Every weekend Spectator Life brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …
In 1939 The Wizard of Oz received its premiere. The dog who played Toto was paid more than the actors who played the Munchkins (She got $125 per week, they got $100.)
National Day in Liechtenstein. The country has more companies than people.
Elvis Presley (died 1977). Listen to the end of Are You Lonesome Tonight, just after Elvis has stopped singing, and you’ll hear him bump into a microphone stand. He liked to record sad songs late at night, in the dark, to give them the right feel.
Robert de Niro (born 1943). The actor, famed for his love of ‘the method’, prepared for Taxi Driver by working as a cab driver in New York. One of his passengers recognised him, and said: ‘What happened?! You won an Oscar last year!’
In 1992, the Boston Celtics basketball player Larry Bird announced his retirement. When Twitter needed a name for the bird that acts as their logo, they chose ‘Larry’ in the player’s honour.
Jonathan Coe (born 1961). His novel The Rotters’ Club includes a sentence believed to be the longest in English literature – it contains 13,955 words.
Isaac Hayes (born 1942). His theme song from the film Shaft was the first Billboard Hot 100 number one ever to include a swear word – ‘you’re damn right!’
Jerry Lewis (died 2017). The actor and comedian wore a brand new pair of socks every day. This was to remind himself how far he’d come from his humble childhood, when his socks often had holes in them.
Kim Cattrall (born 1956). The Sex and the City star was born in Liverpool. Her grandmother had been a babysitter for the infant Ringo Starr.