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Good News in History, October 18

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Happy Alaska Day, which celebrates the moment when, 155 years ago after, the U.S. purchased the entire Alaskan territory from Russia for around $7.2 million, or around twenty-one thousand pounds of gold reserves. The Tsar out in Moscow was worried about the exposure and defensibility of a remote Alaskan outpost to a potential attack from the British colony of Canada, should the two powers have ever came to blows. This led Alexander II to sell it off to the Americans. READ what the Governor of Alaska had to say…

Whereas, Alaska Day, a significant piece of the Last Frontier’s history, serves as a valuable reminder of the rich history of our State. Alaska is a land of boundless opportunities, breathtaking landscape, and bountiful resources; and

Whereas, October 18, 2021 marks the 154th anniversary of the formal transfer of Alaska from the Russian Empire to the United States of America. Today is a day to celebrate the magnitude of which we have grown as a State and to be grateful for the abundance of resources, culture, and nature we have available to us.

Now therefore, I, Mike Dunleavy, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF ALASKA, do hereby proclaim October 18, 2021 as ALASKA DAY in Alaska, and encourage all Alaskans to celebrate and acknowledge this milestone in Alaska’s history.

More Good News on this Day:

  • 170 years ago today, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick was first published, as The Whale (1851)
  • Chuck Berry, the guitarist, singer-songwriter, and music pioneer who combined rhythm and blues with unique showmanship to make rock and roll distinctive with songs like Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, Rock and Roll Music, and Johnny B. Goode was born (1926–2017)
  • The Nobel Prize was awarded to American Dr. James Watson and Britons Dr. Francis Crick and Dr. Maurice Wilkins for recognizing the double-helix molecular structure of DNA (1962)
  • Azerbaijan declared independence from the Soviet Union (1991)

61 years ago today, West Side Story, the film starring Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, opened in movie theaters.

A film adaptation of the acclaimed Broadway musical, the romantic musical tragedy inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10, becoming the record holder for the most wins for a movie musical. The music for the film contained new arrangements of original songs by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, including the classic, Something’s Coming, America, I Feel Pretty, and Somewhere. WATCH the energetic trailer… (1961)

And, on this day in 1977, Reggie Jackson, playing for the N.Y. Yankees, hit 3 consecutive home runs, each on the first pitch, off three different Dodgers pitchers in the deciding World Series game.

Reggie Jackson

He was nicknamed “Mr. October” for his record breaking clutch hitting in the postseason. In 27 World Series games, Jackson amassed 10 home runs – a record-breaking five during the 1977 Series (4 homers on 4 consecutive swings of the bat in 2 games, against four different Dodger pitchers) – and 24 RBI, with a .357 batting average. In his career Reggie Jackson hit 563 home runs and was an American League All-Star for 14 seasons, helping the Yankees win two World Series titles.

68 years ago today, the first transistor radio was sold by Texas Instruments and Regency Division of I.D.E.A.

Photo of the Regency TR-1 by Gregory F. Maxwell, GDFL license

Rather than the large vacuum tubes of previous radios, the small portable receiver used transistor-based electronic circuitry and required far less power to operate. With mono earphone jacks included, the Regency TR-1 cost $49.95 (equivalent to $466 today) and sold about 150,000 units. The shock-resistant devices were extremely successful because of the large number of young people born in the baby boom, a public with disposable income amidst a period of prosperity, and the growing popularity of rock ‘n’ roll music. The smaller and cheaper Japanese models released a few years later, led to the transistor radio becoming the most popular electronic communication device of the 1960s and 70s. (1954)

Happy 62nd Birthday to the Belgian bodybuilder and Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme. He became known for his action movies in the 80s and 90s, including Cyborg, Bloodsport, Double Impact, Sudden Death and The Expendables 2. Famous for often doing the Chinese splits, he also starred in the franchises Kickboxer, and Universal Soldier.

By Georges Biard, 2010 – CC license

Called ‘The Muscles from Brussels,’ he began martial arts at the age of ten, enrolled by his father in a Shōtōkan karate school. He earned his black belt in karate at 18, but also took up ballet at 16, which he studied for five years. According to Van Damme, ballet “is an art, but it’s also one of the most difficult sports. If you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive a workout in any other sport.” Later he won titles in professional kickboxing and took up both Taekwondo and Muay Thai. He started lifting weights to improve his physique, which eventually led to a Mr. Belgium bodybuilding title.

His real-life battle with bipolar disorder was overcome and in 2008 Van Damme reignited his reputation with his semi-autobiographical production of JCVD, which received much critical acclaim, with Time magazine saying he deserved an Oscar. (1960)

And, on this day in 1967, The Jungle Book animated movie was released to theaters.

Based on the book by Rudyard Kipling’, Jungle Book was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney himself, who died during its production.

The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the jungle by wolves, whose animal friends, including Baloo the bear, try to protect him against the evil tiger Shere Khan. Acclaimed for its soundtrack, the film grossed tens of millions. WATCH the “Bare Necessities” number…

 

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