• On July 2, 1900, in the sky over Germany, Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin successfully demonstrates the world’s first rigid airship. The 420-foot, cigar-shaped craft was lifted by hydrogen gas and powered by a 16-horsepower engine.
• On July 4, 1914, director D.W. Griffith begins shooting “Birth of a Nation,” one of the most controversial movies in the history of American filmmaking. Griffith spent about $100,000 to make the silent film, a Civil War epic that used groundbreaking techniques, including multiple camera angles.
• On June 30, 1936, Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind” is published. A New York editor encouraged Mitchell to make one important change to the manuscript: the heroine’s name. Mitchell agreed to change it from Pansy to Scarlett, now one of the most memorable names in the history of literature.
• On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveils a daring two-piece swimsuit he dubbed the “bikini,” inspired by a U.S. atomic test that took place just days earlier off Bikini atoll in the Pacific. Reard kept the mystique alive by declaring that a two-piece suit wasn’t a genuine bikini “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”
STRANGE BUT TRUE
• If you have plans to travel to Indiana this September, you might want to head to the small town of Harmony. That’s where, on the third Saturday of September every year, you’ll find the Big Whopper Liar’s Contest, in which contestants compete to see who can tell the most original, exaggerated lie.
• You might be surprised to learn that it was noted author and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who made the following observation: “Being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of tranquility that religion is powerless to bestow.”
• In ancient Egypt, around 1500 B.C., baldness was considered to be the absolute height of feminine beauty. Women of the nobility often had special gold tweezers that they used to pluck their hair, and then they polished their heads to a high sheen with buffing cloths.
(c) 2008 King Features Synd. Inc.