July 17 in history:
During the First World War, when England was fighting against Germany, English King George V officially changed his family name from the German-sounding “Saxe Coburg and Gotha” to the more British-sounding “Windsor” on July 17th, 1917.
One year later, on July 17th of 1918, George’s relatives in the Russian royal family, the Romanovs, were executed by Bolshevik revolutionaries. King George was a first cousin to both Czar Nicholas and Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm.
By 1945, Stalin was leader of Russia and the entire Soviet Union. On July 17th of that year, he was meeting with U.S. President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Potsdam Conference, to decide the future of Nazi Germany after World War II. During the three-week conference, Churchill was voted out of the Prime Minister’s office. His successor, Clement Attlee, completed the Potsdam talks.
Germany would be led by chancellors after the two world wars. The first female Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, was born on this date in 1954.
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.
January 14th in history:
The name “Casablanca” made headlines when U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in the Moroccan city for a war conference, beginning January 14th, 1943. The two Allied leaders spent nearly two weeks planning European strategy against Italy and Nazi Germany.
The Casablanca meeting coincided with the general release of the movie “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart. Bogie died of cancer on January 14th, 1957 — just five years after winning his only Oscar for “The African Queen.”
Twenty years later, actor Peter Finch died on January 14th, 1977. Finch would win a posthumous Oscar as Best Actor that year for his role as mad anchorman Howard Beale in “Network.” Finch died on the 36th birthday of his “Network” co-star Faye Dunaway (1941), who won the Best Actress Oscar for that movie. The two had no scenes together in “Network.”