March 18th in history:
On March 18th, 1850, businessmen William Fargo and Henry Wells combined their express mail businesses to start American Express. They started another famous delivery and banking company a short time later, known for its wagons crossing the American frontier, with Wells getting first billing.
Aleksei Leonov stepped into space (the final frontier) on this day in 1965. The Soviet cosmonaut was the first human to take a “space walk,” lasting 12 minutes, as part of the Voskhod 2 mission.
The governor-general of Canada became a pioneer on this date in 1893, when he pledged to donate a silver challenge cup to the best hockey team in Canada. The cup still exists, only now it’s awarded to the best team in the National Hockey League. And it still bears the name of its donor, Lord Frederick Stanley.
Stanley was appointed to the Canadian post by England’s Queen Victoria. March 18th is the birthday of Mary Tudor, Queen of France (born to the King and Queen of England in 1496)…singer and actress Queen Latifah (born Dana Owens in 1970)…and a beauty queen, former Miss America Vanessa Williams (born 1963).
January 25th in history:
King Henry VIII was married on January 25, 1533, secretly marrying his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Henry’s desire to end his first marriage and take a new wife led to a major split with the Catholic Church.
A more public royal wedding took place on January 25, 1858. The bride was Princess Victoria, daughter of England’s Queen Victoria. After Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” was played at the ceremony, many future couples chose to use the song at their weddings.
President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle danced to the same song at every inaugural ball in January of 2009: “At Last,” made famous by singer Etta James. James was born on this date in 1938.
September 22 in history:
Nineteen people were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, during a seven-month period in 1692, for allegedly practicing witchcraft. The final hanging happened on September 22nd that year.
Twenty-one-year-old Nathan Hale was hanged as a spy by the British on this date in 1776 in New York City. Hale had gone behind enemy lines to observe the movements of British troops.
The American colonists were rebelling against England’s King George III, who was crowned on this date in 1761. George set a record as England’s longest-reigning monarch, serving for 59 years — a record broken on September 22nd, 1896, by his granddaughter, Queen Victoria.
Anne of Cleves was queen of England for a very short time, only six months. She was the fourth wife of King Henry VIII, who had the marriage annulled. Anne was born on September 22nd, 1515.
June 28th in history:
England’s King Henry VIII was born on June 28th, 1491. Queen Victoria’s coronation took place on that same date in 1838.
Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated on June 28th, 1914, while riding in an open car in Sarajevo. They were shot several hours after someone else tried to bomb their car. Historians argue that the assassinations set off the First World War – which ended exactly five years later, June 28th, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
The Versailles Palace became the home of the French royal court during the reign of King Louis XIV, who was played by Mel Brooks in his movie “History of the World, Part One.” Brooks, born on this date in 1926, has directed “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “The Producers,” all featuring Gene Wilder, who also appeared in a satire of French royalty called “Start the Revolution Without Me.” Wilder appeared in three movies with his third wife, Gilda Radner, born on June 28th, 1946. Radner was best known for comic characters such as Lisa Loopner and Roseanne Roseannadanna on “Saturday Night Live.” Her death from ovarian cancer at age 42 inspired the formation of the cancer support organization Gilda’s Club.
Mike Tyson was trying to become king of the boxing world again on June 28th, 1997, when he fought WBA heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield. Tyson bit Holyfield’s ears during the third round of the title bout, and was disqualified, allowing Holyfield to keep the championship.