July 26 in history:
The first launch of a space shuttle since the Columbia disaster of 2003 happened on July 26th, 2005. It was the first time that the shuttle Discovery had flown in almost four years.
The fourth manned landing on the moon occurred during the Apollo 15 mission, which launched on this date in 1971. Astronauts James Irwin and David Scott were the first ones to use a “moon rover” vehicle during this mission.
The Oscar-winning song “Moon River” comes from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, directed by Blake Edwards, born on July 26th, 1922. Also born on the same date that year was Jason Robards, one of four Academy Award winning actors or actresses who share this birthday. The others are Helen Mirren (1945), Kevin Spacey (1959), and Sandra Bullock (1964).
Director Stanley Kubrick also was born on July 26th (1928). Kubrick got four Oscar nominations for best director during his career, for films including “Dr. Strangelove,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “Barry Lyndon.” But his only personal Oscar win was for special visual effects in the 1968 epic “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Before she became successful in movies, Sandra Bullock starred in a TV sitcom based on the film comedy “Working Girl.” Three famous sitcom wives of the 1950’s had July 26th birthdays: Gracie Allen (born 1895), Vivian Vance (1909), alias Ethel Mertz of “I Love Lucy,” and Marjorie Lord (1918), Kathy Williams on “The Danny Thomas Show.”
April 16th in history:
On April 16th, 2004, the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 began its first trans-Atlantic crossing from England to New York.
The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 overshadowed the trip made by Harriet Quimby on April 16th of that year. Quimby became the first woman to fly over the English Channel on that day, making the trip in just under an hour.
The next-to-last manned flight to the moon, Apollo 16, was launched on this date in 1972.
And April 16th is the birthday of the composer of “Moon River,” Henry Mancini (1924).
November 18 in history:
The U.S. was divided into time zones on November 18th, 1883 by the railroad industry. The move was needed so that trains could have standard arrival and departure times, instead of relying on local times based on the position of the sun.
The railroad tune “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe” from the movie The Harvey Girls was the first song to win an Oscar for lyricist Johnny Mercer, born on this date in 1909. Mercer also won Academy Awards for two songs written with Henry Mancini, “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Moon River.”
A steamboat trip on a river is the setting for the first official Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Steamboat Willie,” released on November 18th, 1928. It’s also considered the first successful movie cartoon with sound.