10 Famous Birthdays in May

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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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Getty Images

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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Getty Images

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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Getty Images

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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Getty Images

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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Getty Images

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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Getty Images

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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Getty Images

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 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

15 Times Animals Interrupted News Reports

Digital Vision/Getty
Digital Vision/Getty

Live news broadcasts can be a gold mine for humor, especially when an animal is involved. Animals really don’t care if 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 15 examples of what can happen when an animal goes rogue during live news.

1. A needy cat

While broadcasting the weather forecasts from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana’s 14 First Alert chief meteorologist Jeff Lyons gained a new on-air costar. His cat, Betty, became an internet sensation after she interrupted one of his forecasts while seeking some attention. She’s since appeared in many of his subsequent broadcasts, much to the delight of viewers around the world.

2. An excited dog

Technological snafus come with the territory of working from home. Such was the case when Buddy the Golden Retriever accidentally bumped his head into the computer while Paul Dellegatto, Fox News 13-Tampa Bay’s chief meteorologist, gave the forecast. Buddy’s clumsiness caused the digital maps to disappear. With the maps gone, Dellegatto broadcast the weather with Buddy center stage—that is, until the dog ran across the room to greet another person.

3. A pelican attack

In 2010, Steve Jacobs was broadcasting live from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo for an extended segment of the Australian show TODAY. 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.

4. A jumping cat

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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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, it was indeed a pupper.

10. 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.

11. A dog on a lawnmower

In March 2016, 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.

12. 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 him 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.

13. A spider terrorizing a meteorologist

You’re probably 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. But that response went haywire when a spider crawled across the lens of a camera in downtown Vancouver 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.