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In Celebration of Jim Henson! (9/24/12)

In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)

Since the day Jim Henson brought Kermit the Frog to life, we’ve all been getting a better understanding of what it means to be green. Kermit set his own rainbow in the sky
and we saw a new promise of joy in the world. 

It’s an honor to celebrate the life of Jim Henson, whom we miss even to this day, for his extraordinary talents and fascinating character. If you’ve ever wondered whether
a person can truly be drawn to their life’s work at an early age, you only have to look at Jim as a teenager in high school to see how his passion for puppetry began. Of course, it was later—after his college years and his collaboration with Frank Oz and others—that he became known as the greatest tenant that ever moved to Sesame Street.

Because of him, some of us had relationships with Big Bird and Bert and Ernie well before we realized there was another world apart from our TV sets. We learned what it meant
to be a friend, what it meant to be different, and even what it meant to be an adult. We learned to appreciate and acknowledge each other in new ways.

In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)

Jim Henson was one of the first puppeteers to give precise mouth movements to his characters so that they could become more human. He wasted no time designing appealing and fun characters for every age group. Soon, Miss Piggy was born to be Kermit’s “girlfriend,” Fozzie Bear joined the team of friends and numerous other personalities emerged, all of whom helped to make the Muppets a household name.

Henson, who was born in 1936, built a legacy that few can rival and certainly we are all
the better for it. When he stepped out on the stage of the Ed Sullivan show in the 50’s a new kind of star was born and it shone brightly. 

Today that star lives on in the work that Jim Henson’s children continue to build, bringing a new generation of viewers a reason to look at life with renewed joy each day. It may not be easy being “green,” but it’s easy for all of us to embrace the work of this innovative puppet creator. 

On September 24th, we sing Happy Birthday to Jim Henson and are grateful for the role he played in giving all of us a beautiful rainbow connection.

In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)In Celebration of Jim Henson!  (9/24/12)

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Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy birthday to one of the world’s most beloved children’s book authors, Shel Silverstein!  Sheldon Allan Silverstein was born on September 25, 1930, in Chicago,Illinois, to Nathan and Helen Silverstein.

Growing up with his sister, Peggy, in Logan Square, a community northwest of Chicago, Shel pursued his two favorite pastimes, baseball and drawing.  As an avid White Sox fan, he hoped to one day join the team, but realizing early in his adolescence that he possessed no athletic ability, drawing became his singular passion.  As a student at Roosevelt High School, he tried his best to get the attention of girls—at first through his failed athletic ability, then through his art—both to no avail.  Concentrating on his drawings in solitude, Silverstein had no mentor to study under and freely developed his own style.

He studied art at the University of Illinois for a year before expulsion due to grades, transferred to Chicago of Fine Arts for a year, finally to study English at Roosevelt University where he cartooned for the student paper, The Torch.  He did not complete his education, however, as he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War.  In retrospect, Silverstein looked upon his college years with contempt, feeling he could have seen the world rather than waste it in school.

Shel further blossomed as a cartoonist—and a reporter—during his time in the Army with his work on the Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes, lampooning the military.  Still, this time help a special place in his heart and he credits it towards his artistic growth, when he also learned to play the guitar.

Upon returning home, he worked odd jobs, including a stint atComiskeyPark, while freelancing as a cartoonist before meeting Hugh Hefner.  Shel then worked as a cartoonist for Playboy in 1956 while reporting stories for them from around the globe.  After a severe car accident rendered him immobile, he spent his recovery time cartooning and composing music.

But perhaps the most serendipitous encounter arose when a close friend of Silverstein’s, Tomi Ungerer, introduced Shel to his editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom.  Both Tomi and Ursula persuaded Silverstein to give writing children’s books a try.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Among his classic children’s book collections are The Giving Tree, which a publisher rejected for being “too short”, as well as Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Runny Babbit.  Silverstein had never envisioned himself a children’s book writer and illustrator, with his darker humor and sardonic wit.  Yet both playful themselves out whimsically in his collections, whether walking a fine line or something more akin to a flying trapeze.

