One of my favorite things to do is to find connections between seemingly random things or people or places. On a lark, I did a smidgen of research and came up with this one for all of you. What do the following things have in common:
- The Maltese Falcon
- The 8-Track Tape
The answer is that a person integral to each of these things was born yesterday (Wednesday, June 26).
Born Lazlo Lowenstein on June 26, 1904, Lorre rose to fame for his work in German films in the 1920s and 30s. He fled Germany to America before World War II and continued to play on the big screen. Following a detour in England (where he performed in two Alfred Hitchcock movies), Lorre’s career took him to Hollywood. It was here, in the late 1930s, that he landed his two greatest roles: Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon, and Ugarte in Casablanca.
In an odd twist of coincidence, both movies also starred Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet.
Lorre would go on to have a career playing villains, and also would dabble in the horror genre. It was in the horror genre that he crossed paths with the famous actors Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, and Vincent Price. Price was the one who gave the eulogy at Lorre’s funeral. (Price and Rathbone are also two of my favorite actors of the day, so don’t be surprised if their names come up in other blog articles)
Technically, Abner Doubleday wasn’t the inventor of baseball. But for a long time it was considered that he was actually the inventor of the sport. This claim was not made by Doubleday himself, but by a commission chaired by the fourth president of the National League in 1905.
Yet there was more to Doubleday than just the sport of baseball. Born on June 26, 1819 in New York, Doubleday’s father and grandfather both served in wartime – his father in the War of 1812 and his grandfather in the Revolutionary War. As with many of his generation, he joined the Military Academy and graduated in 1842.
He served in the Civil War, fighting in the battle of Gettysburg. Following the war, he was stationed in San Francisco. Interestingly enough he took out a patent on the cable car railway in San Francisco while serving there, but had to sign his rights away when he was assigned to a new post. The rest of Doubleday’s life were spent as a lawyer.
The myth of Doubleday’s creation of baseball comes from the year 1839 when Doubleday was spending time living in Cooperstown, New York. His uncle lived in Cooperstown and Doubleday would spend breaks from the Academy with his uncle. Supposedly, Doubleday was seen diagramming the game during the Civil War.
If the name Lear sounds a little familiar, you probably know him from Lear Jet. The company was one that he helped found and it bears his name to this day. But Lear, born on June 26, 1902, was involved in more than just business jets. In the seventy-six years he lived, Lear was responsible for over a hundred patents including the 8-track cassette tape and aviation radio.
Lear is one of the examples of someone who was self-taught and managed to make his way through life by thinking outside the box and finding challenges to solve. He got into electronics by playing around with cheap crystal radios and reading everything he could find on wireless (today’s amateur radio) technology. As a result of his interest in radios, he helped design the first car radio and was, indirectly, responsible for the creation of Motorola.
But Lear had more interests than just in automobiles. Buying his first plane in 1931, Lear also set his sights on improvements in airplane electronics. One of Lear’s early companies, Lear Developments, helped develop much of the technology that is used today in autopilots. After selling his interest in the company in 1962, Lear founded Lear Jet. The company remains intact to this day, now as a part of Bombardier.
And there you go… the thread that baseball, 8-track tapes, and the Maltese Falcon all have in common… the date June 26.