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10 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in November

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Some of history's greatest pioneers and artists were born in the month of November. We couldn't possibly name them all, but here are just a handful whose lives we'll be celebrating.

1. DANIEL BOONE: NOVEMBER 2, 1734

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Frontiersman Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania and died in Missouri, but he is most closely associated with the American West. As one of first folk heroes to emerge in American history, there's bound to be a few myths surrounding the man, one of which is his iconic coonskin cap. Renderings often show him donning the fur fashion, but the truth is, he simply never wore one. In fact, he reportedly hated them.

2. MARIE CURIE: NOVEMBER 7, 1867

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Marie Curie is best known for being a pioneer for women in sciences—and for being the first person ever (and only woman in history) to be awarded two Nobel Prizes. To this day, only four people have done it: Frederick Sanger, Linus Pauling, John Bardeen and Curie. Born in Poland, she studied physics and math at the Sorbonne in France, where she married Professor Pierre Curie. Together, they studied radiation and radioactive materials, and won a joint Nobel Prize in Physics for their research in 1903. Following the death of Pierre in 1906, Marie fell in love with one of her students—a married man. Their love letters were leaked to to the press, and her paramour challenged the newspaper editor to a duel to defend Curie's honor. While the scandal raged in France, Curie was awarded her second Nobel Prize, this one in chemistry, for her work with radium and polonium. 

3. CARL SAGAN: NOVEMBER 9, 1934

Carl Sagan was an astronomy professor at Cornell University and a consultant for NASA, but he was best known for inspiring the public with his reverence for the universe around us—and explaining it all in an easy-to-understand way. He was a bestselling author (he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for The Dragons of Eden), and his 1980 PBS series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is still among the most popular and widely-watched PBS series of all time. And while Sagan certainly wanted to communicate the enormity of the universe to the public, he never actually said the phrase "billions and billions." That catchphrase came from his friend Johnny Carson, who spoofed Sagan in a 1980 Tonight Show skit.

4. GRACE KELLY: NOVEMBER 12, 1929

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Grace Kelly starred in 11 high-profile movies and several more television shows between 1950 and 1956, and in that brief time, left quite an impression on the pop culture universe. But the actress gave up her Hollywood career to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco, after which she became Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco. In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock managed to convince her to come out of retirement to star in his film Marnie, but the people of Monaco weren't thrilled with the idea. Kelly soon dropped out of the cast, citing scheduling conflicts. She died two decades later following a one-car accident in France.

5. GEORGIA O'KEEFFE: NOVEMBER 15, 1887

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Georgia O'Keeffe was a dedicated artist from an early age; she was well known in the New York art scene even before she became obsessed with New Mexico in the late '20s. O'Keeffe moved there permanently in 1949, and produced a huge body of work focusing on the flowers and landscapes of the American West. She even modified her Model-A Ford to use as a painter's studio so she could paint outside without being exposed to the sun. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe has over 240 of her oil paintings, watercolors, and sculptures.   

6. ALAN SHEPARD: NOVEMBER 18, 1923


One of NASA's original Mercury astronauts, Alan Shepard went down in history as the first American in space when he rode the Freedom 7 spacecraft to an altitude of 116 miles on May 5, 1961 (in a pee-soaked suit, no less). The 15-minute trip was preserved on film, and today, you can virtually ride along with Shepard 55 years after the fact. Shepard also walked on the moon as part of the Apollo 14 mission in 1971.

7. GEORGE ELIOT: NOVEMBER 22, 1819

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British author George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans, but she adopted the male pen name so her work would be taken seriously—a valid concern in the Victorian era, when women authors were expected to stick to romance novels. Additionally, Evans wanted her literary efforts to be separate from her work as an editor and literary critic. She ultimately penned seven novels in all (along with short stories and poetry), including Middlemarch and Silas Marner. It wasn't until after the publication of 1859's Adam Bede that she came forward with her true identity after an imposter tried to claim credit for the work.

8. CHARLES SCHULZ: NOVEMBER 26, 1922

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Charles M. Schulz spent nearly 50 years drawing the adventures of Charlie Brown and his friends in the comic strip Peanuts. The simply-drawn young children with their grownup thoughts and conversations struck a chord with readers, and the ring of truth in the work made sense: Charlie Brown himself was a reflection of Schulz's own life, particularly his angst and difficulties with women. Schulz would never have retired if it weren't for health problems. He died of colon cancer just hours before his final Peanuts strip was distributed in the Sunday, February 13, 2000 newspapers.  

9. SOJOURNER TRUTH: 1797

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November 26 (1883) is actually Sojourner Truth's death day, but we're celebrating it among the birthdays because the abolitionist and women's rights activist's birth date is unknown. We do know she was probably born in 1797 in New York, named Isabella Baumfree, and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language. She escaped from her owner in 1826, taking her infant daughter with her, just one year before the state of New York freed all slaves. Baumfree had four other children, and soon after her escape, she learned that her five-year-old son had been sold illegally to a slaveholder in Alabama. In a landmark court case, she sued the man, and won. Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843 and spent the rest of her life preaching, and campaigning for abolition and women's rights.

10. MARK TWAIN: NOVEMBER 30, 1835

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens worked as a typesetter, riverboat pilot on the Mississippi, miner, and journalist before he began writing novels under the pen name Mark Twain. His stories about the people he met along the way earned him the reputation as the world's foremost writer on American life at the turn of the 20th century. The infinitely quotable Twain said many memorable things, but some of his best known quotes are actually either paraphrased or misattributed. One thing he did say (which we can totally get behind): "Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

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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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