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This Month In YesterYear History - January

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I hope you and your loved ones have a happy and healthy 2024!  

It's a new year, which means that (believe it or not!) 20 years ago was 2004!  25 years ago was 1999!  And 30 years ago was 1994!  CRAZY!  

For those new to this series, in "This Month In YesterYear History," we stop to look back at the big pop culture moments from the past 20 (2004), 25 (1999), and 30 (1994) years ago!   

Below, you'll find a little time capsule of what was significant in our lives back then.  Hopefully, as you read these brief synopses of the past, you'll begin to remember the who, when, and where of your memories from those years.  That's why I created this site, after all! 


2004:  On January 4, 2004, after hosting the show for over 30 years, Casey Kasem handed over the hosting duties of "America's Top 40" to Ryan Seacrest.  NASA's Mars rover "Spirit" lands on Mars the same day.  On January 8, Queen Elizabeth II christened the RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever built.  On January 11, facing elimination from an NFC Divisional Playoff game, the Philadelphia Eagles are trailing the Green Bay Packers by 3 points when down to "4th and 26" (4th down, 26 yards to go) and on the final drive of the game, Donovan McNab passes 29 yards to Freddie Mitchel to tie the game.  The Eagles would win in overtime and go on to lose to New England in the Super Bowl.  On January 11, Ray Romano and Jennifer Aniston won for best TV actor/actress at the Peoples Choice Awards.  On January 21, the NHL's Minnesota Wild set a record for the fastest consecutive goals when they scored two goals just 2 seconds apart in the final minutes of a 4-2 win over the Blackhawks.  The Lord of the Rings:  The Return of the King won Best Picture at the 61st Golden Globes on January 25.  The highest quality images of another planet are first seen when NASA's Spirit sends pictures back of the surface of Mars on the 26th.  On the 27, Usher's "Yeah!" featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris debuts.  

1999:  On January 1, the Euro currency was introduced.  On the 2nd, a brutal snowstorm that saw 19" of snowfall in Chicago and Wisconsin, with temperatures as low as negative 13* Fahrenheit, caused 68 deaths.  On the 3rd, NASA's Mars Polar lander arrived on Mars.  It would eventually lose contact with NASA in December 1999.  On the 4th, former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura is sworn in as Governor of Minnesota.  It was the HAARP system!  The NBA and the players' union ended a 204-day strike on the 6th to end the lockout and begin the shortened season.  President Clinton's impeachment hearing begins on the 7th.  On the 10th, The Sopranos debuts.  It will go on to be one of the best shows in television history.  Fatboy Slim's song "Praise You" hit number one that same day.  On January 11, Jon Stewart took over hosting duties of "The Daily Show" from Craig Killborn, forever ruining politics in America.  This is when an entire generation of Americans were taught that you don't need to be informed, just humiliate "the other side" into submission with snide remarks and disdain.  I digress.  On the 13th, Michael Jordan announced his second retirement, just before the lockout-shortened season started.  He would return in 2001 with the Washington Wizards.  On the 24th, the 49th NHL All-Star Game occurs in Tampa, Florida.  North America defeated The World 8-6, with the New York Ranger's Wayne Gretzky taking home the MVP.  On the 25th, "The Blair Witch Project" debuts at the Sundance Film Festival.  The animated hit "Family Guy" debuted on FOX on the 31st.  That same day, Super Bowl 33 occurs in Miami, where the Denver Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-19.  Denver's QB John Elway was named MVP.   It was his final game, as the legendary quarterback retired after the game.

1994:  On the 1st, the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, goes into effect.  On the 3rd, Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers becomes the first NFL quarterback to win 3 straight passing titles. January 6 sees Nancy Kerrigan attacked by Tonya Harding's bodyguard at the US Championships in Detroit.  Lorena Bobbit's trial began on the 10th for cutting off her husband's prized possession.  On the 12, Malcolm X's daughter was arrested for plotting the murder of Louis Farrakhan.  The 15th sees Lawrence Taylor retire from the NFL.  On the same day, Queen Elizabeth falls off her horse and breaks her left arm.  On January 19, the coldest day recorded in Indiana, temperatures dropped to a negative 36 Fahrenheit.  On the 20th, "Four Weddings and a Funeral" starring Hugh Grant premiers at Sundance.  The next day, Lorena Bobbit was found to be temporarily insane when she removed a part of her husband. January 25 finds Michael Jackson settling out of court after being accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy.  The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 at Superbowl 28 on January 30.  Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys was named MVP.  


2004: "Lord of the Rings:  Return of the King" -  This epic fantasy adventure film was directed by Peter Jackson based on a screenplay by himself, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens.  The film was based on "The Return of the King," the 1955 third installment in the novel The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.  It was a sequel to 2002's "The Two Towers," and is the final installment in the trilogy, and was filmed concurrently with the other two parts of the trilogy in Jackson's native New Zealand.  

The film premiered on December 1, 2003, in New Zealand and was released on December 17 in the United States.  Acclaimed by critics and audiences, it is considered a landmark in filmmaking and for the fantasy film genre praised for its visual effects, performances, action sequences, direction, screenplay, musical score, costume design, emotional depth, and scope.  It grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2003, the second highest-grossing film of all time at the time of release, and the highest-grossing film ever released by New Line Cinema.

Like the previous films in the trilogy, The Return of the King is widely recognized as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.  The film received numerous accolades; at the 76th Academy Awards, it won all eleven awards for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, the first fantasy film to do so.  It tied 1959's Ben-Hur and 1997's Titanic as the movie with the most Academy Award wins.  It also became the second film series whose entries won Best Visual Effects after the original Star Wars trilogy.

