Henry V (1945) was Laurence Olivier’s directorial debut.
Eleven actors have played Marc Antony on film, in thirteen movies. They are: Frank Benson—Julius Caesar (1911) Henry Wilcoxon—Cleopatra (1934) Charlton Heston—Julius Caesar (1950) Marlon Brando—Julius Caesar (1953) Raymond Burr—Serpent of the Nile (1953) Helmut Dantine—The Story of Mankind (1957) Georges Marchal—Legions of the Nile (1959—Italy, Spain, France) Philip Saville—An Honourable Murder (1960—UK) Bruno Tocci—Caesar…
The Keystone Company was the movie studio formed by Mack Sennett in 1912. The Kops appeared in a number of the studio’s more than 1,000 comedy shorts.
Christ was probably born in 6 B.C. We know because the Bible suggests that Christ was at least two years old when King Herod died. Herod, we know from other sources, died in 4 B.C.
Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles were credited with the screenplay for Citizen Kane (1940).
Rene Francois Armand Sully Prudhomme of France in 1901. Who was the first English writer to receive the the Nobel Prize for literature? Rudyard Kipling in 1907. The first American? Sinclair Lewis in 1930.
The Battle of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890, was the last major battle between U.S. troops and Native Americans. Twenty-nine U.S. soldiers and nearly 200 Sioux men, women, and children were killed.
Geronimo (1829-1909), leader of the Chiricahua Apaches, born in what is now Arizona, repeatedly defied the U.S. Army’s attempts to restrict his movements to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. He finally surrendered to General Nelson Miles in Skeleton County, Arizona, on September 4,1886. He spent the rest of his life in captivity.
Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry first brought an armed squadron to Tokyo Bay in 1853, when he delivered a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the emperor of Japan. In 1854, on a second expedition, Perry succeeded in persuading the Japanese to open their previously isolated society to U.S. trade.
William Blake wrote “O rose, thou art sick” in “The Sick Rose” (1794).
Married in 1987 and separated in 1990, the two actors Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis met on the set of Transylvania 6-5000 (1985). Their other collaborations were The Fly (1986) and Earth Girls Are Easy (1989).
Walter O’Malley, owner of the Dodgers started the practice of blacking out home baseball game telecasts, when he moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1957.
The assassin of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, James Earl Ray, was arrested by Scotland Yard detectives at a London airport on June 8, 1968. Ray had shot King on April 4, 1968.
At least six actors have played Al Capone: Paul Muni, Rod Steiger, Neville Brand, Jason Robards, Ben Gazzara, and Robert DeNiro. Brand played him twice: in The Scarface Mob (1959) and Spin of a Coin (1962).
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman said, “If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve”, when the Republicans tried to draft him for president upon his retirement from the army in 1880.
Red stands for the blood of the dead. Black represents pride in the color of the skin. Green is for the promise of a new and better life in Africa.
The holiday Decoration Day, which was first widely celebrated on May 30, 1868, was originally meant to remind citizens to decorate with wreaths the graves of soldiers killed in the Civil War. The holiday has since been renamed Memorial Day and is observed on the last Monday in May to honor the dead of all…
The Black Hand was the name for groups of extortionists who preyed upon Italian immigrants in the United States from about 1890 to 1920. It was active in cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, and New York. The Mafia, an older and more complex criminal organization, originated in Sicily in the nineteenth and…
The epigraph for Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo is “So foul a sky clears not without a storm” (Shakespeare).
Acute appendicitis overcame the former Erich Weiss known as Harry Houdini on October 31, 1926, Halloween. He was 52 years old.
The Parallel Lives (first century A.D.) pairs biographies of famous Greeks and Romans, such as the orators Demosthenes and Cicero. The book provided background for some of Shakespeare’s plays, including Julius Caesar.
Raymond Massey played Abraham Lincoln twice. In Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) and in How the West Was Won (1962).
Pope John, Gregory, Benedict, and Clement, in that order. There have been 23 Johns (and 2 John Pauls), 16 Gregorys, 15 Benedicts, and 14 Clements.
New Orleans’ streets are threatened with panic in Panic in the Streets (1950). The city is threatened by a deadly plague which may be carried by a pair of murderers.
