On This Day: March 23


James Cameron's biggest acceptance speech clunker and it's probably worse than you remember! Star signs align as M:I-III beauties birthed! Ronnie Raygun lays the Star Wars smackdown!

1976 -- Michelle Monaghan and Keri Russell enter the world. The former is born in Winthrop, Iowa; the latter in Fountain Valley, California. The hand of Xenu will turn them in different directions -- journalism school; the New Mickey Mouse Club -- before eventually casting them both as distressed damsels opposite Tom Cruise in the third Mission: Impossible film. Spooky, right? Pictured with M:I-3's producer Paula Wagner, who, disappointingly, wasn't born March 23.


1983 -- President Ronald Reagan replaces Han Solo as the teenage geek's hero of choice after his "Star Wars" speech announces that the Strategic Defense Initiative will render Russian nukes obsolete with an array of space-based missiles, lasers and X-Wing fighters. While Reagan didn't actually use the words "Star Wars" in his hi-tech pep talk, he left us in no doubt that this was where he was going, having already labeled the USSR an "Evil Empire" a few weeks earlier. A couple years later, he'd say of the program, "The Force is with us". Less remembered: his 1987 insistence to Gorbachev that Air Force One once made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

1998 -- Titanic wins 11 Oscars, equalling the record set by Ben-Hur. The Best Director award gives James Cameron the chance quote his own script and holler, "I'm king of the world!" Less remembered is that the Best Picture gong lets him ask for -- and get -- 16 seconds of silence to remember the 1500 dead in the real Titanic disaster. Hokey but heartfelt... until he commands hushed Hollywood to "Now... let's go party TILL DAWN!" Though these 70th Oscars run three hours, 47 minutes, the telecast scores a record audience of 57.25 million. That's nearly 10 million more than its nearest rival, the 1995 ceremony that honored another blockbusting crowd-pleaser in Forrest Gump. It's also 15 million more viewers than this year, despite the US population having grown by 40 million in the same period.


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