On This Day: April 1
A landmark day for the computer that 9 out 10 movie and TV characters (okay, and some Founding Fathers) will end up using. Plus, a horror legend who has to perform from birth and Day One of a soap whose recap now runs longer than Remembrance Of Things Past.
1880 -- Lon Chaney Sr makes the first of his celebrated thousand faces when he's born in Colorado Springs. As a child of deaf parents, he'll have to learn pantomime just to communicate, and will later transfer those skills to Vaudeville, which will lead to success in theatre. But his wife's suicide attempt will cause a scandal that forces him off the stage and into the new-fangled world of cinema. His breakout will be 1919's The Miracle Man, which is made for $126,000, grosses $3m and is so popular that it tops a 1922 Photoplay poll of readers' favorite films. Despite this blockbuster and classic status, it's now a lost film. Chaney will go on to acclaim in silent-horror sensations The Phantom Of The Opera and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. While many other stars face ruin from the talkies, Chaney demonstrate a terrific vocal range in his first sound production, 1930's The Unholy Three. Sadly, there will be no talkie transition for him as he'll die from lung-cancer related bleeding, age 50, just seven weeks after the film's release.
1963 -- General Hospital and Doctors debut on TV. While the latter will last until 1982, clocking up some 5280 episodes, the former will go on to be the second-longest running American soap opera still in production. So, today's General Hospital, which is episode 12,027, has Dante and Lucky piecing together evidence that implicates Kiefer in assaulting Kristina. Meanwhile, Elizabeth learns the answer of that second paternity test! Having missed, oh, the first 12,026 installments, can anyone catch me up on who these people are and how they relate to where it all started with Dr Steve Hardy and nurse Jessie Brewer?
1976 -- While George Lucas is off updating Buck Rogers, a couple of ur-geeks named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak finish tinkering with their DIY computer -- which consists of plywood with a few chips screwed into it -- and reckon it might be a gizmo a few fellow enthusiasts would like to buy. So today they start their company, call it Apple because Jobs had worked in an Oregon orchard, and decide that though, "We won't make any money... it'll be fun." Of course, by 1986 Jobs will make so much moola he can, for example, buy the fledgling computer graphics division of Lucasfilm and turn it into Pixar Animation Studios. Apple's piles of cash will really mount up after the Apple Macintosh goes on sale, its arrival trumpted in 1984 with a classic Superbowl spot directed by Ridley Scott.