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10 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in October

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Joshua Moore // Getty Images

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

1. BUSTER KEATON: OCTOBER 4, 1895

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Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was a pioneer of film production. He was an acclaimed comedic actor in many silent films of the 1920s, but he also wrote and directed them—developing a number of filmmaking techniques as he went along. Many became industry standards, like the chase scene, breaking the fourth wall, and appearing as multiple characters in the same scene. Keaton also did all his own stunts, like in the 1928 movie Steamboat Bill, Jr., in which a 4,000-lb. front wall of a house nearly falls on him. He survives in the movie—and in real life—by being in the exact spot where an open window falls around him, but if the actor had stood two inches to the left or right, he would have been crushed.

2. JOHN LENNON: OCTOBER 9, 1940

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John Lennon formed a skiffle band in Liverpool, England, when he was only 15 years old, recruiting another teen named Paul McCartney to join in. The pair soon enlisted 14-year-old George Harrison and they, along with a handful of other classmates, formed The Quarrymen. A few years later the three three broke off on their own, changed their named to The Beatles, recruited drummer Ringo Starr, and played their way into the history books. Lennon was also a composer, poet, author, and antiwar activist, but one thing few people know is that he also loved cats. He owned at least 16 of them over the years before his death in 1980.

3. ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: OCTOBER 11, 1884

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She was the wife of one president and the niece of another, but Eleanor Roosevelt left a lasting mark on history with her own accomplishments. She championed racial equality and women’s rights, and was an advocate for war refugees and children. Roosevelt led volunteer support programs during World War II, wrote a monthly magazine article and a daily newspaper column, and addressed the country with a regular radio address. She was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, where she served on the Human Rights Commission. On top of that, she raised five children (one of her six died in infancy). Roosevelt’s many activities included years as a pitchman for all kinds of products. She didn’t need the money, and her fee went to charities and humanitarian projects. You can see her first TV ad, for margarine, in a previous post.

4. MOLLY PITCHER: OCTOBER 13, 1754

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“Molly Pitcher” is a moniker used for an unidentified woman—or possibly several women—who aided soldiers during the American Revolution. While some consider her more folklore than fact, she is widely believed to have been either Margaret Corbin or Mary Ludwig Hayes, who was born on October 13, 1754. When her husband enlisted in the Continental Army, Mary joined him at Valley Forge (which was a common practice), and volunteered—cooking, carrying water, and tending to wounded men. The name Molly Pitcher comes from the fact that women would make repeated trips to fill pitchers with water to bring back for soldiers to drink, or to pour over hot cannons to cool them down. During the Battle of Monmouth in June of 1778, legend has it that Mary took over her husband's post at a cannon after he collapsed. She kept it firing until the Americans had won the battle, and even emerged unscathed after an enemy cannonball reportedly flew between her legs. She was later awarded a pension of $40 annually from the state of Pennsylvania for her service—44 years after the war ended. 

5. BELA LUGOSI: OCTOBER 20, 1882

The Hungarian actor is best remembered for his indelible portrayal of Count Dracula in the 1931 film, but when he made his Broadway debut in 1922, he barely spoke a word of English. To play the role of Fernando in the play The Red Poppy, Lugosi met with a tutor and was able to memorize and properly deliver every last line, even though he didn't understand a word of it. He pulled it off and eventually became a horror movie star, and even though he grew to resent the typecasting that followed Dracula, Lugosi was eventually buried in the Count’s signature cape. 

6. PABLO PICASSO: OCTOBER 25, 1881

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Picasso was an experimental artist best known for co-founding the Cubist art movement, but he explored many art genres throughout his life and left a catalog of works that displayed classicism, symbolism, realism, and surrealism. If that wasn't enough, he also helped to develop the art of the collage. Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. His last name at birth was Ruiz, but he took his mother’s Italian maiden name because he thought it was more interesting.

7. MAHALIA JACKSON: OCTOBER 26, 1911

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The "Queen of Gospel" began singing when she was just four years old, at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church in New Orleans. Later on in Chicago, she sang with the Greater Salem Baptist Church choir and the Johnson Gospel Singers, and worked as a beautician, laundry worker, and florist before her recording career took off in 1947. She went on to perform at Carnegie Hall, tour Europe, and sing at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Jackson was also a noted Civil Rights activist, and performed at the March on Washington in 1963, just before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.

8. TEDDY ROOSEVELT: OCTOBER 27, 1858

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Theodore Roosevelt was only 42 years old when he became president following the assassination of President McKinley, which makes him the youngest U.S. president so far. Years later, he was unhappy with the tenure of successor William Howard Taft (whom Roosevelt had supported in the 1908 election), so he decided to run again. At a campaign stop in Milwaukee, a man named John Schrank shot Roosevelt right in the chest, but the bullet was slowed by the 50-page speech folded in the candidate’s pocket. Roosevelt was wounded, but—as he wasn't coughing up blood—decided to go on with his speech. He told the crowd, “Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” Woodrow Wilson won the election later that year.      

9. SYLVIA PLATH: OCTOBER 27, 1932

Poet Sylvia Plath won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for The Collected Poems, but her most famous work is her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, which was published in the United Kingdom only a month before her death in 1963. Plath declared that she was writing a “potboiler” to appeal to the public’s interests, and even wrote in her journal, “Must get out Snake Pit [a popular 1946 novel about a mental illness]. There is an increasing market for mental-hospital stuff. I am a fool if I don't relive, recreate it.” The Bell Jar contained characters based on real people as well as details that mirrored Plath's own life, like the protagonist's stint at a mental hospital. While the author surrogate seems to be in recovery at the book's close, similar treatment didn’t help Plath. She suffered from depression her entire life, and committed suicide at age 30.

10. EMILY POST: OCTOBER 27, 1872

Born into high society, Emily Post (neé Price) began writing after her divorce from banker Edwin Main Post in 1905. Etiquette was just one of many subjects Post wrote on, but her 1922 book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home became a runaway hit. Its popularity was attributed to American immigrants and working class people who were chasing the American Dream and aspired to fit in with society folk. She then wrote a syndicated newspaper column on decorum for decades, and founded The Emily Post Institute, which tells the world how to behave to this day. (After all, her original etiquette advice is a little outdated now.) Following Post's death, her work was taken on by her grandson’s wife, Elizabeth Post. When Elizabeth retired, her daughter-in-law Peggy Post—along with a few other members of the Post clan—became the go-to for modern manners.

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15 Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Julie Andrews Quotes
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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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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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