Fun Facts for Today – February 21

February 21

It’s Card Reading Day


1613 Mikhail I is elected unanimously as Tsar by a national assembly, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia
1795 Freedom of worship was established in France
1804 The first self-propelling steam engine or steam locomotive was tested at the Pen-y-Darren ironworks on its normally horse-drawn tramline
1811 As Humphry Davy read a paper to the Royal Society, he introduced the name “chlorine” from the Greek word for “green,” for the bright yellow green gas chemists then knew as oxymuriatic gas
1838 Samuel F.P. Morse gave the first public demonstration of his telegraph
1842 John J. Greenough of Washington, DC patented the sewing machine
1848 The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is published
1858 The first electric burglar alarm was installed in Boston, MA
1866 Lucy B. Hobbs became the first woman to graduate from a dental school
1878 The first telephone directories issued in the US were distributed to residents in New Haven, CT; it was a single page of only fifty names
1885 The 555-foot-high Washington Monument was dedicated
1887 The first US institutional bacteriology laboratory was incorporated, the Hoagland Laboratory of Brooklyn, NY, founded by Dr. Cornelius N. Hoagland for original medical research
1902 Dr. Harvey Cushing, the first US brain surgeon, performed his first brain operation
1916 In World War I, the Battle of Verdun in northeast France began when German artillery barraged the French lines
1929 The Iron Mask starring Douglas Fairbanks is released in the US
1931 Alka Seltzer was introduced in the US
1936 Grand Slam Opera, the best of the short films Buster Keaton made for Educational Studios, is released in the US
1937 Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile
1937 The League of Nations bans foreign national “volunteers” in the Spanish Civil War
1947 Edwin Land demonstrated the Polaroid Land Camera to the Optical Society of America in New York City; it was the first camera to take, develop and print a picture on photo paper all in about 60 seconds
1948 NASCAR is incorporated
1952 Elizabeth Taylor weds her second husband Michael Wilding; they would divorce in 1957
1952 Cecil B. DeMille’s star-studded The Greatest Show on Earth opens in the US
1958 The Peace symbol is designed and completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment
1966 The Beatles single “Nowhere Man”/”What Goes On” is released in the US
1967 One Million Years B.C. starring Raquel Welch in a pre-historic bikini, opens in the US
1968 An agreement between baseball players and club owners increased the minimum salary for major league players to $10,000 a year
1970 The Jackson 5 made their TV debut on American Bandstand
1971 The Convention on Psychotropic Substances is signed at Vienna
1972 President Richard M. Nixon arrived in China for an eight-day official visit; he was the first US president to visit the People’s Republic of China since its inception in 1949
1975 Former US Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman, and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2.5-8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up
1994 The Whirlpool Corporation began production of an energy efficient refrigerator that did not use freon
2003 The LiveJournal community “apologia” was created; it was created as a community where authors could apologize to characters and members of fandom for the author’s bad writing of characters

1728 Tsar Peter III of Russia, husband of Catherine the Great who was Emperor of Russia for six months in 1762 when he was supposedly assassinated as a result of a conspiracy led by his wife, who succeeded him to the throne
1791 John Mercer, chemist and industrialist who invented the mercerisation process for treating cotton which is still in use today and was a pioneer in color photography
1794 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, politician who will dominate Mexican politics for much of the 19th century
1866 August von Wassermann, bacteriologist whose discovery of a universal blood-serum test for syphilis helped extend the basic tenets of immunology to diagnosis
1892 Harry Stack Sullivan, psychiatrist who developed a theory of psychiatry based on interpersonal relationships
1895 Henrik Dam, biochemist who, with Edward A. Doisy, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1943 for research into antihemorrhagic substances and the discovery of vitamin K
1903 Anaïs Nin, author-diarist (House of Incest, Delta of Venus, Henry and June)
1907 W.H. Auden, poet (“Funeral Blues”, “September 1, 1939”)
1915 Ann Sheridan, actress (Angels with Dirty Faces, They Made Me a Criminal, The Man Who Came to Dinner)
1924 Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe
1925 Sam Peckinpah, director-screenwriter-producer (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, Major Dundee)
1927 Erma Bombeck, humorist author (The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home)
1933 Nina Simone,singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist (“My Baby Just Cares for Me”, “I Put a Spell on You”)
1933 Bob Rafelson, producer-director-screenwriter (The Monkees, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), Five Easy Pieces)
1934 Rue McClanahan, actress (The Golden Girls, Maude, Mama’s Family)
1937 Gary Lockwood, actor (It Happened at the World’s Fair, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite)
1940 Peter McEnery, actor (Victim, The Fighting Prince of Donegal, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, The Moon-Spinners, Tales That Witness Madness)
1946 Alan Rickman, actor (Harry Potter, Galaxy Quest, Truly Madly Deeply, Sense and Sensibility)
1946 Anthony Daniels, actor (Star Wars, Young Indiana Jones and the Attack of the Hawkmen, Prime Suspect 4: Inner Circles)
1946 Tyne Daly, actress (Judging Amy, Cagney & Lacey, Telefon, The Enforcer)
1953 William Petersen, actor (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Young Guns II, Manhunter, Fear)
1955 Kelsey Grammer, actor (Cheers, Frasier, The Simpsons, X-Men: The Last Stand)
1963 William Baldwin, actor (Dirty Sexy Money, Backdraft, Flatliners)
1969 James Dean Bradfield, musician (The Manic Street Preachers)
1977 Kevin Rose, known for founding the social-bookmarking Web site Digg and as former co-host of the TechTV show The Screen Savers
1979 Jennifer Love Hewitt, actress (Ghost Whisperer, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Party of Five)

1554 Hieronymus Bock, priest, physician, and botanist who helped lead the transition from the philological scholasticism of medieval botany to the modern science based on observation and description from nature, dies at 56
1741 Jethro Tull, writer and pioneer agronomist, dies at 66
1938 George Ellery Hale, solar astronomer who invented the spectroheliograph, with which he made his discoveries of the solar vortices and magnetic fields of sun spots, dies at 69
1941 Sir Frederick Grant Banting, physician who, assisted by Charles H. Best, was the first to extract the hormone insulin from the pancreas, dies at 49
1965 Malcolm X, activist, was assassinated by members of the Nation of Islam at 39
1967 Charles Beaumont, author-screenwriter (7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Twilight Zone, The Masque of the Red Death), dies at 38
1968 Sir Howard Walter Florey, pathologist, who, with Ernst Boris Chain, researched, isolated and purified penicillin for general clinical use, dies at 69
1981 Ron Grainer, TV composer (Doctor Who, The Prisoner, Steptoe and Son), dies at 58
1982 Murray The K, legendary disc jocke and self-proclaimed fifth Beatle, dies at 59
1985 Nathan Pritikin, scientist and nutritionist. Pritikin believed that moderate exercise combined with a diet low in fat and high in unrefined carbohydrates reversed his own heart disease, dies at 69
2002 John Thaw, BAFTA Award-winning actor (Inspector Morse, The Sweeney, Kavanagh QC), dies at 60

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