All in all, this artist led a rather unexpected career that ranged from cartooning for the military to working for Playboy, with eventually writing and illustrating award-wining children’s books, as well as playwriting and composing film scores.  It was a combination as eclectic as the man was talented.  Sadly, Shel left the world on May 10, 1999, inKey West,Florida.  However, his literary legacy lives on as his poetic humor continues to tickle funny bones and warm hearts around the world, both young and old.

shelsilverstein.com.

faculty.weber.edu/chansen/humanweb/projects/MeghanUng/biography.htm

super-childrens-books.com/shel-silverstein-biography.html

poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/104

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

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Happy Birthday Mother Teresa

Happy Birthday Mother TeresaHappy birthday to the woman who gave her life to God and her love in service to the poor and needy of the world, Mother Teresa!  Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia (formerYugoslavia) to Nikollë and Drane Bojkaxhiu.

Gonxha, or “little flower” in Albanian, was the youngest of three children who sought a holy life as early as her teenage years when she joined Sodality, a youth group in her local parish.  This involvement sparked interest in missionary work, whereby she joined the Sisters of Loretto, an Irish Catholic missionary devoted  to working in India—what she referred to as her first “calling”—and changed her name to Teresa (after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux).

Among her many roles inIndia, Mother Teresa (Sister Teresa at that time) taught geography and catechism at St. Mary’s High School inCalcutta.  She later became principal of St. Mary’s, but in 1944 had to give up teaching due to tuberculosis.  During a train ride toDarjeelingfor her yearly retreat (this time in order to rest), Teresa was blessed with her second calling in life, her self-described “call within a call”: to live and work among the poor. She left the Sisters of Loretto in 1948 and pursued her new calling.

Continuing her educational work, Teresa learned basic medicine and treated the sick in their homes.  Not long after, former students of hers followed hew work and treated men, women, and children who had been rejected by area hospitals.  As the needs of the sick and poor grew and more help was needed, Mother Teresa founded several organizations devoted to the cause:

  • Missionaries of Charity in 1950
  • The Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963
  • The contemplative branch of the sisters in 1976
  • The contemplative branch of the brothers in 1979
  • The Missionaries of Charity Fathers in 1984

The Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and Sick & Suffering Co-Workers were also established for those of many faiths who shared her mission.  She also formed the Lay Missionaries of Charity and the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests in 1981.

Mother Teresa’s beacon of light was not without its share of extreme darkness, however.   From as far back as when her work among the poor and needy began, she confessed to experiencing an undeniable inner feeling of separation, even rejection, from God.  She called it “the darkness”.  Yet it was this very feeling that helped establish an even greater sense of communion with God.  By experiencing this intense sense of despair, she was able to help those who felt it even more.

Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, and was recognized both at the time of her death and years later by Pope John Paul II for her holy work and devoted service.  A woman of unwavering commitment, her life presented more than an example, but rather a model of compassion, charity, and love to all of whom she touched, healed, and loved.

If you share Mother Teresa’s birthday, have a blessed and happy birthday!

Sources: motherteresa.org and ewtn.com

Happy Birthday Mother TeresaHappy Birthday Mother TeresaHappy Birthday Mother TeresaHappy Birthday Mother TeresaHappy Birthday Mother TeresaHappy Birthday Mother Teresa

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Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Happy Birthday Julia Child!Her family and friends called her “Juke”, “Juju” and “Jukies”, but the world knows her as TV chef and author, Julia Child. Julia Carolyn McWilliams was born in Pasadena, California, on August 15, 1912. The oldest of three children, Julia had a privileged childhood and stood out among her peers as a wild prankster who towered over everyone else at the height of 6 feet, 2 inches.

