On this day in 1897, the great biochemist Florence Seibert was born. She isolated a pure form of tuberculin which is an important part of tuberculosis tests. You have to remember that a hundred years ago, tuberculosis was a terrible disease that killed many people in a very painful way. There is such a tendency to forget the contributions of female scientists like Dr. Seibert. I know from my own experience in academia that there are often “big men” in fields who have not done that much. And then there are others (much more likely to be women) who are not big deals despite important work. Somehow, they just don’t have “gravitas.”
Other birthdays: mathematician Richard Dedekind (1831); inventor George Westinghouse (1846); composer Karol Szymanowski (1882); pioneering astrophysicist Riccardo Giacconi (82); actor Elisabeth Shue (50); and actor Jeremy Sisto (39).
The day, however, belongs to actor Carole Lombard who was born in 1908. I especially remember her for her last film To Be or Not to Be. Shortly after making it, she died in a plane crash returning from a tour selling defense bonds. It’s sad, but she left us with a whole lot of fun films from the 1930s. It is slightly ironic that her last film spoofs the Nazis. But it is as good today as ever—maybe better. The film is very funny, but there aren’t a lot of great clips. Lombard is amusing in the following clip. “This is the first time I’ve ever met a man who could drop three tons of dynamite in two minutes. Bye!”
Happy birthday Carole Lombard!