Famed for her shrewishness, the wife of the fifth-century B.C. Athenian philosopher Socrates was named Xantippe.
The valuable substance is found in the stomach of a sperm whale. In the East, the soft, black ambergris is dried and used as a spice; in the West, it is used as a perfume fixative.
Four people are killed in Taxi Driver (1976): the pimp Sport; the “timekeeper” for Iris the prostitute; Iris’s Mafioso customer; and the grocery store robber.
“Udolpho” in Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho was the castle of the evil Montoni in the Italian Apennines, and site of many scary events.
The Phrygian king Tantalus committed an abomination when he cut up his son Pelops and served him for dinner to the gods. He was punished in Hades by unending thirst and hunger. Water slipped away from him whenever he tried to drink it; fruit trees were forever out of reach. This story is the source…
In alphabetical order, the executive departments are: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs.
According to the Report of the Postmaster General, 106,311,062,000 pieces of mail traveled through the system in 1980. On a given day, therefore, approximately 291,263,000 items passed through the country’s post offices. What’s more, this prodigious amount of mail traveled through many fewer post offices than at the turn of the century. In 1900, there…
The General Died at Dawn (1936) was the first movie to feature the line “We could have made beautiful music together”. Gary Cooper says it to Madeleine Carroll.
Lucy’s character’s name on “I Love Lucy” (CBS, 1951-57) was Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo. On “The Lucy Show” (CBS, 1962-68) it was Lucy Carmichael. On “Here’s Lucy” (CBS, 1974) it was Lucy Carter.
John Wayne got the nickname “Duke” because he had a dog named “Duke” as a child. To distinguish them, the dog was known as “Big Duke” and Wayne as “Little Duke.”
Roland and Orlando are the same character. Roland, knight of Charlemagne’s court, is the hero of The Song of Roland, an eleventh-century French epic. Orlando is the Italian form of Roland’s name; he appears in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1532).
In a letter written in December 1817 to his brothers George and Thomas, poet John Keats first referred to “negative capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without irritable reaching after fact and reason.” Keats considered this quality essential to a “Man of Achievement especially in literature.”
The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu (1929), starring Warner Oland, was the first Fu Manchu movie made as a sound feature.
The two commanders-in-chief Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Court House, but that was the name of a village in Virginia, not an actual courthouse. On April 9, 1865, Ulysses S. Grant accepted Robert E. Lee’s surrender in the front parlor of a private house owned by farmer Wilmer McLean.
Charles F. Richter of the California Institute of Technology developed the Richter scale in 1935 as a mathematical device to compare the sizes of earthquakes. Each whole number increase in the scale corresponds to a tenfold increase in the amplitude of waves measured by a seismograph, or an increase of about 31 times the energy…
Cabaret was based on the play I Am a Camera (1951) by John Van Druten, which was in turn based on Isherwood’s “Sally Bowles,” a story appearing in Goodbye to Berlin (1939). Isherwood lived in Berlin in the early 1930s.
After experimenting with thousands of materials, Thomas Edison discovered in 1879 that a scorched cotton thread, the equivalent of a carbon wire, was the filament he needed. It was one that would glow for a long period without melting in an electric light bulb. Edison’s discovery ushered in the age of electric lighting.
The Bedford Falls Company, producers of “thirtysomething” (ABC, 1987-1991), got its name from the town of Bedford Falls, New York, in It’s a Wonderful Life (1947). The company’s logo is a house in a snowstorm, based on the house in the movie, with the musical tag “. . . and dance by the light of…
Ratlike in appearance and beaver-like in size, this animal is often referred to as the beaver rat. Nutrias are valuable for many purposes; their pelts are now chiefly used in the making of hats. Their ratlike tails are too thin to be used.
The safety pin as we know it today was not produced until 1849, when American inventor Walter Hunt patented the first modern design. Precursors were developed in Europe about 3,000 years ago and became the standard device for fastening clothes. In the sixth century B.c., Greek and Roman women used a fibula, a pin with…
Irene Dunne played Anna in Anna and the King of Siam and Rex Harrison played the king. It was Harrison’s Hollywood debut. In real life, Anna’s last name was Leonowens. In the movie, her name was Anna L. Owens.
The surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii began at 7:55 A.M. local time on December 7, 1941, and lasted nearly two hours. Over 2,300 Americans were killed; an additional 1,100 were wounded. More than ten ships were sunk or severely damaged; more than 140 aircraft were destroyed.
Franz Waxman wrote the music for Universal’s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials in the 1930s. It is actually the same score he wrote for The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), often recycled in low-budget Universal productions.
“The Andy Griffith Show” (CBS, 1960-68) was a spinoff of “The Danny Thomas Show” (ABC, CBS, 1953-64).
Lily Tomlin was a regular on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” from 1970-73.
The name of Dr. No’s island in the movie was Crab Key.
In the movie Babette’s Feast (1987), the spread included, among other things, fresh terrapin soup, quail in vol-au-vents, blinis, caviar, and baba au rhum.
No, it was designed by Francis Hopkinson, a naval flag designer, who was never reimbursed for his services by the U.S. government. And there is no record of Betsy Ross’s commission to sew the flag.
The flooding of the Kansas River at Kansas City, Missouri, and Topeka and Lawrence, Kansas, in July 1951 was the first flood in the United States to cost $1 billion in damages. Forty-one people were killed.
Which was insured for the most money, Fred Astaire’s feet, Betty Grable’s legs, or Jimmy Durante’s nose?
Astaire’s feet, insured for $650,000, were at the top of this list. Grable’s legs were insured for only $250,000, Durante’s nose for $140,000.
The play, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw ends with Eliza Doolittle asserting her humanity and rejecting Henry Higgins. But the 1938 movie ending, approved by Shaw, brought the pair together. The musical version, My Fair Lady (1956), also had a happy ending.
The insider stock trader Michael Milken who became the symbol of 1980s greed graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, symbol of 1960s activism, in 1968.
Moe and Nora di Sesso trained the rats used in the movie Willard (1971). They were assisted by their pet cat.
The play’s author, George Bernard Shaw, who won an Oscar for his adaptation wrote the screenplay for the film Pygmalion.
Bobby Jones has achieved the feat of winning the grand slam. He did so as an amateur, before the present-day tournament requirements were instituted. He won the British Amateur tournament in Scotland on May 31, 1930. Next, on June 20, 1930, he won the British Open in Holyoke, England, with a four-round total of 291….
The chairman of the America First Committee formed in 1940 to oppose U.S. intervention in World War II was Robert E. Wood, head of Sears, Roebuck. America First’s most famous spokesman, however, was aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. Some committee members expressed sympathy for Nazi ideology; Lindbergh had visited Nazi Germany and accepted a medal from…
Apes and some monkeys perceive the full spectrum of color, as may some fish and birds. But most mammals view color only as shades of gray.
More lethal than any soccer riot was the collapse of the grandstands of the Hong Kong Jockey Club on February 26, 1916. In all, 606 racetrack spectators died; hundreds more were injured, making it the worst sports disaster in history.
The “Today” show premiered on January 14, 1952, on NBC, broadcasting from New York. The host was Dave Garroway. Garroway’s sign-off line was “Peace.”
Check and Double Check (1930) was the first film to star Freeman F. Gosden as Amos and Charles V. Correll as Andy. The two white actors played the roles in black-face.
U.N.C.L.E. was the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Its nemesis, T.H.R.U.S.H., was the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. The television series, starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, ran from 1964 to 1967.
Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, “Hell is—other people” in his existential play No Exit (1944).
The main model of the spaceship Discovery used in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was 54 feet long. It was filmed moving along a track 150 feet in length. A smaller, 15-foot model was used for some shots.
The phrase upside down was believed to be an early form of upsedown or up so down. The phrase came into popularity during the Elizabethan Age.
Raymond Chandler thought Dick Powell, in Murder, My Sweet (1945), gave the best performance as Detective Philip Marlowe.
Growth hormones called auxins makes houseplants turn toward the light. When light falls on one side of a plant, the auxins tend to concentrate on the shaded side, causing the cells on that side to grow longer. As a result, the plant gradually leans toward the light. This bending movement in response to an outside…
There are more physicians in the USSR than anywhere else. The United States holds top honors for psychiatrists, psychologists, and dentists.
