Fun Facts for Today – January 26

January 26

It’s Spouse’s Day



1340 King Edward III of England is declared King of France
1654 According to the terms of the capitulation protocol, Portugal decreed that Jewish and Dutch settlers had three months to leave Brazil
1697 Isaac Newton received and solved Jean Bernoulli’s brachistochrone problem; Bernouilli had challenged his colleagues to solve it within six months and Newton not only solved the problem before going to bed that same night, but in doing so, invented a new branch of mathematics called the calculus of variations
1784 Benjamin Franklin writes to his daughter and calls the bald eagle “a Bird of bad moral character” who lives “by Sharping and Robbing” and expresses regret at its selection as national symbol of the United States; he prefers the turkey, “a much more respectable Bird and withal a true original Native of America”
1788 The first European settlers in Australia, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, landed in what became known as Sydney
1802 The US Congress passed an act calling for a library to be established within the US Capitol
1837 32 years and 15 days after Michigan was organized as a territory, it became the 26th US state
1841 The United Kingdom formally occupies Hong Kong
1848 Henry David Thoreau delivered his first draft of his best-known work Civil Disobedience to his publisher
1861 The state of Louisiana secedes from the Union
1863 The Massachusetts Governor receives permission from Secretary of War to raise a militia organization for men of African descent
1870 Virginia rejoins the Union
1875 George F. Green of Kalamazoo, MI patented the electric dental drill for sawing, filing, dressing and polishing teeth
1886 Karl Benz patented the first auto powered by an internal combustion engine
1911 Glenn H. Curtiss flies the first successful seaplane
1925 Erich von Stroheim’s epic film Greed opens in the US
1929 The classic Laurel and Hardy silent short Liberty opens in the US
1932 The US Patent Office recieved a patent application for the cyclotron by Ernest Orlando Lawrence
1934 The Apollo Theater reopens in Harlem
1940 Ronald Reagan marries Jane Wyman
1942 The first US forces arrive in Europe landing in Northern Ireland
1948 Executive Order 981, which puts an end to segregation in US Armed Forces, is signed
1959 Alcoa Presents debuted on ABC-TV; the show would later be renamed One Step Beyond
1961 President John F. Kennedy appoints Janet G. Travell to be his physician; this is the first time a woman holds this appointment
1964 Hammer Films The Kiss of the Vampire opens in the UK
1965 Hindi becomes the official language of India
1966 When Manfred Mann’s lead singer, Paul Jones, falls ill The Animals’ Eric Burdon fills in
1970 John Lennon wrote and recorded “Instant Karma”
1970 The Magic Christian starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr premieres in Beverly Hills, CA
1972 Elvis Presley begins wearing one-piece jumpsuits during his gigs at the International Hotel, Las Vegas
1975 The BBC airs the David Bowie documentary Cracked Actor
1977 Original Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Peter Green is committed to a psychiatric facility for firing a pistol at a delivery boy who was attempting to deliver a royalty check
1980 Israel and Egypt establish diplomatic relations
1984 CBS-TV debuted Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer
1988 Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera has its first performance on Broadway
1992 Boris Yeltsin announces that Russia is going to stop targeting US cities with nuclear weapons
1998 President Bill Clinton denies having had “sexual relations” with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky
2001 Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe and Eddie Izzard opens in the US
2004 President Hamid Karzai signs the new constitution of Afghanistan
2005 Condoleezza Rice is sworn in as US Secretary of State, becoming the first African American woman to hold the post
2006 Western Union discontinues use of its telegram service


