Wilbur Wright, US aviation pioneer - Stock Image - H423/0253
Wilbur Wright (1867-1912), American aviation pioneer. Wilbur and his brother Orville ran a small bicycle factory in Dayton, Ohio.
September 25, 1897: Born, William Faulkner. Now acclaimed as one of the most important writers of American Literature, Faulkner was relatively unknown when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Faulkner believed that each writer must find his own way: "Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat…
Illya Kuryakin: International Man of Mystery
Would anyone believe me if I said that this was a serious study of the enduring cultural impact of 1960s television? Yeah, I thought not, because it's more a...
January 26, 1826: Born, Julia Dent Grant. She was a rather plain girl who squinted and was a little cross-eyed. But she was friendly and sociable, and it's no wonder that her brother's friend, Ulysses S. Grant, fell in love with her. He proposed several times before she finally accepted. As First Lady, she was a happy and gracious hostess. When it was suggested that an operation could cure her crossed eyes, her husband told her to leave them alone -- he liked her that way.
September 23, 1759: Born, Marie Clotilde of France. The younger sister of Louis XVI, Marie escaped the ravages of the French Revolution through her marriage to Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia. In her youth she was mocked for her excess weight, but her husband gallantly said that he had merely been given "more to worship." She's shown here with her brother Louis and their pet goat.
September 15, 1440. Gilles de Rais arrested. The French nobleman was a handsome, distinguished gentleman, it was said, but he was also a spendthrift. In order to augment his dwindling coffers, he turned to alchemy. Although far too pious to sell his soul to the devil, he did consent to provide the blood of innocent children. It is believed that he sodomized, tortured, and murdered somewhere between 80 and 200 children -- and perhaps as many as 600.
As he returned to his home in the Dakota, John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, who fired 5 hollow-point bullets from a distance of about 9 feet, 4 of which struck Lennon in the back. Chapman received a sentence of 20 years to life imprisonment. He has been denied parole 10 times.
September 21, 1849: Born, Maurice Barrymore. The patriarch of the Barrymore acting family was born Herbert Blythe, but took on the stage name of Barrymore in order to spare his father the shame of having a son in such a "dissolute" profession -- he had expected Herbert to go into law. Barrymore was the father of John, Lionel, and Ethel, and the great-grandfather of Drew Barrymore. He's shown here in 1895.
It Happened on April 13th
April 13, 1796: First elephant arrives in America. It was the property of Captain Jacob Crowninshield, who had purchased it in India for $ 450. He hoped to make some money -- and fame -- by exhibiting it. The fee for viewing the elephant was 25 cents and visitors were warned not to approach it carrying "papers of consequence", as the elephant had a bad habit of destroying them.
It Happened on April 15th
Insulin Becomes Available for Diabetics, 1923 We tend to take it for granted that diabetes can be treated, but such was not always the case. Diabetes was nearly always a death sentence before the 1920's, and children were kept in large wards, visited by their grieving families. It was near the end of the 19th century before anyone suspected that substances created in the pancreas had anything to do with digestion, and well into the 20th century before the hormone insulin was even isolated…
Construction had begun in 1848, but been halted by lack of funds, in-fighting, and the American Civil War. If you look closely, you can see the point (about a third of the way from the bottom) where the color changed, due to a different source of marble after the long hiatus.
January 23, 1919: Born, Ernie Kovacs. The American comedian, actor, and writer once described himself in these words: "I was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1919 to a Hungarian couple. I've been smoking cigars ever since." He had a tremendous influence on the development of both comedy and video effects. Here he is in 1960 with wife Edie Adams.
September 24, 1742: Faneuil Hall opens. When slave trader Peter Faneuil offered to donate a marketplace to the City of Boston, the townspeople weren't sure they even wanted it. The Town Council debated for days, and finally approved it at a vote of 367 to 360. That building burned to the ground in 1761, and was replaced -- this is what the new Faneuil Hall looked like in 1903.
September 17, 1904: Born, Jerry Colonna. Best known as the zany sidekick in Bob Hope's radio shows and many of his films, Colonna was also a singer, songwriter, and trombonist. Here he is with Bob Hope in a promotional photograph for Hope's radio show.
It Happened on April 24th
Anthony Trollope Anthony Trollope's Birthday, 1815 When I was younger, and more patient, I used to adore the novels of Anthony Trollope. They were huge, gossipy Victorian novels, full of memorable characters and interesting complications. These days my patience is not quite what it used to be and I tend to prefer the BBC adaptations. If you haven't seen them and you like that sort of thing, I heartily recommend them. There are four-episode adaptations of The Way We Live Now and He Knew He…
December 5, 1945: Flight 19 disappears in the Bermuda Triangle. The group of 5 Grunman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers disappeared, along with all 14 airmen. The rescue flight and crew sent to recover them also vanished without a trace.