On March 17, 1993, actress Helen Hayes died of congestive heart failure in Nyack New York. After making her theatre debut at the age of five, Hayes became a legend of the Broadway stage and was married to playwright Charles MacArthur. She was one of the first to win a Tony, Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy Award, and has also received the National Medal of Arts and Presidential Medal of Freedom and now has a theatrical award named after her for performances in her native Washington, DC. Two Broadway theatres have been named for her; one that was demolished to make way for the Marriott Marquis, and the current Helen Hayes Theatre on 44th Street, which became her namesake nine years before her death at the age of 92.
Congratulations to Ayinde Stevens for getting the correct answer first!
On March 14, 1893, William Waldorf Astor opened the Waldorf Hotel at the corner of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue. Designed by Henry Hardenbergh and featuring the most luxurious accommodations (such as first class room service and a telephone in every suite), the hotel had been part of a feud between the developer and his aunt, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, whose own Astoria Hotel opened next door four years later. When the family members reconciled, they combined their ventures into the Waldorf-Astoria, which became the very epitome of elegant accommodations in the city. Eventually, the hotel would be demolished and reestablished in its current art-deco facility on Park Avenue to make way for the original location’s next tenant, the Empire State Building.
On March 12, 1733, the Common Council passed a resolution for the creation of Bowling Green. The area north of the Battery had been a gathering place for years, at various times a parade ground and a market. With the establishing of the city’s first official park, the Council leased the land to Peter Bayard, John Chambers, and Peter Jay, for a rent of one peppercorn per year. The three men accepted responsibility to beautify the park “for the beauty and ornament of the said street and for the recreation and delight of the inhabitants of this city.” Today, the original fence still stands around the city’s oldest public park.
Happy 100th Birthday to the late, great Mickey Spillane! Born Frank Morrison Spillane in Brooklyn, the son of an Irish bartender, he dabbled in comic book writing before introducing the world to the quintessential hardboiled detective, Mike Hammer, in his debut novel, I, the Jury. Between his solo career and collaborations with the much younger mystery writer Max Allan Collins (who would proceed to complete several of Spillane’s unfinished manuscripts after his death), Spillane wrote 24 more Mike Hammer novels, 13 short stories, and countless radio, television, movie, and comic book depictions of the character. Unabashedly violent and sexually overt, Spillane’s writing reveled in the tough and gritty metropolis in which it was set, even as he wrestled with reviews deriding his pulp fiction as tasteless and sadistic. He received the Edgar Allan Poe Grand Master Award in 1995 and died 11 years later at the age of 88.
On March 8, 1968, Bishop Terence J. Cooke was appointed Archbishop of New York. A surprise appointment to some who expected higher profile rising stars in the church to be more likely candidates, Cooke would be elevated to Cardinal the following year. Implementing the changes made in the church by Vatican II, he became a familiar face on the national and world stages, delivering the benediction at President Nixon’s inauguration and welcoming such figures as the Dalai Lama at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, he was also a strong advocate and fundraiser for Catholic education. He continued to work for such goals after being diagnosed with leukemia, unwilling to resign his post. He died in 1983 at the age of 62.