Daily Almanac for Monday, April 4, 2022

On this date in 1960, Ben Hur won 11 Academy Awards. Ben-Hur (1959) film poster. By Reynold Brown – impawards.com, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org


Ben-Hur is a 1959 American religious epic film directed by William Wyler, produced by Sam Zimbalist, and starring Charlton Heston as the title character. A remake of the 1925 silent film with a similar title, it was adapted from Lew Wallace‘s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay is credited to Karl Tunberg, but includes contributions from Maxwell AndersonS. N. BehrmanGore Vidal, and Christopher Fry.

Ben-Hur had the largest budget ($15.175 million), as well as the largest sets built, of any film produced at the time. Costume designer Elizabeth Haffenden oversaw a staff of 100 wardrobe fabricators to make the costumes, and a workshop employing 200 artists and workmen provided the hundreds of friezes and statues needed in the film. Filming commenced on May 18, 1958, and wrapped on January 7, 1959, with shooting lasting for 12 to 14 hours a day and six days a week. Pre-production began in Italy at Cinecittà around October 1957, and post-production took six months. Under cinematographer Robert L. Surtees, executives at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer made the decision to produce the film in a widescreen format. Over 200 camels and 2,500 horses were used in the shooting of the film, with some 10,000 extras. The sea battle was filmed using miniatures in a huge tank on the back lot at the MGM Studios in Culver City, California. The nine-minute chariot race has become one of cinema’s most famous action sequences, and the score, composed and conducted by Miklós Rózsa, was at the time the longest ever composed for a film, and was highly influential on cinema for over 15 years.

Following a $14.7 million marketing effort, Ben-Hur premiered at Loew’s State Theatre in New York City on November 18, 1959. It was the fastest-grossing, as well as the highest-grossing film of 1959, becoming the second highest-grossing film in history at the time, after Gone with the Wind. It won a record eleven Academy Awards, including Best PictureBest Director (Wyler), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Heston), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Griffith), and Best Cinematography – Color (Surtees); it also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – DramaBest Director, and Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for Stephen Boyd. In 1998, the American Film Institute named it the 72nd best American film and the second best American epic film in the AFI’s 10 Top 10. In 2004, the National Film Preservation Board selected Ben-Hur for preservation by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Question of the Day

I often hear the expression “brinksmanship.” Does this mean diplomacy to the brink of war or sanctions?Brinksmanship was a term used by Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s in his criticism of the policies of then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles; Stevenson believed Dulles’ methods would lead the United States to the brink of war. The word is still used in this context.

Advice of the Day

Talent is born in silence, but character is born in the struggles of life.

Home Hint of the Day

You can avoid streaked windows by drying the windows with crumpled newspaper.

Word of the Day

Dominical letterA letter from A to G, denoting Sundays in the ecclesiastical calendar for a given year, determined by the date on which the first Sunday falls. If it falls on January 1, the letter (for the year) is A; if it falls on January 2, the letter is B; and so on.

Puzzle of the Day

How much is a skunk worth?One scent.


  • Jérôme Lalande (French astronomer) – 1807
  • William Henry Harriso (Ninth U.S. President; died of pneumonia a month after inauguration) – 1841
  • Martin Luther King Jr. (U.S. civil rights leader; was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee) – 1968
  • Roger Ebert (film critic) – 2013


  • Linus Yale Jr. (inventor) – 1821
  • Jules Léger (Canadian statesman) – 1913
  • Muddy Waters (musician) – 1915
  • Craig T. Nelson (actor) – 1944
  • Evelyn Hart (ballerina) – 1956
  • Robert Downey Jr. (actor) – 1965
  • James Roday (actor) – 1976
  • Heath Ledger (actor) – 1979


  • John Tyler first US vice president to take over after a president died– 1841
  • Susanna Medora Salter became the first woman to be elected mayor of an American community (Argonia, Kansas)– 1887
  • First one-way radio telephone communication, New York to Delaware– 1915
  • Ben Hur won 11 Academy Awards– 1960
  • The Beatles occupied all the top 5 positions on the Billboard singles chart in the U.S.– 1964
  • The world’s first totally artificial heart was implanted in a human by US surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley. The patient, Haskell Karp, lived only a few days, dying of pneumonia and kidney failure.– 1969
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith’s son accepted the nation’s highest award for valor for his late father, who exposed himself to enemy fire in Iraq and saved at least 100 of his fellow U.S. soldiers. It was the first medal of honor awarded in the Iraq War– 2005
  • A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck just south of the U.S. border near Mexicali– 2010


  • Augusta, Georgia, and six Georgia counties, were hit by a tornado– 1804
  • Nineteen degrees F in Boston, Massachusetts– 1879
  • Fifteen degrees F in Concord, New Hampshire– 1944
  • Thirteen states (including Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio), as well as Ontario, experienced 148 tornadoes, with numerous fatalities and injuries between April 3 and today– 1974

COURTESY www.almanac.com


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