May 20th in history:
Vasco da Gama reached India on this date in 1498, after starting in Portugal and going around Africa.
Charles Lindbergh began his historic flight across the Atlantic from Long Island on May 20th, 1927. He was the first person to successfully fly solo across the ocean to Europe without stopping.
Lindbergh’s flight began on the 19th birthday of future movie star Jimmy Stewart (1908). In 1957, Stewart would star as Lindbergh in a movie about the flight to Paris, called The Spirit of St. Louis.
Jimmy Stewart won an Oscar for “The Philadelphia Story,” and his hit movies include “Vertigo” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but he also starred as a lawyer in the CBS TV series “Hawkins” in 1973. Another prime-time series on CBS in ’73 was “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.” Cher, born on this date in 1946, moved beyond records and TV to a successful movie career, and won a Best Actress Oscar for “Moonstruck” in 1987.
May 3rd in history:
The tallest building you can see in Chicago is the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower. When the tower reached its maximum height on May 3rd, 1973, it was the world’s tallest building.
Visitors to Profile Lake in New Hampshire used to be able to look up into the hills and see “The Old Man of the Mountain,” a rock formation that resembled an old man’s profile – until May 3rd, 2003. That was the day most of the rocks forming the face tumbled down the mountain.
From the mountain to the “Valli”…singer Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons, known for hits like “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “My Eyes Adored You,” was born on May 3rd, 1934.
April 22nd in history:
The first “Earth Day” was observed on April 22nd, 1970.
Historians say Christopher Columbus wasn’t trying to prove the Earth was round in his voyage to the Americas in 1492, but was trying to find a shorter route to Asia across the ocean. Columbus was sponsored by Queen Isabella of Spain, born on this date in 1451.
Settlers raced to claim their own piece of earth when the Oklahoma Territory was opened at noon on April 22nd, 1889.
Eddie Albert was in “Oklahoma!” (the movie musical, that is), playing the peddler Ali Hakim. Albert was born on April 22nd, 17 years after the opening of the Oklahoma territory.
Eddie Albert is most famous for playing lawyer-turned-farmer Oliver Wendell Douglas on “Green Acres,” but he also received two Oscar nominations in his long career. Jack Nicholson has the most Oscar nominations among male actors, with 12 to his credit. Nicholson, born on April 22nd, 1937, already had been nominated for “Easy Rider” and “Chinatown” before winning the first of his three Oscars, for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
January 4th in history:
January 4th is the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton (1643), known for his theories about gravity.
The first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth yielded to gravity and fell out of orbit on January 4th, 1958. Sputnik 1 had been launched exactly three months earlier.
And after spending about three months in the New World, Christopher Columbus began his voyage back to Europe on January 4th, 1493, to prove that he had reached land across the Atlantic without falling off the Earth.
October 21 in history:
On October 21st, 1520, Ferdinand Magellan and his crew discovered the strait at the tip of South America which would later bear his name. The strait was the connection which took them from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Another famous ocean explorer was remembered on this date in 1892, when the Columbian Exposition was dedicated in Chicago. The fair designed to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the New World actually opened in May of 1893. New products and inventions introduced at the fair included the Ferris Wheel, Cream of Wheat cereal, and Juicy Fruit gum.
October 21st was the day in 1797 that the U.S.S. Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” was launched. The ship (pictured), docked in Boston, is still maintained as an active Navy vessel.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge began writing his epic poem about the sea, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in 1797. Coleridge was born October 21st, 1772.
October 12 in history:
There was no welcome mat waiting for him, but Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World on October 12th, 1492. After two months on the Atlantic, Columbus landed at an island north of Cuba, thinking he had reached Asia, and exchanged gifts with the natives.
Citizens of Munich were welcomed to the royal wedding of Bavarian Prince Louis on this date in 1810. Munich decided to repeat the celebration the following year and make it the annual event called Oktoberfest.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was not a happy guest at the United Nations on October 12th, 1960. He threw a fit when a representative of the Philippines criticized the Russians for taking over Eastern Europe. Many people say they saw Khrushchev pound the table with his shoe, but apparently there are no still pictures or videos of the incident that prove he really did it.
“Be Our Guest” is a popular song from the Disney movie and stage musical “Beauty and the Beast.” The first Australian production of the show provided a big break for actor Hugh Jackman, who played Gaston. Jackman was born on this date in 1968.
August 3 in history:
In 14-hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It was on August 3rd that year, when Christopher Columbus left a Spanish port on his mission to reach Asia by crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Many other people left Spain on that same day in 1492…not by choice. The last of the Jews living in Spain left that country on August 3rd, under orders from the king and queen.
His father was from Spain, his mother was from Ireland. His real name is Ramon Estevez, but you know him better as Martin Sheen, the patriarch of an acting family that includes Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen. Martin Sheen was born in Ohio on this date in 1940.