March 04, 2021

#ThrowbackThursday – 4 March

From the first flight of an airship doomed to crash and burn, to the last day of a man whose legacy lives on in table-top gaming, here are five events that went down in history on 4 March:

1924 – Happy Birthday to the “Happy Birthday” Song

It’s a song sung by millions of people around the world, and it only made its debut in print 97 years ago!

According to reports, two sisters from Louisville – Mildred Hill and Patty Smith – created the renowned melody for another song, “Good Morning to All”, in 1893. Although the exact origin of the lyrics is unknown, many have attributed the iconic four lines to the sisters.

In 1924, “Happy Birthday to You” made its first print appearance in a songbook edited by Robert H. Coleman. Although Hill and Smith copyrighted the song 11 years later, the song is now in the public domain in the United States and the European Union.

1936 – “Hindenburg” Takes Flight

Five years after construction began in 1931, “LK 129 Hindenburg” – a 245 metre-long passenger airship built by the Zeppelin Company – embarked on its maiden voyage over Friedrichshafen, Germany.

The “Hindenburg” flew a total of 63 times, mainly between Germany, North America and South America. However, its lifespan was short: in 1937, the airship caught fire and crashed in Manchester Township, New Jersey, killing 35 out of 97 passengers and crew members.

As a result, the incident marked the end of the airship era.

1952 – Hemingway’s Masterpiece is Finished

On this day, Ernest Hemingway completed writing his bestselling short novel, “The Old Man and the Sea”. It tells the story of an aging fisherman who engages in an epic battle to catch a giant marlin in the Gulf Stream.

Claiming it to be the best book Hemingway had ever written, “The Old Man and the Sea” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953; the following year, it was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Sadly, it was the last major work to be published in Hemingway’s lifetime, for he committed suicide in 1961.

1975 – A Tramp is Knighted

A star of the Silent Era, actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin became a household name for his iconic character, “The Tramp”: a behatted, moustachioed and mischievous man.

Many of Chaplin’s films – namely “The Kid”, “City Lights”, and “The Great Dictator” – featured The Tramp getting up to all sorts of slapstick adventures.

For his contribution to the film industry, Chaplin, then aged 86, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a lavish ceremony at Buckingham Palace – an occasion he said that “dumbfounded” him.

2008 – Goodbye, Dungeon Master

The role-playing world was thrown into mourning when one of its leading pioneers, Gary Gygax, passed away at the age of 69.

Gygax is best known for co-creating the popular fantasy role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons”, with Dave Arneson in 1974. The table-top game sees players creating an alternate persona and going off on imagined adventures decided by another player called the Dungeon Master. “D&D” has since evolved into a billion-dollar franchise that has spawned books, films and video games.

In a 2004 interview, Gygax commented: “I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games, and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else.”

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