Fun Facts for Today – February 14

February 14

It’s Valentine’s Day and Ferris Wheel Day and National Organ Donor Day

1349 Approximately 2,000 Jews were burned to death by mobs or forcibly removed from the city of Strasbourg
1477 The world’s first known Valentine is sent to John Paston from Margery Brews addressed “To my right welbelovyd Voluntyne”
1778 The United States Flag was formally recognized by a foreign naval vessel for the first time, when French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte rendered a nine gun salute to USS Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones
1803 Apple parer is patented by Moses Coats, Downington, PA
1849 The first photograph of a US President, while in office, was taken by Matthew Brady in New York City; President James Polk was the subject of the picture
1859 Oregon became the 33rd State in the Union
1876 Inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray applied separately for patents related to the telephone; the US Supreme Court eventually ruled Bell the rightful inventor
1895 The Importance of Being Earnest opens at the St. James’s Theatre in London
1899 The US Congress approved voting machines for use in federal elections
1912 Arizona was admitted as the 48th US state
1919 A.A. Milne (creator of Winnie-the-Pooh) is discharged from the army; he served as a signals officer during the First World War
1920 The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago
1921 Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson face obscenity charges in New York for publishing a portion of James Joyce’s Ulysses in the Little Review; they would be found guilty and fined $100
1922 Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi begins the first regular radio broadcasting transmission from England
1924 The National Carbon Company became the first network sponsor of a radio program, “The Eveready Hour”
1924 The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is founded
1927 Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller, The Lodger, opens in the UK
1929 The “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” took place in Chicago, IL; seven gangsters who were rivals of Al Capone were killed
1929 The original Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant opens at 1624 Vine Street
1933 The first telephone speaking clock comes into operation in the Paris area
1940 The first porpoise born in captivity arrived at Marineland in FL
1946 The Bank of England is nationalized
1946 ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was unveiled; the device, built at the University of Pennsylvania, was the world’s first general purpose electronic computer
1958 On CBS-TV Walter Cronkite reported that the Iranian government has banned rock & roll becausee it is against the concepts of Islam and also a hazard to health
1962 First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy takes television viewers on a tour of the White House
1966 Australian currency is decimalised
1970 The Who taped a concert at Leeds University in Leeds, England, for their forthcoming album, “Live at Leeds”
1971 Richard Nixon orders a secret taping system installed in the White House
1972 John Lennon and Yoko Ono began a week-long stay as co-hosts on The Mike Douglas Show
1972 Grease opened off-Broadway; it would move to Broadway shortly thereafter where it ran for the next decade for a total of 3,388 performances
1973 Disney’s live-action film The World’s Greatest Athlete, starring Tim Conway, Jan-Michael Vincent and John Amos, is released in theaters in the US
1974 Soviet authorities formally charge Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn with treason a day after forcing him to leave the USSR
1974 The Captain and Tennille were married
1977 The B-52’s perform their first concert together in Athens, GA
1978 The first “micro on a chip” patented by Texas Instruments
1979 In Kabul, Muslims kidnap the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs who is later killed during a gunfight between his kidnappers and police
1980 Walter Cronkite announced his retirement from the CBS Evening News
1989 Ayatollah Khomeini passes a sentence of death on Salman Rushdie: “I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran, and all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death”
1989 The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System is placed into orbit
1990 the US space probe Voyager 1 looked back into the Solar System and took a photograph of the entire solar system
1991 The Silence of the Lambs starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins opens in the US
1992 “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl.” Wayne’s World opens in the US
1997 Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery began a series of spacewalks that were required to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope
2003 Dolly the sheep – the first mammal cloned from an adult – was put to death at age 6 due to premature aging and disease
2003 Daredevil starring Ben Affleck opens in the US, the UK and Canada

