10 Famous Birthdays in May

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Some of our favorite historical figures were born in May. We couldn't possibly name them all, so here are just a few of the notable people we'll be celebrating.

1. SIGMUND FREUD: MAY 6, 1856


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Sigmund Freud is known as the Father of Psychoanalysis. The Vienna psychiatrist developed a theory of the unconscious mind, where the id, ego, and superego struggle to balance each other out in the human psyche. Freud attributed his patients' neuroses to childhood trauma, often cloaked in a sexual conflict. His work was at first deemed perverted, but his ideas started to spread after a series of lectures in the U.S. in 1909. After Freud's death in 1939, Freudian theory was hailed as genius in mainstream culture. But beginning in the 1960s, Freud's theories started to fall out of favor in academia and are largely discredited today. However, his attempts to map the psyche gave us the language we still use to discuss personality and mental health.

2. FRED ASTAIRE: MAY 10, 1899


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Fred Astaire began dancing when he was just four years old. Soon he and his sister Adele were in a performing arts school and started dancing professionally. First came vaudeville, then Broadway, and when Adele married, Fred headed to Hollywood. Producers were at first reluctant to cast Astaire as a leading man because of his looks, but his dancing soon won them over. Astaire appeared in dozens of films between 1933 and 1981, 10 of them with with dance partner Ginger Rogers. Although his later films did not revolve around dance numbers, Astaire was seen dancing in an episode of Battlestar Galactica as late as 1979, when he was 80 years old.

3. MARTHA GRAHAM: MAY 11, 1894


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Getty Images

Martha Graham wanted to dance from an early age, but her parents disapproved, so she didn't study dance until college. Her wildly emotional dancing led her to performances in New York, and in 1926 she established the Martha Graham Dance Company. Through the company, Graham promoted modern dance as a spiritual and emotional outlet. Over time, she came to be seen as a genius of the genre. Graham danced until she was in her '70s, and continued to choreograph dances until her death at age 91.

4. KATHARINE HEPBURN: MAY 12, 1907


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Katharine Hepburn caught the acting bug in college and headed to the stages of New York upon graduation. She was spotted in a Broadway production and was offered the lead in RKO's 1932 film A Bill of Divorcement. That kicked off a movie career of more than 60 years, in which she was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won four. Hepburn was a certified box office draw, but off screen she refused to behave like a Hollywood star. She spoke her mind, wore pants, and even appeared in public without makeup occasionally. Hepburn was also known for her devotion to the love of her life, actor Spencer Tracy, who was separated from his wife but refused to divorce her. The last of nine films they made together was Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967, just before Tracy died. Hepburn continued making movies through 1994, when she was 87 years old.

5. PIERRE CURIE: MAY 15, 1859


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French physicist Pierre Curie is often overlooked in favor of Marie Curie, his brilliant student and later wife. Together they discovered radium and polonium, and did extensive research into radioactivity. Pierre, Marie, and Henri Becquerel jointly won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their research. Curie might have gone onto many further discoveries, but he was killed in 1906 when a horse-drawn cart ran over him in Paris. If he had lived longer, Curie might have also succumbed to illness caused by radiation, as did his wife, daughter, and son-in-law—all Nobel Prize winners.

6. MARY CASSATT: MAY 22, 1844


Mary Cassatt via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Renowned American painter Mary Cassatt wanted to become an artist, but her parents objected and her Philadelphia art school didn't take women students seriously. So she went to Paris and studied privately under teachers from Ecole des Beaux-Arts, as the school did not admit women. Gradually, Cassatt's works sold and her reputation grew. She drew the attention of Impressionist Edgar Degas, and worked with him for years. By 1886, she left the Impressionist movement behind, and afterward refused to be defined by any art genre. Cassatt's body of work often featured women and children in their everyday lives. Her most memorable painting, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, broke with tradition by portraying a child in a naturalistic, casual pose instead of a formal portrait.

7. SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: MAY 22, 1859


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Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered for his many short stories and novels featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. But Conan Doyle worked full time as a medical doctor until an illness convinced him he had to choose between writing and medicine. Years later, Conan Doyle volunteered with the British army to fight in the Second Boer War, but because of his age (40), he was only allowed to serve as a medical doctor. Upon his return from South Africa, he entered politics in Scotland, but he lost his only race. In 1907, Conan Doyle became involved in a real criminal case in which he helped George Edalji, a solicitor of Indian heritage, beat an animal cruelty conviction by employing the observational technique that Sherlock Holmes used. The fallout from that case led to the establishment of the appeals system in Britain. Conan Doyle also wrote a science fiction novel The Lost World, published in 1912. It was so successful that he wrote four sequels.

