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THE TODAY SHOW
Mornings got a little brighter on Jan. 14, 1952, when the Today show debuted, introducing "The Communicator" Dave Garroway as the first face Americans woke up to each day. Later additions included TV's first news "family", a more polished set – and diaper-wearing chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs (who caused a scandal in Britain after commercials featuring the feisty chimp interrupted pre-recorded coverage of the queen's coronation when it aired Stateside).
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AGATHA CHRISTIE'S THE MOUSETRAP
Break out the stale cheese, because it's also the 60th anniversary of the opening of the longest continuously running play in history. Mystery writer Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap – which features one of the most famous twist endings of the stage – pulled back its curtains on Nov. 25, 1952 in London, and has drawn an audience ever since.
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MR. POTATO HEAD
Parents across America began the '50s with the introduction of toy ads when a television spot for Mr. Potato Head began airing on April 30, 1952. The 1-year-old plaything was the first toy ever advertised on TV and marketed directly to children. Over one million Mr. Potato Heads were sold in the first year, and the American childhood was changed forever.
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Founded by a clothing company when Miss America 1951 refused to pose in one of their swimsuits, the Miss Universe contest held its first pageant on June 29, 1952 in Long Beach, Calif., with 17-year-old Miss Finland beating 29 other contestants from around the globe to win the crown. Six decades later, the pageant is now run by mogul Donald Trump, who bought the pageant in 1996.
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RONALD & NANCY WED
On March 8, 1952, the future first lady of the United States just said "I do" to the then-president of the Screen Actors Guild, a big-grinned actor from Illinois by the name of Ronald Reagan. Through the travails of Hollywood and national politics, the couple maintained what was, by all accounts, a deeply loving relationship until Reagan's death on June 5, 2004.
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THE GREEN BERETS
The world of war would never be the same after June 19, 1952, when the U.S. Army Special Forces, better known as the Green Berets, were founded at Fort Riley, Kan., as part of the new U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Division. The elite group's original mission was to stay behind to train and lead local guerrilla groups if the Soviets overran Western Europe.
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The brainchild of Brooklyn, N.Y., cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman, the first issue of Mad rolled out in August 1952. The debut book, which spoofed comic-book genres and, believe it or not, such heady stuff as short stories by acclaimed writers James Thurber and E.M. Forster, was a comic book itself – Mad wouldn't become a magazine until three years later.
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June 30, 1952 was the day that the soap opera Guiding Light left radio airwaves and became a full-fledged television show. Though it was still only 15 minutes long at first, the trials and tribulations of the people living in the fictional Midwestern town of Springfield was an instant hit in the new medium. By the time the now-hourlong soap was cancelled in 2009, it had earned its place as the longest-running drama in TV and radio history.
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OLD MAN AND THE SEA
Ernest Hemingway capped off a storied career with a meditative query about man's place in God's world – or maybe it was just a fish tale – when his final major work was first published in LIFE magazine on Sept. 1, 1952. The short novel about an elderly Cuban fisherman made "Papa" a global superstar and earned him both a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize in Literature.
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LUCY'S TV PREGNANCY
Looks like Lucy's got some 'splainin' to do. On Dec. 8, 1952, Lucille Ball famously appeared pregnant on an episode of I Love Lucy – which, considering the fact that she and TV husband Ricky Ricardo (real-life hubby Desi Arnaz) still slept in separate beds, was a notable feat in more ways than one. But the groundbreaking episode was actually preceded by TV's first sitcom, Mary Kay and Johnny, which showed the first onscreen pregnancy four years earlier.
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The magical children's tale Charlotte's Web shares an anniversary with the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, having been published on Oct. 15, 1952. The story, inspired by the creatures reclusive author E.B. White found on his Maine farm, became an instant classic and was part of the reason he later won an honorary Pulitzer Prize. He called the book "a paean to life, a hymn to the barn, an acceptance of dung."