This Day in History - December 7

Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base near Honolulu, Hawaii, and was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. on that Sunday morning, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base, where they managed to destroy or damage nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and over 300 airplanes. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

"Saratoga" Opens at Winter Garden Theater NYC

The Broadway production, directed by DaCosta and choreographed by Ralph Beaumont, opened on December 7, 1959 at the Winter Garden Theatre, where it ran for 80 performances. The cast included Carol Lawrence as Clio, Howard Keel as Clint, and Warde Donovan as Bart, with Virginia Capers, Odette Myrtil, Carol Brice, and Edith King in supporting roles.

Critics were impressed by the elaborate sets (which included a turntable and fifteen different locales) and the more than two hundred costumes created by Cecil Beaton, who won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Scenic Design. The leads drew good notices, but most agreed that DaCosta's book and direction resulted in a slow-moving, uninvolving production. The main characters were unlikeable, their romance dull, and too many peripheral characters wandered in and out of the action. Show Boat, with its riverboat setting, had been a natural for musical adaptation, and whereas Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern had succeeded in compressing the epic into a lively stage production, the creative team behind Saratoga was unable to wring much excitement from a romantic relationship stemming primarily from a mutual desire for vengeance.

Richard Dodd Returns Overdue Library Book

Although The University of Cincinnati no longer holds this record, a few years ago it was listed for having the most overdue library book taken out by a borrower — “Medical Reports of the Effects of Water, Cold & Warm, Remedy in Fever & Febrile Diseases, Whether Applied to the Body or Used Internally” by James Currie, printed in London in 1805. The book was checked out in 1823 from the medical library and was returned Dec. 7, 1968, by the borrower’s great-grandson, Richard Dodd. Rumors that he was given a $20,000 fine are untrue. The university simply thanked him for his consideration.

US Space Probe Galileo Orbits Jupiter

Galileo was an American unmanned spacecraft that studied the planet Jupiter and its moons, as well as several other Solar System bodies. Named after the astronomer Galileo Galilei, it consisted of an orbiter and entry probe. It was launched on October 18, 1989, carried by Space Shuttle Atlantis, on the STS-34 mission. Galileo arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995, after gravitational assist flybys of Venusand Earth, and became the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. It launched the first probe into Jupiter, directly measuring its atmosphere. Despite suffering major antenna problems, Galileo achieved the first asteroid flyby, of 951 Gaspra, and discovered the first asteroid moon, Dactyl, around 243 Ida. In 1994, Galileo observed Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9's collision with Jupiter.

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