Fun Facts for Today – January 20

January 20

It’s National Buttercrunch Day and Penguin Awareness Day



1265 In Westminster, the first English parliament conducts its first meeting in the Palace of Westminster, now also known as the “Houses of Parliament”
1633 Galileo, at age 68, left his home in Florence, Italy, to face the Inquisition in Rome
1649 Charles I of England goes on trial for treason and other “high crimes”
1841 As a result of the First Opium War, Hong Kong was ceded to the British
1885 The first US patent for a roller coaster structure was issued to La Marcus Thompson of Coney Island, NY
1896 X-rays were first used in a clinical setting
1920 The American Civil Liberties Union is founded
1929 In Old Arizona, the first all-talking sound-on-film feature and the first talkie to be shot entirely outdoors
1936 Edward VIII becomes King of the United Kingdom upon the death of his father King George V
1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first US President sworn into office in January
1942 Nazis at the Wannsee conference in Berlin agree on the “final solution to the Jewish problem”
1949 J. Edgar Hoover gives Shirley Temple a tear gas fountain pen
1958 Elvis Presley received his draft notice (but was allowed a 60-day deferment to finish the film, King Creole)
1964 “Meet the Beatles,” the first American Beatles album, is released in the US
1966 The Ghost and Mr. Chicken starring Don Knotts opens in the US
1969 Astronomers at the University of Arizona established the first optical identification of a pulsar
1981 President Reagan became the oldest president to take office (69 years and 349 days)
1985 Super Bowl XIX: San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16; MVP: Joe Montana
1986 Britain and France announced plans to build rail tunnels underneath the English Channel, later dubbed “The Chunnel”
1986 Lost footage from the 1931 horror classic, Frankenstein, was found depicting the monster throwing a girl into a lake and showed a hypodermic needle in the monster’s arm
1987 Church of England envoy Terry Waite is kidnapped in Lebanon
1994 A gene test was reported in Nature which could predict at an early age the likelihood of osteoporosis in later life
1998 American researchers announced they have cloned calves that may produce medicinal milk


1812 Edouard Seguin, psychiatrist who opened the world’s first school for the severely mentally retarded
1820 Alexandre-Emile Beguyer de Chancourtois, geologist who was the first to arrange the chemical elements in order of atomic weights
1857 Vladimir Bekhterev, neurophysiologist and psychiatrist who studied the formations of the brain and investigated conditioned reflexes
1894 Harold Gray, newspaper artist and cartoonist / creator of Little Orphan Annie
1896 George Burns, Academy Award-winning actor / comedian / vaudevillian (The Sunshine Boys, Oh, God!, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show)
1900 Colin Clive, actor (Frankenstein, Christopher Strong)
1910 Joy Adamson, naturalist, conservationists and author (Born Free)
1920 Federico Fellini, director (, La Dolce vita)
1920 DeForest Kelley, actor (Star Trek, Night of the Lepus)
1924 Slim Whitman, singer (“Tennessee Waltz,” “I Remember You”)
1926 Patricia Neal, Academy Award-winning actress (Hud, Ghost Story, The Day the Earth Stood Still)
1928 Peter Donat, actor (The X-Files, Flamingo Road)
1929 Arte Johnson, Emmy Award-winning actor / comedian (Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Love at First Bite)
1930 Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., astronaut who set a record for extravehicular activity and was the second man to set foot on the Moon
1934 Tom Baker, actor / author (Doctor Who, Little Britain, Monarch of the Glen)
1937 Dorothy Provine, actress (The Bonnie Parker Story, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World)
1937 William Wellman Jr., actor (It’s Alive, The Happiest Millionaire, Pork Chop Hill)
1945 Robert Olen Butler, author (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Severance)
1946 David Lynch, writer / director / producer (The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks, Dune)
1948 Nancy Kress, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author (Beggars in Spain, An Alien Light )
1950 Liza Goddard, actress (Woof!, Pig in the Middle, Yes, Honestly, The Brothers, Take Three Girls)
1951 Ian Hill, musician (Judas Priest)
1952 Paul Stanley, musician (Kiss)
1956 Bill Maher, actor / comedian (Politically Incorrect, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death)
1958 Lorenzo Lamas, actor (Grease, Falcon Crest, Renegade)
1959 Tami Hoag, author (Night Sins, Dust to Dust)
1969 Nicky Wire, musician (The Manic Street Preachers)
1970 Skeet Ulrich, actor (The Newton Boys, Scream, Jericho)
1970 Mitch Benn, musician / comedian / radio personality (The Now Show, Mitch Benn’s Crimes Against Music)


1720 Giovanni Maria Lancisi, clinician and anatomist, personal physician to three popes, who is considered the first modern hygienist, dies at 65
1779 David Garrick, actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer, dies at 62
1900 R.D. Blackmore, author (Lorna Doone. Springhaven), dies at 74
1901 Zénobe-Théophile Gramme, electrical engineer and inventor (1869) of the Gramme dynamo, a continuous-current electrical generator that gave principal impetus to the development of electric power, dies at 74
1907 Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev, chemist who developed the periodic classification of the elements, dies at 72
1936 King George V of England dies at 70
1960 Matt Moore, actor / director (The Unholy Three, His Majesty, Bunker Bean), dies at 72
1965 Alan Freed, legendary radio DJ who helped popularize the term “Rock and Roll” music, dies at 42
1971 Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson, actor / director / father of the movie cowboy, dies at 82
1984 Johnny Weissmuller, undefeated winner of five Olympic gold medals, 67 world and 52 national swimming titles / actor (Tarzan, Jungle Jim), dies at 79
1990 Barbara Stanwyck, three-time Emmy Award-winning actress (The Thorn Birds, Big Valley, Sorry, Wrong Number, Double Indemnity), dies at 82
1993 Audrey Hepburn, Academy Award-winning actress / special ambassador to the United Nations UNICEF fund (Roman Holiday, Wait Until Dark, Charade), dies at 63
2003 Al Hirschfeld, famous caricaturist of Broadway and movie stars since the 1920’s, dies at 99

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