September 22: Nathan Hale Hanged as a Spy

  In early September 1776, the Continental Army was enduring some of the darkest days it would ever encounter in the entire Revolutionary War. George Washington and his troops had just been soundly defeated in the Battle of Brooklyn, and had just barely escaped annihilation during their retreat. It looked more and more likely that…

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…

August 12: Gidget Born in Bridgeport

  On this day in Connecticut history, actress Deborah Walley was born in Bridgeport in 1941. With nationally famous ice skaters and choreographers Edith and Nathan Walley as her parents, young Deborah caught the show business bug at an early age, performing on the ice with her parents for the first time at the age…

June 25: Marilyn Monroe Takes Connecticut By Storm

  On this day in 1956, the small, rural, western Connecticut town of Roxbury was swarmed by reporters who recently learned that the internationally-famous starlet Marilyn Monroe was in town visiting her fiancée, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller. Even though the couple had been dating for months, they had only announced their plans to marry…

June 20: CT Resident Helen Keller Honored by President Kennedy

  Today in 1961, Easton resident Helen Keller received a birthday greeting from President John F. Kennedy containing high praise for her lifetime’s worth of hard work and advocacy for people who, like herself, were blind and/or deaf.  In it, he wrote: “You are one of that select company of men and women whose achievements…

April 21: Mark Twain, American Author & Satirist, dies in Redding

  On this day in 1910, Mark Twain, one of America’s most famous authors and Connecticut’s most famous residents, died at his home in Redding, Connecticut. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he grew up in Missouri and traveled extensively, working as a newspaper reporter and fiction writer, until settling with his family in 1871 in the…

March 9: War of 1812 Hero Isaac Hull Joins the Navy

  Today in 1798, 25-year-old Isaac Hull, who was destined to become one of the United States’ most famous heroes of the War of 1812, began his distinguished career in the Navy after accepting a commission as a 4th Lieutenant aboard the U.S. Frigate Constitution. Born in 1773 in Derby, Connecticut, young Isaac was raised…

February 27: Before Him, Some Cars Were Unsafe At Any Speed.

  Today in 1934, consumer advocate, author, and political activist Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut.  The son of Lebanese immigrants who operated a popular restaurant in the moderately-sized Connecticut factory town, Nader displayed an insatiable appetite for reading and an incredible ability to retain information at an early age — traits that  helped…

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…