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This Month in YesterYear History - December

I can't believe it's time for December already!  Let's get on with another edition of  "This Month in YesterYear History!" 
In this series, we take a brief look back at the "best" or "top" of popular culture from the past 20 (2002), 25 (1997), and 30 (1992) years ago!   

Below, you'll find a little time capsule of what was significant in our lives during those days.  Hopefully, as you read these brief synopses of the past, you'll begin to remember the who, when, and where of your memories from that time.  

That's why I post to this site, after all!

So, let's get into those time machines, my friends!  We're headed back to Twenty, Twenty Five, and Thirty years ago!


2002:  On December 5th, "Lord of the Rings:  Two Towers" premiers.  It will go on to earn over $920 million worldwide.  On the 11th, NHL's Joe Sakic scores his 500th goal while playing for the Colorado Avalanche.  On the 13th, the European Union announces that several Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia will become new members.  On the 18th, Calvin Klein sells his namesake company to shirtmaker Van Huesen for $430 million.  The job resume website "LinkedIn" opened its doors on the internet on December 28th.  

1997:  On the 1st, Golden State Warrior Latrell Sprewell assaults the team's head coach P.J. Carlesimo.  He was suspended for a year by the NBA and was released by the team.  On the 9th, the 18th James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies," starring Pierce Brosnan, is released.  On the 12th, a federal judge sentenced Autumn Jackson to 26 months in jail for trying to extort $40 million from Bill Cosby by claiming to be an illegitimate daughter.  That same day, the Boston Red Sox signed pitcher Pedro Martinez to a (then) record contract of $69 million over 6 years.  Four days later, the NHL's Mike Gartner (at the time a Phoenix Coyote) became the 5th player to score 700 goals.  Earlier that day (the 16th,) The Clinton family made a major announcement... they named their dog Buddy.  On the 25th, Jerry Seinfeld announces that the next season of Seinfeld will be the last.  At the end of the month, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it costs approximately $149,820 to raise a child to 18 for the average American.  Adjusted for inflation, that's $278,181.47 in 2022 money.  As an aside, they now predict it costs $310,605, which outpaces inflation.  Great!

1992:  The "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher was sentenced to 5 years for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco on December 1st.  On the 4th, President Bush (41) ordered 28,000 troops to Somalia.  On the 5th, NBC announced that Cheers would end the following May.  On the 9th, the New Jersey Devils announced that they would change the team colors from red and green to red and black for the 1992-93 season.  A day later, the NHL awarded two expansion franchises to Miami and Anaheim for the 1994 season, eventually becoming the Florida Panthers and the Anaheim Ducks.  On the 11th, a nor'easter hits New York and causes billions of dollars worth of damage.  On Christmas Eve, President George Bush (41) issued a pardon to former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane for his role in Iran-Contra Affair.  On the 28th, singer Harry Connick, Jr is caught at JFK airport security with a loaded gun.  On the same day, New York Governor Mario Cuomo granted clemency to Jean Harris, the "Scarsdale Diet Doctor Killer."  On the 30th, Washington Capitals defensemen Al Iafrate was officially the first player in the NHL to have a shot clocked over 100mph, with his coming in at 101.4mph.  


2002: "Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers" -  This epic fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson was based on the 1954 book The Two Towers, the second of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.  The movie was a sequel to 2001's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.  It features an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, and many others.  

The Two Towers was financed and distributed by the American studio New Line Cinema but was filmed and edited entirely in Peter Jackson's native New Zealand.  It was filmed simultaneously with the other two parts of the trilogy.  The film was acclaimed by both critics and audiences, who considered it to be a landmark in filmmaking and an achievement in the fantasy film genre.  It grossed over $936 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2002 and the third highest-grossing film of all time at its release, behind Titanic and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Like the other films in the trilogy, The Two Towers is widely recognized as one of the most influential films ever made.  At the 75th Academy Awards, it was nominated for six awards, including Best Picture, winning for Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects.

1997: "Titanic" -  This 1997 romance and disaster film was directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron.  Incorporating both historical and fictionalized aspects, it is based on accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  The two members of different social classes fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. 

 Production began on September 1, 1995, when Cameron shot footage of the actual Titanic wreck.  Scale models, computer-generated imagery, and a reconstruction of the Titanic built at Baja Studios were used to re-create the sinking.  The film was co-financed by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox; the former handled distribution in North America, while the latter released the film internationally.  It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a production budget of $200 million.

Upon its release on December 19, 1997, Titanic achieved significant critical and commercial success and received numerous accolades.  It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and tied All About Eve (1950) for the most Oscar nominations.  It won 11, including Best Picture and Best Director awards, tying Ben-Hur (1959) for the most Oscars won by a single film. 

With an initial worldwide gross of over $1.84 billion, Titanic was the first film to reach the billion-dollar mark.  It remained the highest-grossing film until another Cameron film, Avatar, surpassed it in 2010. 

1992: "A Few Good Men" -  A Few Good Men is a legal drama film based on Aaron Sorkin's 1989 play.  Written by Sorkin, directed and produced by Rob Reiner, it stars an ensemble cast including Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, J. T. Walsh, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kiefer Sutherland. 

The plot follows the court-martial of two U.S. Marines charged with the murder of a fellow Marine and the tribulations of their lawyers as they prepare a case.  This movie can claim one of the most famous lines in film history: "You can't handle the truth!"

Produced by Castle Rock Entertainment, the film was released by Columbia Pictures on December 11, 1992, and premiered on December 9, 1992, at Westwood, Los Angeles.  It received acclaim for its screenwriting, direction, themes, and acting, particularly that of Cruise, Nicholson, and Moore.  It grossed more than $243 million on a budget of $40 million and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.


2002:  "Lose Yourself" by Eminem

1997:  "Candle in the Wind, 1997" by Elton John

1992:  "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston


2002:  Like many Decembers in television history, shows are on hiatus, and there isn't much happening this month.  On December 15, the long-running cartoon "The Simpsons" changed from drawn cel animation to digital "ink and paint" style animation, marking a notable difference in visual appeal.

1997:  On December 15, Vince McMahon announced the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) had begun the "Attitude Era," a term used for more adult-oriented programming.  The Attitude Era "Scratch" logo makes its debut, replacing the "Next Generation" block-style logo.  The Attitude Era would kick the famed "Monday Night War" into high gear.  

On December 24, TBS and TNT first aired the 24 Hours of "A Christmas Story" marathon, which was so popular, it still runs to this day.

1992:  Another slow news December, on the first, "The Young and the Restless," aired its 5,000th episode.  To celebrate, CBS included a "Young and the Restless" themed Showcase Showdown on "The Price is Right," which also airs on CBS.