Fun Facts for Today

April 25

It’s East meets West Day and World Penguin Day


1324 An entry in the Jornal de la Chambre of King Edward II shows a pence a day paid to one “Robyn Hod” for service to the King; shown is a detail from “Robin and the Tinker at the Blue Boar Inn” by Howard Pyle, from his The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown, in Nottinghamshire
1792 Highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier becomes the first person executed by guillotine
1850 Paul Julius Reuter, founder of the news agency that bears his name, uses 40 pigeons to carry stock market prices between Brussels and Aachen
1859 Work begins on the Suez Canal in Egypt; it opens in 1869
1862 Forces under Union Admiral David Farragut capture the Confederate city of New Orleans
1901 New York became the first state to require license plates on cars
1915 British, Australian, and New Zealand forces landed at the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey during World War I; the event is now commemorated as Anzac Day
1916 The United Kingdom declares martial law in Ireland
1928 The first seeing eye dog was presented to Morris S. Frank
1944 The United Negro College Fund is incorporated
1945 Fifty delegates met in San Francisco to organize the United Nations
1945 United States and Russian troops meet in Torgau along the River Elbe, cutting the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany in two, a milestone in the approaching end of World War II in Europe
1945 The US Army blows the swastika from the top of the Zeppelintribüne
1950 Basketball player Chuck Cooper becomes the first African American in the NBA when he is drafted by the Boston Celtics
1953 House of Wax starring Vincent Price opens in the US
1953 The Francis Crick and James Watson article describing the double helix of DNA is published in the magazine Nature
1956 Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” hits number one on the music charts
1961 Robert Noyce is granted a patent for an integrated circuit
1967 Governor John Love of Colorado signs the first law legalizing abortion in the US
1969 The 5,400th and final Radio broadcast of “Mrs. Dale’s Diary” occurred on BBC Radio
1981 More than 100 workers are exposed to radiation during repairs of a nuclear power plant in Tsuruga, Japan
1983 Pioneer 10 crossed the orbit of Pluto, the outermost planet, to continue its voyage into the universe beyond our solar system
1990 The $2.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope was deployed in space from the Space Shuttle Discovery into an orbit 381 miles above Earth
1998 First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was questioned by Whitewater prosecutors on videotape about her work as a private lawyer for the failed savings and loan at the center of the investigation
2002 The US House of Representatives approves a measure to split the Immigration and Naturalization Service into two separate enforcement and service branches; making immigration reform a top priority in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks
2003 Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader and ex-wife of former President Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to four years in prison for her conviction on fraud and theft charges; she was convicted of 43 counts of fraud and 25 of theft of money from a women’s political league
2003 Jewel Staite marries Matt Anderson
2003 Amy Acker marries James Carpinello
2007 Boris Yeltsin’s funeral is the first to be sanctioned by the Russian Orthodox Church for a head of state since the funeral of Emperor Alexander III in 1894

1599 Oliver Cromwell, military and political leader best known for his involvement in making England into a republican Commonwealth and for his later role as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland; ke was one of the commanders of the New Model Army, which defeated the royalists in the English Civil War and after the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell dominated the short-lived Commonwealth and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658
1769 Marc Isambard Brunel, engineer and inventor who solved the historic problem of underwater tunneling; a prolific inventor, Brunel designed machines for sawing and bending timber, boot making, stocking knitting, and printing and as a civil engineer, his designs included the Île de Bourbon suspension bridge and the first floating landing piers
1874 Guglielmo Marconi, physicist, who invented the wireless telegraph in 1935 known today as radio; 1909 Nobel laureate
1908 Edward R. Murrow, journalist and television and radio figure; a pioneer of television news broadcasting, Murrow produced a series of TV news reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy
1917 Ella Fitzgerald, considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th Century; over a recording career that lasted 57 years, she was the winner of 13 Grammy Awards, and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H.W. Bush
1918 Gerard Henri de Vaucouleurs, astronomer whose pioneering studies of distant galaxies contributed to knowledge of the age and large-scale structure of the universe
1930 Paul Mazursky, actor-director-writer-producer (The Danny Kaye Show, Harry and Tonto, Moscow on the Hudson, Winchell)
1932 Meadowlark Lemon, basketball player and actor who was known, for 22 years, as the “Clown Prince” of the touring Harlem Globetrotters basketball team
1940 Al Pacino, Academy Award-winning actor (Scent of a Woman, Dick Tracy, Dog Day Afternoon, The Godfather)
1946 Talia Shire, actress (The Godfather, Rocky, Prophecy, I Heart Huckabees)
1958 Fish (Derek William Dick), prog rock singer and lyricist (Marillion)
1964 Andy Bell, singer and songwriter (Erasure)
1964 Hank Azaria, 3-time Emmy Award-winning actor (The Simpsons, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Birdcage, Mystery Men)
1969 Renée Zellweger, Academy Award-winning actress (Cold Mountain, Chicago, Miss Potter, The Whole Wide World)
1969 Gina Torres, actress (Firefly, Alias, Angel, Standoff, 24, The Matrix Revolutions, Cleopatra 2525)

1744 Anders Celsius, astronomer, physicist and mathematician who is famous for the temperature scale he developed, dies at 42
1853 William Beaumont, army surgeon, the first person to observe and study human digestion as it occurs in the stomach, dies at 67
1972 George Sanders, Academy Award-winning actor (All About Eve, The Jungle Book, The Quiller Memorandum, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir), commits suicide at 65
1974 Pam Morrison, Jim Morrison’s widow, died of a heroin overdose at 27
1976 Sir Carol Reed, Academy Award-winning director (Oliver!, The Third Man, Kipps), dies at 69
1985 Francis P. Shepard, marine geologist whose pioneering surveys of submarine canyons off the coast of California near La Jolla marked the beginning of Pacific marine geology, dies at 87
1995 Art Fleming, actor and long-time host of Jeopardy! (1964-75), dies at 70
1995 Ginger Rogers, Academy Award-winning actress (Kitty Foyle, Flying Down to Rio, Monkey Business), dies at 83
1996 Saul Bass, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker (Why Man Creates), best remembered as one of the best ever graphic designers for film, as he has created the credits and title sequences of over 60 films, dies at 75
2002 Lisa Lopes, rapper, singer, songwriter and member of the popular R&B group TLC, dies in a car crash at 30

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