This Week In Awesome History Vol. 17

Elvis brings The King to the screens and first-person shooter games mark a milestone.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

November 15th, 1956: Elvis Presley makes film debut

In 1956 Elvis’ star couldn’t have been brighter, with him riding on the back of the enormous success of his single “Heartbreak Hotel” and his continued assault on American pop culture. His popularity as a singer resulted in him landing his first movie role, starring in the Civil War-era drama “Love Me Tender”.

Although he was originally cast in a minor role, his rising celebrity status meant that his part was completely rewritten during shooting, making him one of the lead characters. The film eventually took $4million, with the majority of that money being flung from the purses of screaming teenage girls. The same teenage girls also had a hand in the outcome of the movie; during test screenings they had been so thoroughly opposed to Presley’s character dying during gunfire, that the ending was reworked in order to incorporate a musical number from The King.


November 16th, 1952: Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and Zelda, is born

Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s most famous (human) face, was born on this day in ’52. Without his overwhelming creativity it is unquestionable that the industry wouldn’t be where it is today, with him being responsible for some of gaming’s most enduring series.

Starting off with 1980’s Radar Scope, Miyamoto eventually converted those arcade cabinets into Donkey Kong, whose heroic protagonist “Jumpman” later became – you guessed it – Mario. As if changing the landscape of gaming with DK and Mario Bros. wasn’t enough, Miyamoto then went on to create The Legend of Zelda series, arguably his finest batch of games that were famously based upon his adventures as a child.

Miyamoto then continued to reinvent the wheel (or at least tweak it slightly) with games such as Star Fox and Pikmin, culminating with his venture into motion control as part of the team that developed the Wii’s control scheme.


November 18th, 1993: Nirvana go Unplugged

In what is now one of the most famous live music shows in history, Nirvana performed on MTV Unplugged on this day in ’93.

While MTV executives were initially deeply concerned of their choice to ditch the hits and dig dip into theirs (and others) back catalogues, the night that Kurt, Krist and Dave ditched the feedback is now one of the most revered music sets of all time.

Although many cite their haunting rendition of traditional folk song “In The Pines” (more often referred to as “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”), I personally prefer their cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World”. Being a huge Bowie fan, to see a band not only do one of his classics justice, but to also better it,  is what cements Nirvana Unplugged in the annals of music history for me.


November 19th, 1968: Diana Ross appeals to Queen of England for racial equality

Following the recent assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., The Supremes were requested to perform at the annual Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium. Performing before a sold-out crowd and the English royal family, Diana Ross delivered an unscripted speech praising the African-American Civil Rights Activist and asking Queen Elizabeth II for increased interracial understanding.

The crowd were soon on their feet giving Ross a two-minute standing ovation, but the Queen only rose when the girl band sang a cover a “Somewhere” from A West Side Story.


November 19th, 1998: Half-Life is released

On this day in ’98 the critically revered PC game Half-Life was released, eventually going on to pick up over 50 Game of the Year awards.

Half-Life is now looked on as a revolutionary title for the FPS genre, introducing players to a gun game that was as immersive and smart as it was, y’know, shoot-y. It was also the first ever release from Valve Corporation, a studio that has since brought us the likes of Counter-Strike, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress and a whole host of silly, silly hats.