Here's a baker's dozen of events from the world of entertainment that grabbed headlines in late July between 1928 and 2003. (For the purposes of this post "Hollywood" encompasses movies as well as television.)
The MGM Lion "roared" for the first time on July 30, 1928. The lion's name was Jackie, the 2nd of five lions and his "greeting" was used in the opening credits for the next 28 years. The current lion has been "introducing" MGM's movies to audiences even longer - since 1957. Another furry friend who made his film debut in late July was Bugs Bunny who on July 27, 1940 appeared with Elmer Fudd in the cartoon "A Wild Hare".
Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney made 9 movies together and the last of them, "Girl Crazy", opened in theaters on July 30, 1943. By then Garland was 21 and Rooney 23. Musical numbers included ""I Got Rhthym", "Embraceable You" and "Fascinating Rhythm". Judy died in 1969 but Mickey is still kicking at the age of 89. He's been married 8 times but back in 1943 he was with "starter wife" #1, movie star Ava Gardner.
The gossip industry was thriving back in the glory days of the movies. It tried to counter the publicity machine of the Hollywood studios that produced glowing stories for its stars while keeping their dirty laundry largely out of public view. Perhaps the queen bee of the gossip columnists was Hedda Hopper, the cover subject of the July 28, 1947 issue of TIME Magazine (a feat neither Liz Smith or Perez Hilton ever achieved). Hedda was known for her trademark outrageous hats (a role model for Lady Gaga perhaps?) as well as her fierce rivalry with fellow columnist Louella Parsons.
Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin performed together for the last time on July 26, 1955 at New York's Copacabana Club. The comedy team had worked together for 10 years and as solo acts they both had their successes, Martin as part of Sinatra's Rat Pack while Lewis became wildly popular in France. On this same date in 1990 another comic was in the headlines when Roseanne Barr, upon finishing the singing the national anthem before a San Diego Padres game (controversy enough), proceeded to grab her crotch & spit.
Jack Paar made his "Tonight Show" debut the night of July 29, 1957. Most viewers referred to the program as "The Jack Paar Show" which Paar hosted for nearly 5 years. Also on July 29 - but 26 years later (1983) - NBC premiered "Friday Night Videos" at 12:30AM in an attempt compete somewhat with cable's fledgling MTV (90 minutes a week vs. MTV's 24/7 schedule). The first video aired was Michael Jackson's "Beat It". FNV aired for 19 years.
Tormented actor (and 4-time Oscar nominee) Montgomery Clift died at the age of 45 in his New York apartment on July 23, 1966. Some think it may have been a suicide. If it was it would make him, with the exception of Marilyn Monroe who committed suicide 4 years earlier, the most famous actor to take his own life. In fact, after a serious car accident in 1956 his career was referred to as the "longest suicide in Hollywood history". Interestingly, he & Marlon Brando were both born in Omaha.
Earlier in the summer of 1978 "Grease" opened and became a huge hit for Olivia Newton John & John Travolta. The Bee Gees, riding high on their "Saturday Night Fever" fame, had the misfortune to star in the summer's other musical, and the year's biggest flop, "Sgt. Pepper". It opened the weekend of July 24, 1978. Perhaps its only redeeming aspect was Earth Wind & Fire's remake of the Beatles' "Gotta Get You Into My Life". The following summer another musical act, The Village People, experienced a similar disaster when they starred in "Can't Stop the Music" - perhaps the worst movie of all time.
38-year old Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) was arrested on July 28, 1991 for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater in Sarasota, Florida. Though never again as popular as he was pre-arrest he rehabilitated his career somewhat over the years and this fall will be appearing on Broadway in The Pee Wee Herman Show.
Britain's outrageous sitcom "Absolutely Fabulous" had its U.S. premiere on Comedy Central on July 24, 1994. Like another BBC-TV sensation, "The Office", AbFab aired only a small number of episodes (relative to U.S. shows) yet the memory of Eddie & Patsy live on.
10 years have passed since Kathie Lee Gifford ended her 15-year co-hosting duites w/Regis Philbin on "Live w/Regis & Kathie Lee" on July 28, 2000. It was a farewell that few seemed to care much about. She returned to TV 5 years ago to become part of NBC's sprawling "Today Show", co-hosting the show's 4th hour with Hoda Kotb, a stint that has been parodied on SNL.
Finally, on July 28, 2003 Bob Hope died 2 months after celebrating his 100th birthday. Hope never won an Oscar but he lived longer than any Oscar winner. His death followed that of 96-year old Katharine Hepburn (a 4-time Oscar winner) one month earlier. Hope has the distinction of being the high-profile Hollywood celeb to live the longest, outliving George Burns (who died in 1996) by 1 month.