Your Week in History: An electrocuted elephant and James Bond - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Your Week in History: An electrocuted elephant and James Bond

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Iron Eyes Cody, left, died Jan. 4, 1999. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Iron Eyes Cody, left, died Jan. 4, 1999. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Author J.R.R Tolkien was born Jan. 3, 1892. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Author J.R.R Tolkien was born Jan. 3, 1892. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
This painting depicts George Washington at the Battle of Princeton, which was fought Jan. 3, 1777. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) This painting depicts George Washington at the Battle of Princeton, which was fought Jan. 3, 1777. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) – In two days, we will have reached the future.

Although, if you think about it, every second of your life is spent in the future. Or, perhaps, since it takes eight minutes for sunlight to reach the Earth, all of our time is spent in the past. Or maybe since each second is the future, but the light is from the past, they cancel each other out and that's how we get the present?

My head hurts.

Don't think about it too much. Just revel in the fact that another year has gone by and you have your health and blah, blah, blah, all that other crap people are always talking about.

Before getting into it, I must admit I made a mistake last week. I previewed to this week of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. It was Jan. 6, which I had thought was Sunday due to looking at a 2013 calendar. Anyway, it's worth waiting another week for. If you're reading because of that, thank you for the page view and we'll see you next week.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Dec. 30 and Jan. 5, excluding Jan. 1, which has gotten too mainstream to be included with all these other loser days and will get a separate article.

Life and Death

Tommy Morrison was born Jan. 2, 1969. Morrison is best known for his boxing career and his role as Tommy Gunn in Rocky V. He claimed to be John Wayne's grandnephew, but the claim is unverified.

Anna Lee was born Jan. 2, 1913, and starred with Wayne in Fort Apache. She also played Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music. Robert Duvall was born Jan. 5, 1931, and played villain Ned Pepper opposite Wayne in True Grit. Among other roles, Duvall has starred in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather and The Natural. I could use this as another excuse to link to the climactic gunfight from True Grit, but I'll instead go with Duvall's famous line from Apocalypse Now.

Iron Eyes Cody died Jan. 4, 1999. Even though he wasn't a Native American, Cody is famous for his portrayal of them and lived as if he were, claiming he was part Cherokee. He appeared in several movies, including The Big Trail with John Wayne and playing Crazy Horse in Sitting Bull. But his most famous role was in the "Keep America Beautiful" anti-littering campaign.

J.R.R. Tolkien was born Jan. 3, 1892, Tiger Woods was born Dec. 30, 1975, "Jungle" Jack Hanna was born Jan. 2, 1947, Sergio Leone was born Jan. 3, 1929, John Denver was born Dec. 31, 1943, Mel Gibson was born Jan. 3, 1956, Bo Diddley was born Dec. 30, 1928, and Bozo the Clown (real name Larry Harmon) was born Jan. 2, 1925.

James Bond was born Jan. 4, 1900, but not the one you're thinking of. Bond - James Bond - was an ornithologist. Ian Fleming, who created the character James Bond was an avid bird watcher and was familiar with the real life James Bond and used his name for his books. In a twist of irony, Bond died Feb. 14, 1989, 95 years after another James Bond - a football player in the 1920s - was born.

Both halves of one of the most famous plays in football history - Eli Manning and David Tyree - were born Jan. 3. Manning (born in 1981) threw the pass to Tyree (born in 1980) who caught it by securing the ball to the side of his helmet in Super Bowl XLII.

Louis Braille, who invented a way for blind people to read, was born Jan. 4, 1809. He died Jan. 6, 1852.

Calvin Coolidge died Jan. 5, 1933, Saddam Hussein was hanged Dec. 30, 2006, and Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash Dec. 31, 1972. The pilot's body and parts of the plane were recovered, but Clemente's body was never found.

Overlooked Anniversaries

In things I wish there was video of, Leonardo da Vinci tested a flying machine and failed Jan. 3, 1496. Fewer things are funnier than old footage of people trying to fly and failing miserably (the modern stuff is great, too), and if video of someone as famous as Leonardo da Vinci doing it existed, that would be the best video clip ever made.

From great video to terrible video, Congress was first televised Jan. 3, 1947, and Thomas Edison filmed the electrocution of an elephant Jan. 4, 1903, in an effort to convince the public alternating current was dangerous. You can see the video here if you want. It's not graphic, but it's still unnerving.

Edison did something more reputable Dec. 31, 1879, when he demonstrated incandescent lighting for the first time.

Utah became a state Jan. 4, 1896, and since it was the filming location of The Conqueror and may have killed John Wayne, it has to leave. Alaska became a state Jan. 3, 1959. Alaska is full of bears and I'm not about to do anything to make bears upset, so Alaska can stay.

Great Britain imposed a tax on windows Dec. 31, 1695, Manhattan Bridge opened Dec. 31, 1909, the world's tallest building - Burj Khalifa - opened Jan. 4, 2010, and a blue moon and lunar eclipse occurred Dec. 31, 2009.

The first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square was held Dec. 31, 1907.

Something About Sports

I maybe should have just kept the Kerrigan attack in this week because there isn't much in the way of sports, but two pretty cool hockey things did happen this week. I don't know much about hockey, but I know Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were really good at it.

Gretzky scored five goals Dec. 30, 1981, to become the fastest player to reach 50 goals in a season. It took him 39 games, breaking the previous record of 50. The record still stands and led a season where Gretzky set records with 92 goals, 120 assists and 212 points, becoming the first player to reach 200 points in a season.

Lemieux scored five goals Dec. 31, 1988, and got each one a different way, becoming the only player in NHL history to do so. His goals were scored, in order, power-play, short-handed, even strength, penalty shot and on an empty net.

The Week in Warfare

The Battle of Princeton was fought Jan. 3, 1777. Following the victory at Trenton and a failed British offensive the night before, George Washington attacked British forces near Princeton and won an easy victory.

The battle was minor by British standards, and the British Army did not consider Princeton or Trenton to be major losses, but the British Army nevertheless retreated from New Jersey following the defeats. Historians now believe the victories changed the course of the war in the colonists' favor.

Following his defection to the British Army, Benedict Arnold led a raid on Richmond, VA, by the British Navy and burned much of the city.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Jan. 4 is Trivia Day. I've provided you with tons of useless information over the last year, but never a trivia question. Here goes. Who was named Time's Person of the Year in 2006? The answer can be found here.

You can celebrate further by playing Trivial Pursuit, but only do so if your answers are spelled correctly.

Preview of next week

"Those were the days."

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