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What Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe Have In Common—and 19 Other Surprising Historical Connections

Updated: Jan. 25, 2023

Sometimes history plays funny tricks on us. Some animals we think of as prehistoric lived long enough to have their picture drawn and some "modern" inventions are much older than we think. Prepare to have your mind blown.


Women in France cast their first votes the day before Hitler died

French women were not given the right to vote until April 29, 1945, one day before Adolf Hitler committed suicide in Berlin. Here are 14 iconic feminist quotes that still resonate today.


Woolly mammoths lived at the time of the pyramids

When construction of the Great Pyramids began 4,500 years ago, there were still wooly mammoths living on Wrangel Island, off the coast of Siberia. Although, most woolly mammoths died out by 10,000 years ago, a small group of 500 to 1,000 survived there until 1650 BC. Find out what the pyramid means on dollar bills.


There were books 600 years before the Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible became the first mass-produced book in Europe in 1455. Butt he earliest woodblock-printed paper book is the Chinese book Diamond Sutra, which was created in 868, almost 600 years before Gutenberg. Find out the 12 common phrases you never knew came from the Bible.


Cars, airplanes, and the telegraph were all introduced within 18 years of each other

The Benz Patent-Motorwagen was built in 1885, and is widely regarded as the world’s first automobile to be propelled by an internal combustion engine. Nine years later in 1894, Guglielmo Marconi built the first commercially successful wireless telegraph system. In nine more years the Wright Brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk.


Dodo bird became extinct just four years before Bach was born

When Dutch settlers moved to their island, Mauritius, the dodo’s nests were destroyed by the monkeys, pigs, and cats the Dutch brought with them. The last of the 3-foot-tall birds died in 1681. Johann Sebastian Bach was born just four years later in 1685.


Barack Obama is related to Jefferson Davis

In his 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, our 44th President wrote, “While one of my great-great-grandfathers, Christopher Columbus Clark, had been a decorated Union soldier, his wife’s mother was rumored to have been a second cousin to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.” Here’s other surprising presidential trivia.


Orville Wright almost lived to see space flight

Wright, who with his brother Wilbur made the first powered flight, died in 1948, just 13 years before Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space on April 12, 1961.


The first fax service was invented in the same year the Civil War ended

Italian physicist Giovanni Caselli introduced the Pantelegraph, the first commercial telefax service between Paris and Lyon in 1865. This was just 11 years before the telephone was invented. Here’s why we say, “Hello,” when we answer the phone.

November 22, 1963 was a cursed day

President John F. Kennedy and novelists C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley all died on the same day: November 22, 1963. As Huxley, the author of Brave New World, lay dying, he asked his wife to give him a dose of LSD.


The Brooklyn Bridge is older than the London Bridge

The landmark Brooklyn Bridge was built 11 years before the current Tower Bridge in London, which was built in 1894.


Confucius, Socrates, and Buddha all lived around the same time.

Buddha is believed to have died in 483 BC. Confucius’ life ended in 479 BC, and Socrates was born in 469 BC. That’s a span of just 14 years!


The guillotine was last used in the same year that Star Wars came out.

The last guillotining in France was carried out on torture-murderer Hamida Djandoubi on September 10, 1977, almost four months after Star Wars hit theaters. New York’s World Trade Center was also finished the same year. Find out 13 more mind-blowing facts about Star Wars.


Native Americans had their own Paris

The Native Americans had a city, Cahokia, that in the 15th century was as populated as London or Paris. It was located near the city of what is now East St. Louis, Illinois. It was completely abandoned by the time white men saw it.


Cleopatra lived closer to the invention of the cell phone than to the building of the Great Pyramid

The Queen of the Nile lived from 69 BC to 30 BC, about 2,500 years after the Great Pyramid was finished in 2560 BC, but only about 2,000 years before Motorola produced the first handheld mobile phone in 1973.


Ghengis Khan is as old as Notre Dame

In 1163, Temujin, who would one day be known as Genghis Khan, was born in the Hentiyn Nuruu mountains near Ulan Bator, Mongolia. That same year, construction began on the cathedral in Paris that would become Notre Dame.


Mozart died the same month the Bill of Rights was passed

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna on December 5, 1791. Ten days later in the U.S., the Bill of Rights was ratified when the state of Virginia gave its approval. Did you know there were originally 12 amendments in the Bill of Rights?


Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe were born 41 days apart

Marilyn Monroe was the queen of Hollywood, but Queen Elizabeth II is the real thing, and actual queen. Marilyn was born in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926, just 41 days after the future queen. Elizabeth became queen in 1952, around the time Marilyn was starring in Monkey Business with Cary Grant. Here are more fascinating facts about Queen Elizabeth II.


Picasso died the same year Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon on March 1, 1973. Pablo Picasso died on April 8, just 38 days after the album’s release. While Picasso is an immortal in the art world, Dark Side is as immortal as rock ever has been, spending 861 weeks (over 16 years) on the Billboard 200 album chart.


The California Gold Rush took place the same time as the Irish Potato Famine

What a difference a continent makes. When Ireland was experiencing “The Great Famine” between 1845 and 1852, the country was devastated. Meanwhile in California, the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill kicked off a mass migration to the West Coast by settlers looking to literally strike it rich. Fascinated? Don’t miss these other incredible facts about the United States.


While the NFL was being launched, a woman ran the United States

The National Football League was founded in Canton, Ohio, in 1920, at the one time in U.S. history that a woman virtually ran the government. After President Woodrow Wilson had a series of paralyzing strokes, his wife Edith essentially ran the Executive Branch of the government. From then till the end of his term in 1921, she became the sole liaison between the President and his cabinet, and decided which matters were worth bringing to his attention. Here’s more trivia about America’s First Ladies.