Fun Facts for Today – February 16

February 16

It’s Do a Grouch a Favor Day


0600 Pope Gregory the Great prescribes “God bless you” as the correct response to a sneeze
1568 The entire population of the Netherlands – three million people – was sentenced to death by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy
1751 Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is published
1804 Stephen Decatur leads a raid to burn the pirate-held frigate USS Philadelphia
1852 Studebaker Brothers wagon company, precursor of the automobile manufacturer, is established
1857 The National Deaf Mute College was incorporated in Washington, DC; it was the first school in the world for advanced education of the deaf
1868 The Jolly Corks organization in New York City changed their groups name to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
1880 The American Society of Mechanical Engineers was founded when 40 engineers from eight states met in New York City in the office of American Machinist
1883 Ladies Home Journal began publication
1909 The first subway car with side doors in the US was put into service in New York City
1916 Emma Goldman is arrested for lecturing on birth control in New York City
1923 Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen; the next day he entered the chamber with several invited guests
1937 Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers, a research chemist for DuPont, invented nylon
1940 A Chump at Oxford starring Laurel and Hardy opens in the US
1946 The first commercially designed helicopter was tested in Connecticut
1947 Canadians granted Canadian citizenship after 80 years of being British subjects; Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King becomes the first Canadian citizen
1948 The Bishop’s Wife starring Cary Grant opens in the US
1948 Miranda, a famous moon of Uranus, was photographed for first time
1950 The panel show What’s My Line? debuted on CBS-TV; it would stay on the air for 17 years
1955 Elvis Presley performs two shows at the Odessa Senior High School Field House in Odessa, TX; in the audience is local singer Roy Orbison, who would later recall: “His energy was incredible. His instinct was just amazing.”
1956 Britain abolishes the death penalty
1959 Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba
1963 The Beatles’ “Please Please Me” goes to the top of the charts in the UK, fulfilling producer George Martin’s prophecy: “Gentlemen, you have just recorded your first Number One.”
1964 Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color airs part 2 of “The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh,” starring Patrick McGoohan
1964 The Beatles perform at the Deauville Hotel’s Mau Mau Club in Miami Beach, FL, a performance that is broadcast live on CBS’ Ed Sullivan Show just one week after their historic first appearance
1966 The first Walt Disney animated featurette based on A.A. Milne’s beloved characters, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, opened in theatres on a double bill with the live-action comedy The Ugly Dachshund starring Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette
1968 In the US, the first 911 emergency telephone system was inaugurated in Haleyville, AL
1971 Hell’s Angel biker Alan David Pasaro sues the Rolling Stones, claiming that the group’s documentary film Gimme Shelter, a document of the infamous 1969 Altamont concert, constitutes invasion of privacy
1978 The first computer bulletin board system is created
1985 Hezbollah is founded
1988 Billy Vera received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame
1994 The first successful operation on a fetus without surgically opening the woman’s body was announced by Dr. Ruben Quintero, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
1996 Muppet Treasure Island opens in the US
2005 The National Hockey League cancels the entire 2004-2005 regular season and playoffs, becoming the first major sports league in North America to do so over a labor dispute
2005 Constantine, based on the Hellblazer comics by Garth Ennis and staring Keanu Reeves, premieres in Hollywood, CA
2006 The last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) is decommissioned by the United States Army
2007 Britney Spears shaved her head

1514 Georg Joachim Rheticus, astronomer and mathematician who was among the first to adopt and spread the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus
1698 Pierre Bouguer, physicist whose work founded photometry, the measurement of light intensity
1783 Jean-Baptiste-Julien d’ Omalius d’Halloy, geologist who was an early proponent of evolution
1812 Henry Wilson, Senator from Massachusetts (1855-1873) and the eighteenth Vice President of the United States (1873-1875)
1822 Sir Francis Galton, scientist, founder of eugenics, statistician and investigator of intellectual ability
1826 Julia Grant, the 18th First Lady of the United States
1834 Henry Adams, novelist and historian (The History of the United States of America (1801 to 1817) (9 vols., 1889–1891), Esther, Democracy)
1834 Ernst Haeckel, biologist who separated the animal kingdom into unicellar and multicellular organisms, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Darwin’s theories
1843 Henry Martyn Leland, inventor and industrialist who founded Cadillac Motors to build the Cadillac, the first automobile with high-precision, fully-interchangable parts
1876 Mack Swain, vaudevillian and one of the original Keystone Kops (The Gold Rush, Tillie’s Punctured Romance)
1895 Vernon Dent, character actor who appeared in more than 400 films and shorts (The Extra Girl, The Shadow, She Snoops to Conquer)
1901 Chester Morris, actor (Meet Boston Blackie, The She-Creature, The Great White Hope)
1903 Edgar Bergen, ventriloquist and actor (Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood, Charlie McCarthy, Detective, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man)
1904 James Baskett, the first African-American actor to receive an Academy Award (“For his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world, in Walt Disney’s Song of the South“)
1909 Hugh Beaumont, actor (Leave it to Beaver, The Blue Dahlia, Lost Continent, Night Passage)
1921 Vera-Ellen, actress and dancer (Wonder Man, The Kid from Brooklyn, White Christmas)
1926 John Schlesinger, Academy Award-winning director (Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Marathon Man)
1935 Sonny Bono, actor, songwriter, politician (The Sonny and Cher Show, Hairspray)
1945 Jeremy Bulloch, actor (The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, The Revenge of the Sith, Robin of Sherwood)
1946 Pete Postlethwaite, actor (Alien³, The Usual Suspects, Brassed Off)
1950 William Katt, actor (The Greatest American Hero, Perry Mason, Alien vs. Hunter)
1954 Iain M. Banks, author (The Player of Games, Matter, The Crow Road)
1955 Margaux Hemingway, model and actress (They Call Me Bruce?, Inner Sanctum)
1957 LeVar Burton, actor (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ali)
1959 John McEnroe, former World No. 1 professional tennis player who has won seven Grand Slam singles titles — three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open — nine Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title
1961 Andy Taylor, musician (Duran Duran, Power Station)
1964 Christopher Eccleston, actor (Doctor Who, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, The Others, Shallow Grave)
1968 Warren Ellis, comic book writer (Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer, Ministry of Space, Planetary, Astonishing X-Men)
1971 Amanda Holden, actress (Kiss Me Kate, The Grimleys, Hearts and Bones, Agatha Christie Marple: 4.50 from Paddington)

1754 Richard Mead, physician who contributed to preventive medicine and helped establish smallpox inoculation, dies at 80
1834 Lionel Lukin, coach-builder, inventor and pioneer who patented the “unimmergible” (unsinkable) construction of the modern lifeboat, dies at 91
1986 Howard Da Silva, Emmy Award-winning actor (Mommie Dearest, 1776, David and Lisa, Sergeant York), dies at 76
1996 Ernst Weber, electrical engineer who contributed to the development of microwave technology, applied in radar and communications systems, dies at 95
2000 Marceline Day, actress (The Cameraman, London After Midnight), dies at 91
2001 William H. Masters, physician who teamed with his wife in researching the physical aspects of sexuality and produced some of the first reliable data in the field, dies at 85

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