Fun Facts for Today – January 16

January 16

It’s National Nothing Day


1412 The Medici family is appointed official banker of the Papacy
1547 Ivan the Terrible crowns himself the fist Tsar of Russia
1581 The English Parliament outlaws Roman Catholicism
1605 The first edition of El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (Book One of Don Quixote) by Miguel de Cervantes is published in Madrid
1707 The Scottish Parliament ratifies the Act of Union, paving way for the creation of Great Britain
1756 The Treaty of Westminster is signed between George II of England and his nephew Frederick of Prussia
1804 Physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac ascends to a height of 23,018 ft in a hydrogen balloon, a record that lasted 50 years
1847 John C. Fremont is appointed Governor of the new California Territory
1866 Everett Hosmer Barney patented the all-metal screw clamp skates, which attached to normal shoes and were tightened with a key
1868 A patent for a refrigerator car, “ice box on wheels,” was granted to William Davis, a fish dealer in Detroit, MI
1870 Virginia becomes eigth state readmitted to US after Civil War
1909 British explorer Ernest Shackleton found the magnetic south pole
1919 The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Prohibition), along with the Volstead Act, are ratified
1935 “Ma” Barker and her son Fred are killed by the FBI
1936 The first photofinish camera was installed at a U.S. racetrack
1936 The Screen Actors Guild incorporates with King Vidor as president
1938 Benny Goodman refuses to play Carnegie Hall when black members of his band were barred from performing
1944 General Dwight Eisenhower is appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force
1945 Adolf Hitler moves into his underground bunker, the so-called Führerbunker
1957 Three B-52’s took off from Castle Air Force Base in California on the first nonstop, round-the-world flight by jet planes; the trip lasted 45 hours and 19 minutes
1957 The Cavern Club in Liverpool, where Brian Epstein would meet The Beatles, opens
1964 The Broadway production Hello Dolly starring Carol Channing debuts
1965 The Outer Limits airs its final episode on ABC-TV
1966 Our Man Flint opens in the U.S.
1973 NBC-TV presents 440th and final showing of Bonanza
1974 Jaws by Peter Benchley is published
1976 “Frampton Comes Alive” is released
1980 Scientists in Boston produce interferon, a natural virus-fighting substance through genetic engineering
2002 A US federal grand jury issues a nine-count indictment against Richard Reid, a British citizen accused of attempting to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes while aboard a trans-Atlantic flight to the US in December 2001
2003 Space shuttle Columbia blasted off on what would be its final mission
2006 The Stardust capsule successfully returned to Earth, carrying dust from a comet, which could shed light on the origins of our planetary system


1728 Niccola Piccinni, composer of symphonies / sacred music / chamber music / opera
1853 Andre Michelin, industrialist whose company made the first pneumatic tyres that could be easily removed for repair, for bicycles (1891) and for automobiles
1873 Robert W. Service, poet (“The Shooting of Dan McGrew,” “The Cremation of Sam McGee”)
1878 Harry Carey, actor (Angel and the Badman, Red River, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington)
1881 Sir Arthur Percy Morris Fleming, engineer who was a major figure in developing techniques for manufacturing radar components
1906 Diana Wynyard, actress (Gaslight, Kipps, Tom Brown’s Schooldays)
1908 Ethel Merman, legendary actress and singer (Anything Goes, There’s No Business Like Show Business)
1910 Dizzy Dean, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher
1917 Buddy Lester, comedic character actor (Barney Miller, Ocean’s Eleven)
1918 Stirling Silliphant, Academy Award-winning screenwriter (In the Heat of the Night, The Towering Inferno, Village of the Damned)
1928 William Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning author for fiction (Ironweed)
1932 Dian Fossey, zoologist / author (Gorillas in the Mist)
1935 A.J. Foyt, race car driver who holds the all-time USAC career wins record with 159 victories
1943 Ronnie Milsap, singer / songwriter (“Smoky Mountain Rain”, “Lost In the Fifties Tonight”)
1944 Jim Stafford, comedian / singer (“Spiders and Snakes”, “Swamp Witch”)
1946 Graham Masterton, author (The Manitou, The Sphinx)
1947 Laura Schlessinger, radio talk show host
1948 John Carpenter, director (Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, Escape from New York)
1950 Debbie Allen, director / choreographer / actress (Fame, Ragtime)
1950 Caroline Munro, actress (Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad)
1959 Sade, singer (“Smooth Operator,” “Please Send Me Someone To Love”)
1961 Jill Sobule, singer / songwriter (“Supermodel,” “I Kissed a Girl”)
1963 James May, television presenter (Top Gear)
1970 Garth Ennis, comic book author (Preacher, Hellblazer)
1974 Kate Moss, model


1794 Edward Gibbon, historian / Member of Parliament (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), dies at 56
1806 Nicolas Leblanc, surgeon and chemist who in 1790 developed the process for making soda ash (sodium carbonate) from common salt (sodium chloride), dies at 63
1815 Emma, Lady Hamilton, mistress of Horatio Nelson, dies at 49
1874 Max Schultze, zoologist and cytologist, known especially for his researches in microscopic anatomy, dies at 48
1917 George Dewey, U.S. admiral best known for his victory (without the loss of a single life of his own forces due to combat; one man died of a heart attack) at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War, dies at 79
1936 Albert Fish, sado-masochistic serial killer and cannibal, is executed by electric chair at 65
1936 Oskar Barnack, engineer who designed the first miniature camera (1913), the Leica I, dies at 56
1941 Charles Thurstan Holland, radiologist who pioneered the clinical use of X-rays in the UK, dies at 77
1942 Carole Lombard, actress (To Be or Not To Be, My Man Godfrey) is killed in an airplane crash at 33
1957 Arturo Toscanini, conductor who conducted the world premieres of many operas, four of which have become part of the standard operatic repertoire: Pagliacci, La Bohème, La Fanciulla del West and Turandot, dies at 89
1967 Robert Jemison Van de Graaff, physicist and inventor of the Van de Graaff generator, a type of high-voltage electrostatic generatorthat can be used as a particle accelerator in atomic research, dies at 65
1972 David Seville [Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.], musician / songwriter / actor (Alvin and the Chipmunks), dies at 52
1979 Ted Cassidy, actor (The Addams Family, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), dies at 46
1979 Peter Butterworth, actor (Carry On…, Catweazle), dies at 59
1981 Bernard Lee, actor famous for playing ‘M’ in the first 11 James Bond films, dies at 73
1997 Innis Cosby, son of Bill Cosby, is murdered on LA highway at 29
2002 Robert Hanbury Brown, astronomer who was a pioneer in radar and observational astronomy, dies at 85
2002 Ron Taylor, actor (Amos & Andrew, The Mighty Quinn), dies at 49
2007 Ron Carey, actor (Barney Miller, History of the World: Part I), dies at 71

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