This Week in Movie History is Atom Insider’s column looking back at all the important events, biggest moments, and weird, fun trivia that happened in Hollywood history each week.

April 27

1956 – World heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano, who partly inspired Rocky movies, retires with a perfect record

While the actual story of Rocky was very loosely based on former professional boxer Chuck Wepner, Rocky’s fighting style, visuals, and name all came from boxing legend Rocco Francis “Rocky Marciano” Marchegiano. Rocky Marciano is considered one of the greatest boxers of all time thanks to his relentless fighting style and knockout-to-win percentage of 87.76%. His professional boxing career spanned the years of 1947-1955 and he maintained the heavyweight championship from 1952 to 1956, winning six different title defenses during that time. He retired from boxing at age 31 citing the desire to spend more time with his family. To date, his is the only heavyweight champion to finish his career undefeated.

Birthdays: Russell T. Davies (1963), Sally Hawkins (1976), Jenna Coleman (1986), William Moseley (1987)

April 28

2019 – Game of Thrones‘ ‘The Long Night’ episode airs

The third episode of the final season of HBO’s epic series was one that was met with some mixed reactions thanks to the insanely dark cinematography that many viewers felt detracted from the action. And that’s certainly a shame, as ‘The Long Night’ broke the record for the longest battle ever screened at almost 80 minutes, blowing the previous record holder out of the water. That former record belonged to the Battle of Helm’s Deep from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which clocked in at a still-impressive 44 minutes.

2019 – Avengers: Endgame becomes the first movie to break a billion dollars in its opening weekend

Marvel’s finale to its sweeping Infinity Saga series released on April 26th, and just two days later, Disney announced it had made $1.2 billion dollars at the box office, becoming the fastest film ever to do so and the first to accomplish it on opening weekend. It ultimately finished its theatrical run with an eye-popping $2.8 billion globally.

Birthdays: Ann-Margaret (1941), Jay Leno (1950), Bridget Moynahan (1971), Penélope Cruz (1974), Jessica Alba (1981)

April 29

2018 – The Simpsons surpasses Gunsmoke‘s episode count

The anime adaptation of Machiko Hasegawa’s “Sazae-san” manga might hold the Guinness World Record for the longest-running animated show in the world with over 2,250 episodes at the time of earning that record in 2013. But The Simpsons is the undisputed champion in the United States, having aired since December 1989. Two years ago, it finally surpassed the long-running Gunsmoke‘s episode count, which was the previous record-holder at 635 episodes. Currently, The Simpsons stands at 680 episodes.

Birthdays: Jerry Seinfeld (1954), Kate Mulgrew (1955), Daniel Day-Lewis (1957), Michelle Pfeiffer (1958), Uma Thurman (1970)

April 30

1939 – RCA introduces television to the American public at the World’s Fair

In 2020, tech expos aren’t particularly new. But in the early part of last century, they were much less frequent and huge deals, like the World’s Fair. In 1939, RCA introduced the public to the world’s first television, even televising the opening ceremony and its events. Franklin Roosevelt gave the opening night dedication for the 1939 World’s Fair, becoming the first president to ever appear on television, with the models exhibited at the fair being their TRK-12s.

The technology was so new that RCA sent out brochures to their dealers explaining what televisions were and how it worked. In order to convince skeptical viewers at the World’s Fair that it was real technology and not just an optical illusion, some of the models were encased in clear plastic so people could see the internal components. Visitors could also see themselves on television via a closed-circuit camera and were given cards to commemorate the event.

2018 – New species of water beetle named after Leonardo DiCaprio

Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has been almost as well-known for his philanthropy, most notably in the realms of environmental activism, conservation, and climate change. In 2018, scientists decided to honor him in a unique way, naming a newly-discovered species of water beetle in Borneo after him. Discovered by citizen scientists at a waterfall in the remote Maliau Basin in Malaysian Borneo, the water beetle was dubbed Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi.

Birthdays: Jane Campion (1954), Lars von Trier (1956), Adrian Pasdar (1965), Johnny Galecki (1975), Sam Heughan (1980), Kirsten Dunst (1982), Gal Gadot (1985), Ana de Armas (1988)

May 1

1939 – Batman makes his first appearance in Detective Comics #27

1941 – Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane premieres in New York City

Orson Welles in 'Citizen Kane' (1941)

Orson Welles in ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941)

I’ve written about Citizen Kane before and with good reason: It’s arguably the most influential movie of the last century. At the time, Orson Welles’ filming methods were controversial, unproven, and difficult. But it all resulted in a film that withstands the test of time. Just read what I wrote about it last month:

But where Citizen Kane really set the standard was in its visuals and cinematography. Together, cinematographer Gregg Toland and director-actor Orson Welles experimented with light and shadow, depth of field and deep focus, extreme close-ups and unique angles never before used. Narratively, it jumps all around with multiple flashbacks and narrators, overlapping dialogue, and is arguably the first movie to shift from one genre to another and genre-mash. And it has some seriously snappy dialogue – just watch the clip above. Citizen Kane, quite literally, was the first to do almost everything we take for granted and that you love in movies today.

Birthdays: Joanna Lumley (1946), Jamie Dornan (1982)

May 2

2008 – Marvel’s Iron Man is released

The movie would go on to kickstart the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, though at the time, it was considered an enormous risk. It went on to make $585 million worldwide and proved Marvel Studios could successfully self-finance and produce its own films.

Birthdays: Christine Baranski (1952), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (1972)

May 3

1948 – First broadcast of CBS Evening News

The stalwart evening news series is the longest-running network news show in the U.S.

2002 – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man premieres

Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in 'Spider-Man' (Courtesy: Sony)

Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in ‘Spider-Man’ (Courtesy: Sony)

The movie showcased a somewhat unlikely cast including Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, Rosemary Harris as Aunt May, Cliff Robertson as Uncle Ben, Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, James Franco as Harry Osborn and J.K. Simmons as the pitch-perfect J. Jonah Jameson – and, if you note, a very young Joe Manganiello making his feature debut as Flash Thompson. The movie was an absolute smash hit, grossing $825 million worldwide and acting as the starting point for a new wave of Spider-Man interest. In an everything-comes-full-circle kind of moment, Sam Raimi is now with Marvel directing the sequel for Doctor Strange, who was referenced as a joke in Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.

Birthdays: Bing Crosby (1903), Christina Hendricks (1975)

  • History