June 17th in history:
An empress of India died during childbirth on June 17th, 1631, and her tomb has become one of the world’s most recognizable works of architecture. It took over 20 years to build the monument to Mumtaz Mahal, called (logically enough) the Taj Mahal.
One of the most famous statues of a woman arrived in the U.S. on June 17th, 1885. The pieces were all boxed up aboard a ship from France, and it took a year to put them together, to form the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
There was no statue of any kind waiting for Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet when they reached the Mississippi River on June 17th, 1673. They were the first white men to see the northern part of the Mississippi, as they arrived at the mouth of the Wisconsin River. But today, a few miles north of that point, a statue of Marquette stands high on a pedestal near a bridge linking Marquette, Iowa, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
June 16th in history:
June 16th, 1904, is the date when Leopold Bloom journeys through Dublin in the James Joyce novel “Ulysses.” Joyce reportedly chose that date and year because it was the occasion of his first date with his future wife.
Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16th, 1963, aboard the Soviet spacecraft Vostok 6.
Actress Laurie Metcalf went from the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago to New York in 1981, to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” She only appeared on one episode before a writer’s strike prematurely ended the season. Metcalf did not return to the show the following season – but she had better luck in Hollywood, where she spent nine years on “Roseanne.” Metcalf shares her June 16th (1955) birthday with another former cast member of SNL, Abby Elliott (1987).
June 15th in history:
Benjamin Franklin is given credit for proving that lightning is an electrical charge because of an experiment reportedly performed on June 15th, 1752. That’s the day Franklin is said to have flown a kite during a rainstorm, tying the string to a key in a jar to capture an electrical charge from the kite. (Some sources say the experiment took place on June 10th, while others doubt that it happened at all.)
On this date in 1844, Charles Goodyear is given a patent for the process of vulcanizing rubber. Goodyear discovered that adding sulfur to rubber hardens it, and makes it last longer.
Neil Patrick Harris has played an inventor and mad scientist (“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”), a kid doctor (“Doogie Howser, M.D.”), and a banker (“How I Met Your Mother”). In real-life, he’s become a popular host for awards shows and a Tony Award winner himself. Harris was born on this day in 1973.
Courteney Cox was “discovered” when she danced on stage with Bruce Springsteen in the “Dancing in the Dark” music video. The future star of “Friends” and “Cougar Town” was born on this day in 1964.
During the 1998-99 TV season, you could see three actresses with June 15th birthdays on popular network sitcoms…Courteney Cox on “Friends,” Leah Remini on “The King of Queens” (born 1970), and Helen Hunt (1963) on “Mad About You.” During the run of “Mad About You,” Hunt won a Best Actress Oscar for “As Good As It Gets.”
June 14th in history:
The U.S. Army was established by the Continental Congress on June 14th, 1775.
Two years later, June 14th, 1777, the Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the design for the U.S. flag. The anniversary became known as Flag Day.
On this date in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill adding the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Superman, who fights for “truth, justice, and the American way,” was introduced to comic book readers on June 14th, 1938, when the first issue of Action Comics was released. On June 14th of 2013, the Superman movie “Man of Steel” was released.
Superman is supposed to be “faster than a speeding bullet…more powerful than a locomotive…able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.” Speed skater Eric Heiden, born on this day in 1958, sped like a bullet around an icy track to win five gold medals for the U.S. at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics in 1980. Disneyland introduced its locomotive on a single rail, the Monorail, on June 14th, 1959. And putting up tall buildings in New York and elsewhere made Donald Trump famous, long before he became the 45th President of the United States. This is the day Trump was born in 1946.
June 12th in history:
Nelson Mandela was expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars, when a South African court sentenced him to prison on June 12th, 1964. Mandela and others were imprisoned for sabotage and other actions against the system of apartheid. Mandela was freed in 1990, and became president of South Africa a few years later.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” during a speech at the Berlin Wall on June 12th, 1987. The wall came down less than three years later, during the presidency of Reagan’s vice-president, George Herbert Walker Bush, born on June 12th, 1924.
And on this date in 1971, President Richard Nixon was father of the bride at the Rose Garden wedding of his oldest daughter, Tricia. It’s the most recent wedding to be performed at the White House.
“Who D’king of the whole wide world”? It could be Bun E. Carlos, the long-time drummer for Cheap Trick, who wrote the song “Who D’King.” Carlos (real name, Brad Carlson) was born on this day in 1951, along with another rock star named Brad: singer Brad Delp of the band Boston.
June 11th in history:
On June 11th, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed five delegates to draft a declaration of independence from England. Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman were joined on the committee by three other men better known to modern Americans: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.
The right to freedom of speech was the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court when it released a decision on flag-burning, on this date in 1990. The Court struck down a federal law which prohibited desecration of the flag.
June 11th is Montana’s birthday – Joe Montana, that is. Quarterback Montana (born 1956) led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl championships. It’s also the birthday of the Green Bay Packers coach whose name is on the Super Bowl trophy, Vince Lombardi (1913).