Hi there, calendar fans. Once again, it's the most wonderful time of the year, the blur between Christmas and New Year's Day. Time for the annual column wishing a happy 100th birthday to the year that reaches the century mark. Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, 1922 will be celebrating its 100th birthday during all of 2022. 1922 was a year chock full o' nuts and surprises, some of which still resonate today. For example, Betty White, America's sweetheart, was born on January 17, 1922. She hits the big triple digits in 2022.
In January 1922, Fred Banting celebrated the first successful use of insulin for diabetes. One hundred years later, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi have over 90% of the insulin market. They have been jacking up the price ever since. Old Fred would turn over in his grave if he knew what had happened to his invention. January 1922 wasn't all bad news as the first patent for Eskimo Pie was issued.
In February, James Joyce published "Ulysses," a literary masterpiece, that no one reads. Zillions more people have eaten Eskimo Pies than have read "Ulysses." Fun fact, in 2021, Eskimo Pie changed its name to Edy's Pie in a fit of wokeness. It tastes the same, but the name has changed to protect the sensitive. March brought the silent horror film "Nosferatu" to the silver screen, spawning a gusher of vampire movies that continues to this day. April brought the Tea Pot Dome scandal to the administration of President Warren G. Harding, possibly leading to the phrase "a tempest in a teapot." May saw the beginning of construction at Yankee Stadium, which became the home of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, culminating in George Steinbrenner hiring George Costanza as Assistant to the Traveling Secretary of the Yankees. World events took most of the summer of 1922 off, resuming with some exciting happenings in November when the Ottoman Empire was defeated, ending over 600 years of rule by a kingdom based on footstools. In November, Howard Carter and his archeologists discovered the tomb of King Tut, which had lain undisturbed for more than 3000 years. Desecration of Tut's tomb led to the unleashing of the Curse of King Tut, causing many of the Carter party to die mysteriously shortly after waking the dead. These deaths spawned numerous horror movies involving mummies and Boris Karloff. Steve Martin performed a musical tribute to Tut, singing and dancing his way into your heart doing the "King Tut Strut." Ponder some of Mr. Martin's elegant lines eulogizing King Tut:
Buried with a donkey
He's my favorite honkey
Born in Arizona
Moved to Babylonia
Dancing' by the Nile
The ladies love his style
Rockin' for a mile
He ate a crocodile.
Archeology doesn't get any funkier than this. Thanks, Steve, for keeping King Tut real.
1922 brought several famous people into the world. It also brought more non-famous into creation; the non-famous ones are too numerous to name, but rest assured they were out there. America's most famous bald detective Telly Savalas came into the world in January. Audrey Meadows, who became famous as Ralph Kramden's wife Alice on "The Honeymooners," arrived in February. Ralph's constant threats to knock Alice to the moon jangle in light of today's standards, but in the 1950s, everybody laughed. March was a big month for famous babies: William Gaines, who became the publisher of Mad Magazine and spiritual father of Alfred E. Newman of What Me Worry fame, first drew breath in March. Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, arrived in March. Jack Kerouac, the author of "On the Road" and proto-type beatnik, showed up in March. Another March baby was Russ Meyer, who produced classic adult movies like "Faster Pussy Cat! Kill, Kill," "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," "Mudhoney," "MotorPsycho," "Amazon Women on the Moon" and "The Immoral Mr. Teas." They don't write titles like that anymore. April brought us Doris Day, on-screen girlfriend of Rock Hudson. Other April babies included Gale Storm, Barbara Hale, Perry Mason's paralegal, and Jack Klugman, the sloppy half of "The Odd Couple." May produced Nancy Walker, AKA Jane Hathaway, on "The Beverly Hillbillies." Judy Garland from the "Wizard of Oz" appeared in June.
George McGovern appeared in July just in time to cause Richard Nixon to order the Watergate burglary. Yvonne DeCarlo, who played Mrs. Herman Munster, was a September baby. Charles Schultz of "Peanuts" fame emerged in November.
Saving the best for last, Redd Foxx of "Sanford and Son" came along in December. When things would go wrong, Redd would fake having a heart attack, clutch his chest, look heavenward, and announce: "Elizabeth, I'm coming to join you. It's the big one!"
So, there you have it. 1922 was a swell year. It has a lot of candles on its birthday cake.
If you consume an adult beverage on New Year's Eve, kindly raise a glass to 1922.