The play’s author, George Bernard Shaw, who won an Oscar for his adaptation wrote the screenplay for the film Pygmalion.
It took eleven days for news of Custer’s last stand to be published in the press. The massacre of George Armstrong Custer and his Seventh Cavalry by the Sioux Indians took place on June 25, 1876, on the Little Big Horn River in Montana Territory. The news was first published by the Bozeman Times in […]
“Texaco Star Theater” (NBC, 1948-56) was the top-rated TV program in 1950.
The first complete English translation of the Bible was the Bible of 1380, translated into a Midland dialect by Nicholas of Hereford and others. It is often called the Wyclif Bible, though theologian John Wyclif (c. 1320-84) did not work on it.
Yes, Dr. Thomas Lushington (1590-1661), an English chaplain who liked his liquor. The City of Lushington, a London drinking club, may have borrowed its name from him. In the nineteenth century, the City of Lushington in turn became the source of the word lush, originally a slang term for beer and eventually another word for […]
No, Samuel Goldwyn, famous for his malapropisms, never said, “It rolls off my back like a duck”. Critic George Oppenheimer remembers coming up with this line when he was a Hollywood screenwriter. He won the commissary pool that the writers had going for the best Goldwynism of the day.
The first televised baseball game was a May 1939 game between Columbia and Princeton.
The first watch tested for durability on television was not a Timex. In 1955, a Bulova “Clipper” watch attached to a weighted ball survived the “Niagara Falls Test.”
The animal in the 1865 Mark Twain story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” is named Dan’l Webster.
The first world heavyweight boxing championship using gloves and the Queensberry rules took place in New Orleans. It was held on September 7, 1892, between James J. Corbett and John L. Sullivan. Corbett knocked out Sullivan in the 21st round.
Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” (1681) is the source of the title of Robert Penn Warren’s World Enough and Time.
The first African-American to play in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson had no hits in three at-bats in his first game on April 15, 1947. Playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, Robinson fielded 11 balls in the 5-3 win against the Boston Braves. That season, Robinson maintained a .297 average and was […]
Greek tragic actors wore “buskins,” boots that reached halfway up the calf and had thick soles to make the actors seem taller. The Greek word for the boot was cothurnus. “Buskin” first appeared as the English term in the sixteenth century.
Francine Lawrence was the real name of “Gidget”, played by Sally Field on the TV show “Gidget” (ABC, 1965-66).
“Family Ties” (NBC, 1982-89) star Michael J. Fox played a werewolf in the movie Teen Wolf (1985). Jason Bateman, star of “Valerie/The Hogan Family” (NBC, 1986-90; CBS, 1990-91) played the werewolf in the sequel, Teen Wolf Too (1987).
Hamartia is the fatal flaw that brings a good character to ruin. Hubris is pride, the classic example of hamartia.
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) in Annie Hall (1977), had been killing spiders since he was thirty.
A closet drama is a play, usually in verse, written for private reading rather than performance. Byron’s Manfred (1817) and Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (1820) are examples.
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.
The last poem of Lyrical Ballads is Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.”
Catherine the Great was alone on the morning of November 17, 1796, when she collapsed with a stroke. Earlier that morning, she had bid farewell to a lover, a twenty-seven-year old man. No horses were involved.
The New York Stock and Exchange Board was formally organized in 1817, and the name New York Stock Exchange was adopted in 1863. Since 1953, membership in the exchange has been limited to 1,366. Since 1868, new members have purchased seats (with exchange approval) from existing members.
We drink about 16,000 gallons of water in a lifetime.
The doomed whaling ship Pequod commanded by Captain Ahab in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) was named for the Pequot tribe of Connecticut, massacred by English colonists in 1637. Melville said the “celebrated tribe” was “now extinct as the ancient Medes.”
“The Camel News Caravan” (NBC, 1949-56), with John Cameron Swayze, was the first TV news show to feature newsreel footage. Before then TV news relied mainly on announcers.
Anne Francis played the female private detective “Honey West” during the 1965-66 season on ABC. Her pet ocelot was named Bruce.
George K. Kennan, then a member of the State Department’s policy planning staff, wrote the pseudonymous article in the magazine Foreign Affairs that first outlined the policy of containing Soviet expansion in 1947.
In November 1775, the Continental Congress advised that a regiment have eight companies of 91 officers and men apiece, for a total of 728. The actual size of the regiments varied per state.
