Fun Facts for Today

May 24

It’s International Jazz Day and National Escargot Day


1689 The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration protecting Protestants (Roman Catholics are intentionally excluded)
1738 John Wesley is converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement
1764 Bostonian lawyer James Otis denounced “taxation without representation” and called for the colonies to unite in demonstrating their opposition to Britain’s new tax measures
1798 Irish Rebellion of 1798 led by the United Irishmen against British rule begins
1830 “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by Sarah Josepha Hale is published
1830 The first passenger railroad in the United States began service between Baltimore and Elliott’s Mills, MD
1844 The first telegraph message is sent from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, MD by its inventor Samuel Morse; he telegraphs, “What hath God wrought!”
1856 John Brown and his men murder five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie Creek, KS
1861 General Benjamin Butler declared slaves to be the contraband of war
1862 A field telegraph was used for the first time in US warfare
1862 The second (and current) Westminster Bridge opened across the Thames
1862 The first trial run of a train was made through London’s Metropolitan underground line, the world’s first underground passenger railway
1881 Turkey cedes Thessaly and Arta back to Greece
1883 The Brooklyn Bridge in New York is opened to traffic after 14 years of construction
1895 Henry Irving becomes the first personage from the theatre to be knighted
1921 The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti opens
1929 The Marx Brothers first feature film, The Cocoanuts, opens in US theaters
1930 Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia
1935 The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the first major league baseball game to be played at night under the floodlights
1938 A US patent was issued for a Coin Controlled Parking Meter to Carl C. McGee of Oklahoma City, OK; the invention was designed for “measuring the time of occupancy or use of parking or other space, for the use of which it is desirous an incidental charge be made upon a time basis”
1940 Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight
1943 Josef Mengele becomes chief medical officer in Auschwitz concentration camp
1951 Racial segregation in Washington D.C. restaurants was ruled illegal
1958 United Press International is formed through a merger of the United Press and the International News Service
1960 MIDAS II, the first American surveillance satellite to successfully reach orbit, was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL
1962 Astronaut Scott Carpenter becomes the second American to orbit the Earth; he orbits three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule
1965 The Supreme Court declared a federal law allowing the post office to intercept communist propaganda as unconstitutional
1974 The Dean Martin Show ended its nine-year run on NBC-TV
1976 Britain and France begin transatlantic flight service on the Concorde to Washington, D.C. in the United States; the flight takes less than four hours
1980 The International Court of Justice in The Hague calls for the release of United States embassy hostages in Tehran
1986 The Union Jack was flown in Israel for the first time in 38 years as Margaret Thatcher became the first British prime minister to visit the Jewish state
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opened in US theaters
1993 Microsoft unveils Windows NT
1994 Four men convicted of bombing New York’s World Trade Center in 1993 are each sentenced to 240 years in prison
1997 In the Ukraine, the first McDonald’s restaurant opened
2000 Israeli troops withdraw from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation
2003 Actress Kate Winslet and director Sam Mendes were married
2004 North Korea bans mobile phones

