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Wikimedia Commons // Getty Images // Chloe Effron
Wikimedia Commons // Getty Images // Chloe Effron

11 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in May

Wikimedia Commons // Getty Images // Chloe Effron
Wikimedia Commons // Getty Images // Chloe Effron

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

1. MAY 3, 1903: BING CROSBY

This legendary crooner might be responsible for the Canadian Tuxedo. According to Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Crosby was turned away at a Canadian hotel in 1951 because his group was dressed in head-to-toe denim. The hotel staff changed their minds when they realized Crosby was a celeb, but the news spread, and designers at Levi Strauss and Co. ended up making the star a custom jean tuxedo jacket to ensure that he was always appropriately dressed, even in denim.

2. MAY 4, 1929: AUDREY HEPBURN

Hepburn is one of only 12 EGOTs—someone who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. Unfortunately, the Grammy, Emmy, and subsequent EGOT title came posthumously in the year following her 1993 death.

3. MAY 5, 1864: NELLIE BLY

Library of Congress // Wikimedia Commons

The pioneering journalist—real name: Elizabeth Jane Cochrane—is best known for traveling around the world in 72 days (inspired by Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg from Around the World in 80 Days) and for faking insanity to get committed to a mental institution in the name of investigative journalism.

4. MAY 6, 1915: ORSON WELLES

Library of Congress // Wikimedia Commons

The outspoken actor, writer, and director once told Dick Cavett: “The world leader that really came to nothing as far as my memory was concerned was Hitler ... in the days when the Nazis were just a comical kind of minority party of nuts that no one took seriously at all ... the man sitting next to me was Hitler. He made so little impression on me I can’t remember a second of it. He had no personality whatsoever.”

5. MAY 9, 1860: J.M. BARRIE

National Portrait Galley // Wikimedia Commons

The author left the rights to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, so Disney had to get animation rights from them to make the now-famous movie. The hospital didn’t receive any money from merchandise sales as those weren’t included in the original contract, but Disney has since compensated them by helping raise more than $14.5 million for the hospital.

6. MAY 11, 1904: SALVADOR DALI

Library of Congress // Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of Disney, the world’s most famous surrealist was once employed by The Mouse in 1945, but it ended up being a brief collaboration: the project, a film called Destino, folded after just three months in production. Fifty-four years later, Disney’s nephew Roy revived the project and a team of French animators were recruited to produce a short film based on Dali’s notes and storyboards.

7. MAY 12, 1820: FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing, a public health advocate, a statistician who helped develop the polar area diagram, and a speaker of French, German, and Italian. She was also a total cat lady. She owned 60 cats throughout her life and evidence of her affection for the feline species can be seen to this day: Some of her pets left ink paw prints on her letters.

8. MAY 19, 1930: LORRAINE HANSBERRY

The Raisin in the Sun playwright was very close with singer Nina Simone. After Hansberry died, Simone wrote “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” (after Hansberry's play of the same name) to honor her friend.

9. MAY 26, 1920: PEGGY LEE

Bonnie Erickson, the creator behind Miss Piggy, originally called her Miss Piggy Lee after Peggy Lee, her mother’s favorite singer. The name got shortened before the character made it to air because Erickson was worried that Lee would be insulted.

10. MAY 26, 1951: SALLY RIDE

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration // Wikimedia Commons

Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983 (she was also the youngest American to ever do so), but her most impressive achievement might have been maintaining her composure while dealing with absurd and offensive questions from the media. In a June 1983 profile for People, journalist Michael Ryan recounted a few of the worst offenders, such as “Will the flight affect your reproductive organs?” and “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?” To the latter, Ride replied, “How come nobody ever asks (a male fellow astronaut) those questions?"

11. MAY 29, 1903: BOB HOPE

As the comedian, actor and personality was dying in 2003, his wife Dolores asked where he’d like to be buried. In reply, Hope uttered his last words: “Surprise me.”

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15 Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Julie Andrews Quotes
20th Century Fox/Getty Images
20th Century Fox/Getty Images

With her saccharine movies and sugary voice, it would be easy for Julie Andrews to cross the line from sweet to cloying. Yet for more than 60 years, the Oscar-winning actress/singer/author has managed to enchant audiences of all ages with her iconic roles in everything from Mary Poppins to The Sound of Music to The Princess Diaries.

