The Who2 Blog

Letter of the Day!

A short gem, from Who2 user H.S.:To: suggestions@who2.comWhy not have a few not-so-famous people on I am not so famous, but I have a colorful background of accidents and incidents. H.S.

Is Punxsutawney Phil Really 121 Years Old?

With Groundhog Day looming, we have received a delightful letter from Mr. Ben Hughes of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Mr. Hughes is one of the official handlers for America’s top-dog groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.Here is what Mr. Hughes had to say:”A correction on your Punxsutawney Phil information.

‘Scooby-Doo’ Designer Dies

In December we reported the death of Joseph Barbera, of the Hanna-Barbera animation studios. Now comes the sad news of the demise of Iwao Takamoto, the Hanna-Barbera animator who designed Scooby-Doo. Takamoto was 81 when he died on Monday of heart failure.

Ramen Inventor Goes to Noodle Shop in the Sky

Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen noodles, has died of a heart attack in Japan. Ando was 96. Plucky to the last, he made a new year’s speech at the corporate offices of his company on Wednesday before returning home and falling ill.

Happy Birrrrthday to Ullllrich

January 1st marked the 523rd birthday of Ulrich Zwingli, Who2’s unofficial mascot. Zwingli, you’ll recall, was the Protestant Reformer who survived bubonic plague, had a secret marriage at age 38, and still ended up playing Avis to Martin Luther’s Hertz. Plucky to the last, Zwingli was wounded in a Catholic-vs.-Protestant wrangle and then put to the sword when he refused a Catholic confessor.

Notes on Rocky

Rocky Balboa opens tomorrow — the sixth film in Sylvester Stallone’s series about the rugged Philadelphia boxer with the broken nose. Thirty (count ’em) years have passed since the original Rocky won the Academy Award for best picture and best director of 1976. A few random Rocky notes:


Joseph Barbera, creator of Scooby-Doo and Fred Flintstone, has died at age 95. His partner Joseph Hanna died in 2001, and Hanna-Barbera is now part of Time-Warner.

Keeping An Eye on St. Nick

Google Earth has just announced a new gadget that “tracks” the travels of Santa Claus over the days leading up to Christmas Eve. The downer is that you must download both Google Earth and the Santa-tracking program (though they’re free), but on the upside, you get a flyby of Santa’s workshop at the North Pole and a peek at whimsical presents hidden around the world. It’s a nice gesture.

World’s Tallest Man Saves Dolphin

Strange but true (and wonderful): the world’s tallest man, a 54-year-old Mongolian herdsman, saved two dolphins at a Chinese aquarium by reaching into their stomachs and pulling out wayward chunks of plastic. The BBC reports that Bao Xishun is 2.36 meters, or 7 feet 8.95 inches, tall. Here’s a further story (with a fine photo) from CBS News.

Fun New Profile

Milton Bradley, creator of The Game of Life and founder of the Milton Bradley Company, maker of Yahtzee and Chutes and Ladders. Who knew he was born way back in 1836? Or that Abraham Lincoln nearly broke his heart?

Jeane Kirkpatrick, U.N. Bulldog

Jeane Kirkpatrick, a conservative bulldog for Ronald Reagan at the United Nations, has died at age 80.

The Day Nobody Was Born

December 6th is a special day at it’s the only day of the year on which nobody in our database was born. That’s 2843 famous people (and counting) and none of them born on December 6th.The 6th has been the lone holdout for a couple of years now. Even February 29 is well represented by rapper Ja Rule and Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers, among others.

Disney at 105

Animation pioneer Walt Disney died 40 years ago, but were he still living he’d be 105 today. Disney was born the same year as jazz great Louis Armstrong and chemist Linus Pauling. They both outlived him, but they were all outlasted by romance novelist Barbara Cartland, also of the class of ’01, who lived to the ripe old age of 100.Happy birthday, Walt!

Craig Breaks the String

Daniel Craig, the latest actor to play superspy James Bond, seems to be getting rave reviews for Casino Royale — even in China.

More Ageless Wonders

Among the results of last night’s American general elections: Ted Kennedy was elected to an eighth term as a senator from Massachusetts, and West Virginia’s Senator Robert Byrd was elected to a ninth term. (It’s a bittersweet year for Byrd: his wife, Erma Ora Byrd, passed away this spring after 68 years of marriage.)

Mysterious Larry HagEman

We’ve recently added profiles of Broadway star Mary Martin and her son, Dallas star Larry Hagman. Research on both profiles showed confusing factoids: Martin’s birthdate was variously reported as December 1, 10, or 11, and Hagman’s birth name was widely reported to be “Hageman.”Religion and Broadway Editor Hans Holznagel went on the case. His report:

“Leonid Hambro, 86, Pianist With an Astounding Memory, Dies”

That’s the title on this fascinating New York Times obituary of someone we’d never heard of before. You can read the full obituary here. (Registration is required, but it’s free. The obit remains free only for seven days, though.)

Mary Martin, Ageless Wonder

Religion and Broadway editor Hans Holznagel has just completed a new profile of Mary Martin, one of the brightest stars of the American stage in the 1950s. She created the title role of Peter Pan on Broadway in 1954, and of Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music in 1959.

James Cromwell, Biopic Guy

Helen Mirren is winning deserved salutes as Queen Elizabeth II in the new film The Queen (now coming to a theater near you). God save the Queen and DCI Tennison anyway.

Cory Lidle and Thurman Munson

The sad death of Cory Lidle in a plane crash has reminded many baseball fans of the 1979 death of another Yankee, Thurman Munson, in a single-plane crash. Lidle was still a Yankee newcomer, having joined the team this summer. Munson was a baseball player of the old school, mustachioed, burly and competitive, and he was also the first Yankee to be designated team captain since the legendary Lou Gehrig in the 1930s.