Fun Facts for Today

May 27

It’s Sun Screen Day and National Grape Popsicle Day and Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta


1647 The first recorded execution of a witch, Achsah Young, a resident of Windsor, CT, in America takes place
1647 A new law banned Catholic priests from the colony of Massachusetts; the penalty was banishment or death for a second offense
1668 Three colonists were expelled from Massachusetts for being Baptists
1703 Tsar Peter the Great founds the city of Saint Petersburg
1755 The first municipal water pumping plant in America was installed at Bethlehem, PA
1796 The first US patent for a piano was issued in the US to James Sylvanus McLean of NJ for “an improvement in piano fortes”
1849 The Great Hall of Euston station, London opened
1890 Two US patents for the first jukebox were issued to Louis Glass and his business associate, William S. Arnold concerning a “coin actuated attachment for phonographs”
1907 A Bubonic plague outbreak begins in San Francisco, CA
1919 Oil was struck at England’s first inland oilwell
1924 The Music Corporation of America (MCA) is founded
1927 The Ford Motor Company ceases manufacturing the Ford Model T and begins to retool plants to make Ford Model A’s
1929 Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow are married
1930 Masking tape was patented by inventor Richard G. Drew of St. Paul, MN
1931 The first US full scale wind tunnel for testing airplanes was opened in Langley Field Research Center, VA
1931 Auguste Piccard and Charles Knipfer took man’s first trip into the stratosphere when they rode their balloon to an altitude of 51,800 feet (nearly 10 miles above the earth); this required the use of a pressurized cabin, which Piccard had designed
1932 The Sydney Harbour Bridge opens
1933 The US Federal Securities Act is signed into law requiring the registration of securities with the Federal Trade Commission
1933 The Walt Disney Company releases the cartoon The Three Little Pigs, with its hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”
1936 The RMS Queen Mary begins her maiden voyage
1937 In California, the Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic, creating a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County
1939 DC Comics publishes its second superhero in Detective Comics #27; he is Batman, one of the most topical comic book superheroes of all time
1940 97 out of 99 members of a Royal Norfolk Regiment unit are massacred while trying to surrender at Dunkirk; the German commander, Captain Fritz Knochlein, is eventually hanged for war crimes
1941 The US Federal Register published the definition of enriched flour giving specifications for required amounts it must contain of vitamin B-1 (thiamine), nicotinic acid (niacin) or nicotinic acid amide (niacin amide), and iron
1941 The German battleship Bismarck is sunk in the North Atlantic killing 2,300 men
1949 Russians stopped train traffic to and from West Berlin
1961 The first black light was sold
1963 From Russia with Love opens in US movie theaters
1963 Anthony Newley and Joan Collins are married; they would divorce in 1970
1969 Construction begins in Florida on Walt Disney World
1977 Disneyland holds a grand opening ceremony for its newest attraction, Space Mountain
1982 ABC-TV aired the final episodes of Bosom Buddies and Mork and Mindy
1984 Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter are married
1988 NBC-TV aired the final episode of Punky Brewster
1994 Nobel Prize-winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returns to live in his native Russia after 20 years in exile
1994 The highest temperature produced in a lab was a plasma temperature of 510 million degrees Celsius (918,000,000 deg F) in the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) operated at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory of Princeton University
1995 In Charlottesville, Virginia, actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed from the neck down after falling from his horse in a riding competition
1996 Disneyland’s Toy Story Funhouse closes in Tomorrowland
1998 Michael Fortier is sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000 for failing to warn authorities about the terrorist plot
1999 Exxon and Mobil shareholders approved their $81.2 billion merger to create the world’s largest oil company
1999 It was reported that Dolly, the 3-year-old sheep, cloned from a 6-year-old ewe, has cells that that are 9 years old; her DNA showed signs of wear more typical of an older animal
1999 In The Hague, Netherlands, a war crimes tribunal indicted Slobodan Milosevic and four others for atrocities in Kosovo; it was the first time that a sitting head of state had been charged with such a crime

