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Caitlin Schneider // Getty Images

10 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in March

Caitlin Schneider // Getty Images
Caitlin Schneider // Getty Images

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

1. JEAN HARLOW: MARCH 3, 1911

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Actress Jean Harlow became a breakout star in 1930s Hollywood, where she earned the nickname the Blonde Bombshell. She got small parts in movies beginning in 1928, and became famous when she appeared in the 1930 Howard Hughes film Hell's Angels , while still a teenager. Hughes had been working on the film for some time with actress Greta Nissen, but when 1927's The Jazz Singer introduced sound technology to film, Hughes decided Hell's Angels would be a talkie. Nissen had a thick Norwegian accent, and was dropped from the production. Upstart Harlow, in contrast, had a pleasant and relatively deep voice. The following year, she starred in six movies. Harlow went on to appear in a total of 43 movies, but her career was still brief. She unexpectedly died of kidney failure in 1937, at just 26 years old.

2. ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING: MARCH 6, 1806

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English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning began writing poetry as soon as she learned to write, at age four. Browning's most familiar poem is Sonnet 43, also known as "How Do I Love Thee?" but her larger body of work had a huge influence on poets like Emily Dickinson and friend Edgar Allan Poe. Like many writers and artists of the time, Browning was addicted to the opioid drug laudanum, which she began taking at age 15 after an injury. By the time she met her future husband, poet Robert Browning, she was taking an astounding 40 drops of laudanum every day.

3. GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ: MARCH 6, 1927

Gabriel García Márquez, the author of Love in the Time of Cholera, was once a starving young reporter for a newspaper in his native Colombia, writing novels in his spare time. When he wrote a series about shipwrecked Colombian sailors and connected their deaths with corruption in the navy, it made him an instant enemy of the government. The newspaper sent García Márquez abroad, and he lived in Europe for years. He later worked as a journalist in Cuba and the U.S., but was living in Mexico in 1967 when his breakout novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, was published. For the next several decades, his novels told stories of characters who were affected by politics, culture, and the forces of history. García Márquez was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.  

4. JACK KEROUAC: MARCH 12, 1922

Tom Palumbo via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac dropped out of Columbia University in 1941 after an injury ended his football career. He spent ten days in the Marine Corps in 1942, then returned to New York, where he met aspiring writers Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. While he wrote continuously, Kerouac didn't make much money until his 1957 novel On The Road was published, six years after he wrote it. The acclaim for that novel was the highlight of Kerouac's literary career, although he wrote extensively afterward. What you might not know about Kerouac is that he was obsessed with fantasy baseball, and even invented his own version. Kerouac created a series of cards with teams, diagrams and possible outcomes, which he could deal to play imagined games all by himself. It was a hobby he hid from his friends at the time.  

5. ALBERT EINSTEIN: MARCH 14, 1879

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Albert Einstein's birthday is easy to remember because  March 14 (3/14) is also Pi Day. The theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity spent his childhood in Germany, but left Europe when Hitler came to power in 1933, and became an American citizen in 1940. As a kid, Einstein did have a few brushes with authority in school, but the persistent legends about him getting bad grades actually aren't true. The rumor of his failing marks in math came about because his school switched their grading system. In one term, a grade of one on a scale of one to six was the highest grade, then in the next term the scale was reversed, and a six became the highest grade. Amateur historians are to blame for the mix-up. Sorry, Al. 

6. EDITH NOURSE ROGERS: MARCH 19, 1881

Edith Nourse Rogers is remembered for being one of the first women to serve in Congress, but she had an extremely accomplished career long before she joined the House of Representatives. Rogers was a nursing volunteer with the YMCA, the Red Cross and at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center during World War I, and in 1922, President Warren G. Harding appointed her to a position visiting veterans and inspecting military hospitals—one she held with presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. In 1925, her husband, Representative John Jacob Rogers, died, and Rogers was tapped to serve out his term. She went on to be reelected again and again, eventually becoming one of the longest serving Congresswomen in history. Rogers championed veterans and veteran rights throughout her career, and helped to author legislation that created the Women's Army Corps and the GI Bill

7. FRED ROGERS: MARCH 20, 1928

dreambird via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fred Rogers worked in television from 1951 until his death in 2003. Thirty-three of those years were spent as the host of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which means that more than one generation of children grew up knowing the gentle and generous TV host. Strangely, he went to work in television because he hated it: Rogers was appalled at the banality and violence of TV programming, and wanted to use the medium to instead promote education and understanding. He was also an advocate for Public Television, and testified before Congress about the potential for TV to create more productive citizens.   

8. JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH: MARCH 21, 1685

Elias Gottlob Haussmann via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The German composer Johann Sebastian Bach was renowned as a gifted organist during his lifetime, but the genius of his compositions was only recognized after his death. Bach held many positions during his career. In 1708, he went to work as a musician for the Duke of Sachsen-Weimar. Within five years, he was up for a promotion to capellmeister, a.k.a. the director of music. Bach was passed over in favor of the retiring director's son, which made him so angry that he left to work for a rival court. The Duke of Sachsen-Weimar was so angry over losing his organist that he had Bach jailed for 30 days. Bach, of course, used the time to write more music.

9. FLANNERY O’CONNOR: MARCH 25, 1925

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Mary Flannery O’Connor wrote two novels and thirty-two short stories—many of which are considered master examples of the Southern Gothic style—before she died at age 39. The prolific writer also kept a prayer journal, and a collection of her correspondences was released in 2007. O'Connor was diagnosed with lupus in 1952, and after living in Iowa and Connecticut, she returned to her family farm to live the last twelve years of her life. There, she raised a flock of around 100 peacocks (and peahens). O'Connor had always been fascinated with birds, and even used peacocks as stand-ins for Christ in her work.

10. PATTY SMITH HILL: MARCH 27, 1868

Patty Smith Hill, in collaboration with her sister Mildred Hill, wrote possibly the the best-known song in the world: "Happy Birthday." Patty was the principal at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School at the time (1893), and wrote the lyrics while Mildred wrote the music. The song was originally "Good Morning To All," but Hill adapted the lyrics for other occasions, including birthdays. The song went on to have a litigious history, which Hill blamed on her publishing company. It is now in the public domain.    

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15 Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Julie Andrews Quotes
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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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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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