June 03, 2021

#ThrowbackThursday – 3 June

Every minute, every hour and every day, history is being made around the world. The third day of June is no exception, having played host to past incidents that, when looking back on them, certainly give us plenty of food for thought.

When looking back at these five particular events, one must wonder if our future should be just as lucky (or unlucky) as to hold in store such similar episodes:

1906 – The Birth of Black Venus

An icon of Black American culture, Freda Josephine McDonald – best known as Jospehine Baker – was born today 115 years ago.

A popular music-hall entertainer and actress with nicknames like “Black Venus” and “Black Pearl”, Baker made waves in America and France on both the stage and the silver screen throughout the ‘20s and ‘30s. One of her most famous acts saw her dancing in nothing but a long beaded necklace and a short skirt decorated with hanging bananas.

The beauty was also a noted Civil Rights activist: despite being made a French citizen, she showed support for her fellow African Americans by participating in several demonstrations on US soil between the ‘50s and ‘60s.

1937 – From Abdication to Matrimony

Six months after King Edward VIII sent shockwaves through Britain for abdicating the throne, he did the unthinkable: he married an American divorcee.

Edward VIII first met Wallis Simpson through mutual friends in 1931. At the time, Wallis was already married to her second husband, Ernest Simpson. By 1934, their romance had become well-known, although his ascent to the throne in January 1936 meant that the Church of England were not keen on making their relationship legal and binding.

In December that year, the British royal gave up the throne in order to marry “the woman I love”, who had been granted a divorce from her second husband two months before. Despite the obstacles they faced, they wed each other in France’s Loire Valley, and were known as Duke and Duchess of Windsor for the rest of their days.

1968 – The (Near) Assassination of Andy Warhol

They say Andy Warhol – brilliant, kooky, and highly controversial pop art maestro – was never quite the same after he was nearly killed.

Warhol first met Valeria Solanas in 1967 outside his art studio in Manhattan, New York. A writer and a radical women’s activist, Solanas gave Warhol a copy of her play, “Up Your A–– ”, and asked him to produce it. However, he thought the script was too vulgar and refused. He also failed to give the copy back.

Viewing Warhol as a controlling man who was out to steal her ideas, Solanas shot him at his studio a year later. Despite the critical wounds to his internal organs, the artist survived, although he became quieter, more business-like and – as he described himself – “afraid” in the aftermath.

Shortly after shooting Warhol, Solanas was arrested when she turned herself into the authorities. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and sentenced to three years in prison.

1976 – “Bohemian Rhapsody” Goes Gold

Is this real life, or is it just fantasy? It was definitely a case of the first when “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen was certified gold on this day.

The British band’s song, a six-minute piece that featured a mixture of ballad, opera and hard rock, was released in October 1975 and quickly ascended to the top of the charts around the world. Eight months later, it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of one million physical copies.

To date, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was certified diamond, which represents more than 10 million or more copies in sales and stream equivalents. It has also become Queen’s signature song, and will probably remain their most popular hit until the end of time.

1993 – “Kamikaze” Earns Teen Spelling Victory

George Hooper was only 14-years-old when he won the 66th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Two hundred and thirty-five youngsters competed in the event, some of whom described it as a war because of its sheer intensity.

It was apt, then, that Hooper won the entire competition when he was asked to spell the word “kamikaze”, a noun used to describe a Japanese aircraft loaded with explosives, with which they used to crash upon their enemies.

Upon hearing “kamikaze”, Hooper is said to have “grinned” before correctly spelling his way to victory. He walked away with $5 000, while second-place winner, David Urban, was awarded $4 000 for misspelling “renascent”.

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