Fun Facts for Today

May 25

It’s National Missing Children’s Day and National Tap Dance Day and Douglas Adams Towel Day


1689 Richard Cromwell resigns as Lord Protector of England following the restoration of the Long Parliament, beginning a second brief period of the republican government called the Commonwealth
1787 In Philadelphia, PA delegates convene a Constitutional Convention to write a new Constitution for the United States; George Washington presides
1793 In Baltimore, MD Father Stephen Theodore Badin is the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the US
1844 The gasoline engine was patented by Stuart Perry
1852 E.G. Otis was issued a patent for a Railroad Car Brake
1878 The much anticipated premiere of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore took place at the Opera Comique in London
1895 Oscar Wilde, a playwright, poet and novelist, was convicted of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” and sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labor
1925 John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution
1927 Ford Motor Company announced that the Model A would replace the Model T
1927 The “Movietone News” was shown for the first time at the Sam Harris Theatre in New York City
1935 American track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens breaks or ties six world records in less than an hour at the Big Ten Championship in Ann Arbor, MI
1940 In one of the most famous animal tests in medical history, eight mice were inoculated with a lethal dose of streptococci and then four of them were injected with penicillin; the next day the four mice given streptococci alone were dead, the four with penicillin were healthy
1953 At the Nevada Test Site, the United States conducts its first and only nuclear artillery test
1961 The formal announcement of an American lunar landing was made by President John F. Kennedy speaking to the Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space program in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
1968 The 1968 Monterey Pop Festival is canceled because of pressure from the local government and citizenry
1968 In St. Louis, MO Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall dedicate the Gateway Arch as part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
1977 Star Wars opened in US theaters
1978 Keith Moon performed with the Who for the last time
1979 Ridley Scott’s film Alien opens in US theaters
1983 The Return of the Jedi opened in US theaters
1990 Back to the Future Part III opened in US theaters
1992 Jay Leno began his stint as the full-time host of NBC’s The Tonight Show
1997 Senator Strom Thurmond became the longest-serving senator in US history (41 years and 10 months)
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End opens in US theaters

1803 Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, novelist, poet, playwright, and politician who coined such phrases as “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, and the infamous “It was a dark and stormy night”; despite his popularity in his heyday, today his name is known as a byword for bad writing and San Jose State University’s annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing is named after him
1803 Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist, philosopher, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early 19th century
1860 Daniel Moreau Barringer, mining engineer and geologist who identified the Great Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona as the result of a meteorite strike, and not as most people then assumed, an extinct volcano
1878 Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a pioneer and pre-eminent African-American tap dance performer; he appeared opposite Shirley Temple in such films as The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Just Around the Corner – a joint US Senate/House resolution declared “National Tap Dance Day” in honor of his birth
1889 Igor Sikorsky, pioneer in aircraft design who is best known for his successful development of the helicopter
1901 Carl Wagner, physical chemist and metallurgist who was helped shape the field of chemical metallurgy as an exact science
1921 Hal David, Academy Award-winning lyricist (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, “The Look of Love”, “What’s New, Pussycat?”, “Alfie”)
1925 John Cocke, computer scientist who invented the reduced instruction set computing (RISC) in the 1970’s; this innovation boosted computer speed by simplifying instructions for frequently used functions
1927 Robert Ludlum, author of 25 thriller novels which have more than 290 million copies in print and they have been translated into 32 languages; The Bourne movies, starring Matt Damon in the title role, have been commercially successful, although the story lines depart significantly from the source material
1932 Roger Bowen, actor and writer, one of the co-founders of the Second City comedy troupe (MASH, Arthur Hailey’s the Moneychangers, Foxes, What About Bob?)
1939 Sir Ian McKellen, CBE, stage and screen actor (Lord of the Rings, X-Men, Gods and Monsters, Richard III)
1939 Dixie Carter, actress (The Edge of Night, Designing Women, Family Law, Dazzle, Desperate Housewives)
1943 Leslie Uggams, Tony Award-winning actress (Hallelujah, Baby!, Roots, Sugar Hill)
1944 Frank Oz (Richard Frank Oznowicz), director and 4-time Emmy Award-winning performer and producer (Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Little Shop of Horror, Death at a Funeral)
1947 Karen Valentine, actress (Gidget Grows Up, Room 222, Hot Lead and Cold Feet)
1949 Barry Windsor-Smith, comic book illustrator and painter whose international acclaim came as the original artist for Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian
1951 Bob Gale, writer-director-producer (I Wanna Hold Your Hand, 1941, Back to the Future, Trespass, Bordello of Blood)
1951 Patti D’Arbanville, actress (Andy Warhol’s Flesh, Time After Time, Real Genius, Wiseguy, New York Undercover, The Guiding Light, Third Watch)
1953 Stan Sakai, Eisner Award-winning comic book creator who became famous with the creation of Usagi Yojimbo, the epic saga of Miyamoto Usagi, a samurai rabbit living in late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth-century Japan
1955 Connie Sellecca, actress (Flying High, Captain America, Beyond Westworld, Hotel, The Greatest American Hero, Punch Drunk)
1955 Bobby Slayton, comedian-actor (Dreamgirls, The Rat Pack, Get Shorty, The Shaggy Dog, Ed Wood, Wayne’s World 2)
1958 Paul Weller, influential songwriter, musician and singer; the leader and creator behind the formation of two successful bands, The Jam and The Style Council, before starting a successful solo career, he is also the principal figure of the 1970s Mod revival and is often called the “Modfather”
1959 Julian Clary, comedian, actor and television presenter (It’s Only TV… But I Like It, All Rise for Julian Clary, Carry on Columbus)
1963 Mike Myers, comedian, actor, Emmy Award-winning writer (Saturday Night Live, Shrek, Austin Powers, Wayne’s World, Pete’s Meteor)
1967 Poppy Z. Brite, author best known for writing gothic and horror novels and short stories (Lost Souls, Exquisite Corpse)
1969 Anne Heche, Emmy Award-winning actress (Another World, Men in Trees, Volcano, Donnie Brasco, I Know What You Did Last Summer)
1976 Cillian Murphy, actor (28 Days Later…, Cold Mountain, Batman Begins, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Red Eye)

1923 Hans Goldschmidt, chemist who invented the thermite (alumino-thermic) process was adopted worldwide for welding railroad and streetcar rails, and is still in use for on-site welding, dies at 62
1974 Donald Crisp, Academy Award-winning actor (How Green Was My Valley, Pollyanna, Lassie Come Home, The Sea Hawk, Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, The Black Pirate, Broken Blossoms, The Birth of a Nation), dies at 91
1990 Vic Tayback, character actor (Alice, Bullitt, Papillon, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, The Shaggy D.A.), dies at 60
1996 Bradley Nowell, musician who served as lead singer and guitarist of the ska punk band Sublime, died of a drug overdose at the age of 26
1996 Buck, the Bundy’s dog on Married…With Children, dies at 13
2007 Charles Nelson Reilly, actor, director, writer (The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (TV), Lidsville, Cannonball Run II, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Match Game), dies at 76

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