As we said goodbye to 1995, we also said goodbye to “Calvin and Hobbes.” 20 years ago today Bill Watterson published his final strip of the beloved comic.
Watterson had begun publishing the shenanigans of six-year-old Calvin and his plush tiger Hobbes in 1985. The rambunctious, precocious Calvin and his friendship with the all-too-real Hobbes won over readers as the comic was published daily – with a couple extended hiatuses before Watterson announced in 1995 that he would conclude the comic at the end of that year.
“Calvin and Hobbes” garnered fans of all ages and critics” praise both with its strip that ran in over 2,400 newspapers and its collected works – over 30 million copies of those books have been sold. “During the 10 years it ran … ‘Calvin and Hobbes” was simply the best comic strip in the newspapers,” animation critic Charles Soloman declared.
The final strip depicted the pair of friends venturing out into a world of freshly fallen snow, Hobbes remarking how it is like a big sheet of paper to draw on. They sled down the hill, Calvin yelling, “Let”s go exploring!”
Other notable December 31 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1926: Buster Keaton”s “The General” premiered with screenings in two theaters in Tokyo. A New York opening followed in February.
• 1929: Guy Lombardo and his band played “Auld Lang Syne,” at Roosevelt Hotel in New York, and a New Year”s Eve tradition was born.
• 1931: The Fredric March-starring “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in New York.
• 1942: “Sinatramania” became fully fledged when Frank Sinatra performed as a support act to Benny Goodman at the Paramount Theatre in New York. His contract at the venue, originally for four weeks, was extended another four weeks due to his popularity.
• 1954: The last episode of the radio show “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok” was broadcast.
• 1955: The famed “Man from Space” episode of “The Honeymooners” first aired. It did not air on November 5, 1955 as “Back to the Future” purported.
• 1973: Dick Clark produced “New Year”s Rockin” Eve” for the first time. The special featured Three Dog Night in pre-recorded performances and as hosts of the event. Clark assumed hosting duties in 1975.
• 1984: Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident. He continued to play with the band using a customized drum kit.
• 1988: A new episode of recently canceled detective show “Simon & Simon” aired for the last time on CBS. Two episodes, including the series finale, didn”t air until the show entered syndication.
• 1994: Boyz II Men”s “On Bended Knee” returned to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, having topped the chart earlier that December. When the songs first peaked, the group became the first act to chart consecutive No. 1 singles on in U.S. since the Beatles charted three consecutive No. 1 singles in 1964. (“On Bended Knee” followed “I”ll Make Love to You,” which held the top position for 14 weeks.)
• 2006: Ryan Seacrest hosted “New Year”s Rockin” Eve” for the first time, with Dick Clark co-hosting in limited on-air appearances following a 2004 stroke. Seacrest has continued to host the annual special each year since, and Clark appeared on the special for the final time on New Year”s Eve 2011, before his death in April 2012.
Birthdays: Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton (64), “The Silence of the Lambs” actor Anthony Hopkins (78), “Tom Gun” actor Val Kilmer (56), “Gandhi” actor Ben Kingsley (72), “Cheers” actress Bebe Neuwirth (57), “Gangnam Style” singer Psy (38), “Dexter” actor James Remar (62), “The Notebook” writer Nicholas Sparks (50)