Katharine Hepburn’s film debut was A Bill of Divorcement (1932).
The four Lennon Sisters were Diane, Peggy, Kathy, and Janet. They were regulars on “The Lawrence Welk Show” (ABC, 1955-71) from 1955 to 1968.
Mike Altman, son of the film’s director, Robert Altman, wrote the lyrics of “Suicide Is Painless,” theme song of M*A*S*H (1970). Johnny Mandel composed the music.
Yes, Mr. Memory (Wylie Watson) in The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935) was based on a real person. Director Alfred Hitchcock said the man with the phenomenal memory was based on a music hall performer known as Datas.
Dorothy’s last name in The Wizard of Oz is Gale.
Airplanes were first used by the U.S. armed forces unsuccessfully in 1916 against Pancho Villa in Mexico. In 1917, the First Aero Squadron, the first air unit, fought in World War I.
A crocodile ate Captain Hook’s hand, then followed him around the seas in search of more of him in James M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan.
According to a Gallup poll, washing the dishes far outweighs its closest competitors, cleaning the bathroom and ironing. Seventeen percent of those questioned listed doing the dishes first; only 8.8 percent named cleaning the bathroom and 8.5 percent named ironing, with 9.8 percent saying they didn’t know what they didn’t like.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 58,135 Americans were killed and 153,303 wounded. It is estimated that 1.3 million Vietnamese lost their lives.
What figure of Greek mythology is crushed by fate in Jean Cocteau’s tragedy The Infernal Machine (1934)?
Oedipus is crushed by fate in Jean Cocteau’s tragedy The Infernal Machine.
No. Identical twins do not have the same fingerprints.
Composer, Rod McKuen sang the hit song “Jean” over the credits of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). But the single that reached Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100 Chart” in 1969 was sung by folk singer Oliver.
Buckingham Palace was built by the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. It became the London residence of British royalty in 1837.
What classical writer was the first to record the story about the runner who ran from Marathon to Athens, and then died?
The classical writer who was the first to record the story about the runner who ran from Marathon to Athens, and then died was Lucian of Samosata, a writer of satirical essays of the second century A.D. Where he got the story is unknown. He claimed that Philippides (also known as Pheidippides) ran about twenty-five…
The original camel for Camel cigarettes was an Arabian dromedary named “Old Joe” that appeared in the Barnum & Bailey Circus at the turn of the century. At that time, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was looking for an exotic name and concept to link with its new Oriental and Turkish blend cigarette. On…
The slogan was invented by columnist Walter Winchell (1897-1972) in 1940.
The two U.S. beachheads at Normandy in the D-Day invasion were Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. The beachheads were secured in the invasion of June 6, 1944.
Boz. Charles Dickens George Eliot. Mary Ann Evans George Orwell. Eric Arthur Blair Ellery Queen. Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee Stendhal. Marie-Henri Beyle Saki. Hector Hugh Munro Voltaire. Francois-Marie Arouet Maksim Gorki. Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov
In what Hitchcock film did Jerry Mathers (TV’s Beaver on “Leave It to Beaver,” CBS, ABC, 1957-63) appear?
Jerry Mathers (TV’s Beaver on “Leave It to Beaver,” CBS, ABC, 1957-63) appeared on the Hitchcock film The Trouble With Harry (1956). Mathers played Tony, Harry’s son.
Eighty men, aboard 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers, took part in Doolittle’s 1942 raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. Launched from the carrier USS Hornet, the planes bombed five Japanese cities: Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, Nagoya, and Osaka. The raid rattled the Japanese and boosted American morale at a time when Japan seemed invincible.
The highest was 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit at El Azizia, Libya, on September 13, 1922. The lowest was –129 degrees Fahrenheit at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.
What was the name of the daughter of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind (1936)?
The name of the daughter of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was Bonnie Blue Butler. She is killed at an early age in a riding accident.
After hitting an undersea reef, the oil tanker the Exxon Valdez spilled over 10 million gallons into the Alaskan waters on March 24, 1989, in the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Lately, about five years is how often a new Stanley Kubrick movie is released. In Kubrick’s early period, from Fear and Desire (1953) to Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), an average of 1.8 years passed between release of Kubrick’s films. From Dr. Strangelove to Full Metal…
The “N” in SNCC stood for “nonviolent” when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was founded in April 1960 by sit-in veterans who wanted to step up the pace of nonviolent direct action for equal rights. As the 1960s wore on, SNCC leaders became frustrated with white repression of the civil rights movement and began to…
The National Football League was founded in 1920 in Canton, Ohio. Originally called the American Professional Football Association, it adopted its name in 1922. Athlete Jim Thorpe was its first president. The NFL and the American Football League merged in 1970 to create the new 26-team NFL.
