About 300,000 persons lived in the city of Athens during the Age of Pericles. Slightly less populous than modern Albuquerque, New Mexico, with its 330,000-plus inhabitants.
Ismail Merchant was born in 1936 in Bombay, India. James Ivory was born in 1928 in Berkeley, California. The two have collaborated since 1961.
“Mirror, Mirror,” where Leonard Nimoy portrays an evil Spock in a barbaric parallel universe, features Spock with a beard.
Genghis Khan was born circa 1162 and died in 1227. His real name was Temiijin; the title Genghis Khan meant “universal ruler.” He ruled Mongolia, conquered China, devastated the Muslim empire of Khwarizm (now part of Soviet Uzbekistan), and raided Persia and Russia.
The Watts riots of 1965 lasted six days, beginning on August 12, 1965. The riot in the largely black Watts district of Los Angeles involved up to 10,000 people. Thirty-four people, most of them black, were killed. Nearly 4,000 people were arrested. Whole blocks were burned, with nearly 1,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. Damage was … Read more
President Teddy Roosevelt drew this unflattering nickname “muckraker” for early 20th-century investigative reporters from the 17th-century allegory Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. In this book, a muckraker is a worker too busy gathering dirt and debris to see the celestial crown overhead.
The Flintstone family car ran through the courtesy of Fred’s two feet in “The Flintstones”.
In 1992, 98 percent of U.S. households had a TV set. Sixty-five percent had two or more. Seventy-seven percent had videocassette recorders.
Lena Olin was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1955.
The Continental Baths, where Manilow joined Midler in 1970, were located in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel between West Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth Streets in New York City. The club closed several years ago.
The slogan was invented by columnist Walter Winchell (1897-1972) in 1940.
The National Legion of Decency was formed in 1934, by a group of Roman Catholic bishops. Through it, films were reviewed and rated for their decency. If the movie was not approved, a boycott was advised.
Pamela’s last name in Samuel Richard-son’s Pamela was Andrews.
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 … Read more
Influenza was responsible for the most deadly epidemic in U.S. history. An epidemic from March to November 1918 killed over 500,000 people nationwide.
Strong and light, the skeleton of the average person accounts for less than 20 percent of body weight.
The first political party in America was the Federalist Party, founded in 1790 by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. Around the same time, Thomas Jefferson built a rival organization that became known as the Republican or Democratic-Republican Party.
The first presidential mansion was located at One Cherry Street in New York City. It was not called the White House. George Washington lived there from April 23, 1789, to February 23, 1790.
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.
Bill Clinton was born in the small town of Hope, Arkansas, but was raised in the city of Hot Springs from the age of four.
In Charles Dickens’s 1847-48 novel of that name, Dombey and Son was a shipping firm.
The use of Ain’t as a substitute for am not or are not dates back to the reign of King Charles II, about 300 years. It is unclear how or why it became unacceptable in the English Language.
Two actors have played Mickey Spillane’s detective Mike Hammer on TV: Darren McGavin, in “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” (synd., 1957-59); and Stacy Keach in “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” (CBS, 1984-87).
Henry Ford adopted the eight-hour day and five-day week to alleviate a depression in the auto industry in 1926. The move to reduce working hours curbed overproduction and unemployment in the industry.
The surname of the Columbia professor Edward Said who wrote Orientalism (1978) and The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983) is pronounced SAH-eed. The surname of the Columbia professor who wrote Orientalism (1978) and The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983) is pronounced SAH-eed.
The average credit card holder in the U.S. owes $2,317 on credit cards, according to the Nilson Report, Santa Monica, California. About 60 percent of American adults own at least one credit card.
The great Sarah Bernhardt, in Queen Elizabeth (1912, France), was the first actress to play Queen Elizabeth I.
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.
Mrs. Dalloway’s first name is Clarissa. Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway was published in 1925.
General Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War (1846-48) and president from 1849 to 1850 was “Old Rough and Ready”. Taylor got the nickname for his plain habits and blunt demeanor.
Aphra Behn (1640-89), author of the play The Rover (1677) and the novel Oroonoko (1688). She wrote under the pseudonym Astrea.
The first woman formally nominated for the U.S. presidency was Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917), feminist and lawyer, who was nominated in 1884 and 1888 as the candidate of the National Equal Rights Party. An advocate of equal rights for women and international peace, Lockwood was also the first woman admitted to practice law before the … Read more
It took about two weeks to make an average “B” movie in the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s-1940s. Or more precisely, between twelve to eighteen days.