Julia met Paul, the love of her life, while they were both working for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The happy couple was married in 1946. When Paul was reassigned to a post in Paris, Julia bid “bon voyage” to the U.S. for a temporary post in France. There she fell madly in love with French food, and began living with an enthusiastic joie de vivre for the country.

Her passion for French cooking led her to the world-famous Cordon Bleu cooking school, where she spent six months cooking with the finest chefs in the country – most of which were men! When she graduated, this culinary tour de force wanted to give the world a taste of what she was cooking! Julia mixed it up with fellow Cordon Bleu students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to form a cooking school called L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands).

Wanting to wish “Bon appétit” to mainstream America, the trio adapted French cuisine for mainstream Americans by collaborating on a two-volume cookbook. The 734-page, 3-lb cookbook was released in September of 1961 under the title “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. The book was considered groundbreaking and remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication.

Julia promoted her now-famous book on a Boston public television station. Introducing the world to her trademark blunt manner and hearty wit, she gained an immediate fan base by humorously preparing an omelet on air. This landmark first for Julia led her to host her own TV series on cooking for WGBH in 1962. Her beginning salary? $50 a show – this was later raised to $200 per show, plus expenses!

The French Chef TV series, like “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, gave us a new way of looking at food and made Julia a celebrity. The French Chef was eventually syndicated to 96 stations throughout America.

The “set” for all of her television shows – Julia Child’s Kitchen – was designed by Paul Child and is now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Julia is still in the public eye today. In 2009, the feature film Julie & Julia made its way to the big screen. Starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as writer Julie Powell, the movie covers Powell’s attempt to cook every recipe in Julia’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year, while blogging her entire experience. Child and Powell are also the inspiration for the popular current blog www.ayearwithjulia.com.

So as we bid you adieu, tell us – what is YOUR favorite French dish?

Know someone who shares Julia’s birthday?  Send them warm and delectable birthday wishes with Blue Mountain eCards. Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Happy Birthday Julia Child!Happy Birthday Julia Child!Happy Birthday Julia Child!Happy Birthday Julia Child!Happy Birthday Julia Child!Happy Birthday Julia Child!

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Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!Happy birthday to the master of cinematic suspense, Alfred Hitchcock!  Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, or “Hitch” to his friends and colleagues, was born August 13, 1899, inLeytonstone,England(just outsideLondon) to William and Emma Hitchcock.

The youngest of three children, Alfred grew up in a strict Roman Catholic family.  Despite a few stringent rules, including reciting the events of his day each night at the foot of his mother’s bed, Alfred experienced a fairly normal childhood.  Educated at

St.IgnatiusCollege, he went on to study engineering and navigation.  One of his first jobs was working for the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company, during which time his interest in film began.

He first got work drawing sets and met Alma Reville, an editor, who was only one day younger than Alfred. Laboring further down the food chain than her, they never spoke to each other until the director of the film they were working on got severely ill and Hitchcock was called upon to finish the movie.  He and Alma married in December 1926 and had a daughter, Patricia.

After a number of stops and starts at directing, Hitchcock began his filmography with The Lodger, The Lady Vanishes, and Rebecca.  But it wasn’t until Saboteur in 1942 that studios began placing Hitchcock’s name before the title (i.e. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho).

It’s been said that Hitchcock prided himself on directing and preferred studios for shooting rather than filming on locations because it enabled him more control over the filmmaking elements.  He also made a point of making an appearance in most of his films, which became something of a trademark for Hitchcock.

Not to limit himself to film, Hitchcock also made a name for himself in television in the 1950’s and 60’s with Alfred Hitchcock Presents.   He directed many of the half-hour episodes and played host every week during its run.Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

Years later, when given a Lifetime Achievement award in 1979, Hitchcock kidded that he must be nearing the end of his life.  He died the next year of kidney failure on April 29, 1980, in Bel Air,Los Angeles,California, a man of the world and a cinematic legend. 

