February 12: Sherlock Holmes’ “Farewell Tour”

  A scion of one of Connecticut’s oldest and most prominent families, world-famous actor and playwright William Hooker Gillette was born in Hartford in 1853.  He left Hartford at the age of 20 to seek his fame and fortune as an actor and stage producer and met with moderate success until 1899, when he landed…

February 10: “General Tom Thumb” Marries “The Queen of Beauty”

  Born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, legendary entertainer Charles Sherwood Stratton, a.k.a. “Tom Thumb,” began touring with the internationally famous showman and fellow Connectican P. T. Barnum at the tender age of five.  Stratton had first attracted Barnum’s attention because of his unusually small size — Stratton was a dwarf who never grew taller…

February 5: World War I’s Most Decorated Pet

Today in 1918, an unlikely war hero in the shape of a small, short-tailed puppy arrived at the front lines in France alongside the 102d Regiment of the Yankee Division, a unit composed of mostly Connecticut soldiers who had been recruited in New Haven.  That puppy, named “Stubby” by his comrades on account of his…

January 24: Legislators Create the Connecticut Hall of Fame

  On January 24, 2005, state legislators unveiled a plan to establish an official Connecticut Hall of Fame to honor the state’s most distinguished citizens.  Supported by individual donations, state grants, and Connecticut-based businesses, the Hall of Fame was created to recognize the accomplishments of notable inventors, entertainers, artists, politicians, athletes, and others with an…

January 7: Hiram Bingham III, Connecticut’s One-Day Governor

  It would be an understatement to say that Hiram Bingham III, Connecticut’s famous archaeologist, explorer, professor, pilot, politician, and best-selling author who likely was the inspiration for the fictional adventurer Indiana Jones, accomplished much in his lifetime.  It remains an irony, however, that one of Bingham’s most well-known accomplishments was also one of the…

December 13: New Haven’s Shubert Theatre Dodges the Wrecking Ball

  New Haven’s iconic Shubert Theatre, which earned the nickname “Birthplace of the Nation’s Greatest Hits” after decades of distinctive dramatic debuts, first opened its doors in December 1914.  It was the second theater built by the Shubert Organization, a family-run theater management business, and was patterned after the original Shubert Theatre in New York…

November 30: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Marry in Greenwich

  Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, two of the most famous entertainers in the history of American television, first met in 1940, over a decade before their mega-hit sitcom “I Love Lucy” first aired.  Ball, already well-known as a model and Broadway actress, and Arnaz, a popular Cuban bandleader, met on the set of Too…

November 15: Rosa Ponselle, Opera Singer Extraordinaire

  Born to Italian immigrants living in Meriden, Connecticut in 1897, Rosa Ponselle (born Rosa Ponzillo) displayed a natural talent for both singing and instrumental music at an early age.  Ponselle, who was destined to become a musical celebrity and one of the most famous opera singers in American history, began her musical career as…

November 9: New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery

  In the 1790s, a deadly epidemic of yellow fever swept throughout the eastern United States, hitting densely-populated urban centers like New Haven especially hard.  As fever-related fatalities multiplied, the burying grounds located behind the churches on the New Haven green — which had been in operation for nearly 150 years at that point —…

October 24: Baseball Legend Jackie Robinson Dies in Stamford

  On this day in 1972, baseball legend Jackie Robinson passed away at his longtime home in Stamford, Connecticut.  Today, Robinson is a household name, best known as the first African-American to play Major League Baseball and as one of the greatest all-around players of the game in American history.  In 1947, when he was…

September 10: Boxing Sensation Willie Pep K.O.s the Competition

  Today in 1942, Connecticut boxer Willie Pep began his meteoric rise to stardom when he when he knocked out featherweight Frankie Franceroni of New Jersey just two minutes into the first round, shocking a crowd of thousands at Madison Square Garden.  Just two months and five more wins later, the twenty-year-old Pep became the…