This Week in History: January 12-18

Featured Article, History, This Week in History
on January 12, 2014
Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin

Holy history, Batman! The classic 1966 action show premiered this week with Burt Ward as Robin the Boy Wonder and Adam West as Batman. Both actors struggled to avoid typecasting after the show ended in 1968. Read below to see who else appeared in the “Batman” television series.

January 12:
“Batman” Television Premiere
On this day in 1966, television viewers got a sampling of comic book humor and action thanks to the premiere of the “Batman” television series. Starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Burt Ward (Dick Grayson/Robin), the series is remembered for its bright colors, cartoony action and campy comedic style. The show’s theme song, with a decidedly surf rock sound, has found its own place in the cultural landscape. The show performed well for three seasons and featured appearances by sports personalities, musicians and movie stars. “Batman” was canceled in 1968 after 120 episodes.

January 13:
First Public Radio Broadcast
Organized by Lee de Forest, one of radio’s early proponents, the first public radio broadcast took place on this day in 1910 in New York. The broadcast sent signals from the Metropolitan Opera House to signal receivers across the city. Though the sound quality was poor and not much could be heard on the other end of the radio, this event in the history of radio laid the foundation for future large-scale transmissions.

January 14:
“Today” Show Premiere
“Today” began today in 1952. The first morning talk/news program, NBC’s “The Today Show” is the fifth-longest running American television series. “Today” dominated ratings until the 1980s when it was surpassed by ABC’s “Good Morning America.” It retook the lead in 1995. Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric and other well-known journalists have anchored “Today.” The show is in its 61st season.

January 15:
Black Dahlia Murder
Los Angeles’ most famous unsolved murder took place on this day in 1947. Elizabeth Short was found drained of blood and mutilated in a parking lot at Leimert Park. Sensational newspapers began calling Short “The Black Dahlia,” playing off the movie “The Blue Dahlia,” which was in theaters at the time. Several people have confessed to the murder, but all have been discounted. The murder and investigation has led to many books, films and speculation.

January 16:
18th Amendment Ratified
Responding to mounting social pressures, on August 1, 1917, Congress sent a potential constitutional amendment to the states restricting the sale and transport of alcohol in the U.S. On January 16, 1918, Nebraska was the 36th state necessary to ratify the 18th amendment. A year later, the Volstead Act enforced the provisions of the amendment, ushering in the era of Prohibition. The 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.

January 17:
Palomares Accident
On this day in 1966, the United States accidentally contaminated Spanish lands with plutonium after the mid-air collision of a B-52 bomber and a tanker near the town of Palomares, Spain. The B-52 was transporting four Mk28 hydrogen bombs; three fell on land, and a fourth was later recovered from the Mediterranean Sea. Two of the bombs that fell on land experienced non-nuclear explosions and released toxic amounts of plutonium. The U.S. military decontaminated a large area of Spanish soil and shipped the barrels of radioactive soil to South Carolina for disposal. Some contamination may still remain.

January 18:
Versailles Peace Conference
The Versailles Peace Conference began on this day in 1919 with the intention of signing peace treaties and truly ending World War I. Under the command of French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and guided by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, the peace conference submitted harsh reparations against Germany, forcing the country to pay astronomical amounts, accept responsibility for the war and divest itself of all colonies. President Woodrow Wilson went to the conference with the goal of espousing his 14 Points of international conduct, but was largely unsuccessful. In many ways, the ensuing Treaty of Versailles set the stage for much of the bitterness leading up to World War II.