Hamartia is the fatal flaw that brings a good character to ruin. Hubris is pride, the classic example of hamartia.
There are about 2,500 saints with feast days, 200 fewer than in the earlier years of the twentieth century. In 1969, the Vatican removed the feast days of over 200 saints from the liturgical calendar because they were of only regional interest or because there were no records of whether the saints had lived. Among…
The first federal prison in America opened in Auburn, New York in 1821. To regulate prisoner activity, Auburn employed what came to be known as the Auburn system. In the hopes of instilling discipline and effecting rehabilitation, the Auburn system required inmates to work silently in groups. When not working, inmates were confined in silence…
The first black person to win the prize, the American statesman and civil rights leader Ralph Bunche earned the honor of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for mediating an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1949.
Gene Autry’s “Ten Commandments of a Cowboy” were: 1. A cowboy never takes unfair advantage, even of an enemy. 2. A cowboy never betrays a trust. 3. A cowboy always tells the truth. 4. A cowboy is kind to small children, to old folks, and to animals. 5. A cowboy is free from racial and…
Harold Stassen ran for the presidency three times, though it seems like more. Born in 1907, Harold Edward Stassen, governor of Minnesota from 1938 to 1945, tried unsuccessfully to win the Republican nomination in 1948, 1964, and 1968. He has gone on trying in the comedy routines of others ever since.
Alfred Hitchcock wrote the foreword to the first edition of Hall-well’s Filmgoer’s Companion (1965). Leslie Halliwell, pioneer film encyclopedist, died in January, 1989.
The average time the 17th- and 18th-century peasants and laborers spent to pay off the debt incurred by their passage to America (about $100) was four years.
William H. Bonney (1859-81), the New York-born symbol of the outlaw West also known as Billy the Kid, was shot dead by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Barely into his twenties, Bonney had become infamous as a cattle rustler in frontier New Mexico.
Although there are many likely candidates, the source for the phrase is Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977). He former president and chancellor of the University of Chicago, dean of the Yale Law School, and chairman of the board for the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Spiro Agnew resign from the vice-presidency on October 10, 1973. Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency less than a year later, on August 9, 1974, at 11:35 A.M. Gerald R. Ford replaced both of them. As representative from Michigan and House minority leader, Ford was chosen to replace Agnew as vice-president, then succeeded to the…
The four dancers known as the Ding-a-Ling Sisters came from the larger dancing group, the Golddiggers. They appeared on “The Dean Martin Show” (NBC, 1965-74) from 1970 to 1973.
The first drive-in movie opened on a 40-acre parking lot in Camden, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933. The creation of New Jersey entrepreneurs Richard M. Hollinshead, Jr., and Willis Smith started a nationwide craze. During its peak, in 1958, there were over 4,000 drive-ins across America. As of 1992, there were fewer than 1,000…
Chaucer’s pilgrims are going to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas a Becket, former archbishop of Canterbury. Becket had been assassinated in the cathedral in 1170, following a political disagreement with King Henry II. Pilgrimage to the shrine was a popular journey at the time the Tales were written (c. 1387-1400).
“Radar” O’Reilly’s real name in the 1970 film and 1972-83 CBS TV series “M*A*S*H*” was Walter. Gary Burghoff played the character in both TV and film.
Tassajara, founded in Big Sur, California, in 1967 by Richard Baker and Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, was the first Zen Buddhist monastery in the U.S.
Neat is a now obsolete term for cattle. Neat’s-foot oil is the oil extracted from the hooves and slim bones of oxen or cattle. In olden days, the oil was also used as medicine and as shoe polish.
Muslims of central and western Asia use prayer rugs to cover the ground while they pray. The rugs feature a distinctive arch-shaped design, a prayer niche, or mihrtib, on one end of the carpet. The mihrab must be pointed toward Mecca while the person is praying.
World Trade Center. 1,350 feet high, 110 stories Empire State Building. 1,250 feet high, 102 stories (with the 164-foot television tower included, it is 1,414 feet high) Chrysler Building. 1,046 feet high, 77 stories AT&T Building. 950 feet high, 67 stories 40 Wall Tower. 927 feet high, 71 stories
Leo Tolstoy served in the Crimean War (1853-56), though he is best known for his treatment of the Napoleonic Wars in War and Peace (1863-69).