1818 Frans Cornelis Donders, ophthalmologist, the most eminent of 19th-century Dutch physicians, whose investigations of the physiology and pathology of the eye made possible a scientific approach to the correction of refractive disabilities such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
1837 James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, Old West scout, marksman, lawman, soldier, gunfighter and professional gambler
1894 Dashiell Hammett, author of hardboiled detective novels and short stories; among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse)
1907 Rachel Carson, biologist well known for her writings on environmental pollution and the natural history of the sea (Silent Spring)
1909 William Webster Hansen, physicist who contributed to the development of radar and is regarded as the founder of microwave technology
1911 Hubert H. Humphrey, 38th Vice President of the United States (1965-1969), US Senator (1949-1964, 1971-1978), 14th US Senate Majority Whip (1961-1964), 1st Deputy President pro tempore of the US Senate (1977-1978), 35th Mayor of Minneapolis, MN (1945-1948)
1911 Vincent Price, actor, writer, artist, and gourmet (The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Champagne for Caesar, The Ten Commandments, The Whales of August, Edward Scissorhands)
1923 Henry Kissinger, bureaucrat, diplomat, and 1973 Nobel Peace Prize laureate; 56th US Secretary of State (1973-1977), 8th United States National Security Advisor (1969-1975)
1925 Tony Hillerman, Edgar Award-winning author of detective novels and non-fiction works (Dance Hall of the Dead, Skinwalkers, Coyote Waits)
1934 Harlan Ellison, writer of short stories, novellas, teleplays, essays, and criticism; he has won the Hugo Award eight and a half times; the Nebula Award three times; the Bram Stoker Award, presented by the Horror Writers Association, five times (including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996); the Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America twice; the Georges Méliès fantasy film award twice; and was awarded the Silver Pen for Journalism by International PEN, the international writers’ union. He was presented with the first Living Legend Award by the International Horror Guild at the 1995 World Horror Convention. He is also the only author in Hollywood ever to win the Writers Guild of America Award for Most Outstanding Teleplay (solo work) four times. In March 1998, the National Women’s Committee of Brandeis University honored him with their 1998 Words, Wit, Wisdom award. In 1990, Ellison was honored by International PEN for continuing commitment to artistic freedom and the battle against censorship
1935 Lee Meriwether, actress and Miss America 1955 (Batman, The Time Tunnel, Mission: Impossible, Barnaby Jones, The Munsters Today)
1936 Louis Gossett Jr., Academy and Emmy Award-winning actor (An Officer and a Gentlemen, Roots, The Deep, The Powers of Matthew Star, Jaws 3-D, Enemy Mine, Iron Eagle, Diggstown)
1946 Lewis Collins, actor (The Cuckoo Waltz, The Professionals, Jack the Ripper, Cluedo)
1957 Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Janet Ballion), lead singer of Siouxsie & the Banshees and its splinter group The Creatures
1958 Neil Finn, OBE, singer, songwriter, musician (Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn Brothers)
1961 Peri Gilpin, actress (Flesh n’ Blood, Frasier, Hellboy Animated)
1964 Adam Carolla, actor, comedian, writer, producer (Loveline, The Man Show, The Andy Milonakis Show, Drawn Together, Dancing with the Stars)
1965 Todd Bridges, actor (Roots, Diff’rent Strokes, Everybody Hates Chris)
1970 Joseph Fiennes, actor (Stealing Beauty, Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, Enemy at the Gates, The Darwin Awards)
1971 Paul Bettany, actor (A Knight’s Tale, A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Iron Man)

1910 Robert Koch, physician, a founder of the science of bacteriology, who discovered the tubercle bacillus and the cholera bacillus, dies at 66
1937 Frederic Eugene Ives, photographer and inventor of the halftone process, a method of reproducing photographs on a printing press, dies at 81
1949 Robert Ripley, cartoonist, entrepreneur, and amateur anthropologist who created the world famous Ripley’s Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, featuring odd but true facts from around the world, dies at 58
1969 Jeffrey Hunter, actor (The Searchers, The Longest Day, Star Trek), dies of a stroke at 42
1981 Dr. Kit Pedler, a doctor of medicine, specializing both in diseases of the eye and in the new branch of artificial limbs and organs who, with Gerry Davis, created the Cybermen (Doctor Who) and the TV series Doomwatch, dies at 58
1988 Ernst Ruska, electrical engineer who invented the electron microscope, dies at 81
2006 Paul Gleason, character actor (Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, Trading Places, The Breakfast Club, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, Die Hard, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder), dies at 67

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