Is That A Fact!?
Aubrey Beardsley’s “On This Day” Fun Facts and Trivia
On this day, in 1822, the very first patent for false teeth was granted to Dr Charles M Graham.
But these weren’t the first false teeth. The ancient Romans used to have false teeth as well. And Paul Revere (who was also a dentist) also had false teeth, which apparently he made out of some tusks from a poor hippopotamus. False teeth used to be animal bones or ivory or even human teeth that the original owner was no longer using (because they had moved on) or they had them pulled out because they wanted to sell them! So it is a great relief to everyone that Dr Graham of New York invented his false teeth, made out of porcelain instead. Although Dr John Greenwood had already been fitting a version of porcelain teeth since 1785, including making a set for George Washington!
But someone who doesn’t have to worry about false teeth is Donald Duck. Ducks don’t have teeth, and neither do hens. And Donald Duck made his big screen debut, on this very day, in 1934, starring alongside a hen in the classic The Wise Little Hen. I suspect this inspired the characters of the Chick and the Duck in the TV show Friends (although none of the writers would make themselves available for comment). But in honour of this important moment in cinematic history, and a special little duck’s birthday, today is Donald Duck Day!
Another famous duck movie is Duck Soup, by the Marx Brothers. Despite sharing a last name, the Marx Brothers weren’t actually related to Karl Marx. Their father’s name was in fact Marrix, but he changed it to Marx to sound more German when looking for jobs to create surplus profit. But in 1953 the FBI did not do all its research and set its sights on Groucho Marx in a 17 page report to J Edgar Hoover, adding another 200 pages over the years. They even monitored his television show, as did the public. But these days, we have Facebook for that.
Famous British Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, was born on this very day in 1917, and he was also monitored by M15 for having potentially subversive views. But it is unclear if they ever found any connection to Duck Soup. Or whether they read anything into sharing a birthday with Donald Duck.
And that’s a fact!