The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (1949), starring Betty Grable, was advertised with the line, “She’s got the biggest six-shooters in the West!”.
Formulated in 1823 by President James Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, the Monroe Doctrine warned that the U.S. would not tolerate new colonization of the Americas by European powers, while promising that the U.S. would not interfere with existing colonies or with European governments.
This ancient creature called the coelacanth existed 350 million years ago. Scientists had believed that the fish became extinct 60 million years ago, until a living specimen was caught in the Indian Ocean off southern Africa in 1938.
Rocket J. Squirrel, Bullwinkle J. Moose, Boris Badenov, and Natasha Fatale. “The Bullwinkle Show” aired on ABC (and later NBC) from 1959 to 1963 in 147 episodes.
Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks were the artists who founded United Artists. They founded this producing, releasing, and distributing company in 1919.
The Black Cat (1934) was the first film to pair Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
The New York Film Critics, established 1935, was established before the National Society of Film Critics. The National Society of Film Critics, considered more avant-garde than the older group, was founded in 1966. Both give annual recognition to the best work in films.
Avoirdupois weight is the system we use whenever we measure a grain, dram (27.3 grains), ounce (16 drams), or pound (16 ounces).
Born in 1266, Beatrice Portinari, wife of Simone de’ Bardi, was Dante’s junior by one year. They were in their youth when Dante (1265-1321) fell in love with her. She died in 1290, leaving Dante in mourning. He wrote about her in the Vita Nuova (1294) and the Divine Comedy (1321).
Geena Davis’s screen debut was in Tootsie (1982), where she played the dressing-room mate of Dustin Hoffman.
Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia are all located wholly or in part on the Balkan peninsula. The peninsula lies between the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea. The Balkan Peninsula is one of the three great peninsulas of southern Europe, the others being the Iberian and the Italian.
In the early United States, the “Old Northwest” represented much of what we would now call the Midwest. Organized as the Northwest Territory in 1787, it was the area bounded by the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Britain had acquired it from France in the French and Indian War,…
Sprinters Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos, winners of medals in the 200-meter event, raised their fists in a “black power” salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics. The 1968 Olympics from Mexico City were televised in the United States on ABC.
Desreta Jackson, who played Celie as a child in The Color Purple (1985).
Roman citizens wore the woolen garment called the toga when they were in public. There were three types of togas: the toga pieta, embroidered with golden stars and worn by emperors and victorious generals; the toga virilis, the unadorned white toga worn by males fifteen and older; and the toga praetexta, bordered in purple and…
Alphonso D’Abruzzo. Robert Alda Gladys Greene. Jean Arthur Albert Einstein. Albert Brooks Richard Jenkins. Richard Burton Tula Finklea. Cyd Charisse Lily Chauchoin. Claudette Colbert Declan McManus. Elvis Costello Alexandra Zuck. Sandra Dee Margarita Cansino. Rita Hayworth Krishna Bhanji. Ben Kingsley Laszlo Loewenstein. Peter Lorre Susan Tomaling. Susan Sarandon Michael Shalhoub. Omar Sharif Gordon Sumner. Sting
During his first term (1861-65), Abraham Lincoln’s vice-president was Hannibal Hamlin of Maine. During his second term (1865), it was Andrew Johnson of North Carolina, who succeeded Lincoln upon his assassination.
No comets, novae, or supernovae are recorded for 6 B.C., the estimated year of Christ’s birth. But there was one odd celestial event that stargazing Wise Men might have observed and thought to be the Star of Bethlehem. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn came close together in a small triangle, as they do once every 805…
In her popular manual for housewives, The American Woman’s Home, published with her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1869, Beecher encouraged a systematic and orderly approach to the noble duties of housework. She suggested this schedule: Monday—prepare for the week Tuesday—wash Wednesday—iron Thursday—iron, mend, fold and put away clothes Friday—sweep and clean the house Saturday—arrange…
There have been four Madison Square Gardens, but only the first two were on Madison Square, at Madison Avenue and East Twenty-sixth Street. The first arena, originally a railroad depot, was given the name Madison Square Garden in 1879. The second was designed by Stanford White and built in 1890. The third, located between Forty-ninth…
This 1903 creation Sanka is a contraction of the French phrase sans cafeine. The first decaffeinated coffee arrived in America by accident that year: A shipload of coffee coming from Europe to coffee importer Dr. Ludwig Roselius became waterlogged, and thus decaffeinated.
