February 12: Sherlock Holmes’ “Farewell Tour”

  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.  He left Hartford at the age of 20 to seek his fame and fortune as an actor and stage producer and met with moderate success until 1899, when he landed…

February 6: John Trumbull’s Paintings Revolutionize the U.S. Capitol

  At birth, few would have expected John Trumbull to live to age one, much less eighty-seven. 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 the process, he painted some…

December 25: Florence Griswold and the Lyme Art Colony

    On this day in 1850, Florence Griswold was born into one of Old Lyme’s most prominent families, the youngest daughter of wealthy ship captain Robert Griswold. Not long after Florence was born, the family’s fortunes began to change, as the onset of the Civil War (and its many naval blockades) and the decline…

November 15: Rosa Ponselle, Opera Singer Extraordinaire

  Born to Italian immigrants living in Meriden, Connecticut in 1897, Rosa Ponselle (born Rosa Ponzillo) displayed a natural talent for both singing and instrumental music at an early age.  Ponselle, who was destined to become a musical celebrity and one of the most famous opera singers in American history, began her musical career as…

August 12: Actress Deborah Walley born in Bridgeport

  On this day in Connecticut history, actress Deborah Walley was born in Bridgeport in 1941.  With nationally famous ice skaters and choreographers Edith and Nathan Walley as her parents, young Deborah caught the show business bug at an early age, performing on the ice with her parents for the first time at the age…

August 10: World Premiere of “Annie” in East Haddam

  On this day in 1976, one of America’s most beloved musicals, “Annie,” had its world premiere at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. The new musical, based off the popular Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” had to endure several “hard knocks” of its own before becoming the world-famous production it is…

July 19: The American Impressionist Movement Blooms in Ridgefield

  Located in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the Weir Farm National Historic Site memorializes the life and historic contributions of J. Alden Weir, one of the most iconic painters of the American Impressionist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in 1852 to a prosperous family, Weir showed artistic promise at an early age…

June 25: Marilyn Monroe Takes Connecticut By Storm

  On this day in 1956, the small, rural, western Connecticut town of Roxbury was swarmed by reporters who recently learned that the internationally-famous starlet Marilyn Monroe was in town visiting her fiancée, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller. Even though the couple had been dating for months, they had only announced their plans to marry…

June 15: Honoring Gladys Tantaquidgeon of the Mohegan Tribe

  June 15, 1999 was officially declared “Gladys Tantaquidegon Day” by Connecticut Governor John Rowland in honor of the 100th birthday of a remarkable medicine woman who became one of the most influential cultural and spiritual leaders of the Mohegan Nation. Born on the Mohegan reservation in southeastern Connecticut in 1899, Gladys Iola Tantaquidegon was…

June 10: Author Robert Ludlum’s Connecticut Connection

  Today in 1951, Robert Ludlum, one of the bestselling authors of all time, graduated from Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut with a B.A. in Drama and high hopes of becoming a world-famous actor. Born in New York City in 1927, Ludlum developed a love for the theater while attending private school in Cheshire, Connecticut,…

June 1: The Nation’s Oldest Public Art Museum Established

  On this day in 1842, Connecticut governor Chauncey Cleveland signed an act formally incorporating the Wadsworth Atheneum, creating what would become the first and oldest continuously operating public art museum in the United States.  Construction immediately began on the iconic, castle-like building that remains the centerpiece and most recognizable feature of the Atheneum campus,…

May 18: Composer Leroy Anderson dies in Woodbury

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