Know someone who shares Alfred’s birthday?  Send them a frighteningly exciting birthday eCard and make their day!

Sources: PBS.com, biography.com, imdb.com

Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

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Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love Sandra Bullock. She’s managed to take on the role of America’s sweetheart without being flashy, annoying or fake. She is the quintessential woman everyone wants as their friend, boss, girlfriend, wife, drinking buddy, work-out partner…the list could go on forever. She has unmatched charisma on the big screen whether she’s starring in a romantic comedy or a serious drama. Her comedic characters are always funny, but never dumb, and her dramatic roles are authentic and relatable. And even though there have been a few professional bumps in the road – umm, hello Speed 2, Cruise Control and All About Steve – we forgive her because she’s not afraid to call herself out, which is just another reason we like her so much.

When she’s not on the big screen, Sandy is equally intriguing, spending a great deal of her time and money on important charitable causes. She recently donated $1 million to Japan Disaster Victims and has heavily donated to charities benefitting New Orleans after hurricane Katrina – most notably the Warren Easton Charter Foundation, which was formed to rebuild the hurricane-ravaged Easton High School. Although she’s called Austin, TX home for years, New Orleans is particularly special to Sandra as it is where her adopted son, Louis is originally from.

It’s not hard to believe that in high school, Sandra was a cheerleader and voted “most likely to brighten your day,” – a role she’s definitely lived up to. Here are a few more fun facts you may not know about Sandy…

–          Sandra is the daughter of a German opera singer and an American voice coach

–          She graduated from Washington-Lee High School where alumni also include Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty

–          One her first roles was for a television series based on the Melanie Griffith/Harrison Ford movie “Working Girl” in 1990.

–          Sandra took on the role for Speed 2 to help fund her own movie project, Hope Floats.

–          She donated $1 million to the American Red Cross after the September 11, 2001 attacks

–          First woman to win best and worst actress in the same year. Best Actress Academy Award for The blind Side; Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve

–          It is reported that she has acupuncture procedures done 2-3 times a week to help maintain her weight and ageless complexion.

–          She reportedly hates musicals and has vowed never to participate in one.

Do you have a friend or family member that shares the same birthday as Miss Sandra? Don’t forget to send them a birthday ecard to wish them happy birthday!  Also, if you’re tired of remembering birthdays or managing a  birthday calendar, check out our free birthday reminder service – never feel the pressure of having to remember a birthday again!

Can you pick a favorite Sandra Bullock role or movie? Tell us in the comments section below.

Sources:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000113/bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandra_Bullock

http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20364464_20364811,00.html

http://www.biography.com/articles/Sandra-Bullock-9542453

http://www.warreneastoncharterfoundation.com/

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!

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Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!

Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!“If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Happy birthday to Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau!  The man who made Walden Pond famous by building a house on its shores and living there for over two years was born on July 12, 1817, inConcord,Massachusetts, to John and Cynthia Thoreau.

Christened “David Henry” in October 1817, Thoreau was named after a recently deceased uncle.  Excelling at academics, Thoreau attended both public and private schools inConcord.  He graduated from Harvard in 1837 and changed his name to “Henry David”.

Trying his hand first at teaching inConcord, he experienced a falling out with his superiors over student disciplinary issues.  Returning to his family’s home to work in his father’s pencil factory, Thoreau soon tried teaching again in aConcordschool his older brother, John, and he founded.  Successful for a few years, the school closed when John became severely ill and Henry subsequently felt overwhelmed.

Once again laboring in the family’s pencil factory, Thoreau was taken under the wing of neighbor and longtime friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, serving as his handyman while Emerson mentored him.  An embracer of Emerson’s Transcendental philosophy (placing spiritual concerns over material success), Thoreau became a writer and published essays and poems in The Dial, a Transcendental journal.  Needing privacy to work, Emerson gave Thoreau permission to build a house on the banks ofWalden Pond on land Emerson owned.  Thoreau lived there for over two years; during that time, he spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax.  That experience of imprisonment turned into his essay, “Resistance to Civil Government”, later famously renamed “Civil Disobedience”.

