Today's History Trivia for May 17
1987 USS Stark Struck by Iraqi Missiles 37 U.S. sailors are killed when the Stark is struck by two Iraqi Exocet anti-ship missiles fired from an Iraqi plane. The Iraqi's claimed the Stark was in the Iran-Iraq War zone, but this is disputed by the U.S. The Stark was eventually repaired and returned to service.
1954 Segregation - Separate But Equal The U.S. Supreme Court rules that separate educational facilities for black and white children are NOT "separate but equal" and therefore violate the Constitution. The ruling, known as Brown v. Board of Education, overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education.
1993 First use of an artificial liver to keep a person alive after removing their liver is announced by doctors at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California.
1991 Jeffrey Dahmer Milwaukee police officers find a 14-year-old, drugged, naked, and bleeding. They return him to Dahmer who then killed him moments later.
1985 World record for motionlessness William Fuqua sits 24 hours on a motorcycle. Source: Guinness Book of World Records
1973 Watergate Senate Watergate hearings begin investigating the Nixon administration's abuse of power in trying to undermine the Democratic Party and the opposition to the Vietnam War.
1973 First woman in the U.S. Marine Band French horn player Staff Sgt. Ruth Johnson.
1971 First state to ban sex discrimination Washington makes it illegal to discriminate in hiring based on sex, age, marital status, race, creed, color, or national origin. The law went into effect in July.
1967 Evolution Tennessee repeals its law banning the teaching of Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
1955 First Atomic Reactor Patent Patent #2,708,656 is granted to Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard of the U.S.
1939 First televised baseball game Princeton beats Columbia 2-1, televised by NBC's W2XBS of New York City.
1938 First panel quiz show on radio, Information Please.
1910 Commission of Fine Arts is established, reviews plans for public buildings, parks, and monuments in Washington D.C.
1875 First Kentucky Derby Oliver Lewis, riding Aristides, wins the Churchill Downs classic.
Today's Birthdays for May 17
1760 John Greenwood d. 1819 American dentist. He made George Washington's dentures, which were not made from wood, but from hippopotamus and elephant ivory. He also invented the foot-powered dental drill.
1749 Edward Jenner d. 1823 English physician. He invented the vaccination (1796). After observing that milkmaids were generally immune to smallpox, Jenner postulated that the pus in the blisters that milkmaids received from cowpox (a disease similar to smallpox, but much less virulent) protect someone from smallpox. He then went on to test and prove his theory. Although others had previously observed that those who contracted cowpox were immune to smallpox, it was Jenner who proved that the pus from someone with cowpox would provide immunity. It was estimated at the time that 60% of the population acquired smallpox and 20% of the population died of it. It is said that his work has saved more lives than the work of any other human.
1970 Jordan Knight American pop musician, member of New Kids on the Block.
1956 Sugar Ray Leonard American boxer, winner of the world welterweight, light middleweight, and middleweight titles.
1955 Bill Paxton d. 2017 American actor. TV: Big Love (2006-11). Film: Aliens (1986, Private Hudson).
1948 Carlos May American baseball player. He is the only major-league baseball player whose birth month and day appeared on his uniform; his number was of course 17.
1936 Dennis Hopper d. 2010 American actor, director. Commenting on his 8-day marriage to Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, "The first seven were pretty good." Film: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Easy Rider (1969), Apocalypse Now (1979), and Blue Velvet (1986).
1918 Birgit Nilsson d. 2005 (Birgit Märta Svensson), Swedish soprano, famed for her roles in Brunnhilde, Salome, and Elektra.
1911 Maureen O'Sullivan d. 1998 Irish-American actress. Film: Jane of the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller.
1741 John Penn d. 1788 American lawyer. Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Deaths for May 17
1875 John Cabell Breckinridge b. 1821 14th U.S. Vice-President (1857-61). He was the youngest U.S. vice president (age 36 years and 48 days). He also served as the Confederate secretary of war during the Civil War.
2012 Donna Summer b. 1948 (LaDonna Gaines), American Grammy-winning singer. Music: Last Dance (1978) and She Works Hard for the Money (1983).
2005 Frank Gorshin, Jr b. 1933 American actor. TV: Batman (The Riddler). He also played the half-whiteface, half-blackface Bele in a Star Trek episode.
2004 Tony Randall b. 1920 (Leonard Rosenberg), American actor. TV: The Odd Couple (1970-75, Felix Unger).
1992 Lawrence Welk b. 1903 American orchestra leader, "Ah-one, an' ah-two."
1981 Jeannette Ridlon Piccard b. 1895 American scientist and Episcopal priest. She was the first American woman to qualify as a free-balloon pilot (1934) and the first person to successfully fly a balloon through a layer of clouds (1934).
1945 Bobby Hutchins b. 1925 (Robert E. Hutchins), American actor. Wheezer of The Little Rascals, he appeared in 58 Our Gang films.
1886 John Deere b. 1804 American blacksmith. He created the first commercially-successful cast-steel plow (1837). After noticing that cast-iron plows did not work well in the tough prairie soils of Illinois, he had the idea to make a polished steel plow. With the success of his plow, he founded the Deere & Company.
1838 Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord b. 1754 French statesman. He was foreign minister to Napoleon Bonaparte and King Louis XVIII, and was ambassador to Britain. One of history's greatest diplomats, he once stated, "We were given speech to hide our thoughts."
1829 John Jay b. 1745 6th president of the Continental Congress (1778-79), co-author of the Federalist papers (1787), Secretary of State ad interim (until Thomas Jefferson could take office, 1790), the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1789-95) and governor of New York (1795-1801).