September 7: ESPN Goes Live from Bristol

  On this day in 1979, at 7:00pm Eastern time, the first cable channel devoted exclusively to sports and entertainment went live from its studio in Bristol, Connecticut. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) was the dream of Bill Rasmussen, a former communications director for the New England (later Hartford) Whalers, who spent the…

September 5: Lead-foot Celebrities on the Merritt Parkway

  Every day, tens of thousands of commuters from Connecticut and its neighboring states use the Merritt Parkway as an alternative to the often-congested Interstate 95 highway in an attempt to more quickly get to their destination — and every day, a number of them are ticketed for going a little too quickly. Connecticut, in…

August 21: The Death of the Charter Oak

  In the early morning hours of August 21, 1856, the Charter Oak tree — arguably Connecticut’s most iconic symbol — fell amid fierce winds from an overnight summer storm. The giant white oak had stood atop a hill in Hartford for at least 250 years before it fell; Dutch explorer Adriaen Block had noted…

August 12: Gidget 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 4: Connecticut Radio Stations Ban the Beatles

  On August 4, 1966, several Connecticut pop music radio stations joined a nationwide boycott and refused to play Beatles music in response to perceived anti-Christian remarks made by John Lennon. The offending interview actually took place in March of 1966, when journalist Maureen Cleave asked John Lennon a series of questions about the rock…

July 28: New Haven Serves Up the First Hamburger

  July 28, 1900 was shaping up to be an average summer day for lunch wagon owner and German immigrant Louis Lassen, who was serving sandwiches and other hot meals to factory workers in New Haven during their lunch breaks. Suddenly, a local businessman, Gary Widmore, rushed up to Lassen’s wagon and desperately asked for…

July 25: The New Haven-born Carpenters Top the Charts

  On this day 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. Their song, “Close to You,” reached #1 on the Billboard charts, where it remained for the next four weeks. Born in 1946 and 1950…

July 13: Legislator P.T. Barnum Speaks While His Museum Burns

  On this day in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent.  Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz…

July 6: The Hartford Circus Fire

  What began as an innocent day at the circus ended in one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history, today in 1944. In early July of that year, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had set up one of their largest “Big Top” tents in a field in Hartford’s North End…

June 17: Windsor’s “Murder Factory” Story Kills at the Box Office

  Today in Connecticut history, the Broadway comedy “Arsenic and Old Lace,” based on one of Connecticut’s most infamous true crime tales, wrapped up its wildly successful New York run after over 1,400 shows. The unlikely inspiration for “Arsenic and Old Lace,” written by Joseph Kesserling in 1939, was the story of Amy Archer-Gilligan, a…

June 8: Civil War Composer Henry Clay Work Dies at 51 in Hartford

  Henry Clay Work, one of the most popular songwriters of the Civil War era, died today in 1884 at age 51, while in Hartford visiting his mother. Work, who composed such still-sung songs as “Marching Through Georgia” and “Kingdom Coming” (you know the tune), was born in Middletown in 1832 into an activist family…

May 12: Katharine Hepburn born in Hartford

  Today in 1907, film star Katherine Hepburn was born in Hartford.  Widely considered to be one of the greatest film and theater actresses in American history, Hepburn holds the record for the most Academy Awards ever won by an actor or actress (four) and starred in over 80 feature films, TV shows, and stage…