May 06, 2021

#ThrowbackThursday – 6 May

History brims with the successes and failures of the human race. Indeed, the events that took place on 6 May prove that with the right amount of pluck (or silliness), they can put their minds to anything with varying results:

1937 – “Oh, the Humanity!”

More than a year after its first flight, the “LK 129 Hindenburg” – a 245 metre-long German passenger airship built by the Zeppelin Company – went up in flames.

The “Hindenburg” caught fire and crashed in Manchester Township, New Jersey, while it attempted to dock with its mooring mast at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Thirty-five out of 97 passengers and crew members were killed, while a worker on the ground also perished.

Herbert Morrison, an American journalist who was reporting from the station at the time, famously described the disaster: “It’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It’s smoke, and it’s in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! … This is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed.”

1954 – 3:59.4

Over 1 400 people have broken the “four-minute mile”: completing a mile-long (1.6km) run in four minutes or less. Of course, only one individual holds the honour of achieving this feat first.

Sir Roger Bannister, a British athlete and neurologist, was just 25-years-old when he finished running the mile in under four minutes – specifically, three minutes and 59.4 seconds, much to the delight of the 3 000 spectators present at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, England.

In an interview sixty years later, Bannister was humble about the feat, saying: “While the four-minute mile was important to me once, it’s now in the back of my mind … it taught us we could do most things we turned our minds to in later life.”

1960 – Princess Margaret Weds a Pleb

She was a princess, and he was a mere commoner. However, their respective backgrounds did not stop them from getting married (only to divorce 18 years later due to infidelity, but the romantic sentiment is still there).

Princess Margaret – the younger sister of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth – first met photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones at a dinner party in 1957. They became engaged in 1959, and their wedding took place a year later at Westminster Abbey, England.

Walked down the aisle by her brother-in-law, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret exchanged her vows with Armstrong-Jones, highlighting the fact that it was the first time in centuries that a king’s daughter married a commoner.

It was also the first televised royal wedding ever – over 20 million people witnessed the crossing of class barriers on this day.

1994 – The (Almost) Roast of Bobcat Goldthwait

American stand-up comedian, Bobcat Goldthwait, is known for his wild and energetic humour, but he took it quite far during an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Using lighter fluid and a long-handled lighter, he set his chair on fire, prompting Leno and another guest, actress Lauren Hutton, to douse the flames with cups of water before they spread further.

Goldthwait was ordered by a New York City court to pay a $2 700 fine, plus an additional $698 to cover the cost of the damaged chair. He was also required to tape public-service announcements about fire safety.

2004 – The One Where They Say Goodbye

After ten seasons, “Friends” was coming to an end.

The popular television sitcom – which starred the likes of Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer and Courtney Cox – centred around six friends trying to navigate their lives in New York City.

Approximately 52.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the final, two-part episode, “The Last One”, which saw the characters depart from Monica and Chandler’s apartment forever.

Schwimmer, who played Ross, remarked on the ending: “It’s exactly what I had hoped. We all end up with a sense of a new beginning and the audience has a sense that it’s a new chapter in the lives of all these characters.”