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

Saving Old Ironsides, Professor Henry Higgins and a Novel Mutiny

-- On March 15, 1930: The refurbished USS Constitution left dry dock after a nearly three-year restoration project. The famous ship has undergone several repairs during its long history. The three-masted heavy frigate was first launched in 1797 and saw major action during the War of 1812 when it defeated five British warships. The frigate was nicknamed "Old Ironsides" after cannonballs appeared to bounce off its thick oak hulls during a War of 1812 naval battle. In 1830, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the poem Old Ironsides, and the poem is often credited with saving the ship, which needed extensive repairs, from being scrapped. In the late 1920s, the USS Constitution again needed extensive repairs to preserve it. After the repairs were completed, the ship toured for three years, visiting approximately 90 ports and hosting millions of visitors. The USS Constitution is now a museum ship located in the Boston National Historical Park.

-- On March 15, 1956: The musical My Fair Lady opened on Broadway starring Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins. The musical was a huge success, and the cast recorded songs from the musical in a chart-topping album. My Fair Lady won the Tony award for best musical in 1957. While the show closed on Broadway in 1962, Eliza Doolittle would soon reappear in a 1964 musical film starring Audrey Hepburn. Rex Harrison would win a Tony for his performance in the musical and an Academy Award for his performance in the film.

-- On March 19, 1951: The novel The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk was first published. Wouk was very knowledgeable about life at sea, having served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The novel would later win a Pulitzer Prize and would be made into both a Broadway play and a hit movie starring Humphrey Bogart.

-- Compiled by M. Moeller

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