• On July 22, 1598, William Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice” is entered on the Stationers’ Register, which licensed printed works. Playwrights at the time were not interested in publication: They sold their plays to theater companies, which tried to prevent rivals from literally stealing the show.
• On July 19, 1884, President Chester Arthur issues a proclamation that grants the federal government the power to quarantine persons entering the United States through its ports of entry to avoid the spread of tuberculosis.
• On July 21, 1904, Louis Rigolly, driving a 15-liter Gobron-Brillie on the Ostend- Newport road in Belgium, became the first man to break the 100 mph barrier in a car by raising the land-speed record to 103.55 mph.
• On July 17, 1913, film audiences are introduced to the piein the-face routine, recorded in the silent film “A Noise From the Deep.” Mabel Normand hit Fatty Arbuckle in the face with a pie.
• On July 18, 1939, MGM screens a sneak preview of “The Wizard of Oz.” After the screening, producers debated removing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” not realizing until later that it was the movie’s signature song.
• On July 20, 1948, due to Cold War tensions, President Harry Truman institutes a military draft with a proclamation calling for nearly 10 million men to register for military service within the next two months.
• On July 16, 1951, J.D. Salinger’s only novel, “The Catcher in the Rye,” is published by Little, Brown. The book, about a confused teenager disillusioned by the adult world, was an instant hit and has been taught in high schools for more than half a century. The 31-year-old Salinger had worked on the novel for a decade.
• On July 17, 1975, as part of a mission aimed at developing space rescue capability, the U.S. spacecraft Apollo 18 and the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 19 rendezvous and dock in space. Commanders Safford and Leonov exchanged gifts in celebration of the first such meeting between the two Cold War adversaries in space.
(c) 2007 King Features Synd., Inc.