April 12th in history:
A man moved around the Earth in a space capsule for the first time on April 12th, 1961, when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched into orbit.
Two accidents involving Soviet submarines have happened on April 12th. In 1970, the submarine K-8 sank while being towed in the North Atlantic after a fire. Fifty-two men died when the sub went down with nuclear torpedoes aboard. On April 12th of 1963, the nuclear sub K-33 collided with a Finnish merchant ship. The accident was kept a secret for 44 years.
“The Hunt for Red October,” partly set aboard a Soviet sub, was the first successful novel by author Tom Clancy, born on this date in 1947.
Clancy once appeared as a guest on NBC’s “Late Night” show, but not during David Letterman’s time as the show’s host. Letterman was born the same day and year as Clancy. He was the original host of “Late Night,” from 1982 until 1993, when he moved to CBS and renamed his program “The Late Show.” Letterman retired from the show in 2015, and was succeeded by Stephen Colbert.
Yet another man born on April 12th, 1947, is actor Dan Lauria, who played Jack Arnold, Kevin’s dad, on “The Wonder Years.” Letterman left NBC the same year that “The Wonder Years” ended its run on ABC.
December 28 in history:
Galileo is thought to be the first person to have seen the planet Neptune, observing it through his telescope on December 28th, 1612. But he is not considered the discoverer of Neptune, because he reportedly thought it was a star, instead of a planet.
An audience in Paris saw movies on December 28th, 1895, and became the first people to pay admission to watch films. The Lumiere brothers sold tickets to a screening of scenes from everyday life in France. We don’t know if they sold popcorn for the occasion.
Another type of image seen on a screen was publicized on that same day in 1895. That’s when German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen published a paper “On a New Kind of Rays,” where he described the discovery of a form of light which could pass through skin but not bones. The new ray became known as an X-ray.
The X-ray is radiation, but it’s not considered radioactive. So if a spider zapped by an X-ray bit you, chances are you would not develop spider powers…as far as we know. The comic book writer who created Spider-Man and other Marvel comics, Stan Lee, was born on December 28th, 1922.
A special 2009 edition of the Spider-Man comic book, called “The Short Halloween,” was written by “Saturday Night Live” veterans Seth Meyers and Bill Hader. Meyers, born on this day in 1973, was best known for anchoring “Weekend Update” on SNL before succeeding Jimmy Fallon as the host of “Late Night” on NBC in 2014.
September 19 in history:
On September 19th, 1934, a team of detectives arrested Bruno Hauptmann in New York City for the kidnapping and murder two years earlier of the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, and executed in New Jersey.
James A. Garfield died in New Jersey on this date in 1881, making him the second U.S. president to be assassinated. Garfield had been in office only four months when he was shot on July 2nd of that year. Assassin Charles Guiteau was arrested immediately after the shooting, but doctors who attended Garfield for weeks were never able to locate a bullet that remained in his body.
Actor David McCallum, known for playing a crime-solving doctor on the TV show “NCIS,” was born on September 19th, 1933. McCallum portrayed crime-fighting spy Illya Kuryakin on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and shares his September 19th birthday with another TV crime-fighter of the 60’s, “Batman” star Adam West (1928).
“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon has played a costumed crime-fighter, as one of the “Ambiguously Gay Duo” in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. Fallon was born on this day in 1974. Another September 19th baby co-starred with Jimmy Fallon on SNL in the late 1990s: Cheri Oteri (born 1962), who played Arianna of the Spartan Spirit cheerleaders.