Today is January 18, 2010 and the 18th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 347 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 1068 days till the end of the current cycle. On this date in 1778, James Cook discovers the Hawaiian Islands. He names them the Sandwich Islands. Here are five people that share a birthday on this day:
Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
American orator and politician who practiced prominently as a lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court and served as a U.S. congressman (1813–17, 1823–27), a U.S. senator (1827–41, 1845–50), and U.S. secretary of state (1841–43, 1850–52). He is best known as an enthusiastic nationalist and as an advocate of business interests during the period of the Jacksonian agrarianism. By the second half of the 20th century Webster had ceased to be as well known or as highly rated. Still, he remained a timely figure on account of his conservative philosophy.
Joseph Bonnano (1905-2002)
Organized crime figure, author. Born in Castellammare del Golfo, Italy. Joseph Bonanno led one of the top crime families in the New York area for 30 years, spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s. He had the distinction of being one of the few mob bosses to ever get a chance to retire from organized crime. Bonanno first came to the United States in 1908 when he and his family moved into a largely Sicilian neighborhood in Brooklyn. There his father, Salvatore Bonanno started two businesses—a pasta factory and a tavern. Following the Sicilian tradition, his father became a man of influence and was known by the nickname “don Turridru.” Around the age of seven, Joseph Bonanno returned to Castellammare with his family. The reason for their short stay in America, he later explained, was most likely due to tensions between a rival family. He returned in 1924. Before long, Bonanno got involved in one of the most lucrative illegal businesses of the time—bootlegging alcohol. Prohibition, which banned the production and sale of alcohol, created a thriving underground industry. Bonanno also showed some business acumen in the legitimate enterprises as well, expanding an uncle’s bakery operation. Throughout his life, he would work a variety of endeavors—from the criminal to the commercial. Bonanno was arrested for running guns around this time, but the charges were dropped. Bonanno eventually went to work for Salvatore Maranzano as an enforcer. Maranzano’s operations included bootlegging and bookmaking rackets among other criminal pursuits. Taking the young Bonanno under his wing, Maranzano served as an underworld mentor to the up-and-coming mobster. Bonanno also provided Maranzano with invaluable advice and support during his clash with fellow Sicilian crime figure Joseph Masseria—in what has been called the Castellammarese War. The war ended with Masseria’s death in April 1931. Maranzano’s victory was short-lived, however. He was killed the following September by men hired by Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese. After Maranzano’s murder, Bonanno became the head of the Maranzano crime family (later referred to as the Bonanno crime family) at the young age of 26. It was one of the five ruling crime families of the New York area. In his new role, Bonanno served on the Commission, a council of crime bosses, which was intended to keep the peace among its constituents’ gangs. In 1963, Bonanno was named as a leading mob figure by Joseph Valachi in his testimony before a Senate subcommittee. He made it through the hearings, but a series of heart attacks and strokes put an end to his career as a crime boss.
Danny Kaye (1913-1987)
U.S. actor and comedian, born David Daniel Kaminski. He worked as a comic busboy in Catskills resorts from age 13 and later worked in vaudeville and nightclubs, developing his trademark pantomimes, rapid-fire nonsense songs, and physical antics. He was a success on Broadway in The Straw Hat Revue (1939) and Lady in the Dark (1940), in which he upstaged the legendary Gertrude Lawrence. His movie debut in Up in Arms (1944) was followed by starring roles in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), Hans Christian Andersen (1952), and White Christmas (1954). He starred on television in The Danny Kaye Show (1963–67). Much of his comedy material was written by his wife, Sylvia Fine. Kaye was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1955. He began his long association with UNICEF in 1953 and logged thousands of miles (frequently piloting his own plane) on behalf of the organization. He was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1982 and the French Legion of Honor in 1986.
A.A. Milne (1882-1956)
English writer. He joined the staff of Punch in 1906 and produced successful light comedies and a memorable detective novel, The Red House Mystery (1922), before verses written for his son Christopher Robin grew into the collections When We Were Very Young (1924) and Now We Are Six (1927), which became beloved classics. Stories about the adventures of Christopher Robin and the toy animals Pooh, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, and Eeyore are told in the immensely popular Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928).
Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869)
English physician and philologist. In 1814 he invented a slide rule for calculating the roots and powers of numbers. He was instrumental in founding the University of London (1828). He is best known for his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (1852), a comprehensive classification of synonyms or verbal equivalents which he assembled during his retirement. He was a fellow (from 1815) and secretary (from 1827) of the Royal Society.