The author/illustrator Maurice Sendak was a designer of window displays in a toy store when he was commissioned to illustrate The Wonderful Farm by Marcel Ayme in 1951. Sendak wrote and illustrated his first children’s book, Kenny’s Window, in 1956.
Kenneth Clark’s “Civilisation,” first broadcast on BBC2 in 1969, was the first British “educational blockbuster” miniseries to be carried by PBS. It was followed by Alistair Cooke’s “America” (BBC, 1972) and Jacob Bronowski’s “Ascent of Man” (BBC, 1974).
What was the name of the club where Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) played on “I Love Lucy” (CBS, 1951-57)?
The club where Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) played on “I Love Lucy” was in New York, he played at the Tropicana. When the family moved to Connecticut, he started his own club, the Ricky Ricardo Babaloo Club.
A polecat is not a cat at all. Polecat is the common name for various weasel-like animals of the family Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, minks, and otters. Varieties of this creature include: the European polecat; the mashed, or steppe, polecat of Asia; the marbled polecat of Eurasia; and the zorilla, or African polecat. In…
In James Thurber’s short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, mild-mannered Walter Mitty imagines that he is a Navy hydroplane commander flying through a howling storm.
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.
The author of On the Road (1957) Jack Kerouac died at age forty-seven on October 21, 1969, of a massive gastric hemorrhage associated with alcoholism, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Miss Subways program, run by the New York Subway Advertising Company, started in May 1941 and ended in December 1976. Every month a Miss Subways, a woman over 17, not an actress or a model, was chosen. She was featured on signs and was given a $50 sterling silver charm with dangling subway tokens….
Born in upstate New York, Matthew Brady (c. 1823-96) worked in New York City as a clerk in the A. T. Stewart department store and as a manufacturer of jewelry cases. He opened his first daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street in 1844. He later became famous for the pictures…
The phrase “meatless Mondays” originated in World War I. Herbert Hoover, director of the Food Administration, urged Americans to observe “meatless Mondays” and “wheat-less Wednesdays” to conserve food for the war.
Gunilla Knutson coaxed men to “take it off” with Noxzema shave cream, to the strains of “The Stripper” in the 1960s.
Writer George Henry Lewes (1817-78), who was officially married to another woman, Agnes, but unable to get a divorce, was George Eliot’s (1819-80) living companion. Eliot and Lewes lived together from 1854 until his death in 1878.
Longinus’s critical treatise On the Sublime was not published in Europe until 1554. The first-century essay was then translated into several languages and gained wide prominence, eventually influencing the poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The 50 U.S. states, with their dates of admission to the Union, are listed below. The original 13 states are marked with an asterisk. Alabama-1819 Montana-1889 Alaska-1959 Nebraska-1867 Arizona-1912 Nevada-1864 Arkansas-1836 New Hampshire-1788* California-1850 New Jersey-1787* Colorado-1876 New Mexico-1912 Connecticut-1788* New York-1788* Delaware-1787* North Carolina-1789* Florida-1845 North Dakota-1889 Georgia-1788* Ohio-1803 Hawaii-1959 Oklahoma-1907 Idaho-1890 Oregon-1859 Illinois-1818…
Bar manager Catherine Genovese was stabbed to death in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York, in the early morning hours of March 13, 1964. Her neighbors looked on from their windows but ignored her calls for help. The case became a paradigm for urban lawlessness and apathy.
The letters D or P on American coins are mint marks, indicating the city in which the coin is pressed. The letter D indicates that the coin was made in Denver; P denotes Philadelphia. Pennies no longer carry mint marks.
Bwana Devil (1952) was the first film in 3-D.
No one won the Cannes Film Festival prize for Best Film in 1968. Political demonstrations led by directors like Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Claude Lelouch forced the festival to close in mid-proceedings that year.
No, Mount Rushmore is not the largest sculpture in the world. The prize goes to the sculpture of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas (“Stonewall”) Jackson that covers 1.33 acres on the face of Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia. It was created between September 12, 1963, and March 3, 1972.
Who provided the voice for Rocky the Flying Squirrel on “The Bullwinkle Show” (ABC, NBC, 1959-1963)?
