Your Week in History: Revolutionaries born, murderers executed - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Your Week in History: Revolutionaries born and murderers executed

Virginia Woolf was born Jan. 25, 1882. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Virginia Woolf was born Jan. 25, 1882. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Telly Savalas was born Jan. 21, 1922, and died Jan, 22, 1994. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Telly Savalas was born Jan. 21, 1922, and died Jan, 22, 1994. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Audrey Hepburn died Jan. 20, 1993. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Audrey Hepburn died Jan. 20, 1993. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
This etching depicts James Hamilton preparing to carry out the first assassination with a firearm. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This etching depicts James Hamilton preparing to carry out the first assassination with a firearm. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) - If you could choose your birthday, what day would you choose?

The irony of this question is that the people who do actually get to choose the day they celebrate were born on the most interesting day - Feb. 29. If that was my birthday, I think I would refuse to celebrate it on any day other than Feb. 29 and have a huge me-fest when it rolls around every four years, a la Modern Family.

Choosing a random day would be kind of pointless, because a random day was already chosen for you, so just accept that one. I think you would choose a holiday. Christmas would obviously be eliminated, because you can't compete with that, and Thanksgiving, Labor Day and Memorial Day are different days every year, so they don't work either.

That leaves Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, April Fool's Day, Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you), Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July and Halloween.

Leap Day would be my first choice, but that's almost like choosing to win the lottery, so I'd go with the Fourth of July. Fireworks, hot dogs and baseball are an excellent way to celebrate a birthday. Plus, it's in the summer when it's warm and you can actually do stuff outside without losing your extremities.

Anyway, my actual birthday is Saturday - Jan. 25. It's not what I would've chosen, but I like it anyway, even though the high is supposed to be less than 50 with rain. Huzzah!

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Jan. 20 and 26.

Life and Death

Jan. 25 has everything this column requires, including John Wayne connections, so let's start there.

Hollywood legend Ava Gardner died Jan. 25, 1990. Early in her career she had an uncredited role in Reunion in France, in which Wayne starred. Another film legend, Barbara Stanwyck, died five days before Gardner, and Wayne had a role in Baby Face, in which she starred.

Leon Ames was born Jan. 20, 1902, and appeared with Wayne in They Were Expendable. Ames, however, was best known for his roles in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Little Women and On Moonlight Bay.

Several Revolutionary War and Civil War figures were born this week. Richard Henry Lee was born Jan. 20, 1732, John Hancock was born Jan. 23, 1737, and Edward Rutledge died Jan. 23, 1800. All three men signed the Declaration of Independence.

Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and George Pickett were born Jan. 21, 1824, and Jan. 25, 1825, respectively.

Daredevils Karl Wallenda and Nik Wallenda were born Jan. 21, 1905, and Jan. 24, 1979, respectively, astronaut Buzz Aldrin was born Jan. 20, 1930, the only surviving Wizard of Oz munchkin - Jerry Maren - was born Jan. 24, 1920, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was born Jan. 26, 1880, Auld Lang Syne composer Robert Burns was born Jan. 25, 1759, Roman Emperor Hadrian was born Jan. 24, 76 A.D., singer Maria von Trapp was born Jan. 26, 1905, writer Virginia Woolf was born Jan. 25, 1882, and salad dressing magnate Paul Newman was born Jan. 26, 1925.

Actor Telly Savales was born Jan. 21, 1922, and died Jan. 22, 1994, and singer Etta James was born Jan. 25, 1938, and died Jan. 20, 2012.

Serial killer Ted Bundy was executed in the electric chair Jan. 24, 1989. Al Capone had a stroke Jan. 21, 1947, and contracted pneumonia before having a heart attack the next day. He died three days after that - Jan. 25, 1947.

Winston Churchill died Jan. 24, 1965 - 70 years to the day after his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, died - swimmer and Tarzan portrayer Johnny Weissmuller died Jan. 20, 1984, artist Salvador Dali died Jan. 23, 1989, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson died Jan. 23, 2005, President Lyndon Johnson died Jan. 22, 1973, Roman Emperor Caligula died Jan. 24, 41 A.D., actress Audrey Hepburn died Jan. 20, 1993, and Bob Keeshan, who played Captain Kangaroo, died Jan. 23, 2004.

Overlooked Anniversaries

The deadliest earthquake ever recorded hit the Shaanxi province in China on Jan. 23, 1556. A 520-mile wide area was devastated by the quake, which is estimated to measure 8.0. Many people lived in manmade caves on cliff sides and in houses made from earth that collapsed, killing an estimated 830,000. The earthquake was purported at the time to mark the birth of the Antichrist.

The first recorded assassination using a firearm happened Jan. 23, 1570. James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray was killed by James Hamilton, a supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots in an effort to help her gain the throne and depose Elizabeth I.

Charles Manson was convicted of murder Jan. 25, 1971, and Billy Bailey was the last person executed by hanging in the U.S. on Jan. 25, 1996.

Iran released 52 hostages hours after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president Jan. 20, 1981.

Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and James Brown were inducted as the first members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Jan. 23, 1986.

Something About Sports

This week is full of Super Bowls.

The most frequent Super Bowl day is Jan. 26, with four, but Jan. 23 is one of three dates between Jan. 9 and Feb. 7 not to have had the game.

The Super Bowl was played Jan. 25 in 1981, 1987 and 1998. The game fell on Jan. 26 in 1986, 1992, 1997 and 2003.

To date, no team has won the Super Bowl on the anniversary of a previous win, though the New England Patriots did lose on the same day twice - Jan. 26 in 1986 and 1997 - and the Denver Broncos won Jan. 31, 1999, after having lost on the same day in 1988.

The Week in Warfare

The Battle of Khe Sanh began Jan. 21, 1968. The battle lasted more than five months and both sides suffered more than 10,000 casualties. Both sides claimed victory in the battle, but the U.S. relinquished the position and the strategic McNamara Line between North and South Vietnam was dissolved.

The Battle of the Bulge ended Jan. 25, 1945. The battle had been fought for more than a month with more than 30,000 combined deaths, though casualty counts vary widely depending on the source.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Jan. 20 is Penguin Awareness Day and Jan. 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day, but forget that. This week is about the food.

Jan. 22 is National Blonde Brownie Day, Jan. 23 is National Pie Day and Jan. 24 is Beer Can Appreciation Day.

Jan. 25 is Opposite Day. Does that mean I wasn't actually born then? Am I going to die? I'm confused.

Preview of next week

"…obviously a major malfunction…"

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