Every weekend the Spectator brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …
In 1963, the Great Train Robbery took place. One of the jurors at the robbers’ trial was called Mr Greedy.
Actress Audrey Tatou was born in 1976. Her most famous role in cult French film Amélie was originally written for English actress Emily Watson, with a lead character called ‘Emily’. When Watson dropped out of the project on the first day of filming, director Jean Pierre Jeunet happened to walk past a film poster for Vénus Beauté featuring Audrey Tatou and the rest is history.
Lawrence Dallaglio (1972). The rugby legend was one of the backing singers on We Don’t Need Another Hero by Tina Turner. He was a member of the school choir that sang on the 1985 track.
Robin Williams (died 2014). He fulfilled a vital role on Schindler’s List, despite not being in the film. Director Steven Spielberg found the project so stressful that he arranged for Williams to call him once a week and ‘do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone. I would laugh hysterically, because I had to release so much.’
World Elephant Day. The animal can pump 30 pints of blood a minute into its ears to keep itself cool. The male uses its erect penis for the same purpose, splashing the organ – which can be over six feet long – with water.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the Canary Islands. The name comes not from the bird but from the dogs (‘canis’ in Latin) which populated the islands even in Roman times. The bird takes its name from the island, not the other way round.
Alfred Hitchcock (born 1899). Finding a way to incorporate his habitual cameo proved difficult in Lifeboat, which was about a small group of people stranded on such a vessel. Hitchcock eventually managed it by appearing as both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures in an advert for a weight loss product, visible on a newspaper page floating among debris near the boat. The photographs were available because Hitchcock had recently been on a crash diet.
International Lefthanders Day. The golfer Phil Mickelson is actually right-handed – he only plays left-handed because as a toddler he stood opposite his father and mirrored his swing.
Halle Berry (born 1966). The actress was named after Halle’s department store in her native Cleveland.