Born on this Day in History: January 31, 1923 - Author Norman Mailer was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. He studied at Harvard and served in the Army from 1944 to 1946. His first book The Naked and the Dead won immediate acclaim. His writing style, New Journalism, combined the imagination of fiction with qualities of reporting. His work included the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Executioner’s Song. He died in 2007.
On this Day in History: January 31, 1961 - The United States sends its first monkey into space, Ham the chimpanzee. His Mercury/Redstone 2 achieves an altitude of 158 miles, a 19-minute ride that subjects Ham to a force of 16 times gravity. The space ape splashes down safely, his capsule is plucked from the ocean by the USS Donner.