Yet just because she sings about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens doesn’t mean that Andrews doesn’t have an edge. “I hate the word wholesome,” she once declared. In celebration of the beloved movie star’s 82nd birthday, we’ve assembled some of Andrews’s most memorable quotes on everything from being typecast to Mary Poppins's personal habits.

1. ON MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM STAGE TO SCREEN

Mary Poppins was the first movie I made and The Sound of Music was the third. I was as raw as I could be. God knows I did not have the right or the ability in those days to say anything like a mentor. The only thing I did feel was that I could contribute to helping the kids feel natural, making them laugh off the set so that they were easy with me on the set. We had some good times." — From a 2015 interview with HitFix

2. ON THE FRIGHTFUL NATURE OF SUCCESS

“Success is terrifying. Like happiness, it is often appreciated in retrospect. It’s only later that you place it in perspective. Years from now, I’ll look back and say, ‘God, wasn’t it wonderful?” — From a 1966 interview with This Week

3. ON SMILING THROUGH CHALLENGING TIMES

“I was raised never to carp about things and never to moan, because in vaudeville, which is my background, you just got on with it through all kinds of adversities.” — From a 2010 interview with The Telegraph

4. ON AVOIDING TYPECASTING

“I think the hardest thing in a career even as lovely as I’ve had is not to go on being typecast, to keep trying new things. As much as possible, I do try to do that.” — From a 2015 interview with HitFix

5. ON BEING A BADASS

“I’ve got a good right hook.” — From Julie Andrews: An Intimate Biography, by Richard Stirling

6. ON BEING GRATEFUL

“A lot of my life happened in great, wonderful bursts of good fortune, and then I would race to be worthy of it.” — From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

7. ON THE CHANGING DEFINITION OF “SUCCESS”

“You never set out to make a bad movie. You always hope that you’re making a good one. We’re sad about them, inasmuch as they damage the career. In those days it was important, but not as important as it is today, to keep making success after success after success. It’s terrifying today. You can maybe have one so-so movie but you’ve got to come back with another that’s huge, if possible, and that must be very, very difficult for young talent.” — From a 2004 interview with the Academy of Achievement

8. ON THE COLLABORATIVE NATURE OF FILMMAKING

“It is a collaborative medium. If you’re lucky, everyone wants to do just that. You never set out to make a failure; you want a success. In the case of The Sound of Music, everyone was willing to bond and make it work. That is the best kind of working conditions. You don’t want to go in feeling that something’s wrong or that you’re not connecting. Thus far I’ve been really blessed.” — From a 2015 interview with HitFix

9. ON HOW THE PROS DO IT

“Remember: the amateur works until he can get it right. The professional works until he cannot go wrong.” — From Julie Andrews’s autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years

10. ON BELIEVING IN MIRACLES

“I do think that’s true [that miracles are happening every day]. If you can take the time to look. It took me a while to learn that, though some children know it instinctively and they do have wonder when they are kids. But the trouble is, as we grow older, we lose it.” — Interview with American Libraries Magazine

11. ON LOSING CONTROL

“I can’t drink too much without getting absolutely silly. And drugs have, mercifully, never worked, so I think I’m far more frightened of being out of control.” — From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

12. ON FINDING INSPIRATION

"It comes from anyplace. Truthfully, once the antennae are kind of up I’m always thinking or looking or feeling." — From an interview with American Libraries Magazine

13. ON THE REALITY OF “HAPPILY EVERY AFTER”

"As you become older, you become less judgmental and take offense less. But marriage is hard work; the illusion that you get married and live happily ever after is absolute rubbish." — From a 1982 interview with The New York Times

14. ON LUCK AND LONGEVITY

“When careers last as long as mine—and it’s been a lot of years now—I’m very fortunate that I’m still around. All careers go up and down like friendships, like marriages, like anything else, and you can’t bat a thousand all the time. So I think I’ve been very, very lucky.” — From a 2010 interview with The Telegraph

15. ON HOW MARY POPPINS IS JUST LIKE US

“Does Mary Poppins have an orgasm? Does she go to the bathroom? I assure you, she does." — From a 1982 interview with The New York Times

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6 Memorable Letters From Neil Armstrong
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NASA/Getty Images

Neil Armstrong, who would have turned 87 years old today, is remembered as both a "reluctant American hero" and "the spiritual repository of spacefaring dreams and ambitions." He was a man of few words, but those he chose to share were significant and, occasionally, tongue-in-cheek. Here are some notable letters and notes written by the first man on the moon.

