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Today in entertainment history: Jan. 1

Today in entertainment history: Jan. 1

RIP HANK WILLIAMS: This was the scene in Montgomery's Municipal Auditorium Jan. 4, 1953 as thousands filed past the open casket of singer-composer Hank Williams who died Jan. 1, 1953 at the age of 29. Several people fainted in the crush of people which fire chief R. L. Lampley estimated at nearly 20,000. Photo: Associated Press

A look at the Hollywood headlines that happened on Jan. 1.

1953: Country star Hank Williams died of a heart attack brought on by alcohol. The year before, he had been fired from the Grand Ole Opry because of his drinking. Williams was 29.

1960: Johnny Cash played his first concert for inmates, at a show at San Quentin Prison in California. Future country star Merle Haggard was in the audience, serving time for burglary.

1962: The Beatles failed their first audition in London. Decca Records instead signed Brian Poole and The Tremeloes.

1985: VH1 went on the air. Its first video was Marvin Gaye’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

1992: Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians played what was perhaps its smallest New Year’s concert. The crowd consisted of about 100 people on a sidewalk in Hickory, North Carolina. The band’s concert at a local hall had been canceled due to poor ticket sales.

1993: “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” made its premiere on CBS.

1995: Rod Stewart set a new record for the largest attendance for an open-air concert. Three-and-a-half million people turned out for his New Year’s concert in Rio de Janeiro.

1997: Bryant Gumbel anchored his last “Today” show broadcast. He was replaced by Matt Lauer.

2002: Eric Clapton married Melia McEnery at a church in London. He was 56, she was 25. At the same ceremony, their six-month-old daughter was baptized, along with Clapton’s 16-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

2008: Eddie Murphy married Tracey Edmonds, the ex-wife of Babyface, on a private island off Bora Bora.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer-guitarist Country Joe McDonald of Country Joe and the Fish is 72. Comedian Don Novello (Father Guido Sarducci) is 71. Actor Rick Hurst (“The Dukes of Hazzard”) is 68. Country singer Steve Ripley of The Tractors is 64. Rapper Grandmaster Flash is 56. Actress Ren Woods is 56. Actress Dedee Pfeiffer (“Cybill”) is 50. Actor Morris Chestnut (“The Brothers,” ”The Best Man”) is 45. Actor Verne Troyer (“Austin Powers”) is 45.

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