Voice expert June Foray provided the voice for Rocky the Flying Squirrel on “The Bullwinkle Show”. He also provided the voices on the show for Dudley Do-Right’s girlfriend Nell, and for others.
The Brownshirts in the Nazi army were the ordinary soldiers. The Black-shirts were members of the army chosen to be bodyguards for high-ranking officials and supervisors of concentration camps. The latter were also known as the SS, short for Schutzstaffel, or elite guard.
Alistair Cooke was born in Manchester, England, on November 20, 1908, but has been an American citizen since 1941. Cooke has hosted the PBS TV series “Masterpiece Theatre” since its inception in 1971.
Twenty-nine: I Want to Hold Your There’s a Place Hand Why (with Tony Sher- She Loves You idan) Please Please Me P.S. I Love You I Saw Her Standing This Boy There Ain’t She Sweet My Bonnie (with Tony A Hard Day’s Night Sheridan) I Should Have Known From Me to You Better Twist and…
The Bug Bible was the name given to Coverdale’s Bible of 1535 because it translated Psalm 91:5 as “Thou shalt not nede to be afrayed for eny bugges by night.” The more common translation for the same Hebrew word (for example, in the King James Version) is “terror.”
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.
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) was the last sequel to Planet of the Apes (1968).
Who photographed the black-and-white ’40s episode, “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice,” on the TV series “Moonlighting” (ABC, 1985-89)?
Gerald Finnerman, who had also been the cinematographer on the TV series “Star Trek” (NBC, 1966-69), photographed the black-and-white ’40s episode, “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice,” on the TV series “Moonlighting” (ABC, 1985-89). Finnerman was nominated for an Emmy for the episode.
Ted Cassidy’s hand played Thing on the TV series “The Addams Family” (ABC, 1964-66). He also played the butler, Lurch.
Walter was the first name of the federal official named Nixon whom the U.S. Senate impeached. Walter L. Nixon, Jr., a judge of the U.S. District Court for Mississippi, was removed from office on November 3, 1989, after appearing before the Senate in its role as court of impeachment. President Richard Nixon resigned from office…
Arbor Day is a holiday for planting trees and was first observed on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska. It is now usually observed on the last Friday in April.
The first sentence of Herman Melville’s Moby Diek was “Call me Ishmael.”
Mildred Pierce was a waitress who bought an eatery that she built into a chain of restaurants.
Using the pseudonym Spectator, Frank E. Woods began the tradition in the June 1908 issue of the New York Dramatic Mirror. Six years later, the Chicago Tribune began the first regular publication of movie reviews. The first columnist was Jack Lawson; when he died shortly after the feature’s inauguration, Miss Audrie Alspaugh took over. Under…
How many Americans did Jonathan Kozol estimate were illiterate in his book Illiterate America (1985)?
Kozol said that as of 1984, 25 million Americans were functionally illiterate (reading not at all or at less than fifth grade level) and an additional 35 million were marginally illiterate (reading at less than ninth grade level). The total of 60 million represented more than a third of the adult population.
In the evening, citizens of the Roman Empire constructed their beds by placing straw into a cloth sack. The straw had to be emptied every night to dry; therefore, the beds had to be remade every night. This practice continued until the fifteenth century, in some countries, even later.
Explorer John Cabot was Italian. Born Giovanni Caboto in Genoa, Italy (c. 1450), he sailed under the English flag. He appears to have reached Newfoundland in 1497, a year before Columbus reached the American mainland. Cabot was lost at sea in 1498.
Moliere’s real name was Jean Baptiste Poquelin. Among the French playwright’s works are Tartuffe (1664) and The Misanthrope (1666).
The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams opened in New York in 1947 and ran for 855 performances.
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) inspired the movie Alien (1979). Both movies were about a spaceship with an alien stowaway.
Yes, at least since 1800. At that time, Philadelphia and Baltimore were the second and third-largest cities. Census estimates for 1986 placed Los Angeles and Chicago, respectively, in those ranks.
