January 19 in nerd history: Kevin Bacon, Muhammad Ali, and I Love Lucy

January 19 in nerd history: Kevin Bacon, Muhammad Ali, and I Love Lucy

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January 19 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on January 19th at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.

I.

Birthdays of honor: Dolly Parton (1946), Edgar Allan Poe (1809), Janis Joplin (1943), Katey Sagal (1954), Jodie Sweetin (1982), Robert Palmer (1949), Paul Rodriguez (1955).

II.

34 years ago, in 1990, one of the great movies in film made its way into theaters. That’s right, we’re talking about Tremors, the tale of prehistoric giant worms who decide they’ve had enough of the podunk town of Perfection, Nevada.

Starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, and Reba McEntire, turns out all you need to defeat ancient monsters are some handymen, a geologist, and a couple of good ol’ fashion survivalists — along with a touch of wit.

This movie should have been a monster hit, and depending on who you ask, it feels like it was. But it actually opened at number 5 at the box office, and barely even turned a profit. It was the home video market that turned this quirky monster movie into a monster hit, making it the most-rented movie of 1990 and spawning a franchise.

III.

Sometimes you can tell when a show is writing around an actress who’s pregnant — there’s a new plot twist to explain the baby, they take an extended vacation for some random reason, or you simply don’t see them anywhere from the neck down for half a season.

But if you’re talking I Love Lucy, the lines between reality and fiction were completely blurred, especially when the storyline of fictional couple Lucy and Ricky having a fictional kiddo coincided with real-life Lucy and Dezi having a real-life kiddo. And it all culminated today in 1953 when “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” aired, in which, you guessed it, Lucy gives birth.

And just to sprinkle in a little more mind-numbing reality/fiction blurring, Lucille Ball had in reality given birth to Dezi Arnaz, Jr. just 12 hours before the episode aired (it had been filmed a couple of months earlier). They at least got a different kid to act in the show, but yeesh.

Fans LOVED it. It’s estimated that 73.9% of the American viewing public turned in for the episode, equating to some 44 million people — 15 million more than the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower received the very next day.

IV.

Today in 1981, Muhammad Ali literally saved a dude’s life.

A crowd had gathered as a man only identified as “Joe” stood nine floors up, apparently delusional and threatening to jump. Police and others implored him to step inside for hours.

One of Ali’s best friends, Howard Bingham, happened to be at the scene and called Ali to tell him what was going on. Minutes later the legendary boxer was spotted driving his Rolls-Royce the wrong way down the street with blinking lights and immediately ran into the building when he arrived.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ali leaned his head out the window and spoke directly to the man: “You’re my brother! I love you, and I couldn’t lie to you.” He then walked onto the fire escape, put his arm around Joe, and led him back into the building. Ali then drove Joe to a nearby V.A. hospital.

It’s not the first thing most people think of when they think of Muhammad Ali, especially since it happened at the tail end of his boxing career — but it’s certainly a story worth remembering.

V.

30 years ago today, “All for Love” by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting was the top song in the country, recorded for the extremely ’90s film version of The Three Musketeers.

And yes, those are three dudes who essentially have slightly different versions of the same singing voice. Amazingly, it didn’t cause a black hole to develop and swallow the universe.

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