After leaving Walden Pond, Thoreau published Walden in 1854 to celebratory reviews and a new following.  Although never wealthy, he spent the rest of his days earning a modest income working in the pencil factory, as well as surveying, lecturing, and publishing essays.

Thoreau died in 1862 of tuberculosis, leaving behind volumes of unfinished work.  At his funeral, Emerson delivered a eulogy, noting Thoreau’s quest for knowledge, virtue, and beauty in nature.

Know someone who shares Henry David Thoreau’s birthday?  Send them a birthday ecard to wish them a happy and prosperous birthday.

http://www.psymon.com/walden/quotes.html

http://www.thoreausociety.org/_news_abouthdt.htm

http://www.walden.org/Thoreau

http://www.library.ucsb.edu/thoreau/thoreau_faq.html

Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!Happy Birthday, Henry David Thoreau!

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Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.  They must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller

Happy Birthday to the woman who overcame overwhelming odds afflicted at infancy and went on to live an abundantly rich life, inspiring the world.  Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabamato Arthur H. Keller, an army captain and editor, and Kate Adams.

Born a healthy child, Helen contracted “acute congestion” (possibly scarlet fever or meningitis) at nineteen months, rendering her deaf and blind.  After many attempts to help her and several referrals later, Helen’s parents enlisted the help of Anne Sullivan, a recent graduate of the Perkins Institute for the Blind who was recommended by the school’s director, Michael Anaganos.

Wasting no time, Anne began working with Helen upon arrival to her family’s home.  SheHappy Birthday, Helen Keller! taught Helen “finger spelling”—sign language letters in the palm of her hand, starting with “doll.”  Initial lessons were marked by bouts of defiance toward Anne, interspersed with attempts at understanding her new language.  Helen would experience difficulty in making connections between word and object.   Subsequent temper tantrums would follow and become a regular occurrence until Anne remedied the situation by isolating the two of them in a small cottage on the family’s estate.  Shortly after their cocooned period together, a breakthrough occurred when Helen learned the word “water” from a pump just outside her home.  By the end of the day, Helen had learned over two dozen words.

As Helen grew up, attended different schools, and her story spread, she began to meet many famous figures from all walks of life, including Mark Twain, who dubbed Anne Sullivan, “The Miracle Worker.”  Anne stayed on as Helen’s companion, long after her lessons out of the unseen-unheard world were established, and helped translate Helen’s studies and lectures while they were atRadcliffCollege, where she graduated from cum laude in 1904.

Over time, Helen expanded her methods of communication, including touch-lip reading, typing, speech, and Braille, as well as finger-spelling.  She used her new found communication skills to write her first book, The Story of My life, with the help of Sullivan and future husband, John Macy. Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

Sullivan’s health deteriorated over the years.  She lost her eyesight entirely in 1932, whereby Polly Thompson, Keller’s and Sullivan’s secretary, took over as Keller’s companion when Sullivan died in 1936.

Helen and Anne’s journey out of darkness was made into the classic film, The Miracle Worker, directed by Arthur Penn, starring Anne Bancroft as Anne and Patty Duke as Helen in award-winning roles. Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

In sum, Helen Keller wrote twelve books, including The Story of My Life, The World I Live In, and Out of the Dark.

She died June 1, 1968 at the age of 87, less than a month shy of her birthday, having transformed her world and inspiring our own.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  Helen Keller

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Keller

http://www.biography.com/articles/Helen-Keller-9361967?part=0

http://www.afb.org/section.asp?SectionID=1&TopicID=129

Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!Happy Birthday, Helen Keller!

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Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!

Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!He’s tall, dark, handsome and oh-so-talented: happy birthday to Johnny Depp! Born on June 9, 1963, this mega-star is most recently known for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He once lived on a tight budget while selling pens for a telemarketing firm – good thing he didn’t keep that day job!

