Category: Trivia

THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

July 4th in history:

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. Two leaders of the independence movement, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, coincidentally died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.

Thomas Jefferson’s face would eventually be carved onto Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, and unveiled in the fall of 1936. George Washington’s face was the first to be unveiled on the mountain, on Independence Day of 1934. That was the 10th birthday of actress Eva Marie Saint, who climbed near the Rushmore faces with Cary Grant in the movie “North by Northwest.” Saint won an Oscar for her role in “On the Waterfront”.

The U.S. military academy at West Point was founded on the 4th of July in 1802.

It was on this date in 1817 that construction of the Erie Canal began.

And on July 4th, 1862, English writer Charles Dodgson first told a story about a girl named Alice, to a girl named Alice (Liddell). Dodgson turned the story into a book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which was published July 4th, 1865, under the pen name “Lewis Carroll.”

SHOW YOUR PATRIOTISM

July 3rd in history:

George Washington took command of the Continental Army of the colonies on July 3rd, 1775.

Four score and eight years later, the Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3rd, 1863, with the Army of the Potomac defeating Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Seventy-five years after the battle, President Franklin Roosevelt lit an eternal flame at the Gettysburg memorial in Pennsylvania.

George M. Cohan wrote about being “born on the Fourth of July” in the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” But official records show that he was born on July 3rd, 1878. And the star of the movie “Born on the Fourth of July,” Tom Cruise, was a July 3rd baby in 1962.

HELLO, TRAVELERS

July 2nd in history:

The first zeppelin flight in Germany happened on July 2nd, 1900.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were attempting to fly around the world on July 2nd, 1937, when they were heard from for the last time.

On this date in 2002, adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to complete an around-the-world, nonstop solo flight in a balloon.

Another adventurer used more than forty weather balloons filled with helium to let him fly in a lawnchair on July 2nd, 1982.  Larry Walters rose to an altitude of about 15,000 feet over southern California, and stayed aloft for several hours.  Walters became caught on a power line as his chair slowly descended, and he was famous for a brief time afterward as “Lawnchair Larry.”

Europeans first arrived in Minnesota on July 2nd, 1679, led by Daniel Greysolon Du Luht – better known as “DuLuth.”

Daniel DuLuth reached the Mississippi River from Lake Superior by way of the St. Croix River. Another European native, Englishman Tyrone Guthrie, established a theater company near the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in 1963. Guthrie was born July 2nd, 1900.

ROYAL CELEBRATIONS

July 1st in history:

Canada celebrates its version of the 4th of July on this day, marking the date it became a dominion of the British Empire on July 1st, 1867.

It was on Dominion Day of 1980 that “O Canada” officially became the country’s national anthem.

Twenty-year-old Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales by his mother in a ceremony at a Welsh castle on July 1st, 1969. On that same day, future Princess of Wales Diana Spencer was celebrating her eighth birthday.

Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold, born on July 1st, 1942, became famous for playing a royal wife, Anne Boleyn, to Richard Burton’s Henry VIII in “Anne of the Thousand Days.”  Bujold received an Oscar nomination for that film.  She shares a July 1st birthday with another Canadian Oscar nominee, Dan Aykroyd (born 1952).  Aykroyd was nominated for a supporting role in “Driving Miss Daisy,” but is better known as Elwood Blues of the Blues Brothers, “Ghostbuster” Ray Stantz, and alien driving instructor Beldar Conehead.  He was one of the original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” on “Saturday Night Live.”

IN MID-AIR

June 30th in history:

A large explosion occurred a few miles over Siberia on June 30th, 1908, flattening trees and causing other extensive damage. The object that exploded is thought to have been a comet or meteorite, and the blast might have been one thousand times as powerful as the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima.

On this date in 1956, two passenger planes collided over the Grand Canyon, killing all 128 people aboard the TWA and United flights. The planes were flying around clouds, and the pilots apparently didn’t see each other until it was too late. Wreckage from the planes still remains in the canyon. (Ironic note for fans of “Airplane!”: the pilot of the United flight was named Capt. Shirley.)

And on June 30th, 1859, French acrobat Charles Blondin made the first of his famous tightrope walks across Niagara Falls.

MUSICAL/THEATER

June 29th in history:

the-globe-theatre4William Shakespeare lost one of his favorite stages on June 29th, 1613, when the Globe Theater in London burned down. The fire was caused by a cannon that misfired during a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII”.

One of Juan Peron’s wives inspired a Broadway musical. Isabel Peron was not that wife, but she did succeed Juan as president of Argentina on this date in 1974, just two days before Juan died.

The composer who wrote the musicals “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” and “Guys and Dolls,” Frank Loesser, was born on June 29th, 1910. One year later, movie composer Bernard Herrmann was born. Herrmann is known for writing the scores for Citizen Kane, Vertigo, and especially Psycho.

CROWNED HEADS

June 28th in history:

England’s King Henry VIII was born on June 28th, 1491. Queen Victoria’s coronation took place on that same date in 1838.

Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated on June 28th, 1914, while riding in an open car in Sarajevo. They were shot several hours after someone else tried to bomb their car. Historians argue that the assassinations set off the First World War – which ended exactly five years later, June 28th, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Versailles Palace became the home of the French royal court during the reign of King Louis XIV, who was played by Mel Brooks in his movie “History of the World, Part One.” Brooks, born on this date in 1926, has directed “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “The Producers,” all featuring Gene Wilder, who also appeared in a satire of French royalty called “Start the Revolution Without Me.” Wilder appeared in three movies with his third wife, Gilda Radner, born on June 28th, 1946. Radner was best known for comic characters such as Lisa Loopner and Roseanne Roseannadanna on “Saturday Night Live.” Her death from ovarian cancer at age 42 inspired the formation of the cancer support organization Gilda’s Club.

Mike Tyson was trying to become king of the boxing world again on June 28th, 1997, when he fought WBA heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield.  Tyson bit Holyfield’s ears during the third round of the title bout, and was disqualified, allowing Holyfield to keep the championship.