8. MARGARET FULLER: MAY 23, 1810


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Born in Massachusetts in 1810, Margaret Fuller was a precocious child who learned several languages but was not welcome at college because of her sex. She became friends with both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who admired her philosophical thinking. Fuller became a literary critic for the New-York Tribune and a well-known intellectual.

In 1845, Fuller made history with Woman in the Nineteenth Century, often considered the first major feminist work published in the United States. This groundbreaking book began as an essay in Emerson's transcendentalist journal The Dial called "The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men. Woman versus Women," in which Fuller argued that men and women must see each other as equals before they can transcend to divine love. Fuller reasoned that ignoring our commonality was the base of much of America's sins, from the slaughter of Native Americans to the slavery of African Americans.

Fuller went on to become a foreign correspondent and the first American female war correspondent, covering the Italian revolution. She also fell in love with an Italian man and had a child with him. On their return trip to the U.S. in 1850 aboard a merchant ship, a hurricane struck the ship near Fire Island, killing all three. Only Fuller's 20-month-old son was found.

9. SALLY RIDE: MAY 26, 1951

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In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel into space, aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Ride was a nationally ranked tennis player when she was a teenager. Billie Jean King urged her to turn pro, but Ride went to Stanford University instead. She earned both a bachelor of arts in English and a bachelor of science in physics in 1973, and a PhD in physics in 1978. Ride then immediately applied for NASA's astronaut program. She flew two shuttle missions, in 1983 and '84, and was scheduled for a third, but that mission was canceled after the Challenger explosion in 1986. After leaving NASA in 1987, Ride devoted her life to encouraging students to study science—especially girls. She founded the organization Sally Ride Science for just that purpose, and wrote five children's books encouraging interest in science. Ride died of cancer at age 61 in 2012.

10. "WILD BILL" HICKOK: MAY 27, 1837


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James Butler Hickok was a farmer, soldier, stagecoach driver, spy, lawman, scout, sharpshooter, gambler, and Wild West showman. Many of those occupations came after "Wild Bill" Hickok gained publicity for killing three men in an 1861 shootout. The newspapers followed his exploits from that time on, often embellishing the details until Hickok was more of a legend than the adventurer he was. His various occupations took him to different parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Hickok was playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, when Jack McCall shot him in the back of the head and killed him in 1876. The hand Hickok was holding at the time—a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights—became known as the "dead man's hand."

10 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in December

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Joshua Moore // Getty Images

Some of our favorite historical figures were born in the month of December. We couldn't possibly name them all, but here are just a handful whose lives we'll be celebrating.

1. Walt Disney: December 5, 1901


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Walter Elias Disney was a sketch artist from an early age, and his cartoons from the 1920s were so successful that he eventually opened his own studio, where Mickey Mouse was born. Always looking for bigger and better things, Disney produced the first full-length animated feature in 1937 (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), was an early adopter of television, and opened Disneyland in 1955. But to build an empire, you have to exert some serious control—even over unlikely things. Case in point: For 43 years, employees at Disney theme parks were forbidden from growing facial hair. That all changed in 2000 (four years after Disney's death) when the company decided to let male employees sport mustaches, a logical choice since Disney himself wore one throughout his life. There is a catch though: Employees must already have one when they get hired or grow it out on vacation. The trash 'stache look is not allowed.

2. Sammy Davis Jr.: December 8, 1925


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Sammy Davis, Jr. was destined for show business. Born to two vaudevillians, he began performing on stage at age four, and you can watch his film debut at the age of seven in the short Rufus Jones For President (1933). Davis's career included vaudeville, standup comedy, singing, dancing, Broadway musicals, movies, and TV. He was a member of the infamous Rat Pack, along with Frank Sinatra, whose birthday is also this month. He was also particularly known for his celebrity impressions, which you can see here, including an impressive Michael Jackson mimic.

3. Emily Dickinson: December 10, 1830

Renowned poet Emily Dickinson spent most of her life at home in Amherst, Massachusetts, surrounded by family. While she's often remembered as a recluse, Dickinson did have a noteworthy social life—even to the point of scandal. We can only speculate how her many rumored paramours may have contributed to the passion in her romantic poems.

4. Ada Lovelace: December 10, 1815


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Augusta Ada King-Noel died at the age of 36, but she managed to make a serious mark on humanity in her short life. As a young woman, Lovelace worked for professor Charles Babbage, who developed a theoretical computer in the 1830s. He assigned young Ada with figuring out how to input data to make the computer, well, compute. A brilliant mathematician, she was up to the task, and developed the world's first computer software, a century before there was an actual computer to use it. Take that, modern coders.