Jack Nicholson ordered a plain omelet, a cup of coffee, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, hold the butter, lettuce, mayonnaise, and chicken (i.e., just bring the toast), at the diner in Five Easy Pieces (1970).
One reason spilling salt is considered bad luck is because salt was once valuable and difficult to obtain. According to an old Norwegian superstition, a person is doomed to shed as many tears as it takes to dissolve the spilled salt. Another reason is the belief that spilled salt refers to the devil. In the…
The tongue-twister that kicks off a song-and dance number in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) was “Moses supposes his toses are roses but Moses supposes erroneously.”
The first president to hold a doctorate was Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the 28th president. He received a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1886. His thesis was entitled “Congressional Government, a Study in American Politics.”
Semantics is the study of meaning. Approached from the philosophical point of view, it involves the relationships between words; approached from the linguistic point of view, it deals with changes in meaning over time. Semiotics is the study of signs and the use of signs in human communication.
Leonard Bernstein led the Young People’s Concerts, for CBS.
It was brought on by the awarding of the 1932 Nobel Prize in physics to Werner Heisenberg for his uncertainty principle. The principle states that you cannot accurately know both the position and momentum of an atomic particle at the same time. Einstein believed that the principle made a mockery of cause and effect.
Fraser Clarke Heston went on to write the screenplay for The Mountain Men (1980), a film starring his father. He also wrote and produced Mother Lode (1982), again starring his father. Charlton Heston also codirected the latter film, with Joe Canutt, son of Western actor Yakima Canutt.
The wild turkey is the breed indigenous to the United States. It weighs 50 to 60 pounds, has strong legs, and can run from 15 to 20 miles per hour when scared.
George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess is based on Porgy (1925), by Du Bose Heyward. Heyward and his wife, Dorothy, won a Pulitzer prize for their dramatic version of the novel. Porgy is a crippled beggar and gambler who lives on Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. Bess is his drug-addicted mistress.
Running from the Hudson River to Lake Erie in what is now New York State, the warpath was a trail about a foot wide and six inches deep. The Iroquois traveled single file down this forest path when invading enemy territory.
Melville’s novels of the South Seas were published in this order: Typee in 1846, Omoo in 1847
There are eight time zones are there in North America. From east to west, they are: Newfoundland, Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, Yukon, and Alaskan. When it’s 9:00 A.M. in Newfoundland, it’s only 2:00 A.M. in Alaska.
The title of Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel “gone with the wind”comes from a poem by Ernest Dowson, a poet of the 1890s, called “Non Sum Qualis Eram,” or “Cynara.”
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.
Use of camouflage became standard practice in World War I. This was when airplanes were used to reconnoiter enemy encampments and to direct artillery fire. Armies found it necessary to camouflage uniforms, helmets, and equipment with the colors of leaves and brush.
Hazel Motes founded the Church Without Christ in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, “where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.” A charlatan named Onnie Jay Holy started a rival sect, the Holy Church of Christ Without Christ.
Jo March married an elderly German professor named Mr. Bhaer in Little Women.
The oldest moon material brought back to earth by the Apollo program crews has been soil-dated to 4.72 billion years.
Flury S. Truman’s inauguration was the first to be televised, in January 1949.
The infamous TV quiz show scandals were from 1958 to 1959.
Lewis Carroll’s books are said to have been written for a friend, Alice Liddell. Liddell, with three other children on an 1862 boating trip, inspired the first of the stories, which Carroll initially called Alice’s Adventures Underground. The book, with additional tales as well as illustrations, was published in 1865, followed in 1871 by Through…
What poem ends with: “And we are here as on a darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,/Where ignorant armies clash by night”?
Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” (c. 1851) ends with: “And we are here as on a darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,/Where ignorant armies clash by night”.
Yes, hares supposedly bring bad fortune. Legend has it that witches transform themselves into hares, so crossing a hare’s path may mean meeting up with a witch. Further, hares have been believed by some to be melancholy creatures; thus, eating a hare can ruin your day.
Bette Davis says, “I’d love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair” in Cabin in the Cotton (1932).
Dylan Thomas died at age thirty-nine in 1953 in New York City after drinking eighteen straight whiskeys in a bar and lapsing into a coma.
