It's that time of year again when we fire up the search engine and spend endless hours searching for this year's anniversaries to put on your radar. Our top pick for the most buzzed about anniversary or tribute this year? Let's just say you need to break out Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On right now, rent James Cameron's blockbuster movie and prepare for a blitz of all things Titanic-related. It's the 100th anniversary of the epic disaster. Anne Glover, Times staff writer
Sinking of the Titanic
Late on the night of April 14, 1912, the mighty ocean liner struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from England to New York and began sinking. In just under three hours, it disappeared beneath the icy dark waters at around 2:20 a.m., launching legends, songs and movies. Two notable anniversary-related events are coming up in April. One is the scheduled release of the 1997 movie in 3-D in movie theaters on April 6, according to USA Today. The film, which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won 11, has been painstakingly remastered in 3-D. A more intriguing event is the Titanic Memorial Cruise, scheduled to leave Southampton, England, on April 8 with precisely 1,309 passengers, the same as on the original voyage. A memorial is planned at the exact spot the Titanic went down, and passengers are encouraged to wear period dress. While this cruise is sold out, a similar one departing from New York on April 10 still has availability. Visit titanicmemorialcruise.co.uk for information. If you want to stage a commemoration of a happier event related to the sinking, here's a date: On April 18, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia brought 705 survivors of the sinking to New York. Locally, a Titanic exhibit is scheduled at the Mahaffey Theater lobby in October, and will likely contain artifacts from the ship that were taken when salvaging officially began 25 years ago after the wreckage's discovery in 1985.
Speaking of tragedies
• It was 80 years ago (March 1, 1932) that American aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh's infant son was kidnapped from his home in Hopewell, N.J. After a series of ransom note exchanges, the dead 20-month-old child was found partly buried on May 12. Bruno Richard Hauptman was executed for the crime on April 3, 1936.
• And 30 years ago, Saturday Night Live bad-boy and original Blues Brother John Belushi died on March 5, 1982, of an accidental drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. He was 33.
Biggest local news
Wish a happy anniversary to St. Petersburg, Florida. It officially turns 120 on Feb. 29 (although since it was incorporated in 1892 on a date that falls only every four years, it's merely 30.)
• Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and the 60th anniversary of her becoming Head of the Commonwealth. She assumed the throne on Feb. 6, 1952, when she was 25 after her father, King George VI (He of The King's Speech fame), died in his sleep. She didn't have a formal coronation service until June 2, 1953.
• The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco turns 75 on May 27. At its 50th birthday in 1987, more than 250,000 gathered on the span for a special celebration.
Rock 'n' roll: here to stay
The music genre that emerged from the restless post-war generation officially turns 60, if you believe that on March 21, 1952, DJ Alan Freed staged what is widely believed to be the first rock 'n' roll concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball, at the old Cleveland Arena. Several months later, on Oct. 7, the first Bandstand was broadcast in Philadelphia on WFIL-TV -- but not with Dick Clark. He became the show's host four years later.
And so are the Beatles
The year 1962 was an important one for the group, which saw itself go from a small club band to an emerging rock 'n' roll phenomenon. Notable dates include:
Jan. 24: Brian Epstein agrees to manage the Beatles.
March 7: The Beatles, with drummer Pete Best, have their BBC debut on radio, performing on a show called Teenager's Turn -- Here We Go.
August: Ringo Starr replaces Best as the Beatles drummer at the insistence of George Martin, who had agreed to produce the group.
October: The Beatles release their first single, Love Me Do. It goes to No. 17 on the U.K. charts.(Twenty-five years later, on Feb. 26, 1987, the first Beatles compact discs were released.)
Meanwhile, other rock milestones started piling up:
June 2: The Isley Brothers' Twist & Shout debuted on the Billboard charts at No. 84.
June: The Rollin' Stones (without the "g") had their first performance, at the Marquee Club in London.
• Happy 90th to Reader's Digest, which published its first issue on Feb. 5, 1922.
• Sun Records of Memphis launched 50 years ago in February 1952. Two years later, a young Elvis Presley walked in the door, and soon the label was home to Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins as well. The story of their one and only recording session together is told in the musical, Million Dollar Quartet, which opens at the Straz on Tuesday.
• And while its humor is still very juvenile, Mad magazine turns 50 in October. (If you wanted to throw a party for it's gap-toothed mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, you'll have to wait a couple of years. He didn't debut until 1954).
• Get up early on Jan. 14 and wish a happy 60th to NBC's Today Show.
• Although he wasn't the first person in space (that was Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union), John Glenn became the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth on Feb. 20, 1962, making three orbits in the space capsule Friendship 7.
• And just because we're home to the Tampa Bay Rays, that doesn't mean we can't acknowledge that 100 years ago on April 26, 1912, the first home run at Fenway Park was hit by Hugh Bradley of the Red Sox.
Pleased to meet you
• Happy 75th birthday to cartoon characters Daffy Duck and Petunia Pig, who made their appearance in 1937.
• Kids everywhere learned to eat their veggies when Mr. Potato Head became the first toy to be advertised on television in 1952, making the spudster 60. But it wasn't the kit many of us are familiar with. The plastic potato didn't come along until 1964. The original just had 28 facial pieces to stick into a real potato.
100 years (Aug. 27): Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes is published in a magazine, taking up almost the entire issue of The All-Story. The novel was published two years later.
100 years (Sept. 27): W C Handy publishes Memphis Blues, widely believed to be the first published sheet music for a blues song.
75 years (Dec. 21): Snow White premieres; it's the first animated feature-length film.
50 years (Sept. 23): ABC's first color TV series debuts with George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and Astro, otherwise known as the Jetsons.
25 years (Feb. 6): The nation begins clearing the air as no-smoking rules take effect in federal buildings.
25 years (Feb. 19): An anti-smoking ad airs for first time on TV. It features Yul Brynner, who had died of lung cancer two years earlier and warned, "Now that I'm gone, I tell you: Don't smoke, whatever you do, just don't smoke."
25 years (April 5): The Fox TV network premieres, showing Married With Children and the Tracey Ullman Show.