Mrs. Malaprop appeared in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rivals. She had a habit of misusing words in sentences like “I would by no means wish a daughter of mine to be a progeny of learning.” The character gave rise to the term malapropism.
In Stendhal’s 1830 novel The Red and the Black, the red refers to Napoleon’s colors or the military life, the black to the clergy or religious life.
David Hartman was the first host of “Good Morning America” (ABC, 1975).
D Day is a standard military term referring to the day set for the beginning of an attack. The D stands for “Day” (Day-Day). Similarly, the time for an attack is H-Hour (Hour-Hour). The most famous D Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, took place on June 6, 1944.
Yes, King George III really went insane. The English king (1738-1820) probably suffered from an inherited blood disorder called porphyria, which affects the nervous system. In 1788, he became violently insane and had to be put in a straitjacket. He recovered but eventually suffered a relapse. After 1811, his son, the future George IV, served … Read more
The first person to die in the gas chamber was Gee Jon. He was convicted of assassinating a member of a rival Chinese tong and died in a gas chamber in Nevada State Prison in Carson City on February 8, 1924. The idea of the gas chamber was introduced by Major D. A. Turner of … Read more
The two men who laid the Mason-Dixon line gave it its name. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon laid the line sometime between 1763 and 1767 at 39°43’26” north latitude. Originally it was the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Later it marked the line between slave states and free states.
“I Love Lucy” ran for six seasons, from October 15, 1951, to June 24, 1957.
Yes, an airplane has indeed crashed into the Empire State Building. On July 28, 1945, a U.S. Army bomber crashed into the New York landmark, killing 13.
The term applies to several species of the herring family. This includes the common herring of the North Atlantic, the European pilchard, and members of the genus Sardinops found in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
The first used-car dealership was the Motor Car Company of London, which opened in September 1897. It offered 17 secondhand vehicles, ranging in price from £30 to £335.
Central Park in New York first opened to the public in October 1858.
Warner Baxter played Gatsby in the first, silent version of The Great Gatsby (1926). Lois Wilson played Daisy Buchanan.
Novelist Jamaica Kincaid was born in St. John’s, Antigua, in the West Indies, in 1949. Her given name is Elaine Potter Richardson. St. John’s, Antigua, in the West Indies, in 1949. Her given name is Elaine Potter Richardson.
Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker directed Airplane! (1980). David and Jerry are brothers.
The first woman in space was Valentina V. Tereshkova of the USSR. She made 48 orbits of the earth in a three-day mission in Vostok 6, June 16 to 19, 1963.
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.
For Me and My Gal (1942) was Gene Kelly’s film debut.
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, … Read more
American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson originated the phrase “the shot heard round the world” in his poem “Concord Hymn” (1836). The poem memorialized the Battle of Lexington and Concord of 1775, the first battle of the War of Independence.
The quote “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it” refers to the bombardment of the city of Ben Tre, South Vietnam, during the Tet Offensive in 1968. The army major who said it was unidentified.
Yes, if you heat them to somewhere between 1,400 to 1,607 degrees Fahrenheit, diamonds will burn. A blowtorch will do the trick. Diamonds are composed of pure carbon and will convert into graphite under such temperatures.
Frusen Gladje means “frozen delight” in Swedish. Founded in 1980 by Richard Smith, Frusen Glädjé was a company that made ice cream in the United States. The name was intentionally Swedish sounding. As of this writing, Frusen Gladje does not exist anymore and has disappeared.
A U-2 was an American high-altitude reconnaissance plane. The plane became infamous when a U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960, sparking an international incident.
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).
The rockets that the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner” refers to were Congreve rockets, invented by Sir Thomas Congreve and used by the British in the War of 1812. The noisy, hissing missiles, 42 inches long, were used throughout the British campaigns in Maryland in 1813-14. The rockets initially terrified the Americans but proved to … Read more
Growing out of a 19th-century social group called the Jolly Cooks, the association, the Elks, now known as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was formed in 1868 from a desire to broaden their pursuits to include patriotism and public service. They chose the name Elk to project a wholly American image and to … Read more
You need two teams with four players each and horses for all of them in a polo game. The aim is to drive a wooden ball down a grass field and between two goalposts.
The Chicago O’Hare airport is named for Edward Henry O’Hare, a U.S. aviator who shot down five Japanese planes on November 27, 1943. He is credited with saving the U.S. aircraft carrier Lexington. He died in the air battle.
