Today in History, February 26

Jackie Gleason (above) was born 100 years ago today.

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Four hundred years ago today, astronomer Galileo Galilei was ordered by Cardinal Bellarmine—under the orders of Pope Paul V—”to abandon completely … the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.” Galileo was allowed to consider the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun as a philosophical idea, a metaphysical “what-if,” but he was prohibited from teaching it or writing anything that argued for its physical truth.

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Mutual Film Corporation and Charlie Chaplin signed a contract that would pay him $10,000 a week on this date 100 years ago.

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Ted Hughes had “a voice like the thunder of God,” Sylvia Plath wrote. Plath met Hughes at a party in Cambridge 60 years ago today. They married in July.

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Bill Hicks died 22 years ago today. Bill Hicks:

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Tony Randall was born on this date in 1920. Johnny Cash was born on this date in 1932.

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Tom Kennedy, one of America’s great game-show presenters, is 89 today. Fats Domino is 88 today. Michael Bolton is 63 today. Michel Houellebecq is 60.

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