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In the Good Old Days Antiques Corner This Week in History
This Week in History

An Army Boxing Film, Swimming the Channel, and an Itsy Bitsy Musical Hit

-- On Aug. 5, 1953: The film From Here to Eternity starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr and Montgomery Clift premiered in New York City. The film was based on the novel of the same title by James Jones. During the film, Private Robert Prewitt (Clift) transfers to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Prewitt had been a boxer but had hung up his boxing gloves after he injured one of his friends while sparring. Captain Holmes (Philip Ober) is upset by Prewitt's refusal to box and Prewitt is hazed and mistreated as a result. Frank Sinatra played Prewitt's friend, Private Angelo Maggio in the film. From Here to Eternity also includes romantic relationships between Sergeant Warden (Lancaster) and Karen Holmes (Kerr), the captain's wife, and between Prewitt and club hostess Lorene (Reed). The film won eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Sinatra) and Best Supporting Actress (Reed).

-- On Aug. 6, 1923: Henry Sullivan became the first American to swim across the English Channel. Sullivan had made six previous unsuccessful attempts at the swim, his first attempt taking place in 1913. Finally, on his seventh attempt, Sullivan's perseverance paid off and he was able to complete the journey in a total of 27 hours and 25 minutes. Exactly three years later, American Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Prior to her swim, only five men had completed the grueling trip. Ederle completed her swim in an astonishing time of 14 hours and 31 minutes -- nearly 2 hours faster than the men. Ederle's swimming record would remain until 1950. When speaking of her accomplishment Ederle said, "People said women couldn't swim the Channel, but I proved they could."

-- On Aug. 8, 1960: The song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini performed by Brian Hyland reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss. The catchy song tells the story of a girl first wearing the new swim item and being shy about it. Hyland was only 16 years old at the time of the song's release. Within two months of its release in the United States, the song sold a million copies. It was a top hit in France and Germany too. During his career, Hyland also sang other popular songs including Sealed With a Kiss and I'll Never Stop Wanting You.

-- Compiled by M. Moeller

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