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MILESTONES: May 31, birthdays for Walt Whitman, Colin Farrell, Normani

May 31, 2019 Brooklyn Eagle
Happy 200th birthday to famed poet Walt Whitman. AP photo

NOTABLE PEOPLE born on this day include journalist and author Svetlana Alexievich, who was born in 1948; actor Tom Berenger, who was born in 1949; Oscar Award-winning actor Clint Eastwood, who was born in 1930; writer, comedian and actor Chris Elliott, who was born in 1960; actor Colin Farrell, who was born in 1976; actress Sharon Gless, who was born in 1943; actor Gregory Harrison, who was born in 1950; TV personality and host Phil Keoghan, who was born in 1967; former baseball player Kenny Lofton, who was born in 1967; actress Roma Maffia, who was born in 1958; Hall of Fame football player and former sportscaster Joe Namath, who was born in 1943; singer Normani, who was born in 1996; Emmy Award-winning actress Archie Panjabi, who was born in 1972; soccer star Marco Reus, who was born in 1989; actor Kyle Secor, who was born in 1957; actress Brooke Shields, who was born in 1965; actress Lea Thompson, who was born in 1961; Church of England special envoy Terry Waite, who was born in 1939; rapper Waka Flocka Flame, who was born in 1986; and singer and songwriter Peter Yarrow, who was born in 1938.

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PATRICIA ROBERTS HARRIS WAS BORN ON THIS DAY IN 1924. She was the first African-American woman to serve in an ambassadorial post, the first African American to hold a cabinet position (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) and the first woman to serve as dean of a law school. Harris died in 1985 in Washington, D.C.

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THE COPYRIGHT LAW WAS PASSED ON THIS DAY IN 1790. President George Washington signed the first U.S. copyright law. Initially, it gave protection for 14 years to books written by U.S. citizens. In 1891, the law was extended to cover books by foreign authors as well. Currently, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, “As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.”

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“SEINFELD” PREMIERED ON THIS DAY IN 1990. “The show about nothing” premiered on NBC to wide acclaim, with its intertwined story lines and surprising plot twists. Some of the programs concerned relationships, valet parking, annoying dogs and waiting for Chinese food. The cast featured Jerry Seinfeld as himself, Michael Richards as his neighbor Cosmo Kramer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as his ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes, and Jason Alexander as his best friend George Costanza. The series ended in 1998.

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PRINCE RAINIER OF MONACO WAS BORN ON THIS DAY IN 1923. The prince ascended the throne in 1949 and in 1956, he married Hollywood actress Grace Kelly and Monaco soon became the glamour destination for the rich and famous. By changing tax shelter laws and encouraging the casino industry, Rainier changed the destiny of his country, bringing it back from the brink of bankruptcy to become one of the wealthiest nations in Europe. He was Europe’s longest-reigning monarch when he died in Monaco in 2005.

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Special thanks to “Chase’s Calendar of Events” and Brooklyn Public Library.

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“I exist as I am, that is enough.” — Walt Whitman, who was born on this day in 1819

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