1810 Joseph Rogers Brown, inventor and manufacturer who made numerous advances in the field of fine measurement and machine-tool production
1831 Heinrich Anton de Bary, botanist, a founder of modern mycology and plant pathology for his research into the roles of fungi and other agents in causing plant diseases
1832 Rufus Henry Gilbert, surgeon and inventor who played a major role in the development of rapid transit in New York City
1880 Douglas MacArthur, US Army General, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Medal of Honor recipient
1884 Edward Sapir, linguist and anthropologist, one of the foremost of his time, who is most widely known for his contributions to the study of North American Indian languages
1904 Ancel Keys, nutritionist and epidemiologist who was the first to identify the role of saturated fats in causing heart disease
1905 Charles Lane, character actor (It’s a Wonderful Life, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Petticoat Junction)
1907 Hans Selye, endocrinologist known for his studies of the effects of stress on the human body
1909 Alexander King, chemist who pioneered in environmental awareness, warning of the dangers to the environment from extensive industrial development
1913 William Prince, charcter actor (Cyrano de Bergerac, The Stepford Wives, Sybil)
1913 Jimmy Van Heusen, 4-time Academy Award-winning songwriter (“Call Me Irresponsible,” “High Hopes,” “All the Way,” “Swinging on a Star”)
1915 William Hopper, actor (Perry Mason, The Bad Seed, Rebel Without a Cause)
1918 Philip José Farmer, 3-time Hugo Award-winning author (To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Riverworld series, World of Tiers series, Venus on the Half-Shell)
1922 Michael Bentine, actor/writer/comedian (“The Goon Show,” It’s a Square World, Down Among the Z Men)
1923 Anne Jeffreys, actress (Dillinger, Dick Tracy, Topper, Port Charles)
1925 Paul Newman, Academy Award-winning actor (The Color of Money, Road to Perdition, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Towering Inferno)
1626 Francis R. “Joe” Boyd, geologist whose studies on the origins of volcanic rocks contributed to the understanding of the formation of the Earth
1928 Roger Vadim, writer/director (Barbarella, And God Created Woman)
1929 Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist, Academy Award-winning writer (The Spirit, Munro, Popeye)
1931 Mary Murphy, actress (The Wild One, Live Fast, Die Young, Junior Bonner)
1941 Scott Glenn, actor (Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, Silverado, The Silence of the Lambs)
1941 Henry Jaglom, writer/director/actor (Always, Psych-Out, Sitting Ducks)
1946 Gene Siskel, film critic
1949 David Strathairn, actor (Eight Men Out, Memphis Belle, Sneakers, L.A. Confidential, Good Night, and Good Luck)
1949 Jonathan Carroll, World Fantasy Award-winning author (“Friend’s Best Man”, Outside the Dog Museum, The Panic Hand)
1955 Eddie Van Halen, Grammy Award-winning musician (Van Halen)
1958 Ellen DeGeneres, Emmy Award-winning comedienne/actress/writer (Ellen, Finding Nemo, Coneheads)
1961 Wayne Gretzky, professional ice hockey player who has set 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, 6 All-Star records, won 4 Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, and won 9 MVP awards and 10 scoring titles, the only player ever to total over 200 points in a season (a feat that he accomplished 4four times), he tallied over 100 points a season for 15 NHL seasons, 13 of them consecutively and the only player to have his number, 99, officially retired by the National Hockey League for all teams – no player in the NHL will ever again wear the number 99
1963 Andrew Ridgeley, singer (Wham!)


1823 Edward Jenner, surgeon and discoverer of vaccination for smallpox who also introduced the word “virus,” dies at 73
1878 Ernst Heinrich Weber, anatomist and physiologist whose fundamental studies of the sense of touch introduced a concept, important to psychology and sensory physiology, that of the “just-noticeable difference”, the smallest difference perceivable between two similar stimuli, dies at 82
1885 Edward Davy, physician, chemist, and inventor who devised the electromagnetic repeater for relaying telegraphic signals and invented an electrochemical telegraph, dies at 78
1891 Nikolaus August Otto, engineer who developed the four-stroke internal-combustion engine, which offered the first practical alternative to the steam engine as a power source, dies at 58
1893 Abner Doubleday, career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War and his most lasting claim to fame is the popular myth that he invented baseball, which has been debunked by almost all sports historians, dies at 73
1895 Arthur Cayley, mathematician who played a leading role in founding the modern British school of pure mathematics, dies at 73
1925 Sir James Mackenzie, cardiologist, pioneer in the study of cardiac arrhythmias who, in 1892, built a machine for detecting and recording physiological activity, such as pulse rate and blood pressure, since known as a polygraph and later used as a lie detector, dies at 71
1927 Sir Charles Warren, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the head of the London Metropolitan Police (1886-88) during the Jack the Ripper murder spree, dies at 86
1932 William Wrigley, Jr., salesman and manufacturer whose Wrigley’s chewing gum company became the largest producer and distributor of chewing gum in the world, dies at 70
1939 Albert Sauveur, metallurgist whose microscopic and photomicroscopic studies of metal structures make him one of the founders of physical metallurgy, dies at 75
1962 Charles “Lucky” Luciano, gangster, dies at 64
1973 Edward G. Robinson, actor (Soylent Green, Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, Little Caesar), dies at 80
1979 Nelson Rockefeller, 53rd Governor of New York (1959-1973), 41st Vice President of the United States (1974-1977), dies at 70
1992 José Ferrer, Academy Award-winning actor (Cyrano de Bergerac, Joan of Arc, The Caine Mutiny), dies at 82
1990 Lewis Mumford, architectural critic, urban planner, and historian who analyzed the effects of technology and urbanization on human societies throughout history, dies at 94
2000 A. E. van Vogt, prolific science fiction author (The Voyage of the Space Beagle, Empire of the Atom), dies at 87

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