1722 Georg Christian Füchsel, geologist, a pioneer in the development of stratigraphy, the study of rock strata
1766 Thomas Robert Malthus, economist and demographer, best known for his theory that population growth will always tend to outrun the food supply and that betterment of the lot of mankind is impossible without stern limits on reproduction
1793 Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, inventor who built technically successful steam carriages a half century before the advent of the gasoline-powered automobile
1819 Christopher Latham Sholes, inventor who developed and patented the typewriter
1858 Joseph Thomson, geologist, naturalist and explorer who was the first European to enter several regions of eastern Africa and whose writings are outstanding contributions to geographical knowledge, exceptional for their careful records and surveys
1859 George Ferris, inventor of the Wheel that bears his name
1860 Waldemar Lindgren, economic geologist who was a leader in the science of ore deposition and the use of the petrographic microscope
1869 C.T.R. Wilson, physicist who, with Arthur H. Compton, received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927 for his invention of the Wilson cloud chamber, which became widely used in the study of radioactivity, X rays, cosmic rays, and other nuclear phenomena
1877 Greenleaf Whittier Pickard, electrical engineer who invented the crystal detector (one of the first devices widely used for receiving radio broadcasts), a key component in early radio and a forerunner of the transistor
1878 Julius Arthur Nieuwland, organic chemist who studied reactions of acetylene and invented neoprene, the first really successful synthetic rubber
1894 Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky), actor/comedian/violinist (The Jack Benny Show, To Be or Not To Be, George Washington Slept Here)
1896 Edward Arthur Milne, astrophysicist and cosmologist best known for his development of kinematic relativity
1898 Fritz Zwicky, astronomer and physicist, who made valuable contributions to the theory and understanding of supernovas
1902 Thelma Ritter, actress (All About Eve, Rear Window, Pillow Talk, Birdman of Alcatraz)
1903 Stuart Erwin, actor (Palooka, It Could Happen to You, The Party’s Over)
1911 Willem J. Kolff, physician, and biomedical engineer who pioneered artificial organs
1916 Edward Platt, actor (Get Smart, North by Northwest, Pollyanna)
1927 Lois Maxwell, actress (“Miss Moneypenny” in 14 of the James Bond films, Lolita, Adventures in Rainbow Country)
1929 Vic Morrow, actor (Blackboard Jungle, Combat!, The Bad News Bears, Twilight Zone: The Movie)
1934 Florence Henderson, actress (The Brady Bunch, Shakes the Clown)
1936 Andrew Prine, actor (The Wide Country, Generation, Chisum, V, Gettysburg)
1944 Alan Parker, writer/director (The Commitments, Angela’s Ashes, Mississippi Burning, Angel Heart)
1944 Carl Bernstein, journalist who, as a reporter for The Washington Post along with Bob Woodward, broke the story of the Watergate break-in and consequently helped bring about the resignation of US President Richard Nixon; his work helped earn the Post a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1973
1946 Gregory Hines, actor/dancer (History of the World: Part I, Wolfen, Tap, Waiting to Exhale)
1948 Teller, illusionist, comedian and writer best known as the silent half of the comedy magic duo known as Penn & Teller; he legally changed his name to “Teller” and possesses one of the few US passports issued in a single name
1960 Meg Tilly, actress (Psycho II, The Big Chill, Impulse, Leaving Normal)
1969 Helen Baxendale, actress (Cold Feet, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman)
1970 Simon Pegg, actor/comedian/writer (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Big Train)
1992 Freddie Highmore, actor (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, August Rush, The Spiderwick Chronicles)

1682 John Hadley, mathematician and inventor who perfected methods for grinding and polishing telescope lenses, dies at 61
1779 Captain James Cook, seaman who was the first of the really scientific navigators was killed by cannibal natives in Hawaii at the age of 50
1883 Gottlieb Sigismund Kirchhof, chemist who applied the first controlled catalytic reaction to produce glucose, developed a method for refining vegetable oil, and also experimented with brewing and fermentation, dies at 68
1943 David Hilbert, mathematician who reduced geometry to a series of axioms and contributed substantially to the establishment of the formalistic foundations of mathematics, dies at 81
1950 Karl Jansky, electrical engineer who discovered cosmic radio emissions, dies at 44
1967 Sig Ruman, actor (A Night at the Opera, Ninotchka, To Be or Not to Be), dies at 82
1975 P.G. Wodehouse, comic writer best remembered today for the Jeeves and Blandings Castle novels and short stories, dies at 93
1975 Sir Julian Huxley, biologist, philosopher, educator, and author who greatly influenced the modern development of embryology, systematics, and studies of behaviour and evolution, dies at 87
1988 Frederick Loewe, Academy Award-winning songwriter (“Gigi,” ” “On the Street Where You Live”, “If Ever I Should Leave You”), dies at 86
1992 Angelique Pettyjohn, actress (The Wizard of Speed and Time, Star Trek – “The Gamesters of Triskelion”), dies at 48
2000 Walter Henry Zinn, nuclear physicist who contributed to the U.S. atomic bomb project during World War II and to the development of the nuclear reactor, dies at 93
2007 Buster Keaton Jr., the eldest son of cinematic genius Buster Keaton and who appeared at the age of 1 in his father’s silent film Our Hospitality, dies at 84

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