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Zile de nastere - Birthdays

Representing her native Netherlands, Blankers-Koen made her Olympic debut at the 1936 Berlin Games but failed to medal. Two years later, she set her first world record in track and field. Unfortunately for her, both the 1940 and 1944 Games were cancelled due to WWII, so she had to wait until 1948's Summer Games in London to compete again. In addition to losing precious years, the athlete gave birth twice in the interim. Still, she went on to win four gold medals in London, earning what nickname? Discuss
Mortimer was imprisoned in 1322 for opposing King Edward II, but he escaped to France. When Edward II's queen, Isabella, came to France in 1325, Mortimer became her lover. Together they invaded England in 1326 and routed Edward, whom they forced to abdicate and later had murdered. Having secured the crown for young Edward III, Mortimer, with Isabella, virtually ruled England and acquired great wealth. In 1330, he was seized by Edward III, convicted by Parliament, and executed by what means? Discuss
One of the great English novelists, Trollope spent seven unhappy years in London as a postal clerk before transferring to Ireland in 1841. Soon after, while still working for the postal service, he began writing. Working mainly before breakfast and at a fixed rate of 1,000 words an hour, he produced 47 novels, including the six interconnected Barsetshire novels and the highly regarded, satirical The Way We Live Now. What did he describe as "the most wretched fortnight of my manhood"? Discuss
Short and heavyset, Douglas was dubbed "the Little Giant" for his oratorical skill. In 1858, he engaged in a number of widely publicized debates with Abraham Lincoln in a close contest for the Senate seat in Illinois. The Democrats nominated Douglas for president in 1860, but a splinter group of Southerners chose a different nominee, which divided the Democratic vote and gave the presidency to Lincoln. What extraordinary gesture was Douglas said to have offered at Lincoln's inauguration in 1861? Discuss
A dual citizen of Italy and the US, Levi-Montalcini did her most important work with American biochemist Stanley Cohen. Studying mouse tumors implanted in chicken embryos, the pair isolated a nerve-growth factor in 1952, the first of many cell-growth factors found in animals. For this discovery, they were awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In 2001, she was made a "senator for life" in the Italian senate. In what unusual place did Levi-Montalcini build her first laboratory? Discuss
Shaw studied at Hamilton College but was expelled for removing the clapper from the chapel bell. After a roving life as farmer, explorer, and coal miner, he settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, as an auctioneer and real estate dealer. In 1860, using the pseudonym Josh Billings, he began to write humorous sketches and homespun philosophies in rural dialect—often with intentionally crude misspellings—and soon became a popular lecturer. What are some of Shaw's best aphorisms? Discuss
A highly decorated American naval officer and WWII veteran, Beach became the naval aide to the US president following the war. In his free time, he wrote. Drawing on his wartime experiences, Beach penned 13 books. His first and best-known published work, 1955's Run Silent, Run Deep, was made into a film of the same name in 1958. In 1960, Beach commanded the first submerged circumnavigation aboard the USS Triton, an American nuclear-powered submarine unique for having two what? Discuss
One of the leading sex symbols of the 1950s, Mansfield reportedly spoke five languages, played the violin, and claimed an IQ of over 150. However, the provocative image she presented to the public was carefully crafted, and she was best known for her film roles as a "blonde bombshell" and her many appearances in photographs. Her tragic death at the age of 34 in a car accident led to the mandating of underride guards on tractor-trailer trucks in the US. What well-known actress is her daughter? Discuss
Smith was the first African American to obtain a medical degree and operate a pharmacy in the US. Denied admission to American colleges due to racial discrimination, he studied in Scotland, obtaining a series of degrees. After returning to New York, he became the first professionally trained black physician in the country. He wrote forcefully against common misconceptions and false notions about race, science, and medicine and once used statistics to refute what argument about slaves? Discuss
Bandaranaike's husband became prime minister of Ceylon in 1956 and was assassinated three years later. In the election that followed, Bandaranaike's party was victorious—making her the world's first female prime minister. She headed two coalition governments and served again as prime minister when she was appointed by her daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, who was elected president in 1994. While in office, Bandaranaike promoted a new constitution that changed the country's name to what? Discuss
