On this day in history, a number of important events took place. One of the best players to ever play Major League Baseball signed his first contract, the King of Pop debuted at No. 1, a film premiered that created a musical and cultural juggernaut, and a legendary sports broadcasting career came to an end. Let’s take a closer look at what happened on this day in history, December 14.
1947: The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was formed by Bill France, Sr. From humble beginnings, NASCAR racing became wildly popular over time and continues to be one of the most-watched motor sports forms in the world. The stock car racing series features well-known races such as the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
1953: On this day in history, Sandy Koufax signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Koufax made his Major League Baseball debut in 1955, and Baseball-Reference details that the left-handed starting pitcher went on to play 12 years for the Dodgers, winning the Cy Young Award three times and earning MLB Most Valuable Player honors in 1963. Koufax was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
1962: Bob Dylan released his first single, “Mixed-Up Confusion.” Dylan is widely regarded as one of the finest songwriters in rock music history, and according to Rolling Stone, his greatest songs include “Tangled Up in Blue,” “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Bob Dylan also had a number of high-profile relationships, perhaps none more public than his intense romance with folk singer Joan Baez.
1991: Michael Jackson’s first album release in four years, Dangerous, hit the top spot on Billboard Magazine’s pop albums chart on this day in history. Jackson became famous at a very early age as part of his family’s group, The Jackson 5. Dubbed the King of Pop, Jackson enjoyed a stellar career in music that spanned over 40 years until his death in 2009. Jackson is perhaps best-known for his 1982 album Thriller, which spawned six hit singles.
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1977: The disco-themed film Saturday Night Fever premiered in New York City. The movie was financially successful, bringing in more than 30 times the cost of production (per IMDb). However, the cultural impact the film had with its record-breaking soundtrack went far beyond the movie itself. Saturday Night Fever also shot its star, John Travolta, to instant superstardom upon the release of the film.
2015: The TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles hosted the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film, directed by J.J. Abrams, was the latest in a long line of highly successful movies in the Star Wars franchise, which began in 1977 with the release of the original Star Wars starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. Interestingly, all three of the main stars from the first film reprised their roles for this sequel some 38 years later.
1902: Actress Frances Bavier was born. Bavier will forever be known as Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show, which ran on network television from 1960 through 1968. Bavier’s first acting job came in 1951, when she landed a role in the science fiction classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. Bavier lived a solitary life in North Carolina after her career came to an end, and she died just before her 87th birthday in 1989.
1984: Howard Cosell resigned as an announcer for ABC’s Monday Night Football on this day in history. Cosell is best remembered not only for his 14 years as a member of the Monday Night Football broadcast team, but for his coverage of the sport of boxing — specifically, his professional and personal relationship with all-time boxing great Muhammad Ali. ABC News details the decades-long friendship between Cosell and Ali, which served to boost both men’s status over the years.
[Featured Image by Cliff Schiappa/AP Images]