twentieth century

December 11, 1944

Brenda Lee

Her signature song was “I’m Sorry” but there was nothing sorry about the career of Brenda Lee…one of the first singers to be launched to stardom by the new medium of TV. She was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in Atlanta and grew up in Conyers and Lithonia. She won a talent show at age five […]

December 10, 1930

Eastern Airlines

Eastern Airlines flew into the sunset in 1991, but it helped make Atlanta the transportation and commercial capital of the South. The airline began life as Pitcairn Aviation in 1927, carrying airmail for the government along an eastern route that connected New York to Florida via Atlanta. The company became Eastern Air Transport in 1930, […]

December 5, 1932

Little Richard

Richard Wayne Penniman is not a name most people associate with the beginning of rock n’ roll, but few people did more to make rock one of the hearthstones of 20th-century American culture than the man known as Little Richard. Penniman was born into a family of 12 children in Macon and grew up singing […]

December 6, 1889

Robert Woodruff

Coca-Cola is now a worldwide phenomenon, but the man responsible took over when the company was still struggling. Robert Woodruff was born in Columbus in 1889 and attended but didn’t graduate from Emory College. He took a job in sales with the White Motor Company, where he quickly climbed the corporate ladder. His father was […]

December 7, 1946

Winecoff Hotel Fire

The Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable and the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta was supposed to be 100 percent fireproof, so there was no need for fire alarms, sprinklers, and fire escapes. At least that’s how it was advertised when the hotel at 176 Peachtree street opened in 1913. But on this day in 1946, […]

November 26, 1941

FDR Establishes Thanksgiving

It can fall on any day between November 22 and 28, depending on the year, but it hasn’t always been the fourth Thursday in November. Thanksgiving is an American tradition that goes back to 1621, when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated their shared harvest. American colonists routinely marked days of Thanksgiving, and in […]

November 28, 1987

R.E.M.

They were the quintessential college rock band of the 1980s, working in the town Rolling Stone called “the best college music scene in the country.” Michael Stipe was an art student at the University of Georgia when he met Peter Buck at the Wuxtry Record store in Athens. Together with Mike Mills and Bill Berry, […]

November 29, 1991

Frank Yerby

An African-American with a best-selling novel — a book that was turned into a movie — that was unheard of in the America of the late 1940s. Yet Frank Yerby did just that. Born in Augusta in 1916 to racially mixed parents, Yerby, all his life, had trouble being accepted in either black or white […]

December 4, 1982

Herschel Walker

There have been a lot of great Georgia Bulldogs, but very few who needed only one name: Herschel. Herschel Junior Walker was born in Wrightsville in 1962. He was a highly touted football player at Johnson County High School. Coach Vince Dooley and UGA won the very heated Herschel recruiting war. In his first game […]

November 18, 1909

Johnny Mercer

“Moon River,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Accentuate the Positive” — Savannah native John Herndon Mercer wrote those songs and a thousand more like them, and his songs are some of the most popular of all time. In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Mercer co-founded Capitol Records, wrote for Broadway musicals, and was nominated for 19 […]