1999: "Patch Adams" -  The second Robin Williams movie this month (Mrs. Doubtfire, below), and the only non-repeat winner from December, is Patch Adams.  I saw this movie twice in theaters and loved it, but I don't think I could sit through it again.  This comedy-drama film stars Robin Williams as Patch Adams, Monica Potter (Bob!), and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  

Set in the late 60s/early 70s, the film is loosely based on the true life story of Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams and his book "Gesundheit:  Good Health is a Laughing Matter."  The film received generally unfavorable reviews from critics, with the criticisms pointed at the sentimentality and sappiness of the film.  Despite this, the film was a box office success and grossed $202.3 million against a $50–90 million budget.  

The film was released on Christmas Day, 1998, and grossed $25.2 million in its opening weekend.  It was the third-highest-ever December opening, behind Titanic and Scream 2.  It set the record for having the highest Christmas opening day ever, holding the record for two years until Cast Away in 2000.  

The film was shot in three locations: Treasure Island, California (near San Francisco), Asheville (North Carolina), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  A diner was temporarily placed in Point Richmond (a neighborhood in Richmond, California) and served as the University Diner.  Several interior classroom scenes were filmed on the campus of UC Berkeley.

1994: "Mrs. Doubtfire" -  This is easily one of my Top 15 or 20 favorite films of all time, and I'm glad we finally get to discuss it.  I don't think any kid who grew up in the 90s like I did that didn't watch Mrs. Doubtfire over and over again.

Mrs. Doubtfire is a comedy-drama film directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone).  It was based on the 1987 novel Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine.  Robin Williams, who was also listed as a producer, starred with Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein, and Robert Prosky.  

The movie follows a recently divorced actor who disguises himself as an elderly female housekeeper to be able to interact with his children. 

The film was released Thanksgiving weekend in 1993 and won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy.  Robin Williams was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actor.  

The film grossed $441.3 million off a $25 million budget, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1993.  Although the film received mixed reviews upon release, its reception and popularity have improved considerably.  It is 67th in the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 laughs" list.  It appears on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies of All Time" list at number 40.  


2004:  "Hey Ya!" by Outkast

1999:  "I'm Your Angel" by Celine Dion and R. Kelly

1994:  "All for Love" by Bryan Adams,  Rod Stewart, and Sting


January 2004:  

7th - "The Apprentice," starring eventual President Donald Trump, debuted on NBC.  The first person eliminated was David Gould.  David... You're Fired!

11th - "Drake and Josh" debuted on Nickelodeon.

18th - "Whoopi's Littleburg" debuted on Nick Jr. 

22nd - "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" spun off a show called "Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire," which covered the biggest cash prize in game show history - $10 million.  Only one contestant, Robert Essign, won at least $1 million.  No other contestant came close.  

28th - "Becker," starring Ted Danson, ended its run on CBS.  It had aired since 1998.

30th - "Boston Public" finished its four-year run, having been on air since 2000.  

January 1999:  

3rd-  The Wide World of Sports has been canceled by ABC after 37 years.  

8th - World Championship Wrestling (WCW) launches Thursday Night Thunder!

12th - CBS acquired the rights to the AFC half of the NFL as part of a $4 billion, eight-year contract.  Fox and ABC renewed their agreements for the NFC and Monday Night Football.  The Superbowl Broadcast during this month would be NBC's final NFL game for several years.  

15th - Many Sinclair-owned UPN stations flip to become affiliates of The WB.  Nickelodeon's "The Secret Life of Alex Mack" ends, running since 1994.

20th - Dawson's Creek debuts on The WB.

26th - "Special Report with Bret Baier" begins on Fox News.  It still runs today.  

January 1994:  

2nd - "Doug," one of the original (and my favorite) Nick-toon, comes to an end.  It returned in 1996 after being purchased by Disney and appearing on ABC's Saturday morning cartoon lineup.  

16th - The George Carlin Show debuts on FOX.  While short-lived, I remember this show well, along with Carlin's participation in the Fox Halloween Bash later that year.  

18th - The Peanuts special "You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown" is broadcast on NBC.  It was the last special to air during Peanuts creator Charles Schulz's lifetime.  It was also the last new Peanuts Special for 8 years until A Charlie Brown Valentine aired on ABC.  

19th - CBS pays $375 million to win the rights to broadcast the 1998 Winter Olympics from Nagano, Japan.  

22nd - NBC broadcasts the NHL All-Star game for the fifth straight year.  The NHL wouldn't appear on NBC for 12 more years.

23rd - CBS broadcasts its final NFL telecast when the Cowboys defeat the 49ers in the NFC Championship, ending a run on CBS that lasted since 1956.  CBS was outbid by Fox; however, CBS would regain the rights from NBC in 1998.  

24th - During a segment on NBC's "Today," Bryant Gumbel famously asks, "What is the internet, anyway?"

26th - "The Critic" and "Babylon 5" debut on television on this day.

31st - Bill Cosby returns to NBC 21 months after ending production of The Cosby Show for a two-hour movie, "The Cosby Mysteries."  


  1. Um. “Prized possession”? Really???

    Seriously, though… bravo. That was brilliant.

    And you were right about 2024’s numbers (‘94, ‘99, and ‘04) being just crazy to think about. I mean, even just 1999 alone - Prince wrote a song back in the 80’s about that year and I remember everyone freaking out that it was finally 1999. I vaguely remember some late night skit about someone trying to get radio stations to agree not to play Party Like It’s 1999 in the year 1999.

    And now that was 25 years ago…

    1. Not sure why I never got the notification for this comment, so sorry I'm so late! I still can't get over that 94 was 30 years ago... even worse, that means 1984 was 40 years ago.... And, yes... I'd say it was a prized possession! :)