Franklin was a British Royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer who also served as governor of Tasmania. He is best remembered for presiding over a doomed expedition in the 1840s to chart the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic. He and his crew fell prey to a host of ills, including starvation, disease, and lead poisoning. Of the entire expedition of nearly 130 men, not one is known to have survived. What evidence suggests that some of the crew members may have resorted to cannibalism? Discuss
When Smith was just a teen, she became the protégée of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, one of the earliest blues singers. After making recordings, she quickly became the favorite singer of the jazz public. The power and somber beauty of her voice, coupled with songs representing every variety of the blues, earned her the title "Empress of the Blues." Numerous critics have regarded her as the greatest of all jazz artists, and her fame increased enormously after her death in what tragic accident? Discuss
A member of the caste of Dalits—once known as Untouchables—Ambedkar obtained his education abroad. He returned to his native India and worked in law before entering politics. In 1947, he became the law minister of the government of India and was instrumental in framing the Indian constitution. In that capacity, he made great strides in fighting for the rights of Dalits, even criticizing Gandhi's position on the caste system. How did the two Indian leaders differ in their approaches? Discuss
A member of the aristocratic Rothschild banking family, Philippe was one of the most successful winemakers in the world. In the 1920s, the wealthy French playboy took up Grand Prix motor racing, among other pursuits, but soon withdrew to focus on the family vineyard. He spent decades building the Château Mouton Rothschild label, finally achieving Premier Cru—or First Growth—status in 1973. His idea for bottle labels became an enduring part of his vineyard's image. What was it? Discuss
A brilliantly gifted linguist and one of the most dashing figures of his time, Oxford was also reckless, hot-tempered, and disastrously spendthrift. He was the patron of an acting company and wrote highly praised poems and plays in his earlier years, though none of the plays are known to have survived. He is considered by some to be the true author of Shakespeare's plays, since his own literary output apparently ceased just before Shakespeare's began. Which of his writings have survived? Discuss
Julian was an African-American chemist and a pioneer in the synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. Due to the institutional racism of the time, Julian was forced to overcome enormous obstacles to obtain his PhD and was repeatedly denied opportunities for employment and academic tenure. His home in Illinois was firebombed. Nevertheless, he developed an important fire-fighting foam from soy protein and revolutionized the synthetic hormone industry, making possible what treatments? Discuss
Though Perkins was already extraordinarily accomplished by the time she was appointed US Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, the decision to appoint a woman to the cabinet was bitterly criticized by business and political leaders. In her unusually long 12-year term, Perkins advocated reforms such as a minimum wage, a maximum workweek, and unemployment compensation. She helped develop the Social Security Act of 1935. What book did she write after leaving office? Discuss
Despite being a mathematician who led a long career in academia, Lehrer is best known for the few dozen humorous songs he wrote in the 1950s and 60s. He largely tried to dodge the limelight, but his satirical treatment of serious subjects nevertheless gained him a significant cult following and influenced later performers of parody, like "Weird Al" Yankovic. According to an urban legend—one denied by the man himself—Lehrer gave up political satire after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to whom? Discuss
One of the first movie stars, Pickford earned a reputation as "America's Sweetheart" by playing a series of innocent, curly-haired young women on the silent screen. She was also a shrewd businesswoman. After cofounding United Artists, she came to exert a profound influence on the film industry as one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. In 1927, she became one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For what role did Pickford win an Academy Award? Discuss
A journalist and conservationist, Douglas lived to the age of 108. A turning point in her long life came in 1947, when her book, The Everglades: River of Grass was published. It sounded an early warning of the environmental perils facing the Florida Everglades. Everglades National Park was established that same year. Douglas cofounded Friends of the Everglades in 1969 and is widely credited with helping to slow the destruction of the swamp ecosystem. Where were her ashes scattered? Discuss
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