Tag Archives: Harpo Marx

Almanac – November 23

534 BC – Thespis of Icaria became the first recorded actor to portray a character onstage – according to certain Ancient Greek sources and especially Aristotle, he was the first person ever to appear on stage as an actor playing a character in a play (instead of speaking as him or herself). In other sources, he is said to have introduced the first principal actor in addition to the chorus.

According to Aristotle, writing nearly two centuries later, Thespis was a singer of dithyrambs (songs about stories from mythology with choric refrains). Thespis supposedly introduced a new style in which one singer or actor performed the words of individual characters in the stories, distinguishing between the characters with the aid of different masks.

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1585 – Thomas Tallis died.  English composer who occupies a primary place in anthologies of English church music, and is considered one of England’s greatest early composers,  honoured for his original voice in English musicianship.

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1859 – William Henry McCarty, Jr. born. Later to achieve notoriety as wild west outlaw Billy the Kid.

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1887 – Boris Karloff born. English actor best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939).

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1888 – Harpo Marx born. American comedian and film star and  second-oldest of the Marx Brothers. His comic style was influenced by clown and pantomime traditions, he never spoke during performances (he blew a horn or whistled to communicate) and  played the harp in most of his films.

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1910 – Dr H.H. Crippen executed. American homeopathic physician and salesman hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, for the murder of his wife, Cora Henrietta Crippen. He was the first criminal to be captured with the aid of wireless communication.

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1939 – Betty Everett born.  American soul singer and pianist.

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1963 – The BBC broadcasted the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell in the title role.

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2010 – Ingrid Pitt died. Polish-born actress best known for her work in horror films of the 1960s and 1970s.

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Almanac – September 28

The ghost of Walter Ralegh is said to walk in the gardens of his former home, Sherborne Castle, Dorset, on this day.

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551 BC – Some say this was the date of the birth of Confucius.

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935 – Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia died.  purportedly assassinated  in a plot by his own brother, Boleslav the Cruel.
He’s the “Good King Wenceslaus” of the carol.

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1066 – William the Bastard’s  army lands in  England,  beginning the Norman Conquest.

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1745 – That appalling dirge the British National Anthem had its first public performance, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in the wake of the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Prestonpans. Which is why the original version had this verse-

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

Its been omitted from the current version, we dont crush Scots no more.

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1791 – France  becomes the first European country to emancipate its Jewish population.

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1836 – Thomas Crapper born. English plumber who founded Thomas Crapper & Co in London. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. He did, however, do much to increase its  popularity, and developed some important related inventions, such as the ballcock.

It has often been claimed that the slang term for human bodily waste – crap –  originated with  Crapper,  the most common version of this story being that American servicemen stationed in England during World War I saw his name on cisterns and used it as army slang, i.e., “I’m going to the crapper”.

However, the word is actually of Middle English origin; and  predates its application to bodily waste. Its first application in that particular field, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, appeared in 1846 under a reference to a crapping ken, or a privy ( ken means a house).

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1928 – The U.K. Parliament passes the Dangerous Drugs Act outlawing cannabis.

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1934 – Brigitte Bardot born. French fashion model, actress, singer and animal rights activist. She was one of the best-known sex symbols of the 1960s, and in  1969 her features became the official face of Marianne (who had previously been anonymous) to represent the liberty of France.  (Marianne is a national emblem of France and an allegory of Liberty and Reason.)

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1964 – Harpo Marx died.  Second-oldest of the Marx Brothers.

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1966 – André Breton died. French writer and poet, known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto (Manifeste du surréalisme) of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as “pure psychic automatism”.

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1971 – The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 banning the medicinal use of cannabis.

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1991 – Miles Davis died.

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