February 12: England’s Most Famous Detective Was Born in Hartford

  A scion of one of Connecticut’s oldest and most prominent families, world-famous actor and playwright William Hooker Gillette, was born in Hartford in 1853. Drawn early to the theater arts, he left the city at the age of 20 to seek his fortune as an actor and stage producer. He met with moderate success…

February 6: An Unappreciated Son’s Revolutionary Art.

  At John Trumbull’s birth, few would have expected him to live to age one, much less 87. Yet the infant born suffering multiple seizures daily slowly overcame that condition, and went on to spend a lifetime trying also to overcome his father’s censure of painting as a demeaning profession. In his effort to show…

November 30: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Marry in Greenwich

  Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, two of the most famous entertainers in the history of American television, first met in 1940, over a decade before their mega-hit sitcom, I Love Lucy, first aired. Ball, already well known as a model and Broadway actress, and Arnaz, a popular Cuban bandleader, met on the set of Too…

November 29: Connecticut’s Presidential Portrait Painter

  Today in 1982, a very special delivery was received at the White House: a stunningly photo-realistic portrait of President Jimmy Carter, painted by Connecticut artist Herbert E. Abrams. The painting was President Carter’s official White House portrait, and after viewing it, White House curator Clement Conger declared Abrams the best contemporary artist he had…

October 20: A Monument to the State’s Founding Minister

  On October 20, 1950, a crowd of several hundred Connecticans gathered in front of the Old State House in Hartford to observe the unveiling of a new, eight-foot-tall statue of Thomas Hooker, the Puritan minister and “founding father” of Connecticut who founded the settlement of Hartford in 1636. Born in England in 1586, Thomas…

July 25: New Haven-born Duo Tops the Charts with a Four-Time Retread

  Today in 1970, The Carpenters, the iconic pop music duo consisting of New Haven-born siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter, experienced the first major breakthrough of their musical careers. They did so with a song that had previously been recorded by a host of other performers. The pair achieved “overnight stardom” (after a decade of…

June 1: America’s First Public Art Museum

Today in 1842, Connecticut governor Chauncey Cleveland signed an act formally incorporating the Wadsworth Atheneum, creating the first public art museum in the United States. Construction immediately began on the iconic, castle-like building in Hartford that remains the centerpiece and most recognizable feature of the Atheneum campus, and the institution officially opened two years later,…

May 18: The Man Who Took the Greatest Generation on a “Sleigh Ride.”

  Today in 1975, American composer and longtime Connecticut resident Leroy Anderson passed away in his Woodbury home. Famous for whimsical and catchy orchestral pieces, such as the perennial Christmastime favorite”Sleigh Ride,” “The Syncopated Clock,” and “Blue Tango,”  Anderson’s compositions helped define popular music of mid-20th century America. Fellow composer and Boston Pops conductor John…