5. Frank Sinatra: December 12, 1915


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Frank Sinatra might have had an air of ease about him, but began his life the hard way. The forceps used to bring him into the world left a lifelong scar on his left jaw and mangled his ear. And while he was always self-conscious about his looks, it didn't stop him from becoming an icon. "Ol' Blue Eyes" started his singing career with the big bands of the 1930s, effortlessly moved into the role of a teen heartthrob in the '40s, and began appearing in movies, where he proved to be a natural. In the 1950s, Sinatra had his own TV show, and won an Oscar for From Here to Eternity (not to mention his many Grammy Awards). When his record sales flagged, Sinatra became a record company executive, but ultimately made comebacks with his music in both the '60s and the '70s, while constantly adding to his acting credits.

6. Shirley Jackson: December 14, 1916

In the 1940s, Shirley Jackson was a housewife and mother of four with serious literary chops (and aspirations). One day in 1948, she sat down to write about an idea she'd been mulling over. In just two hours she produced the short story "The Lottery" [PDF], about a small town where every year, residents draw slips of paper, and one unlucky "winner" is stoned to death. Published in The New Yorker, it was an immediate sensation—because readers were horrified. The magazine was flooded with calls and letters, people canceled their subscriptions and others still, believing it was nonfiction, inquired as to how they could witness the ritual in the story. Jackson said nothing, preferring her work to speak on its own. She went on to write several more well-received novels, mostly horror and some humor. "The Lottery" has since become a classic think piece, and required reading in many schools.

7. Jane Austen: December 16, 1775

Jane Austen wrote her heart out from an early age, but did not publish her first novel until 1811, when she was 36 years old. Sense and Sensibility sold well, so Austen published Pride and Prejudice in 1813, a novel she completed when she was only 21. Two more novels followed, all published anonymously. It was only after Austen's death at age 41 that her true identity was revealed to the literary world. Two more of her novels were published posthumously.

8. Ludwig Van Beethoven: December 16, 1770


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German composer Ludwig van Beethoven was in the right place at the right time to fill the void left by the death of Mozart. Beethoven became a rock star in the royal courts and concert halls of Europe, and had an ego to match his fame. When his hearing began to fail at around age 30, he stopped performing and dedicated his life to composing. Beethoven made his comeback in 1824 when he debuted his Symphony No. 9, which became his most famous work ever.

9. Clara Barton: December 25, 1821

Clarissa Harlowe Barton (who preferred to be called Clara) was working as a clerk in Washington D.C. when the Civil War began. She saw a need and went to work supporting Union troops with food, supplies, and medical care. Barton sought permission to bring food and medical supplies to front line clinics, where she was considered an "Angel of the Battlefield." Barton also searched for missing soldiers and worked to identify those in graveyards. She learned about the International Red Cross during a visit to Europe in 1869, and volunteered with the organization during the Franco-Prussian War. Her service impressed Red Cross officials in Europe, and Barton spent the next several years lobbying for the United States to open a chapter—the American Red Cross—which was established in 1881.

10. Henri Matisse: December 31, 1869


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Henri Matisse was the leading artist of the Fauvist movement, though his art evolved during his more than half a century of work. Best known for his paintings, Matisse was also a sculptor and printmaker, but before all of that, he pursued a more practical career path: law. Matisse earned a legal degree and was working as a clerk in a law office when he came down with appendicitis in 1899. His mother brought him paints to use while he was recuperating, and the rest was history.

13 Times Animals Interrupted News Reports

iStock.com/Tashi-Delek
iStock.com/Tashi-Delek

Live news broadcasts can be a gold mine for humor, especially when an animal is involved. Animals really don’t care a bit that you’re broadcasting live to an audience, and the chaos they can cause once that red light is on is simply hilarious. Luckily for us, these broadcasts can live on forever on the internet, especially once they find their way to YouTube. Here are 13 examples of what can happen when an animal goes rogue during live news.

1. A Pelican Attack

Steve Jacobs, from the Australian show TODAY, was broadcasting live from Taronga Zoo in Sydney for an extended segment in 2010. He still had to report on the weather forecast from the remote location, but didn’t get far into it before a pelican bit him on the behind. There’s no way to keep a straight face when that happens.

