November 5 in history:
Ulysses S. Grant was re-elected president on November 5th, 1872…and at least one person was arrested for casting a ballot for Grant. Susan B. Anthony openly defied the laws barring American women from voting. She was found guilty, and fined 100 dollars.
While Anthony got into trouble for taking part in an election, and voting for the incumbent president, Guy Fawkes has gone down in history for his role in trying to overthrow King James I of England. On this date in 1605, Fawkes was caught guarding a stash of gunpowder intended for blowing up the Parliament. The British have celebrated November 5th as a holiday for centuries, marking the defeat of the “Gunpowder Plot.”
Guy Fawkes was the model for the mask worn by the revolutionary character “V” in the movie “V for Vendetta,” starring Oscar winner Natalie Portman. A few Oscar-winning women have been born on November 5th:
Vivien Leigh (born 1913), who won two Oscars for playing Southern characters, Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois…
Tilda Swinton (1960), an Oscar-winner for “Michael Clayton” who’s famous for the “Chronicles of Narnia” movies…
And Tatum O’Neal, who was only 10 when she won an Oscar for “Paper Moon” in April of 1974. Born on the same day and year as O’Neal was actress Andrea McArdle, who became famous at 13 as the original lead in the Broadway musical “Annie.”
October 29 in history:
The first version of the internet was called the ARPANET. On October 29th, 1969, two computers were linked together to communicate with each other for the first time. One was at UCLA, and the other was in Northern California.
One man in New York, one man in Washington. It was a high-tech television partnership that lasted for 14 years on NBC’s “Huntley-Brinkley Report,” which began on this date in 1956. Chet Huntley was at the New York anchor desk, with David Brinkley in D.C.
Huntley and Brinkley also anchored NBC coverage of many space flights in the ’60s. John Glenn first flew in space in 1962. By the time he went into orbit again, Glenn had been elected to the U.S. Senate from Ohio. His second space mission, as part of the crew of the shuttle Discovery, began on October 29th, 1998.
Richard Dreyfuss went into space aboard an alien ship at the end of the 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” He won an Oscar for another movie he made the same year, “The Goodbye Girl.” Dreyfuss was born October 29th, 1947.
October 24 in history:
Here’s a holiday experiment that didn’t work: moving Veterans’ Day away from the traditional date of November 11th. The holiday, originally called Armistice Day, observed the date on which World War I ended in 1918. But starting in 1971, Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Presidents’ Day all became Monday holidays for federal government employees. Veterans’ Day was switched to the fourth Monday in October…and was observed that way for the last time on October 24th, 1977, before being returned to November 11th.
October 24th of 1951 was designated the last day of World War II by President Truman. Germany and Japan both surrendered to the Allies in 1945, but the European war never officially ended with a peace treaty. Truman apparently got tired of waiting to reach an agreement with a divided Germany, so he declared the war to be over.
Over the falls in a barrel…that where Annie Edson Taylor went on her 46th birthday, October 24th, 1901. She became famous as the first woman to ride over Niagara Falls inside a barrel.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford went over a cliff in a famous scene from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which opened around the U.S. on this date in 1969. Both Redford and Newman won Oscars in the 1980s, as did two actors who were born on October 24th: F. Murray Abraham (1939), who starred in “Amadeus,” and Kevin Kline (1947), a winner for “A Fish Called Wanda.”
October 6 in history:
October 6th of 1889 must have been a busy day for Thomas Edison. On that day, a judge ruled in Edison’s favor on a dispute over the patent for his incandescent light bulb. Another inventor accused Edison of stealing the bulb design from him, but the judge decided that Edison had made improvements on the other man’s bulb. That same day, Edison demonstrated a motion picture for the first time at his New Jersey lab. It was a “talking” picture, coordinated with a phonograph recording.
The first actual “talking picture” to catch on with the public premiered in New York on October 6th, 1927: “The Jazz Singer,” starring Al Jolson.
The first woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress, Janet Gaynor, was born on this date in 1906.
And October 6th of 1991 was the date of Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth and final wedding. Construction worker Larry Fortensky was Taylor’s seventh husband. They had met at the Betty Ford Clinic. The wedding took place at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
September 18 in history:
On September 18th, 1837, a stationery store opened on Broadway in New York. It was founded by John B. Young and Charles Tiffany. After a few years, the Tiffany and Young store became just Tiffany and Co., and concentrated on selling jewelry.
The 1961 movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” based on a book by Truman Capote, opens with Audrey Hepburn window-shopping outside the famous store. Hepburn got a major career break on this date in 1951, when she screen-tested for the film “Roman Holiday” at the Pinewood Studios in England. She won the female lead, and won an Oscar for the role.
Another Capote book which inspired a famous movie was the real-life crime thriller “In Cold Blood.” That film gave a major career break to former child actor Robert Blake, who later went on to play the TV detective “Baretta.” Blake was born September 18th, 1933.
It wasn’t Truman Capote, but Harry S Truman, who launched an institution that began on September 18th, 1947. The Central Intelligence Agency was founded on that day, the result of a National Security Act signed by President Truman.
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 10th in history:
Winston Churchill first became prime minister of Great Britain on this day in 1940. It was during Churchill’s second term in the 1950s that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for writing history books.
Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Less than a year later, on May 10th, 1994, Mandela became the first black president of South Africa.
A movie about Nelson Mandela called “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” was released in 2013. The film received an Oscar nomination for the song “Ordinary Love,” written and performed by U2. The band’s lead singer, Bono, was born Paul Hewson on May 10th, 1960. Bono has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, has received other humanitarian awards, and was named a Person of the Year by Time magazine in 2005.