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May 20th Today in History

Famous People & Celebrities Born on May 20th:

  • Dolley Madison
    (1768) - The wife of the fourth president of the United States died on July 12, 1849.
  • Honore De Balzac
    (1799) - He once said he wanted to become so celebrated that he could get away with "...farting in high society." Balzac was short, fat, a poor dresser and he picked his nose in public -- yet he was quite the ladies man. Whenever he bedded a beauty, he would whisper, "There goes another masterpiece." Balzac drank so much strong coffee that it's believed he died from caffeine poisoning.
  • James Stewart
    (1908) - Stewart once described a B-47 bomber as the "most beautiful thing he's ever seen in his life." When he won the Best Actor Oscar in 1941 for the film "The Philadelphia Story," he sent it to his father in Indiana, Pennsylvania, who proudly displayed it in his hardware store for 25 years. Stewart never attended acting classes because he felt an actor could learn more working rather than studying. President Harry Truman once said, "If Bess and I had a son, we'd want him to be just like Jimmy Stewart." Flicks: The Shootist (1976), How the West Was Won (1962), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), The FBI Story (1959), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), Vertigo (1958), Rear Window (1954) Harvey (1950), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Destry Rides Again (1939), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).
  • Joe Cocker
    (1944) - The musician was born in Sheffield, England, on May 20, 1944 not May 21 as reported by some sources. Hits: "You Are So Beautiful" (1975), "With A Little Help From My Friends" (1968).
  • Bobby Murcer
    (1946) - The former New York Yankees centerfield and left-handed batter replaced Mickey Mantle.
  • Cher
    (1946) - She was born Cherilyn Sarkisian and she sports tattoos of flowers and a butterfly on her rear end. Fashion designer Bob Mackie, who designed all of Cher's outfits between 1971 and 1977, claims Cher's armpits were the part of her body he found to be the most beautiful. He describes Cher's armpits as "very deep" and with a "...smooth sculpted quality without any kind of wrinkle lines or fatty tissue." Although Cher got lots of attention back in the '70s for her belly-button baring outfits, Mackie says the real intention was to focus on her armpits -- although he admits "...most people never suspected that's what we were trying to do." Cher married rock musician Gregg Allman in 1975, but then filed for a divorce after only 9 days. The singing duo of Sonny and Cher was originally called "Caesar & Cleo." Although Cher has received flack for dating guys younger than she is, she claims older guys won't even give her the time of day: "Older men don't like me. Older men have never asked me out. I mean, I would go out with anybody. I don't care if they were 80." Other trivia: Cher's mother was about to undergo an abortion while carrying Cher but changed her mind and canceled the abortion at the last minute. Hit tunes: "Believe" (1999), "If I Could Turn Back Time" (1989), "Half-Breed" (1973), "The Beat Goes On" (1967), "I Got You Babe" (1965).
  • Dave Thomas
    (1949) - Thomas, along with Rick Moranis, created the Canadian comedy characters of Bob and Doug McKenzie. The two dim wits became so popular, Thomas and Moranis were made members of the Order of Canada for their contribution to Canadian culture. Flicks: Deluxe Combo Platter (2004), Brother Bear (2003), Home Brew (2000), Strange Brew (1983).
  • Ron Reagan
    (1958) - The son of former president Ronald Reagan says that whenever he asked his father what he did in the war, Reagan would joke, "I flew a desk, son."
  • Jane Wiedlin
    (1958) - Former member of the Go-Go's. Before joining the group, Jane went by the name, "Jane Drano." Hits: "Vacation" (1982), "We Got The Beat" (1982).
  • Bronson Pinchot
    (1959) - Actor. Played Balki on Perfect Strangers.
  • Susan Cowsill
    (1960) - Part of the 1960s music group known as The Cowsills. The Cowsills originally were cast for the roles on TV's The Partridge Family, but Susan's father blew the deal after he demanded that his wife play the role of "Shirley Partridge," and not actress Shirley Jones. Once the 1960s ended, the Cowsills lost most of their money and family squabbles kept the group apart for many years.
  • Nick Heyward
    (1961) - Now has a solo career. Used to be with Haircut 100.
  • Mindy Cohn
    (1966) - Played chubby Natalie Green on Facts of Life.
  • Busta Rhymes
    (1972) - The rapper's real name is Trevor Smith.
Famous and Noteworthy Events on May 20th:
(1506) - Christopher Columbus died in Spain in 1506 without a penny to his name. The King and Queen of Spain had promised Columbus 10 percent of all revenue in the lands he discovered, but they later changed their minds. Many medical historians believe he died from syphilis contracted during his voyages.

(1830) - The fountain pen was patented by Mr. D. Hyde of Reading, Pennsylvania.

(1899) - A New York cab driver named Jacob German became the first automobile driver to be arrested for speeding. The cabby was arrested by a bicycle patrolman for tearing down Lexington Avenue at 12 miles per hour in his tiny electric car.

(1916) - The Saturday Evening Post published the first of Norman Rockwell's famous magazine covers. The cover featured a boy pushing a baby carriage while his buddies set off to play ball.

(1927) - Charles Lindbergh departed from Long Island, New York, in the world's first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He left at 7:52 in the morning in the Spirit of St. Louis and landed in Paris at 10:24 in the evening (Paris time) on May 21. To keep weight down, Lindbergh didn't fly with a parachute. He also removed the plane's windows so the cold air would keep him awake.

(1930) - The University of California announced it would spend $1500 for medical research into the prevention and cure of Athlete's Foot.

(1932) - Amelia Earhart started her solo flight across the Atlantic as she left Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, at 7 p.m.. About 13 hours later, she landed in Londonderry, Ireland, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

(1939) - The first regular transatlantic airmail service began as Pan American Airline's Yankee Clipper left Port Washington, New York, for its final destination: Marseilles, France. Also on the route were stops in New Brunswick, the Azores and Lisbon, Portugal. The flight arrived in Marseilles on May 22. The first regular transatlantic passenger service began a month later on June 28, 1939.

(1989) - 42-year-old Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer. Her husband, Gene Wilder, was at her bedside when she passed away. Gilda's best remembered for her five-year stint on Saturday Night Live.

(1993) - More than 80 million people watched the final episode of Cheers. In honor of the 11-year-old series, Jay Leno hosted a live special from Boston's Bull and Finch bar which served as a model for the Cheers TV bar.

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