2. A Jumping Cat

Nicole DiDonato of WXMI was doing a live news tease in July of 2012 when an intrepid cat jumped up on her shoulders. When DiDonato returned to do the full report, the cat was still there and still trying to take her attention away from her job.

3. A Weather Cat

Cats pay no mind whatsoever to conventions like keeping a studio floor clear during a live broadcast. Univision’s Eduardo Rodriguez was presenting a weather report at WLTV in Miami in 2012 when a cat sashayed across the studio floor. Rodriguez kept his composure and finished his report as the crew cracked up in the background.

4. A Persistent Kitten

At WXYZ in Detroit, a stray kitten decided she wanted to get to know reporter Nima Shaffe just a little bit better. The fact that he was on location for a news report made no difference, and the kitten wouldn’t take "no" for an answer. The station went with it and made the report about the kitten. The local Humane Society took the kitten in and planned to put her up for adoption.

5. Horsing Around

A reporter from Macedonia TV tried his best to deliver a story on equestrian training, but a horse named Frankie couldn’t contain his curiosity and affection. It makes perfect sense to put a horse in the background for such a report, but this one wasn’t good at following stage directions. You can see the clip here.

6. A Donkey With Something to Say

This interview from a Russian news channel was placed right in front of a donkey enclosure, which, as you'll see, is never a good idea for a coherent broadcast. The lone donkey in the shot was not going to stand idly by when he had the opportunity to address the audience. We’re not sure what he said, but he came off like a real jackass.

7. Cougar or Dog?

One early morning in October 2018, reporter Morgan Saxton was shooting a live segment in Utah's Spring Lake when a mysterious creature interrupted the shot. "What you’re seeing is—actually a dog coming into our live shot,” she said nervously. “I think it’s a dog, I’m not sure. Anyway, there’s some sort of creature below me.” Saxton later shared the segment on Twitter, asking what animal her followers thought it was. Some went feline, saying it was a mountain lion; others, however, said it was a dog. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources ultimately determined, based on the animal's tracks, that it was indeed a pupper.

8. A Dog Crashes the Weather Report

Meteorologist Ryan Phillips was delivering the weather report at NBC 6 in Miami in January of 2015. Meanwhile, the broadcast crew was preparing for the upcoming “Pet of the Week” segment, featuring a pet from a local animal shelter, Pooches in Pines. King, an American bulldog, couldn’t wait for his turn in front of the camera and decided to jump up on the news desk to get some extra attention from the weather man. King was soon adopted by his foster family.

9. A Dog on a Lawnmower

This past March, Andrea Martinez of KYTX CBS1 9 News was reporting on storm damage in Malakoff, Texas, when a dog on a lawn mower distracted everyone. The dog wasn’t trying to interrupt, but once Martinez saw him, the news crew had to take a closer look. Needless to say, more people saw the dog than would ever see the storm report.

10. Griffey the Weather Dog

In early 2015, meteorologist John Zeigler was doing his report at KOLR 10 in Springfield, Missouri, when his dog Griffey decided it was time to play! Zeigler distracted the dog by tossing a ball, but Griffey knows how to play fetch, so it was a constant struggle to keep the dog off-camera. However, Griffey was such a hit that he became the station’s mascot, complete with legions of fans and his own Facebook page.

11. A Spider Terrorizing a Meteorologist

You are familiar with the way broadcast news blends various graphics into the background of weather reports. Broadcasters get used to responding to what’s on the air instead of what’s physically in front of them. That response went haywire when a spider landed on the camera lens as Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon was giving the weather forecast. She couldn’t help but respond as if the spider were right there with her.

12. A Space Spider

That wasn’t the first time a spider on a camera lens caused laughter on the air. In 2007, as NASA prepared to launch the space shuttle Atlantis on the oft-delayed mission STS-122, they had a constant video feed on the launch pad. When this segment made YouTube, it came with an announcement:

STS-122 The space shuttle Atlantis will not launch until the new year.
A fuel tank glitch forced mission controllers to delay the launch.
And, fuel sensors weren't the only problem.
The shuttle was also attacked by a giant spider.

But what was even better was what happened when WRDW News 12 reported on the NASA spider. Here’s Meredith Anderson and Tim Strong.

Sure, that was a prank, but the video went viral.

13. A Trouser Snake

When KCCI meteorologist Kurtis Gertz did a live report from the Iowa State Fair in 2008, he volunteered to appear in a snake show. A huge Burmese python named Dawn slithered her tail up into the leg of Gertz’s cargo shorts and out the other leg! It took some time to extract her, and even longer for everyone to stop laughing. The video became a classic.

This story was updated in 2019.

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