Monthly Archives: February 2016

First African American wins Academy Award (1940)

Hattie McDaniel was an African-American singer-songwriter, comedienne, stage actress, radio performer, and television star. She appeared in over 300 films and is best known for her role as Mammy in the iconic 1939 film Gone with the Wind, a performance that earned her the first Academy Award ever presented to an African American. McDaniel’s Oscar was later lost. What are some theories about what became of it? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Leap Year Day

The Earth actually takes longer than 365 days to complete its trip around the Sun—five hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds longer, to be precise. To accommodate this discrepancy, an extra day is added to the Gregorian calendar at the end of February every four years. The year in which this occurs is called Leap Year, probably because the English courts did not always recognize February 29, and the date was often “leaped over” in the records. There was an old tradition that women could propose marriage to men during Leap Year. The men had to pay a forfeit if they refused. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Dinah Shore (1916)

Shore was an American singer, actress, and TV personality who enjoyed widespread popularity during the Big Band era of the 1940s and 50s. She was the first singer of the era to achieve success as a solo artist, producing over 80 hit songs, including “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” before beginning a four-decade career in television. Shore was a hit with TV audiences as well and went on to earn nine Emmys, a Peabody Award, and a Golden Globe. How did Shore, born Frances Rose, earn the stage name Dinah? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Leaplings

Since, technically, a year consists of 365 days and approximately 6 hours, every four years these hours amount to a full day. In order to synchronize the Gregorian calendar with the astronomical year, a leap day, February 29, is added to the 28-day month once every four years. As such, leap years are always evenly divisible by four. Persons born on a leap day are called “leaplings,” and, contrary to popular myth, they do age during non-leap years. What opera centers on a leapling and his aging? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme Is Assassinated (1986)

Palme served as prime minister of Sweden from 1969 to 1976 and from 1982 to 1986. In 1971, he led Sweden’s rejection of a bid for membership in the European Community. A pacifist, he criticized US policy in the Vietnam War, creating a diplomatic rift that ended in 1974. Palme also opposed the nuclear arms race and South African apartheid. He was assassinated in 1986, and his murder remains unsolved. What did US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reportedly say about his relationship with Palme? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Taiwan Peace Memorial Day

Following the end of World War II, the island of Taiwan won independence from Japan, and the Chinese Nationalist government officially took over the island. On February 28, 1947, misunderstandings between the new government and the native residents led to an uprising that was brutally suppressed. February 28 has been named Peace Memorial Day and is marked by memorial services for the victims, concerts, art exhibitions, and group runs. Taiwan’s president attends a ceremony in which he rings a ceremonial bell and bows to the victims’ families. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Samuel Joel "Zero" Mostel (1915)

Mostel was an American comic actor who combined a large paunch with acrobatic grace and an expressive face. He initially worked both on Broadway and in film but was blacklisted in Hollywood for his political views and worked primarily in New York City theater after 1955. He had lead roles in the musicals A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Fiddler on the Roof. In 1968, he starred in the Oscar-winning Mel Brooks film The Producers. What was Mostel’s real name? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary