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November 30 is Perpetual Youth Day

Today is Perpetual Youth Day, always celebrated on November 30th in honor of Dick Clark’s birthday. Although he’d been born in 1929, Clark appeared to age very little during the five decades of his career, earning him the nickname of “America’s oldest teenager.”

In 1957, Clark hosted a local Philadelphia television show called Bandstand, which he pitched to ABC as cheap, easy afternoon programming that would appeal to youth. The network, perennially in third place, was desperate to capture that demographic. On August 5, 1957, American Bandstand premiered to a national audience. It was an instant hit.perpetual youth day

Clark hosted the show for thirty years, giving many bands their first U.S. TV appearances. Among the diverse artists he introduced to American audiences were Aretha Franklin, Madonna, The Doors, Stevie Wonder, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina Turner, Neil Diamond, The Guess Who, Barry Manilow, Adam and the Ants, Kim Carnes, Blondie, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Grace Jones, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Prince.

The clean-cut, “square” host sometimes made music history. According to American Bandstand Timeline, on August 6, 1960:

When scheduled guest Hank Ballard and the Midnighters fail to show up to perform their hit R&B song “The Twist,” Clark convinces friend Chubby Checker to go into the studio quickly and cut a soundalike version in half an hour. Demonstrating the dance on TV, Chubby gets an instant #1 hit and sets off the nationwide “dance craze” that would last the better part of two years.

On January 6, 1979:

Dick Clark develops a series of moves for the audience to perform while the Village People’s new song is debuted on Bandstand. The group goes along with the idea, and the “YMCA” dance is born.

Not every appearance was destined to become a classic. All guests on American Bandstand were required to “mime” their songs. It was fairly obvious from the lack of wires and amplifiers onstage that bands were simply going through the motions.

In late 1967, Pink Floyd’s frontman Syd Barrett refused to lip-sync “Arnold Layne,” staring into the camera instead with a look that would later come to represent his descent into madness. The group canceled its first U.S. tour.

The Talking Heads debuted on American television on March 17, 1979, singing “Take Me to the River” and “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel.” Although they were reportedly unhappy about having to mime, American Bandstand was an opportunity too good to refuse.

First, Clark apologized for pronouncing Tina Weymouth’s name incorrectly, then launched into an interview of David Byrne, who looked embarrassed and gave monosyllabic replies. Clark then turned back to Tina and asked, “Is he always this enthusiastic?” She replied, “I guess he’s organically shy.” It didn’t get any better. One imagines everyone was praying for the next commercial break.

Public Image Ltd. appeared on the show on May 3, 1980. Here’s how lead singer John Lydon, formerly known as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, described the experience in his autobiography, Anger is An Energy.

It all got off on the wrong foot when we arrived and they suddenly informed us that it would be a mimed thing. Our equipment hadn’t arrived in time, apparently, but we soon got even more upset when they said, ‘Oh no, you couldn’t play it live anyway, just mime to the record.’

They’d made up some edited versions of “Poptones” and “Careering,” and gave us a cassette to check it out beforehand. ‘Oh my God, they’ve cut it down to that? I don’t know where the vocals are going to drop. What are we supposed to do?’ None of us knew. Just thinking about trying to sing it like the record was…aarghh! You can fake it with an instrument but you can’t as the singer. ‘Okay, so you’ve cut out the point and purpose, it’s like removing the chorus from the National Anthem, just because it makes for an allotted time slot on a TV show. That’s arse-backways!’

Lydon solved the problem by barely making an effort to lip-sync the first song. He pushed people around in the audience, pulling some onto the stage as they squealed and clutched at him as if he were a rude, sullen Beatle.

Between songs, Clark attempted to be a good sport, inviting the rest of the audience onstage. On “Careering,” Lydon abandoned any pretense of miming the words and began wandering around the stage, giving his mic away and snorting nasal spray on-camera. Needless to say, the band was not invited back.

American Bandstand was not Dick Clark’s only claim to fame. In 1959, he hosted a forty-nine-day road show called Caravan of Stars that traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada and featured Bo Diddley, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Annette Funicello and Chuck Berry, backed by a seventeen-piece orchestra.

He hosted the Dick Clark Show (1958-60) and Where the Action Is (1965-67), produced and/or hosted TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes (on-and-off, in one form or other, from 1984-2012) and guest-starred on Perry Mason in 1966, Adam-12 in 1972, and appeared twice as himself in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1994, 1996) and once on Dharma & Greg (2002). He also owned several restaurant chains and had the dubious distinction of being questioned by Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine about refusing to pay food workers a living wage.

perpetual youth day

He founded dick clark productions (dcp) in 1957, now the world’s largest owner and producer of events such as Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Miss America and weekly programs such as So You Think You Can Dance. dcp also owns a large archive spanning more than fifty-five years of award-winning shows, specials, performances and historical programs.

Dick Clark hosted New Year’s Rockin’ Eve from January 1, 1974, through January 1, 2004. Clark suffered a stroke on December 8, 2004, and Regis Philbin stepped in as guest host. Despite initial reports that the stroke had been minor, it resulted in dysarthria, a disorder which affects the muscles that help produce speech, making it very difficult to pronounce words. It doesn’t interfere with cognitive understanding of language but can lead to impairment of intelligibility and audibility of basic vocal communication.

