August 22 in history:
Spectators at the Louvre museum in Paris couldn’t find the “Mona Lisa” on August 22nd, 1911. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece was missing from its usual spot on the wall, because it had been stolen the night before. The famous painting remained missing for two years, hidden for most of that time in the apartment of the thief, a Louvre employee from Italy.
The gravesite of Richard III, England’s last Plantagenet king, was considered lost for centuries until researchers found it in 2012, under a parking lot in Leicester. Richard was killed on this date in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field. Richard had been king of England for only two years. His death put Henry Tudor on the throne, as Henry VII.
In Shakespeare’s play “Richard III,” Richard calls out “My kingdom for a horse” shortly before he is killed. The “horseless carriage” was becoming popular by 1902, when the Cadillac Automobile Company was founded on August 22nd from what used to be the Henry Ford Company. Henry Leland was brought in to close down the old company after Ford left the firm, but he decided to keep it going under the Cadillac name.
Another powerful man named Henry — Henry Kissinger — was nominated as secretary of state by President Nixon on August 22nd, 1973. Kissinger had become famous for “shuttle diplomacy” as Nixon’s national security adviser.
Actress Kristen Wiig was born on that same day in 1973. Wiig has been nominated for several Emmy Awards, mostly for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” and was an Oscar nominee for co-writing the movie comedy “Bridesmaids.”
In 1973, Valerie Harper won an Emmy Award for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Born on August 22nd, 1939, Harper earned four Emmys for her portrayal of Rhoda, including one for her own spinoff series “Rhoda.”
July 16th in history:
Yankees slugger Joe di Maggio got three hits in four times at bat against the Cleveland Indians on July 16th, 1941, extending his record hitting streak to 56 games. The streak would end the next day in Cleveland.
Ohio native Neil Armstrong would become the first man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft when it lifted off in a ball of fire from the Kennedy Space Center on this day in 1969.
The comedy “Ball of Fire” earned an Oscar nomination for Barbara Stanwyck, as did “Stella Dallas” and “Double Indemnity.” Stanwyck helped sell a lot of popcorn during a 60-year career in movies and TV. She was born on July 16th, 1907 — the same day and year as another person in the popcorn business, “gourmet popcorn” grower, Orville Redenbacher.
One of Barbara Stanwyck’s later movies was called “Jeopardy.” Will Ferrell played Alex Trebek in several “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketches during a seven-year run on “Saturday Night Live,” before starring in movies such as “Elf” and the “Anchorman” comedies. Ferrell, born on this day in 1967, performed with the Groundlings comedy group in Los Angeles, as did Sherri Stoner, born July 16th, 1965. Stoner has written movies and cartoon series, provided the voice of Slappy Squirrel on “Animaniacs,” and was a body model for Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” and Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”
July 1st in history:
Canada celebrates its version of the 4th of July on this day, marking the date it became a dominion of the British Empire on July 1st, 1867.
It was on Dominion Day of 1980 that “O Canada” officially became the country’s national anthem.
Twenty-year-old Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales by his mother in a ceremony at a Welsh castle on July 1st, 1969. On that same day, future Princess of Wales Diana Spencer was celebrating her eighth birthday.
In a 1982 TV movie about Charles and Diana, the Queen Mother was played by two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland. At the time of her 100th birthday on July 1st, 2016, de Havilland — best known as Melanie in “Gone With the Wind” — was the oldest living winner of an acting Oscar.
It’s also the birthday of Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold (born 1942) who received an Oscar nomination for playing a royal wife, Anne Boleyn, to Richard Burton’s Henry VIII in “Anne of the Thousand Days.” Fellow Canadian Dan Aykroyd was an Oscar nominee for “Driving Miss Daisy.” Aykroyd was born on this day in 1952, and became famous as an original cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” His most popular characters include Elwood Blues of the Blues Brothers, alien driving instructor Beldar Conehead, and Ray Stantz in the original “Ghostbusters” films.
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.
June 16th in history:
June 16th, 1904, is the date when Leopold Bloom journeys through Dublin in the James Joyce novel “Ulysses.” Joyce reportedly chose that date and year because it was the occasion of his first date with his future wife.
Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16th, 1963, aboard the Soviet spacecraft Vostok 6.
Actress Laurie Metcalf went from the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago to New York in 1981, to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” She only appeared on one episode before a writer’s strike prematurely ended the season. Metcalf did not return to the show the following season – but she had better luck in Hollywood, where she spent nine years on “Roseanne.” Metcalf shares her June 16th (1955) birthday with another former cast member of SNL, Abby Elliott (1987).
June 2nd in history:
The first “First Lady” of the U.S., Martha Washington, was born on June 2nd, 1731 – making her a few months older than George.
Frances Folsom became First Lady on June 2nd, 1886 – the day she married President Grover Cleveland at the White House. Cleveland was not the only president to marry while in office, but he was the only one to have the ceremony at the Executive Mansion.
Britain’s “first lady” since the 1950s, Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated her coronation on this day in 1953. It was the first coronation of a British monarch to be televised.
She was not a “First Lady,” and some might not even call Bridget Bishop a “lady” at all. Somebody claimed she was a witch – and on this date in 1692, she became the first defendant in the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. Bishop was convicted, and hanged eight days after the start of her trial.
And it’s the birthday of “Saturday Night Live’s” “Church Lady”…but that was no lady, that was comedian Dana Carvey (born 1955). Carvey also is well-known for his impersonation of President George Herbert Walker Bush, and as Wayne’s buddy Garth in the “Wayne’s World” sketches and movies.
May 21st in history:
Michelangelo’s sculpture, the Pieta, was vandalized at the Vatican on May 21st, 1972 by a geologist named Laszlo Toth. He damaged the statue of the Virgin Mary with several blows from a hammer.
Writer and actor Don Novello, alias “Father Guido Sarducci”, used the name Lazlo Toth when writing prank letters to famous people. He published a few books containing many of the letters he received in return. Novello wrote and performed on “Saturday Night Live” in the late 1970s, along with actor, writer and U.S. Senator Al Franken, born May 21st, 1951.
“All My Children” star Susan Lucci has never run for public office, but she’s famous for being an also-ran. Her string of Emmy nominations without a win ended on May 21st, 1999, when she won a Daytime Emmy Award on her 19th try.