15BC Germanicus Julius Caesar, his heritage was auspicious and his career promising, but an early death kept him from achieving the prize of the principate; he nonetheless influenced history for the next fifty years as he was father of Caligula, brother of Claudius, and grandfather of Nero
1544 William Gilbert, scientist, the “father of electrical studies” and a pioneer researcher into magnetism, who spent years investigating magnetic and electrical attractions
1686 Gabriel Fahrenheit, physicist and maker of scientific instruments who is best known for inventing the alcohol thermometer (1709) and mercury thermometer (1714) and for developing the Fahrenheit temperature scale
1743 Jean-Paul Marat, physician, philosopher, political theorist and scientist best known as a radical journalist and politician from the French Revolution
1794 William Whewell, scientist, best known for his survey of the scientific method and for creating scientific words; he founded mathematical crystallography and developed Mohr’s classification of minerals as well as creating the words “scientist” and “physicist” by analogy with the word “artist” – they soon replaced the older term “natural philosopher”
1819 Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the first Empress of India and the period centered on her reign is known as the Victorian era; this era represented the height of the Industrial Revolution, a period of significant social, economic, and technological progress in the UK which also experienced a great expansion of the British Empire; during this period it reached its zenith, becoming the foremost global power of the time
1898 Helen Brooke Taussig, physician who founded pediatric cardiology
1903 Arthur Martin Vineberg, heart surgeon, noted chiefly for his development, in 1950, of a surgical procedure for correction of impaired coronary circulation
1938 Tommy Chong, actor-comedian-musician-writer-director (Up in Smoke, Yellowbeard, That ’70’s Show, “Earache My Eye”)
1941 Bob Dylan, singer-songwriter, author, musician, poet, artist, and, of late, disc jockey who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades; honors and awards include: Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards, and he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, Polar Music Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award in Arts and a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”
1943 Gary Burghoff, Emmy Award-winning actor beloved for his portrayal of Radar O’Reilly in both the film and TV series M*A*S*H
1945 Priscilla Presley, actress, producer, businesswoman (Dallas, The Naked Gun, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane)
1947 Sybil Danning, actress (The Three Musketeers, The Concorde … Airport ’79, Howling II: …Your Sister Is a Werewolf, Amazon Women on the Moon, Grindhouse)
1949 Jim Broadbent, BAFTA TV, BAFTA Film and Academy Award-winning actor (Iris, Longford, Moulin Rouge!, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Hot Fuzz)
1953 Alfred Molina, actor (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ladyhawke, Prick Up Your Ears, Enchanted April, Boogie Nights, Spider-Man 2)
1960 Kristin Scott Thomas, BAFTA Award-winning actress (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Under the Cherry Moon, Richard III, Mission: Impossible, The English Patient)
1960 Doug Jones, mime, dancer, actor (Hellboy, 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Pan’s Labyrinth, Lady in the Water, Doom, Adaptation – and he played one of The Gentlemen on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Hush”)
1963 Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize and Nebula Award-winning author (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Wonder Boys)
1965 John C. Reilly, actor (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Boogie Nights, Chicago, A Prairie Home Companion, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story)

1543 Nicolaus Copernicus, astronomer who proposed that the planets have the Sun as the fixed point to which their motions are to be referred; that the Earth is a planet which, besides orbiting the Sun annually, also turns once daily on its own axis; and that very slow, long-term changes in the direction of this axis account for the precession of the equinoxes, dies at 70
1725 Jonathan Wild, perhaps the most famous criminal of London — and possibly Great Britain — during the 18th century, both because of his own actions and the uses novelists, playwrights, and political satirists made of them. He invented a scheme which allowed him to run one of the most successful gangs of thieves of the era, all the while appearing to be the nation’s leading policeman earning the nickname the “Thief-Taker General”. He manipulated the press and the nation’s fears to become the most loved public figure of the 1720s; this love turned to hatred when his villainy was exposed. After his execution by hanging at 42, he became a symbol of corruption and hypocrisy.
1956 Guy Kibbee, actor (Captain Blood, Captain January, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Fort Apache), dies at 74
1974 Duke Ellington, composer, pianist, and bandleader, recognized during his life as one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music, dies at 75
1981 George Jessel, entertainer, composer, songwriter, producer and actor (Valley of the Dolls, The George Jessel Show, George Washington Cohen), dies at 83
1986 Robert Holmes, reporter, journalist, writer, scriptwriter, script editor (Doctor Who, Timeslip, Doomwatch, Public Eye, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook), dies at 60
1995 James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, PC, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1964-1970, 1974-1976), Leader of the Opposition (1963-1964, 1970-1974), dies at 79
1997 Edward Mulhare, actor (Knight Rider, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (TV), Von Ryan’s Express, Our Man Flint), dies at 74
2003 Lady Rachel Kempson, actress and matriarch of the Redgrave acting dynasty (Tom Jones, Curse of the Fly, Georgy Girl, Elizabeth R, Out of Africa), dies at 92

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