Fun Facts for Today – February 15

February 15

It’s National Gum Drop Day and Singles Awareness Day and Candlemas


399BCSocrates is sentenced to death
1715 Lemuel Gulliver leaves the Land of the Houyhnhnms
1758 Mustard was advertised for the first time in America
1764 The city of St. Louis was founded as a French fur-trading post
1799 Printed ballots were authorized for use in elections in the state of Pennsylvania
1804 New Jersey becomes last northern state to abolish slavery
1842 Adhesive postage stamps were used for the first time
1852 Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children in London, admits its first patient
1879 President Hayes signed a bill that allowed female attorneys to argue cases before the US Supreme Court
1898 USS Maine blew up in Havana harbor, touching off the Spanish-American War
1903 The first teddy bear was introduced in America; made by Morris and Rose Michtom, it is said they connected teddy bear name with President Theodore Roosevelt (also nicknamed “Teddy”), who, while bear hunting in Mississippi in 1902, decided to spare the life of a bear cub which had been orphaned during the hunt. The event was the subject of a cartoon in the Washington Post seen by the Michtoms. Inspired by the cartoon, Mrs Michtom made a toy bear and upon being displayed as “Teddy’s Bear” in the shop window, the bear proved enormously popular with the public
1906 The British Labour Party is organized
1923 Salome, the silent film based on Oscar Wilde’s play, starring Nazimova is released in the US
1927 It starring Clara Bow is relased in the US
1932 George Burns and Gracie Allen made their first appearance as regular players on CBS Radio Network’s, “The Guy Lombardo Show”
1933 In Miami, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, but instead shoots Chicago, Illinois Mayor Anton J. Cermak, who dies of his wounds on March 6, 1933
1936 Hitler announces building of Volkswagen
1941 Duke Ellington and his orchestra recorded “Take the “A” Train”
1950 Disney’s 12th animated feature film Cinderella is released
1965 Canada displayed its new red and white maple leaf flag; the flag was to replace the old Red Ensign standard
1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told has its US premiere in New York City
1968 John Lennon and George Harrison, along with their wives, travel to Rishikesh, India to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
1969 Florida hairstylist Vickie Jones is arrested for impersonating Aretha Franklin at a club in Fort Myers, FL; incredibly, her performance is so believable that no patrons demand a refund
1971 Britain changes its currency to the decimal system
1977 Sid Vicious joined the Sex Pistols replacing bassist Glen Matlock
1989 More than 100,000 Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan almost 10 years after the USSR invaded the country
2005 YouTube is launched in the US

1564 Galileo Galilei, natural philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician who applied the new techniques of the scientific method to make significant discoveries in physics and astronomy
1809 Cyrus Hall McCormick, inventor of the first practical, commercially successful reaping machine
1820 Susan B. Anthony, prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women’s rights movement to secure women’s suffrage in the US
1826 George Johnstone Stoney, physicist who introduced the term electron for the fundamental unit of electricity
1834 Sir William Henry Preece, electrical engineer who was a major figure in the development and introduction of wireless telegraphy and the telephone in Great Britain
1856 Emil Kraepelin, one of the most influential psychiatrists of his time who developed a classification system for mental illness that influenced subsequent classifications; his distinctions between schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis remain valid today
1858 William Henry Pickering, astronomer who discovered Phoebe, the ninth moon of Saturn
1873 Hans von Euler-Chelpin, biochemist who shared the 1929 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Sir Arthur Harden for work on the role of enzymes in the alcoholic fermentation of sugar
1882 John Barrymore, actor (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Don Juan, Moby Dick, Dinner at Eight)
1883 Sax Rohmer (Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward), English novelist who is best remembered for his series of novels featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu
1884 Albert C. Gilbert, inventor of the Erector set
1905 Harold Arlen, Academy Award-winning songwriter (“Over the Rainbow”, “That Old Black Magic”, “Accentuate the Positive”)
1907 Cesar Romero, actor (The Thin Man, Batman, Falcon Crest, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t)
1909 Miep Gies, one of the Dutch citizens who hid Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis during World War II; she discovered and preserved Anne’s diary after her arrest and deportation
1914 Kevin McCarthy, actor (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Hell with Heroes, Piranha, The Howling)
1927 Harvey Korman, actor/comedian (The Carol Burnett Show, Blazing Saddles, The Star Wars Holiday Special, voice of The Great Gazoo on The Flintstones)
1931 Claire Bloom, actress (Limelight, The Haunting, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Charly)
1935 Roger Chaffee, lieutenant commander in the United States Navy and Apollo 1 astronaut
1937 Gregory Mcdonald, Edgar Award-winning mystery writer best known for his Fletch character
1942 Glyn Johns, recording/sound engineer who has worked with The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Clash and bunches more
1944 Mick Avory, musician (The Kinks)
1948 Art Spiegelman, comics artist, editor, and advocate for the medium of comics, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel memoir, Maus.
1951 Jane Seymour, actress (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Somewhere in Time, Oh Heavenly Dog, Live and Let Die, The Scarlet Pimpernel)
1954 Matt Groenig, multiple Emmy Award-winning creator of The Simpsons and Futurama
1971 Renée O’Connor, actress (Xena: Warrior Princess, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Darkman II: The Return of Durant)
1973 Sarah Wynter, actress (24, The Dead Zone, Species II, Lost Souls)

1868 William Rutter Dawes, amateur astronomer who set up a private observatory and made extensive measurements of binary stars and discovered Saturn’s inner Crepe Ring, dies at 68
1905 Lew Wallace, Governor of New Mexico Territory, President of the Court at the famous Andersonville Trial, author of Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ, dies at 77
1923 Charles Clermont-Ganneau, archaeologist who exposed several archaeological frauds, including the forgeries of Hebrew texts offered (1883) to British Museum by the prolific swindler, Moses W.Shapira; the Moabite potteries in the Imperial Museum, Berlin, and the tiara of Saitarpharnes that had already been purchased by the Louvre, Paris, for 500,000 francs, dies at 76
1965 Nat “King” Cole, singer/songwriter (“Straighten Up and Fly Right”, “The Christmas Song”, “Mona Lisa”, “Unforgettable”), dies at 48
1967 J. Frank Duryea, inventor who with his brother Charles Duryea built the first automobile with multiple copies manufactured in the US, dies at 97
1973 Wally Cox, character actor (Mister Peepers, State Fair, The Barefoot Executive, voice of Underdog), dies at 48
1973 Tim Holt, actor (Stella Dallas, Stagecoach, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), dies at 55
1979 George Dunning, animator/director (Yellow Submarine, The Apple), dies at 58
1981 Mike Bloomfield, musician/composer (The Paul Butterfield Blues Band), dies at 37
1984 Ethel Merman, actress/singer (Anything Goes, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, There’s No Business Like Show Business), dies at 76
1988 Richard P. Feynman, theoretical physicist who was probably the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-WW II era, dies at 69
1996 McLean Stevenson, actor (M*A*S*H, Hello, Larry, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City), dies at 68
2002 Kevin Smith, actor (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess), dies at 38

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