On this day in 1813, Joseph Glidden was born. Now he may or may not have invented barbed wire. But he got the patent on it in 1874 and so he became an incredibly wealthy man. Given that he probably wasn’t the actual inventor and how the idea was clearly on the minds of a number of people, it shows that our patent system has long been screwed up. But what I don’t think most people understand is how important barbed wire was to turning the western United States into a cattle ranching empire. The places where cattle were being bread did not have a lot of wood. So they really did need a way of enclose the cattle that didn’t cost a fortune in imported wood. Barbed wire really was a hugely important technological innovation, regardless of who invented it.
The writer of the great Winnie the Pooh books, A A Milne was born in 1882. I wrote a bit about him last year, Neuroses of Winnie the Pooh. Milne wrote much else besides the Pooh books. He was most successful as a playwright, but there is hardly a form or audience he didn’t write for.
Other birthdays: the great political theorist Montesquieu (1689); the lexicographer Peter Mark Roget (1779); Thomas “Come here, I want you” Watson (1854); comedian Oliver Hardy (1892); horror writer C M Eddy Jr (1896); actor Danny Kaye (1913); Bozo the Clown, Bob Bell (1922); writer and mystic Robert Anton Wilson (1932); singer-songwriter Bobby Goldsboro (73); actor Paul Freeman (71); actor Kevin Costner (59); and chess grandmaster Alexander Khalifman (46).
The day, however, belongs to one of my all time favorite actors Cary Grant who was born on this day in 1904. He is just always fun to watch. I prefer when he is in comedies, because he is very funny. But he’s also very good in dramas like North by Northwest. Of course, above all, he was in His Girl Friday—one of my very favorite films. The whole film is on YouTube in a couple of places, but here is the beginning where he and Rosalind Russell make a great comic duo:
Happy birthday Cary Grant!