CHARLOTTE, NC – Considering that February 29 only rolls around every four years you might think that, historically, nothing much happened on that day in history. Myth Trivia is here to tell you you’d be wrong. So today, we offer some examples of significant Leap Year / Leap Day events.
Born on February 29, leaplings?
Let’s begin with what people who were born on February 29 are called. Commonly known as “leaplings,” the odds of being born on February 29 are typically said to be 1 in 1,461. Unless you really want to get the weeds and overthink all the Leap Year and Leap Day possibilities.
One of the earliest major Leap Year events really has more of a Halloweenish sensation. In 1692, Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and a slave named Tituba became the first recipients of warrants issued in the Salem Witch Trials. Good refused to confess. The town eventually hanged, her while Osborne died in prison. But Tituba admitted her supposed crimes and authorities released her from jail a year later.
A sad day for a Sadist
Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, writer and philosopher. He became infamous, of course, for his numerous sexual crimes and abuse against young men, women and children.
The Marquis spent 32 years of his life incarcerated either in prison or insane asylums. The authorities transferred de Sade from the Vincennes fortress to the Bastille in Paris on February 29, 1784. He eventually spent ten years in the Bastille.
Hattie, Pakistan and Ike
Actress Hattie McDaniel achieved a noteworthy Leap Day honor in 1940 when she became the first African American to win an academy award for her role in Gone with the Wind. The movie captured eight Oscars.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was formed on the 29th day of February, 1956. On the same day, President Dwight David Eisenhower announced he would seek a second term
Guinness Record Leap Day babies: A real “Family Circle”
Four years later, on February 29, 1960, Heidi Henriksen was born. Her brother, Olav, joined the family exactly four years later. And in 1968, to the day, Leif-Martin Henriksen entered the world. The Norwegian siblings held the Guinness record for most babies born on a Leap Day until 2012, when the Estes family from Utah tied them: Xavier Estes was born on February 29, 2004; Remington Estes in 2008; and Jade Estes in 2012.
Also on February 29, 1960, Bil Keane’s long-running comic strip debuted as The Family Circle. Inspired by Keane’s own wife and children, Family Circus is now drawn by Keane’s youngest son, Jeff—the inspiration for “Jeffy” in the comic strip.
Leap Year Bunnies and Baseball
Last, but certainly not least, Playboy publisher, Hugh Hefner, opened his first “bunny laden” Playboy club in Chicago on February 29, 1960 to round out a busy Leap Day agenda.
‘Hammerin’ Hank’ Aaron became the first Major League baseball player to earn $200,000 when he signed a three year contract with the Atlanta Braves on Leap Day, February 29, 1972. Oddly enough, half a century later, the Major League minimum salary for 2020 is $563,500.
A unique NASCAR record
NASCAR’s King Richard Petty won the only Winston Cup race that was ever held on a Leap Day when he beat Darrell Waltrip by two laps in the Carolina 500 at Rockingham in 1976.
A poignant Rock ‘n Roll memorial
When singer Buddy Holly died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1959, his trademark glasses were thrown from the wreckage. They remained buried in the snow until the spring thaw. The individual who discovered them turned the glasses over to the County Sheriff’s office, which filed them away in a sealed manila envelope. There, they lay forgotten for over two decades.
Rediscovered by County Sheriff Jerry Allen on February 29, 1980 while he searched for old court records, local authorities returned the glasses to Holly’s widow, Maria Elena.
It’s a wrap
There in a nutshell is a sampling of Leap Year oddities to consider. Consider also the following.
The word “leap” is actually more prominent in everyday usage than you may have thought. Consider, for example “leap of faith,” “look before you leap,” “leaping to conclusions,” ‘”leaps and bounds,” “leapin’ lizards” and, of course, the children’s game we know as”leapfrog.”
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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