1. ITS TRUE BEAUTY, HOWEVER, WAS THAT IT WORKED.

There was little certainty about what to expect once Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left the relative safety of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. This was not lost on Armstrong, who sent a letter of thanks to the crew who designed his spacesuit.

2. AMERICA MUST DECIDE IF IT WISHES TO REMAIN A LEADER IN SPACE.

It's no secret that NASA's budget has all but disappeared in recent years. Neil, along with James Lovell and Eugene Cernan, had a few things to say about that. The three wrote an open letter to President Obama, urging him not to forfeit the United States' progress in space exploration and technology. It ends with a sobering prediction, and some advice:

For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.

(Here's the letter in full.)

3. ALL OF THIS KNOWLEDGE IS YOURS FOR THE TAKING.

In 1971, the children's librarian of Troy, Michigan's new public library wrote dozens of letters to notable figures across the globe, asking them to address the children of Troy and speak about the importance of libraries, books, and reading. Among the replies was this note from Armstrong:

Through books you will meet poets and novelists whose creations will fire your imagination. You will meet the great thinkers who will share with you their philosophies, their concepts of the world, of humanity and of creation. You will learn about events that have shaped our history, of deeds both noble and ignoble. All of this knowledge is yours for the taking… Your library is a storehouse for mind and spirit. Use it well.

4. I FIND THAT MYSTIFYING.

After NPR's Robert Krulwich wondered aloud on-air why the astronauts stayed so close to the landing site (less than 100 yards from their lander), a helpful Armstrong sent over a lengthy letter of explanation, which ended with a little insight about the importance of space exploration (emphasis added):

Later Apollo flights were able to do more and move further in order to cover larger areas, particularly when the Lunar Rover vehicle became available in 1971. But in KRULWICH WONDERS, you make an important point, which I emphasized to the House Science and Technology Committee. During my testimony in May I said, "Some question why Americans should return to the Moon. "After all," they say "we have already been there." I find that mystifying. It would be as if 16th century monarchs proclaimed that "we need not go to the New World, we have already been there." Or as if President Thomas Jefferson announced in 1803 that Americans "need not go west of the Mississippi, the Lewis and Clark Expedition has already been there." Americans have visited and examined 6 locations on Luna, varying in size from a suburban lot to a small township. That leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to explore.

I have tried to give a small insight into your question “Who knew?”

I hope it is helpful.

(Read the full transcript here.)

5. IT CERTAINLY WAS EXCITING FOR ME.

On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo landing, Armstrong wrote a personal letter of tribute to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, which provided the communications between Apollo 11 and mission control. In part, it reads:

We were involved in doing what many thought to be impossible, putting humans on Earth’s moon.

Science fiction writers thought it would be possible. H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and other authors found ways to get people to the moon. But none of those writers foresaw any possibility of the lunar explorers being able to communicate with Earth, transmit data, position information, or transmit moving pictures of what they saw back to Earth. The authors foresaw my part of the adventure, but your part was beyond their comprehension.

All the Apollo people were working hard, working long hours, and were dedicated to making certain everything they did, they were doing to the very best of their ability. And I am confident that those of you who were working with us forty years ago, were working at least that hard. It would be impossible to overstate the appreciation that we on the crew feel for your dedication and the quality of your work.

The full text is available on the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station website.

6. NEXT TIME, BUTT OUT OF OUR BUSINESS!

After a surprise appearance in "Mystery On the Moon," issue #98 of The Fantastic Four, wherein our intrepid explorers are saved by four mutants in space, this brief note arrived in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's mailbox. Was it real? Who knows. But the sentiment remains: We don't need your superheroes to get to the moon—we have science

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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