May 25th in history:
The deadliest single airplane accident ever in the U.S. occurred at O’Hare Airport on May 25th, 1979, when American Airlines Flight 191 crashed shortly after takeoff. All 271 people aboard the DC-10 died after one engine fell off, and the plane tilted more than 100 degrees to the left before crashing.
On May 25th, 1961, President Kennedy announced the Apollo Project, stating his goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him to Earth before the end of the decade. This was only three weeks after America’s first manned space flight.
On the same date in 1977, the original “Star Wars” movie opened around the U.S. That was the 33rd birthday of Muppet master Frank Oz, who played Jedi master Yoda in later “Star Wars” films, and has portrayed many other Muppets characters, including Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy.
May 25th also is the birthday of screenwriter Bob Gale (born 1951), who (with Robert Zemeckis) created a flying DeLorean time machine in the “Back to the Future” movies, and real-life helicopter developer Igor Sikorsky (1889).
May 14th in history:
The Lewis and Clark Expedition began its journey up the Missouri River on May 14th, 1804, with William Clark leading a group of explorers from a camp in the Illinois territory. Meriwether Lewis met up with Clark’s group a week later.
The U.S. space program began a new chapter when Skylab was launched on May 14th, 1973, just five months after the last manned flight to the moon. Skylab was America’s first orbiting space station, and remained in orbit for six years.
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas was born on this date in 1944. Lucas also is famous for his collaboration with Steven Spielberg on the Indiana Jones movies. And it’s the birthday of Robert Zemeckis (1952), who directed and co-wrote the “Back to the Future” movies produced by Spielberg.
June 9th in history:
On June 9th, 1973, Secretariat became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years by taking first place in the Belmont Stakes.
Many people have heard that a Roman emperor appointed his horse to the Senate, but they’re not sure whether it was Caligula or Nero. Several sources say Caligula. Nero married for the first time on June 9th, 53 A.D. He and his first wife, Claudia Octavia, would both commit suicide on their wedding anniversary: Claudia in 62, and then Nero in 68. He killed himself to avoid being executed under orders of the Roman Senate.
The actress who played Senator (and Queen) Amidala in three “Star Wars” movies, Natalie Portman, was born June 9th, 1981.
Senator Joseph McCarthy was confronted by attorney Joseph Welch on live television during a Senate hearing on June 9th, 1954. McCarthy had just accused a young lawyer in Welch’s firm of being a Communist, to which Welch responded “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”
Writer Aaron Sorkin has been successful doing TV series and movies about Washington politics, notably “The West Wing” and “The American President.” Sorkin was born on June 9th, 1961 — the same day and year as actor Michael J. Fox, who appeared in “American President.” Fox’s most famous characters are Alex P. Keaton on “Family Ties” and time-traveler Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” movies.