The “ungainly fowl” quoths “Nevermore” six times in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” first published in 1845.
Four state capitals are named after presidents. They are Jackson, Mississippi; Jefferson City, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Madison, Wisconsin.
Albert Goodwill Spalding (1850-1915) co-founded the sporting goods firm “A. G. Spalding and Brothers” in 1876. Born in Byron, Illinois, Spalding pitched for Boston and Chicago and helped to found the National League.
David Wilmot was a congressman from Pennsylvania who in 1846 proposed an amendment to a military appropriations bill that slavery be forbidden in any territory obtained from Mexico during or after the Mexican War (1846-48). The amendment passed in the House but not the Senate.
The Angry Young Men were a group of British playwrights and novelists in the 1950s, including John Osborne, Kingsley Amis, and Alan Sillitoe. Their politics were left-wing; their favorite theme was alienation.
The first modern Olympics, held in Athens, Greece, in April 1896, featured the following sports: cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming (including diving, synchronized swimming, water polo), track and field, weight lifting, and wrestling.
John Lupton played Jesse James in Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966), but nobody played Frankenstein’s daughter. Narda Onyx played Maria Frankenstein, the baron’s granddaughter.
Yes, there really was a John Deere. In 1839, he invented the steel plow, which, along with Cyrus McCormick’s 1834 invention, the reaper, changed the face of American agriculture.
Beatrice was probably Beatrice Portinari, daughter of a noble Florentine family and wife of Simone de’ Bardi. She died at the age of twenty-four on June 8,1290, more than two decades before the Divine Comedy was completed. Dante fell in love with her when they were both children and dedicated most of his poetry to … Read more
Duane Jones played the black hero Ben in Night of the Living Dead (1968).
From left to right, the U.S. presidents are carved on Mount Rushmore are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
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 … Read more
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers starred in ten films together. They are: 1. Flying Down to Rio (1933) 2. The Gay Divorcee (1934) 3. Roberta (1935) 4. Top Hat (1935) 5. Follow the Fleet (1936) 6. Swing Time (1936) 7. Shall We Dance (1937) 8. Carefree (1938) 9. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle … Read more
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 … Read more
The beverage we know as tea was originated in China around 2700 B.C. It became popular in England, Holland, and America by the early eighteenth century A.D. The British custom of afternoon tea was introduced about 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford. Iced tea was first introduced at the 1904 world’s fair, called the Louisiana … Read more
The Heisman Trophy has been awarded since 1935 by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City to the country’s top college football player.
There were four film versions of Batman in 1989. There was Batman, a 15-chapter Columbia serial in 1943, with Lewis Wilson in the title role. Then came Batman and Robin, another Columbia serial in 1949, starring Robert Lowery. In 1966, 20th Century-Fox released a feature film called Batman based on the television series and starring … Read more
Warren Beatty (Clyde Barrow) said, when describing his profession, “We rob banks” in Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
The real name of the hospital nicknamed “St. Elsewhere” was St. Eligius in Boston. It received its nickname because other hospitals dumped their unwanted patients there.
About 100,000 hairs are on a human head. Human hairs grow about 0.01 inch every day.
The first to approximate the speed of light roughly was French physicist Armand Fizeau (1819-1896). In 1849 Fizeau obtained a value for the speed of light that was about 5 percent too high. Fizeau’s contemporary Jean Foucault (1819-1868) obtained the first accurate measurement (within 1 percent of the correct speed) in 1862.
Pulitzer Prize judges and trustees were divided so sharply over Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow that for only the seventh time in Pulitzer history no award was given.
In President Franklin Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941, message to Congress, Roosevelt called for a world where these “Four Freedoms” were protected: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
The last poem of Lyrical Ballads is Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.”
According to 1980 figures, the average worker’s one-way trip covered 9.2 miles and took 20.4 minutes. By far the favorite mode of transportation for workers was the private vehicle (car, motorcycle, or truck), accounting for 84.3 percent. Those who took public transportation comprised 6.3 percent, and 5.5 percent walked. The remainder used other means or … Read more
In 1901, John Pierpont Morgan financed the merger that resulted in the formation of U.S. Steel, the first billion-dollar company.
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.
Chinese astronomers made the first recorded observation of Halley’s comet in 240 B.C. In 1705, English astronomer Edmund Halley was the first to theorize that comets travel in regular orbits around the sun. Proposing that “the great comet” observed in 1682 made periodic visits about every 76 years, he predicted that it would return in … Read more