Frank Downing (1904 - 1961)

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Summary

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Frank Downing Biography & Family History

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Education

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Timeline

1904 - In the year that Frank Downing was born, the United States acquired the Panama Canal Zone. Now an unincorporated territory of the U.S., the Canal Zone had been previously held by the French, who were constructing a canal. The U.S. took over the construction of the Panama Canal and it was finally finished in 1914, when it was opened to commercial shipping. The United States held the Canal Zone until 1979.

1905 - By the time he was merely 1 year old, the first movie theater opened in the United States in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the first theater to show nothing but movies - silent films. Two men, John P. Harris and his brother-in-law Harry Davis, opened the Nickelodeon on Smithfield Street - charging 5 cents for admission. The first day, 450 people watched movies at the new theater - on the second day, more than 1500 people stood in line to get in.

1930 - He was 26 years old when on August 6th, N.Y. Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater went through papers in his office, destroyed some of them, withdrew all his money from the bank - $5,150, sold his stock, met friends at a restaurant for dinner and disappeared after getting into a taxi (or walking down the street - his friends' testimony later changed). His disappearance was reported to the police on September 3rd - almost a month later. His wife didn't know what happened, his fellow Justices had no idea, and his mistresses (he had several) said that they didn't know. While his disappearance was front page news, his fate was never discovered and after 40 years the case was closed, still without knowing if Crater was dead or alive.

1938 - He was 34 years old when on October 30th, a Sunday, The Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast Orson Welles' special Halloween show The War of the World's. A clever take on H.G. Wells' novel, the show began with simulated "breaking news" of an invasion by Martians. Because of the realistic nature of the "news," there was a public outcry the next day, calling for regulation by the FCC. Although the current story is that many were fooled and panicked, in reality very few people were fooled. But the show made Orson Welles' career.

1961 - In the year of Frank Downing's passing, on April 17th, about 1,000 CIA trained Cuban exiles invaded Cuba with the intention of igniting a rebellion and overthrowing Castro. They were defeated within three days. Although the operation began under Eisenhower, Kennedy approved it and the operation, named the Bay of Pigs for the beach where they landed, was a humiliation for the United States.

Frank Downing Family Tree

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Obituary

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Frank Downing died in February 1961 at 56 years of age. No cause of death has been entered. He was born on February 14, 1904. We have no information about Frank's immediate family.

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