Who played Spock’s love interest Leila on the “Star Trek” (NBC, 1966-69) episode called “This Side of Paradise”?
Jill Ireland played Spock’s love interest Leila on the “Star Trek” (NBC, 1966-69) episode called “This Side of Paradise”.
The bad guys on the TV series “Batman” (1966-68) were: Penguin—Burgess Meredith Catwoman—Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, and Lee Merlwether Joker—Cesar Romero Riddler—Frank Gorshin and John Astin King Tut—Victor Buono Egghead—Vincent Price The Archer—Van Johnson Lola Lasagne—Ethel Merman Lord Marmaduke Ffogg—Rudy Vallee The Siren—Joan Collins Chandel—Liberace Louie the Lilac—Milton Berle
The English author of Middlemarch (1871-72), George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans.
In the 1970s, the author of Flaubert’s Parrot (1984) Julian Barnes wrote the “Edward Pygge” gossip column for the British periodical, The New Review.
Nielsen Media Services reported in 1990-91 that the average American (older than one year) watches 28 hours 13 minutes of television per week, about four hours per day.
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) inspired the movie Alien (1979). Both movies were about a spaceship with an alien stowaway.
The People’s (or Populist) Party nominated James Baird Weaver, a Union general from Iowa, as their presidential candidate at their first national convention on July 4, 1892. His running mate was James C. Field, a Confederate general from Virginia. The party was supported by farmers and workers discontented with the dominant parties.
Gene Wilder’s character in Young Frankenstein (1974) was Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, pronounced “FRONK-ensteen.”
Only one ancient Norse settlement has been discovered in North America. The remains of a colony at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland were discovered by Norwegian archeologists in the 1960s. Settled in the 11th century, it may have been a staging area for explorations to the south.
The Trojan priest Laocoon who was killed by sea serpents is a character in Vergil’s Aeneid (c. 19 B.C.).
The Apache leader Geronimo (1829-1908) was known to his tribe as Goyathlay, meaning “One Who Yawns.” The nickname Geronimo is probably a corruption of the Spanish name Jeronimo.
The capitals of the 50 states are: Alabama – Montgomery Alaska – Juneau Arizona – Phoenix Arkansas – Little Rock California – Sacramento Colorado – Denver Connecticut – Hartford Delaware – Dover Florida – Tallahassee Georgia – Atlanta Hawaii – Honolulu Idaho – Boise Illinois – Springfield Indiana – Indianapolis Iowa – Des Moines Kansas…
With whom does Kugelmass have an affair in Woody Allen’s short story “The Kugelmass Episode” (1977)?
Kugelmass has an affair with Emma Bovary in Woody Allen’s short story “The Kugelmass Episode”. The Great Persky projects the bored professor into Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1856) and Emma Bovary into modern Manhattan.
Only one black woman, itinerant preacher and abolitionist Sojourner Truth, attended the first National Woman’s Rights Convention. The convention was held in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1850.
“In a Pickwickian sense” refers to the joking use of insulting words or epithets. The phrase comes from Dickens’s Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Samuel Pickwick exchanges barbs in just such a friendly way with Mr. Blotton in Chapter One.
The Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, was America’s first national monument.
The symbol © a circled U on kosher food represents the approval of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
The TV show Dallas was not set in Dallas, but nearby in rural Braddock, Texas. The Ewing ranch there was called Southfork.
There are rare instances of elephants living 70 years and killer whales to 90. But humans, with their outside limit of about 120 years, have the longest overall life span.
Theodore Roosevelt, who invited Booker T. Washington, was the first president to invite an African-American man to the White House.
The second movie mentioned by name in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer (1961) is The Third Man (1949), directed by Carol Reed.
The highest tariff in U.S. history was the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, a 1930 protectionist bill that placed a duty of about 60 percent on imported goods. Aimed at alleviating the Depression, the tariff instead sparked a trade war and worsened economic conditions in the U.S. and Europe.
The Russian Bloody Sunday was January 9, 1905, when a workers’ march on the czar’s Winter Palace was cut down by cossacks. About a thousand people were killed or wounded; the event sparked the Revolution of 1905. The Irish Bloody Sunday took place on January 30, 1972, when British soldiers shot and killed 13 Catholics…