A gamete is a mature, functional sex cell (i.e., an egg or sperm) that can unite with a gamete of the opposite sex. A zygote is what results when the two gametes fuse.
Genesis 4:13-15 explains that the mark was placed on Cain to protect him from anyone who might want to kill him in retaliation for his murder of Abel. The mark was not itself meant as a punishment.
John F. Kennedy was approaching his 45th birthday when Marilyn Monroe sang the song to him at a Democratic fund-raiser in Madison Square Garden on March 19, 1962.
In the Jewish calendar, Tammuz is the name of the month that falls during June and July.
FBI agent Melvin Purvis was known as the Man Who Shot Dillinger. Purvis never actually fired at John Dillinger in the 1934 shootout in Chicago that ended in the death of”public enemy number one.” But Purvis directed the trap and pointed Dillinger out to other agents and police.
Giles French (Sebastian Cabot) was the name of the housekeeper on the TV series “Family Affair” (CBS, 1966-71). On “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” (ABC, 1969-72)? Mrs. Livingston (Miyoshi Umeki). On “The Jetsons” (ABC, 1962-63)? Rosie the Robot (voice by Jean VanderPyl).
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay negotiated for the United States in a treaty that ended the Revolutionary War. The Treaty of Paris, ending the war and recognizing American independence, was signed on February 3, 1783.
Nine people were in the lifeboat in the movie Lifeboat (1943). The actors playing them were Heather Angel, Mary Anderson, Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Hume Cronyn, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Canada Lee, and Walter Slezak.
The term witch hazel is the common name for the Hamamelis plant. The witch of the plant’s name comes from wice, an Anglo-Saxon word for a plant with flexible branches. It is unclear who first used the leaves and bark of witch hazel in toiletries and tonics. Some believe it was the Anglo-Saxons; others think…
The first part of Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls is recognized as a comic masterpiece, but the second part never saw the light of day. Convinced by the radical priest Father Matthew Konstantinovsky that literature was sinful, Gogol (1809-52) burned the manuscript of Part Two in 1852. He died a few days later.
Quicksand doesn’t work by pulling you down. Quicksand is nearly always found above a spring, which creates a supersaturated condition that makes the sand frictionless and unable to support weight. In addition, quicksand is airless, which creates suction as you struggle to get free. The most effective way to escape quicksand is to position yourself…
The head of the Unification Church married 2,075 couples in a mass wedding at Madison Square Garden in New York City on July 1, 1982.
The real names of the following Western actors are: Slim Pickens—Louis Bert Lindley, Jr. Roy Rogers—Leonard Slye Gene Autry—Gene Autry Tom Mix—Thomas Mix Hoot Gibson—Edmund Richard Gibson Allan “Rocky” Lane—Harold Albershart Will Rogers—William Penn Adair Rogers
How many cast members have received residuals from the endless reruns of “The Honeymooners” (CBS, 1955-56)?
Only Audrey Meadows, who played Alice Kramden, received residuals from the endless reruns of “The Honeymooners” (CBS, 1955-56). Her manager negotiated for TV residual rights before most people took them seriously.
The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness (begun at Pimlico, Baltimore, in 1873), and the Belmont (begun in 1867 at Jerome Park, New York; now held in Belmont Park, New York) make up the Triple Crown. Sir Barton in 1919 first won the Triple Crown.
The Saint Petersburg, Tampa Airboat Line of Saint Petersburg, Florida, began flight operations on January 1, 1914. The twice-a-day service took passengers one at a time across 20-mile-wide Tampa Bay. The complete trip in a Benoit flying boat covered 36 miles and cost $5. The service ran for four months.
Written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen, the Depression-era Democratic party theme song “Happy Days Are Here Again” first appeared in the 1930 MGM musical Chasing Rainbows, starring Bessie Love and Charles King. The movie opened after the 1929 stock market crash and was a flop.
Du Pont chemist Wallace Hume Carrothers invented the artificial polymer nylon in the 1930s while searching for alternatives to silk. Nylon stockings first came on the market with heavy publicity on what was billed as “Nylon Day,” May 15, 1940. Women hungry for a cheap and durable alternative to silk stockings bought millions of pairs…
The no-hitter was pitched by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series.