Twenty people on President Richard Nixon’s enemies list were named in the 1971 memo released to the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973. There were 200 additional enemies on a separate list. The memo proposed the use of “federal machinery,” including IRS audits and litigation, to “screw our political enemies.” The top 20 enemies included Ed […]
First used in 1940 by nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, the number googol is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. It was brought to public attention by Sirotta’s uncle, mathematician Edward Kasner, in his book Mathematics and the Imagination.
The “Moonlighting” episode in which Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) and David (Bruce Willis) finally had sex was first broadcast on March 30, 1987, after two years of verbal foreplay.
The Black Maria, built in 1893 by Thomas Alva Edison, near his laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey, was the world’s first film studio. Films were shot there for Edison’s peepshow-style kinetoscope viewer.
Stewart Granger’s real name was James Stewart.
Joseph Conrad define his task as a writer as, “to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see!” in the preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897).
The first meeting of the U.S. Supreme Court was on February 2,1790, in New York City. John Jay presided as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1789 to 1795.
National Airlines began the first domestic jet airliner passenger service in the U.S. on December 10, 1958, between New York and Miami.
In the 1898 essay “What is Art?” Leo Tolstoy defines art as: “a human activity, consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them.”
LSMFT means Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco. It was the creation of George Washington Hill, son of Buck Duke, founder of the American Tobacco Company. The slogan, introduced in the early 1940s, became so popular that by 1944 its acronym, L.S.M.F.T., was printed on the bottom of every Lucky Strike package.
A 1908 race riot in Springfield, Massachusetts, reported by liberal New York journalist W.E. Walling inspired him to help found a national organization to speak out on behalf of equality for African-Americans. After a meeting with other concerned citizens in his apartment, including social worker Mary W. Ovington, the National Association for the Advancement of […]
No, James Cagney didn’t say “You dirty rat!” in any of his movies.
The secret fraternal order of Free and Acceptable Masons has its origins in communities of actual stoneworkers, the masons who built cathedrals in the Middle Ages. Eventually, lodges in need of new members started admitting non-masons, and from these lodges modern Freemasonry developed.
Filene’s Automatic Bargain Basement opened in the Boston flagship store Filene’s Basemen in 1909. It followed the first example of bargain basements, the “Bargain Room” at Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia.
In the closing lines of The Grapes of Wrath, Jane Darwell says, “Can’t nobody wipe us out. Can’t nobody lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa. We’re the people.”
Sonja Henie (1912-1969) of Norway, who won the gold medal in 1928, 1932, and 1936, won the most number of Olympic gold medals. Between 1927 and 1936, she also won 10 world figure-skating championships.
Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet star together in two movies, The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Across the Pacific (1942). Both were directed by John Huston.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote “Water, Water, everywhere/Nor any drop to drink” in his poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798). The lines are often misquoted as “and not a drop to drink.”
Marvin Neil Simon’s (1927) first Broadway play was Barefoot in the Park, about a young married couple living in New York City. It was produced in 1963.
No shells were fired by warships at the Battle of Midway. The decisive Allied victory on June 4, 1942, was significant in naval history because the two opposing fleets never fired at or even came in view of each other. The Japanese and American fleets attacked each other with submarines and planes launched from aircraft […]
The Great Plains Indians didn’t start riding horses until after 1540, when Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado, traveling through Kansas, let most of his 260 horses escape. There were no horses in America until the Spanish brought them. The Great Plains Indians tamed the descendants of these horses and made them an integral part of […]
General Winfield Scott, who also led troops in the Mexican War was “Old Fuss and Feathers”. Scott’s vain and blustering ways earned him his nickname.
In its earliest use, the phrase pin money did mean the money to buy pins, the primary fasteners for clothing before buttons and zippers were invented. But by the sixteenth century, the phrase came to mean the money used for incidentals.
The canonical hours are times of day set aside for prayer. As specified by church regulations, the divisions of the day are: matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, and compline.
In Grand Hotel (1932), to John Barrymore, Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone”.
Mark Twain said, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to”.
Hart Crane’s last words were “Goodbye, everybody!” He said it just before committing suicide by jumping off a ship in 1932.
M&M stands for Mars and Merrie. Victor Mars and his associate Mr. Merrie created the candy in 1941.
Usually made of vulcanized rubber, an ice hockey puck is 3 inches in diameter, 1 inch thick, and weighs 5.5 to 6 ounces.
The news agency the Associated Press was organized in 1848.
Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) was the grandfather of Kublai Khan (1215-1294).
The first party platform was negotiated by the Democratic Party for the 1840 election.