The hugely popular show “Roller Derby” ran on ABC for two years, from March 1949 to August 1951.
The rainbow in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow is the arc a rocket makes from launch to target. The novel is set in World War II Europe at the time German V-2 rockets were falling on London.
The title of Boccaccio’s The Decameron means “ten days” and refers to the number of days the narrators spend telling stories. One hundred stories are told by seven women and three men during the Black Death of 1348.
The cartoon character Mabel first appeared in 1954 advertising Carling Black Label Beer.
Divine’s real name was Harris Glenn Milstead. He was born in Baltimore in 1946 and was a high school friend of John Waters, with whom he made several films. Divine died in 1989. His last film with Waters was Hairspray (1988), in which Divine played a housewife and mother.
An American Tragedy was a 1925 novel by Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945). It was based on the murder of the pregnant Grace Brown by her boyfriend, social climber Chester Gillette, at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks in 1906.
The length of the Canadian border is 3,987 miles. The length of the Mexican border is 1,933 miles.
Best Picture—Wings (1927) (Best “Production”) Best Actor—Emil Jannings in The Last Command (1927) and The Way of All Flesh (1927) Best Actress—Janet Gaynor in Seventh Heaven (1927), Street Angel (1927), and Sunrise (1927) Best Director—Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven (1927)
Named by the studio, not the Brothers Grimm, the Seven Dwarfs were: Bashful Doc Dopey Grumpy Happy Sleepy and Sneezy.
Acute appendicitis overcame the former Erich Weiss known as Harry Houdini on October 31, 1926, Halloween. He was 52 years old.
The USSR was composed of 15 republics: Armenia Lithuania Azerbaijan Moldavia Belorussia Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) Estonia Georgia Tadzhikistan Kazakhstan Turkmenistan Kirghizia Ukraine Latvia Uzbekistan
The earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago.
What is the one thing that history has taught us, according to Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in The Godfather, Part II (1974)?
According to Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in The Godfather, Part II (1974), the one thing that history has taught us is “That you can kill anybody.”
Ten hours before the surprise attack on December 7, 1941, Americans intercepted a 14-part Japanese message. They deciphered it at 4:37 A.M., Washington time, just hours before the attack, but the message remained in the code room; not until three hours later was it delivered to President Roosevelt. By 11:00 A.M., the U.S. chief of…
The American-born dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927), long an advocate of radical politics, went to Moscow in 1921 at the invitation of Anatoly Lunacharsky, Soviet commissar of enlightenment. In Moscow, she founded a school and married poet Sergei Essenin.
On March 4, 1841, President William Henry Harrison gave the longest address, at about 8,500 words. Harrison delivered the 100-minute speech outdoors without an overcoat in bitterly cold weather. He caught pneumonia and died on April 4, 1841, one month after taking office. What president gave the shortest inaugural address? At his second inaugural in…
W. E. B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), wrote “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others”. Du Bois took issue with Washington’s idea that blacks had to prove their worth to whites. Du Bois encouraged blacks to take pride in their African origins and to struggle for political, educational, and economic…
Martina Navratilova was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on October 18, 1956, as Martina Subertova. When her mother later divorced and remarried, Martina took the name of her stepfather, Miroslav Navratil, adding the traditional feminine ending ova. She moved to the United States in September 1975 during the U.S. Open.
Bananas did not come from South America. Bananas first grew in tropical Asia and were eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Banana plants were transported from the Canary Islands off northwest Africa to the Americas soon after the New World was discovered.
By crossing the Atlantic on May 20-21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh won the $25,000 award offered by a New York hotel owner.
The U.S. national debt grew about sixfold during World War II. In 1940, the national debt was $43 billion. At the end of World War II, it was $258.7 billion.
Henry David Thoreau wrote “That government is best which governs least”, in his essay, “Civil Disobedience” (1849).
The title of Francis Bacon’s 1620 philosophical treatise Novum Organum means literally “new instrument.” It alludes to Aristotle’s treatise on logic and the theory of science, commonly known as the Organon.
“The Flying Nun” (ABC, 1967-70) was based on the novel The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere Rios.