Bet this isn’t the only piece of Depp trivia that may surprise you – here’s some more dish on Depp that you may not have known!

  • Johnny Depp’s full name is John Christopher Depp, Jr.
  • Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp is the youngest of four children.
  • At age 16, Depp dropped out of high school and joined the garage band, The Kids.
  • Depp fell into acting when he was introduced to actor Nicolas Cage. How’s that for a mentor?
  • After filming Sleepy Hollow, Depp adopted the horse who played Gunpowder in the movie.
  • Depp isn’t just an actor, he’s also an accomplished musician. His credits include the soundtrack for his film, Chocolat. He’s also played lead slide guitar on the Oasis album Be Here Now.
  • The country of Estonia has a nightclub named after Depp. What’s it called? “Who Wouldn´t Like Johnny Depp?”
  • Depp has been named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”… twice. The honor came in both 2003 and 2009.
  • Depp is the godfather of Billy Ray Burton, the son of entertainment power-couple Helena Bonham-Carter and Tim Burton.
  •  Depp’s many acting credits include 21 Jumpstreet, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Finding Neverland, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and most famously Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie series.

What’s your favorite Johnny Depp role? Tell us in the comments section below!

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000136/bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Depp

http://www.biography.com/articles/Johnny-Depp-9542522

http://www.people.com/people/johnny_depp/biography

http://www.biography.com/featured-biography/johnny-depp/

Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!Happy Birthday, Johnny Depp!

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Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!

Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!

Happy Birthday to Leonardo da Vinci, born April 15th!

He was a handsome, left-handed, vegetarian animal lover who excelled in art, anatomy, architecture, engineering, geology, hydraulics, military arts, optics and sculpture. His mystique was also captured in a book and subsequent 2003 Hollywood movie called The Da Vinci Code by author Dan Brown. Who is it? It’s Leonardo da Vinci, who was born in Vinci, Italy on April 15, 1452. Best known for his painting of the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci (which literally means “Leonardo from the town of Vinci”) was a brilliant scholar and artist.

Da Vinci was the illegitimate son of a notary and a peasant girl. Although his parents split up shortly after his birth, both remarried and eventually gave Leonardo a total of 17 half sisters and brothers! As a young boy, he had access to many scholarly texts and great writings. At age 15, his father apprenticed him to artist Andrea del Verrochio in Florence, where he showed early and rapid signs of brilliance.

Along with his artistic flair, da Vinci is revered for his technological ingenuity. Centuries ahead of his time, he conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, a calculator, and brainstormed the ideas of concentrated solar power, and outlined a rough theory of plate tectonics. His smaller inventions included an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire. In his spare time, he doodled parachutes and flying machines, and wrote lengthy scientific thoughts in personal notebooks… backwards.

It’s a shame that so few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible in the 1400s. A failure by him to publish his findings meant that his grand scope of influence on many fields of study and ingenuity is not well documented by historians.

Known best as an artist, though, da Vinci is the talent behind works such as The Last Supper (1495), two different paintings with almost identical compositions called Virgin of the Rocks, or Madonna of the Rocks (1483-1486 and 1495-1508, respectively) and The Mona Lisa (1503-1506).

Leonardo da Vinci died of natural causes on May 2, 1519. It is said that he passed away as the King of France, Francis I, held da Vinci’s head in his arms.

Leonardo da Vinci left the world with a lot to ponder, and much to smile about. But one question remains: why do you think the woman in the Mona Lisa painting was smiling? Tell us in the comments section!

For other famous birthdays, check out our famous birthdays category here in the BlueMountain blog!  Have a friend or loved one celebrating a birthday today?  Send them a birthday eCard to show you care!

http://www.mos.org/leonardo/bio.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_vinci

http://www.answers.com/topic/leonardo-da-vinci

http://www.leonardoda-vinci.org/biography.html

Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci!