Fun Facts for Today – January 15

January 15

It’s National Hat Day



0069 Servius Sulpicius Galba, Roman emperor who succeeded Nero in 68, is assassinated by the Praetorian guard in the Roman Forum
1559 Elizabeth I of England is crowned in Westminster Abbey by Owen Oglethorpe, the Bishop of Carlisle, instead of the Archbishop of Canterbury
1759 The British Museum, the world’s oldest public national museum, opened to the public
1777 New Connecticut (present day Vermont) declares its independence from Britain and establishes a republic
1782 Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris goes before the U.S. Congress to recommend establishment of a national mint and decimal coinage
1797 The top hat was first worn in England by James Heatherington, a Strand haberdasher in London
1840 The Steamboat Lexington burnt in Long Island Sound with loss of over 100 lives
1844 University of Notre Dame receives its charter from the state of Indiana
1861 The safety elevator was patented as a “Hoisting Apparatus” by the American inventor, Elisha G. Otis, of Yonkers, NY
1863 Woodpulp paper was first used in the U.S. for a printed newspaper by the Boston Morning Herald
1870 A political cartoon for the first time symbolizes the United States Democratic Party with a donkey
1885 Wilson Bentley takes the first photograph of a snowflake
1892 James Naismith publishes the rules for basketball
1907 Gold dental inlays were first described in the U.S. by H. William Taggart, a Chicago dentist, at the New York Odontological Society
1907 The three-element vacuum tube was issued a U.S. patent to its inventor, Dr Lee de Forest as a “device for amplifying feeble electric currents – such, for example, as telephone currents”
1918 Stan Laurel began filming his first comedy for the Hal Roach studio
1922 The Irish Free State is established under Michael Collins
1928 The film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes premieres in New York City
1936 The first, all glass, windowless building in the U.S. was completed in Toledo, OH
1943 Japanese forces are driven from Guadalcanal Island in the Pacific in World War II
1943 The world’s largest office building, The Pentagon, is dedicated
1945 House Party starring Art Linkletter debuts on CBS radio
1955 The first solar-heated and radiation-cooled house in the U.S. started its system
1967 In the first ever Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10
1969 The first docking of two manned spacecraft took place between the Soviet Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5
1970 Muammar al-Qaddafi is proclaimed premier of Libya
1970 The first evidence was uncovered of the razing by fire of Jerusalem by Roman troops led by General Titus in 70 A.D. upon orders from Caesar
1973 Luna 21 lands on the Moon, carrying the Lunokhod 2 rover, the second robotic lunar rover
1973 Citing progress in peace negotiations, President Richard Nixon announces the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam
1974 Happy Days premiered on ABC-TV
1977 The Coneheads make their first appearance on Saturday Night Live
1986 HBO and Cinemax pay cable television services initiate scrambling of their national satellite feeds
2001 Wikipedia goes online


1622 Molière, playwright (Tartuffe, Don Juan, The Misanthrope)
1785 William Prout, chemist and biochemist noted for his discoveries concerning digestion, metabolic chemistry, and atomic weights
1803 Heinrich Daniel Ruhmkorff, mechanic who, as an instrument maker in Paris, invented the Ruhmkorff coil, his version of the induction coil
1815 Warren De la Rue, pioneer in astronomical photography, the method by which nearly all modern astronomical observations are made
1892 William Beaudine, prolific director (Billy the Kid versus Dracula, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter)
1892 Rex Ingram, director / writer / actor / producer (The Prisoner of Zenda, Scaramouche)
1893 Ivor Novello, actor / writer / songwriter (Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Rat, The Lodger)
1906 Aristotle Onassis, shipping magnate
1908 Edward Teller, Nuclear physicist who participated in the production of the first atomic bomb (1945) and who led the development of the world’s first thermonuclear weapon, the hydrogen bomb
1909 Gene Krupa, phenomenal drummer
1913 Lloyd Bridges, actor (Rocketship X-M, Sea Hunt, Airplane!)
1927 Phyllis Coates, actress (The Adventures of Superman)
1929 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist minister / civil rights leader / Nobel Peace Prize recipient (1964)
1935 Robert Silverberg, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author (A Time of Changes, Invaders from Earth)
1937 Margaret O’Brien, Academy Award-winning actress (Meet Me in St. Louis, The Canterville Ghost)
1947 Andrea Martin, two-time Emmy Award-winning writer / actress (SCTV, My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
1947 Pete Waterman, OBE, record producer / songwriter / radio DJ / television presenter
1948 Ronnie Van Zant, musician (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
1957 Mario Van Peebles, actor / director (Posse, Highlander III: The Sorcerer, Baadasssss!)
1968 Chad Lowe, Emmy Award-winning actor (Life Goes On, 24)
1971 Max Beesley, musician / actor (Bodies, Hotel Babylon, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling)


1597 Juan de Herrera, an architect and the main designer of the Escorial, whose style was imitated in churches and palaces throughout Spain, dies at 80
1754 Richard Martin, politician / animal rights activist / one of the founders of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, dies at 79
1875 Jean-Baptiste-Julien d’ Omalius d’Halloy, geologist who was an early proponent of evolution, dies at 91
1948 Henri-Alexandre Deslandres, physicist and astrophysicist who in 1894 invented a spectroheliograph, an instrument that photographs the Sun in monochromatic light, dies at 94
1970 William T. Piper, manufacturer of small aircraft, best known for the Piper Cub, a two-seater that became the most popular family aircraft, dies at 88
1983 Meyer Lansky, gangster, dies at 80
1987 Ray Bolger, actor (The Wizard of Oz, Four Jacks and a Jill), dies at 83
1988 Seán MacBride, statesman / Nobel Peace Prize recipient (1974), dies at 83
1990 Gordon Jackson, Emmy Award-winning actor (Upstairs, Downstairs, The Great Escape, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), dies at 66
1993 Sammy Cahn, four-time Academy Award-winning songwriter (“High Hopes,” “Call Me Irresponsible,” “All the Way,” “Three Coins in the Fountain”), dies at 79
1994 Harry Nilsson, two-time Grammy Award-winning musician (“Everybody’s Talkin'” (theme from the movie Midnight Cowboy), “Coconut”), dies at 52
1996 Minnesota Fats, probably the best known pool player in the U.S., dies at 82
1997 Oscar Auerbach, pathologist whose research showing that cigarette smoking was causally related to lung cancer, based on his examination of thousands of lung tissue samples, gained national prominence in the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health in 1964, dies at 92
1998 Junior Wells, bluesman (“Hoodoo Man,” “Lawdy! Lawdy!”), dies at 63
1998 E. Jack Neuman, screenwriter (The Blue Knight, Sam Benedict), dies at 76
2001 Ted Mann, film producer (The Illustrated Man, The Nude Bomb, Krull), dies at 84
2004 Olivia Goldsmith, author (The First Wives Club), dies at 54
2005 Ruth Warrick, actress (As the World Turns, Citizen Kane), dies at 89
2007 James Hillier, scientist and inventor who designed and built, with Albert Prebus, the first successful high-resolution electron microscope, dies at 91
2008 Brad Renfro, actor (Ghost World, The Client, Sleepers), dies at 25

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