Almanac – November 21

1694 – Voltaire born. (François-Marie Arouet ).  French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, free trade and separation of church and state.

He was a prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws with harsh penalties for those who broke them.

As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day, and was one of several Enlightenment figures whose works and ideas influenced important thinkers of both the American and French Revolutions.

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1898 – René Magritte born. Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images that fell under the umbrella of surrealism. His work challenges observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.

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1905 – Albert Einstein‘s paper, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?,  published in the journal “Annalen der Physik”. This paper reveals the relationship between energy and mass, leading to the mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc².

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1937 – Ingrid Pitt born. Polish-born actress best known for her work in horror films of the 1960s and 1970s, icluding The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula and The Wicker Man, although she also appeared in films like Doctor Zhivago and Who Dares Wins.

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1940 – Dr. John born. American singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist, whose music combines blues, pop, jazz as well as zydeco, boogie woogie and rock and roll.

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1953 – The British Natural History Museum announced that the “Piltdown Man” skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilized hominid skulls ever found, was a hoax.

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1959 – American disc jockey Alan Freed, who had popularized the term “rock and roll” and the music itself, was fired from WABC-AM radio for refusing to deny allegations that he had participated in the payola scandal.

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