1912 – Scott of the Antarctic writes the final entry in his diary

It’s really not clear when exactly Robert Falcon Scott – better known as Scott of the Antarctic – actually died. Certainly, he, Henry Bowers and Edward Wilson were all still alive, albeit in rather poor shape, when his previous diary entry was written six days earlier. It is possible that Scott survived writing this last entry for as much as a day – from the positions of the three men in the tent when their bodies were recovered, he seems to have been the last one to die.

The three were found in their tent in November that year, after the long the southern winter had abated. Scott and his men became martyred heroes to the British empire. Amundsen, whose team had beaten Scott’s to the south pole by five weeks, stated that he “…would gladly forgo any honour or money if thereby I could have saved Scott his terrible death”. Later, as Antarctic exploration slowly transformed into colonisation, Scott’s reputation suffered as historians examined the records of his journey.

Referenced in:

A Human Body — Queen
Restless – Australian Crawl
Dr. Livingstone, I Presume — Moody Blues
History Is Made By Stupid People – Arrogant Worms

1951 — “The King and I” premieres on Broadway

Based on a 1944 novel, “Anna and the King of Siam” by Margaret Landon, “The King and I” was the fourth collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II (usually just called Rodgers and Hammerstein). The novel is largely a series of vignettes, so the musical adapted the plot of the 1946 film of the novel instead.

On the opening night, Yul Brynner, as the King of Siam, gave a standout performance – one he would later reprise in the 1956 adaptation of the musical. Despite Rodgers and Hammerstein’s worries about the show, nearly everyone else expected a hit – which duly happened, thanks to the strength of the performances and the music and script of the creators.

Referenced in:
We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel

2005 – Johnnie Cochran dies

Cochran was perhaps the most famous lawyer of the 1990s, primarily for his defence of O.J. Simpson in Simpson’s murder trial. Cochran’s refrain of “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” (the it in question was a glove that was a key piece of evidence for the prosecution) eventually swayed the jury, and Simpson’s acquittal was forthcoming.

However, despite Cochran’s habit of defending rich celebrities, he also prided himself on representing those whose circumstances were less happy. Even before his defence of Simpson, Cochran had a reputation for taking on cases of police brutality, and his 2001 civil suit representing Abner Louima (who was sodomised with a toilet plunger by members of the NYPD while under arrest) resulted in a settlement of US $8.75 million being paid to Louima, a record that still stands more than a decade later, and years after Cochran’s death from a brain tumour.

Referenced in:

Spooky Mormon Hell Dream — “The Book of Mormon” original Broadway cast