Today in History

According to one article I saw, the dress was made of a now-defunct fabric, soufflé silk (it was outlawed because it was so flammable), which was dyed to match Monroe’s skin tone to give the effect of nudity – a tough enough job in an era where anything even remotely sexual was heavily censored – and if damaged, would be irreparable.

Nonetheless, almost sixty years later (May 2, 2022), the dress, which had been acquired by Ripley Entertainment (the Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” Museum people) and has been preserved on its own muslin-covered dress form under darkened, temperature-and-humidity controlled conditions, is removed from storage and worn in public at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fundraising gala in New York City by media whore Kim Kartrashian. Public reaction from conservators, museums, designers, and even the Twitterverse was swift and almost universally against her having put the historic garment at risk of ruin or irreparable damage.


May 20, 1891: The first public display of Thomas Edison’s prototype Kinetoscope, an early motion picture exhibition device. The Kinetoscope is designed for films to be viewed by one individual at a time through a peephole viewer window at the top of the device. The Kinetoscope is not a movie projector, but introduces the basic approach that will become the standard for all cinematic projection before the advent of video. It creates the illusion of movement by conveying a strip of perforated film bearing sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter. A process using roll film had been used by Edison in 1889, and subsequently developed by his employee William Dickson between 1889 and 1892.

May 21, 1936: Sada Abe is arrested after erotically asphyxiating her lover, Kichizo Ishida, and wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with his severed genitals in her kimono. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.

May 22, 1849: Future U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is issued a patent for an invention to lift boats, making him the only U.S. President to ever hold a patent.

May 22, 1992: After a reign lasting nearly 30 years, Johnny Carson hosted NBC’s “Tonight Show” for the final time. (Jay Leno took over as host three days later.)

May 22. 1843. 1st wagon train with 700 - 1000 migrants, departs Independence, Missouri for Oregon

May 23, 1934: Infamous bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are ambushed by police and killed in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

May 24, 1883: The Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, is opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.

The bridge was built with numerous passageways and compartments in its anchorages. New York City rented out the large vaults under the bridge’s Manhattan anchorage in order to fund the bridge. The vaults were used to store wine, as they were always at 60 °F (16 °C). This was called the “Blue Grotto” because of a shrine to the Virgin Mary next to an opening at the entrance. When New York visited one of the cellars about 102 years later, in 1978, it discovered, on the wall, a “fading inscription” reading: “Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long.”

May 25, 1925: John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in Tennessee.

… no relation, thx.

May 26, 1868: The Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson ends with his acquittal by one vote.

May 26, 1971: Don McLean recorded his song, “American Pie” at the Record Plant in New York City.

May 27, 1933: The Walt Disney Company releases the cartoon Three Little Pigs, with its hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”

May 27, 1942: Doris “Dorie” Miller, a cook aboard the USS West Virginia, became the first African-American to receive the Navy Cross for displaying “extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety” during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

(He was killed in action when his ship, USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56 ) was sunk by a sub in the battle of Makin Island on November 24, 1943. The second US Navy ship to be named after him, USS Doris Miller (CVN-81) will be built in Newport News Virginia.)

May 28, 1937: Near Callander, Ontario, Canada, the Dionne quintuplets are born to Oliva and Elzire Dionne; they will be the first quintuplets known to have survived their infancy.

Two of them, Annette and Cécile, are still alive.

May 28, 1937: Vehicles began crossing the new Golden Gate Bridge connecting San Francisco and Marin County, California.

May 29, 1953: Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay’s 39th birthday.

I met Edmund Hillary when I was about 12, following a speech/slide show he gave. He was a very amicable (and tall) man who took the trouble to talk with me for about 10 minutes.

May 29, 1453: The Fall of Constantinople. Emperor Constantine XI dies on the battlements as the Turks under Mehmet II take the city after a 53-day siege. Considered a watershed moment in history, the fall of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire a thousand years after the end of its western counterpart marks the end of the medieval period. The “most defensible city in the world” couldn’t hold up to new-fangled gunpowder.

May 29, 1917: John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born.

May 30, 1883: A rumor that the recently-opened Brooklyn Bridge is going to collapse causes a stampede that crushes twelve people and injures more than 35.