The stroke also caused partial paralysis and Clark had to learn to walk and talk again. It was assumed his career as a broadcaster was over. But he was back to ring in 2006 with Ryan Seacrest, whom he’d chosen as his successor. Some found it uncomfortable and even depressing to watch Clark struggle to make himself understood.  Others, particularly those who’d had a stroke and spent hours every day fighting to regain speech and movement, cheered him on, hailing him as an inspiration.

perpetual youth day

Though his role had dwindled to figurehead status, Dick Clark never missed the rebranded Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest and helped the nation usher in 2012 before his death on April 18th of that year, caused by a massive heart attack during prostate surgery.

Perhaps Perpetual Youth Day is a misnomer given its dedication to a man who has shuffled off this mortal coil. But maybe it’s the perfect way to describe a person who introduced generations of kids to rock’n’roll while setting parents at ease. If a nice young(ish) man like Dick Clark thought it was okay to give airtime to Run DMC (Jam Master Jammin’), Prince (I Wanna Be Your Lover), Dokken (Just Got Lucky), Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit), The Doors (Light My Fire) and Psychedelic Furs (Heaven), then it had to be okay, right?

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

November 23 is TARDIS Day

On November 23, 1963, the BBC aired the first episode of its new science fiction series about a mysterious man and his time machine. (Why did it look like a British police box? Because its chameleon circuit jammed after it landed in 1960s England, of course.)

TARDIS DayNo one could have predicted that Doctor Who would go on to be the longest-running science fiction television show in history. The original pilot was deemed unwatchable, scrapped and reshot, delaying the premiere by a week.

By the time the retooled episode, An Unearthly Child, made it to air on November 23, 1963, it was overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy, which had occurred the day before.

But Doctor Who eventually found an audience, especially after the introduction of the Daleks. More than half a century later, it is still popular with millions of loyal viewers. William Hartnell was the First Doctor to hop aboard the TARDIS, which stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space.

From the start, it was established that a Gallifreyan Time Lord can only regenerate twelve times. That would have made Peter Capaldi the last. Some fans insist the rule was nullified during Matt Smith’s tenure. Others maintain that John Hurt’s character was the forgotten regeneration between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston, which meant Capaldi was the Thirteenth Doctor.

It would seem the debate has been settled by Chris Chibnall, the show’s new head writer, who announced, “After months of lists, conversations, auditions, recalls, and a lot of secret-keeping, we’re excited to welcome Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.

“I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman and we’re thrilled to have secured our number one choice.” The canon-busting season will begin airing in the autumn of 2018.

We celebrate TARDIS Day because Doctor Who continues to entertain us with its steadily expanding universe, at once strange and strangely familiar. It’s also created a legion of Whovians, fans who seek each other out, bond over their love of the show and debate about who is the best Doctor, the worst villain, or even how many Doctors Who there have been.

Find some great ways to celebrate TARDIS Day here. Find the Doctor Who episode that fell on your birthday on Tardis.com. Catch up on Doctor Who on Netflix. (Then learn about efforts to recover lost episodes discarded by the BBC.)

Happy TARDIS Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 17 is National Unfriend Day

On November 17, 2010, comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel inaugurated National Unfriend Day with an advisory about fairweather Facebook friends.

Test them by asking for help with a move, he said. The people who respond are your friends. No one else. He capped off the proceedings with a public service announcement by William Shatner.

According to data from a 2014 Edison Research report, 58% of Americans are on Facebook and have an average of 350 Facebook friends. A holiday begun as a lark has never been more relevant.

In 2016, Kimmel asked his audience to post on his Facebook page who they had unfriended and why:

Happy National Unfriend Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

November 15 is George Spelvin Day

George Spelvin DayToday is George Spelvin Day. Who is he, and why does he have his own day? He was “born” on November 15, 1886, and is still going strong. How is that possible?

George Spelvin began as a pseudonym used in theatrical playbills to hide the fact that a performer was “doubling“—playing two roles in a play or musical. Actors changed costumes and makeup, sometimes adding a second, disguised photo to the program, all to (hopefully) fool theatergoers. Listing a player’s name twice would ruin the effect.

Sometimes a playwright or director added a fictitious actor and role to the cast list to trick audience members into thinking the character would appear. This misdirection could make a plot twist or other device harder to figure out and thus more effective and entertaining.

George Spelvin first appeared on a Broadway Playbill on November 15, 1886, opening night of Karl the Peddler, a play by Charles A. Gardiner. In 1906, Winchell Smith “cast” him in Brewster’s Millions. After the show’s success, Smith considered Spelvin a good luck charm and added him to many other shows.

Spelvin appeared in the credits of films such as D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915) and the Academy Award-winning From Here to Eternity (1953). He showed up on television and soap operas, including The Guiding Light and Edge of Night. He called himself George Spelvinsky, Georges SpelvinetGiorgio Spelvino or Gregor Spelvanovich for European roles.

Over time, the Spelvin family expanded. George Spelvin, Jr. shared billing with his “father” in the 1929 play Kibitzer. Georgette Spelvin debuted in the short-lived Broadway production of Love Girl (1922). The clan had a “black sheep” as well: Georgina Spelvin, used by porn actress Chele Welsh as her screen name in adult films such as The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) and mainstream fare like Police Academy (1984).

Although doubling has lost its stigma, pseudonyms remain popular. Actors’ Equity Association members wishing to work under a non-union contract may use alternate names to avoid fines and possible revocation of union membership. Performers who become unhappy while shooting a movie may try to substitute a false name in the credits, to disassociate themselves from a potential box office bomb.

The Spelvin name has grown so well-known that it has become an in-joke for sophisticated audiences. (Alan Smithee, used by disgruntled directors, enjoys a similar status among moviegoers.) Spelvin’s British counterparts are Mr. F. AnneyMr. Bart and Walter Plinge, who has his own holiday on December 2nd.

Have a happy George Spelvin Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays