Fun Facts for Today – January 17

January 17

It’s Ditch New Years Resolutions Day


1773 The Resolution, under Captain James Cook, becomes the first ship to cross the Antarctic Circle
1871 A U.S. patent was issued for an “endless wire rope way ” subsequently used for the first cable car to be put into service in the world for public transport
1882 A telephone switchboard patent was issued to Leroy Firman, which was assigned to the Western Electric Manufacturing Co.
1928 The first U.S. patent for a fully automatic photographic film developing machine was issued
1929 Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon character created by Elzie Crisler Segar, first appears in the Thimble Theatre comic strip
1945 The Nazis begin the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp as Soviet forces close in
1949 The Goldbergs, the first sitcom on American television, first airs
1949 For the first time, full energy was released by the first synchrotron which was installed at the Radiation Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley
1950 The Great Brinks Robbery – 11 thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car Company’s offices in Boston, MA
1979 Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi flees Iran
1984 The Supreme Court rules that the private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs for later viewing does not violate federal copyright laws
1985 British Telecom announces the retirement of the United Kingdom’s red telephone boxes
1994 A magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits Northridge, CA
1995 The LA Rams announce that they are moving to St Louis
1997 In Dublin, with little fanfare, a court grants the first divorce in Ireland’s history


1706 Benjamin Franklin, one of the most important and influential Founding Fathers of the U.S.; a noted polymath, author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor (swim fins, bifocals, a glass armonica, watertight bulkheads for ships, the lightning rod, an odometer, the wood stove), civic activist, statesman, diplomat
1820 Anne Brontë, author (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Agnes Grey)
1834 August Weismann, biologist and one of the founders of the science of genetics, who is best known for his opposition to the doctrine of the inheritance of acquired traits and for his “germ plasm” theory, the forerunner of DNA theory
1837 François Lenormant, Assyriologist and numismatist who recognized, from cuneiform inscriptions, a language now known as Akkadian that proved valuable to the understanding of Mesopotamian civilization 3,000 years before the Christian era
1856 Charles V. Chapin, physician and epidemiologist who, with Gardner T. Swarts, established the first municipal bacteriological laboratory in the U.S.
1863 David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1916-22) / Chancellor of the Exchequer (1908-15)
1867 Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures and Universal City
1880 Mack Sennett, founder of Keystone Studios and started the film careers of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, Raymond Griffith, Gloria Swanson, Ford Sterling, Andy Clyde, Bing Crosby, and W. C. Fields
1882 Noah Beery, Sr., actor (The Squaw Man, The Mark of Zorro, Beau Geste)
1885 Elizabeth McGaffey, researcher for films (King of Kings, Top Hat, Citizen Kane)
1886 Glenn L. Martin, airplane inventor whose bombers and flying boats played important roles in WWII
1899 Al Capone, gangster
1899 Nevil Shute, author (On the Beach, A Town Like Alice)
1922 Betty White, multiple Emmy Award-winning actress (The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Boston Legal)
1926 Moira Shearer, actress (The Red Shoes, Peeping Tom)
1927 Eartha Kitt, actress (Batman, The Emperor’s New School, Erik the Viking)
1928 Vidal Sassoon, cosmetologist
1931 James Earl Jones, actor (Star Wars, Roots, Field of Dreams, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)
1932 Sheree North, TV actress (Alias Smith and Jones, Seinfeld)
1933 Shari Lewis, multiple Emmy Award-winning actress/writer (Lamb Chop’s Play-Along)
1938 John Bellairs, author (The Face in the Frost, The House with a Clock in Its Walls)
1939 Maury Povich, television presenter/producer
1942 Muhammad Ali, Light heavyweight boxing gold medalist, 1960 Olympics; World heavyweight boxing champion, 1964-67, 1974-78, 1978-79
1943 Geoffrey Deuel, actor / brother of Pete Duel (Chisum, The Young and the Restless)
1948 Mick Taylor, musician (The Rolling Stones)
1949 Andy Kaufman, comedian / actor / wrestler (Taxi, Heartbeeps)
1956 Paul Young, singer (“Everytime You Go Away,” “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”)
1959 Susanna Hoffs, musician (The Bangles)
1962 Jim Carrey, actor (In Living Color, The Mask, Man in the Moon)
1964 Andy Rourke, musician (The Smiths)
1967 Richard Hawley, musician (Pulp, The Longpigs)
1969 Naveen Andrews, actor (Lost, Bride & Prejudice, The English Patient)
1971 Kid Rock [Robert James Ritchie], musician
1980 Zooey Deschanel, actress (Tin Man, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
1980 Maksim Chmerkovskiy, ballroom dancer (Dancing with the Stars)


1691 Richard Lower, physician and physiologist who made the first direct transfusion of blood from one animal to the veins of another (in dogs, 1665), dies at 59
1705 John Ray, naturalist and botanist who contributed significantly to progress in taxonomy, and is often referred to as the father of natural history in Britain, dies at 77
1890 Peter Henderson, scientist, known as the “Father of American Horticulture,” dies at 67
1893 Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States (1877-81), dies at 70
1911 Sir Francis Galton, scientist, founder of eugenics, statistician and investigator of intellectual ability, dies at 88
1933 Louis Comfort Tiffany, artist and designer, dies at 84
1938 William Henry Pickering, astronomer who discovered Phoebe, the ninth moon of Saturn, dies at 79
1946 Clarence E. McClung, geneticist and paleontologist who discovered the role of chromosomes in sex determination in a species of grasshopper, dies at 75
1964 T.H. White, author (The Once and Future King, The Sword in the Stone), dies at 57
1977 Gary Gilmore, convicted double murderer, is executed by firing squad at 36
1983 Doodles Weaver, character actor (Kitten with a Whip, Pocketful of Miracles), commits suicide at 71
1992 Henry Melson Stommel, oceanographer and meteorologist who was an expert on physical oceanography, dies at 71
1997 Clyde W. Tombaugh, astronomer who discovered Pluto, dies at 90
1997 Laurence Austin, owner of The Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles, is murdered at 74
2003 Richard Crenna, actor (Wait Until Dark, Star!, Rambo: First Blood), dies at 76
2004 Ray Stark, film producer (Somewhere in Time, The Cheap Detective, The Way We Were), dies at 89
2004 Noble Willingham, actor (Walker, Texas Ranger, Fire in the Sky, City Slickers), dies at 72
2005 Virginia Mayo, actress (The Best Years of Our Lives, King Richard and the Crusaders), dies at 84
2007 Art Buchwald, humorist / winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Outstanding Commentary in 1982 and in 1986, dies at 81

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