gag strip was its thing) and also due to the many television specials it spawned. People of a certain age (mine), can't think of Halloween without Linus's demigod, the Great Pumpkin, nor of Christmas without the pathetic "Charlie Brown Christmas tree." Aside from popularizing the Freudian argument that children were just as monumentally neurotic as the "mwah mwah mwah" spouting adults, it made this moment possible:

2 October1955: "Good evening." On this day, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" premiered. The show went on to be nominated for multiple Emmys and featured dozens of notable guest stars and cameos. One of the most famous episodes, at least if you ask Quentin Tarantino, is  "Man from the South," featuring Steve McQueen,  Peter Lorre, and a very reliable lighter.

2 October 1959: "The Twilight Zone" premiered. The series, created by Rod Serling, popularized horror and sci-fi for a larger American audience, not only through the episodes themselves, but by hiring writers like Harlan Ellison and Richard Matheson. The famous episodes are legion, and include "The Shelter" and "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" (commentaries on the Cold War).

2 October 1985: Rock Hudson, a bona fide screen idol whose films with Doris Day helped create the modern romcom, died of an AIDS-related illness at 59. His death, and the resulting disclosure of his homosexuality, did much to de-stigmatize the disease. Friend Morgan Fairchild said that Hudson "gave AIDS a face."  

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