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Good News on This Day in History



Happy 60th birthday to Ivan Cary Elwes, the British actor who will forever be memorialized as stable hand turned swashbuckler, Wesley, in The Princess Bride. Although a modest success at the box office, the film became a cult classic, and is considered nearly perfect by numerous rating agencies. On the DVD’s 2001 release, Elwes said in an interview that “initially the studio didn’t know how to market it. Was it an adventure? A fantasy? A comedy? A romance? A kids’ movie? In the end they sold it as a kids’ movie and it largely had to rely on word of mouth… people tell me they still have their VHS copy that has been passed down from one generation to the next.” READ about his strange connection to Charles Dickenson… (1962)

Cary Elwes in 2015. CC 2.0. GabboT

Cary Elwes is a descendant of a famous British member of Parliament named John Elwes, who was the named inspiration to Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickenson’s A Christmas Carol from 1843. In the animated 2009 adaptation of the famous story, Elwes himself voiced 5 roles.

More Good News on this Date:

  • The Football Association, the oldest football association in the world, was formed in London (1863)
  • Norway became independent from Sweden (1905)
  • The P-51 Mustang made its maiden flight (1940)
  • Happy 76th Birthday to Pat Sajak, who was born to a Polish factory worker in Chicago, and hosted the TV game show Wheel of Fortune for over 20 years, and developed a line of puzzle books (1946)
  • Jordan became the second Arab country, after Egypt, to sign a peace accord with Israel, which ended 46 years of war (1994)
  • Israel’s parliament approved Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan for withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank (2004)

Happy 66th Birthday to Rita Wilson, the actress, singer, songwriter, and producer who is married to Tom Hanks, and who last year released a new Christmas song, and EP.

Born Margarita Ibrahimoff, her film appearances include Sleepless in Seattle, Now and Then, That Thing You Do! (Hanks’s directorial debut), Jingle All the Way, Runaway Bride, It’s Complicated, and Larry Crowne (also with Hanks). She also appeared in the TV series The Good Wife.

(left, 2019) Gage Skidmore–CC license; (right, 2018) Jim Jordan–CC license

Wilson has performed on Broadway, and produced several films, including the blockbuster indie movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding—and she is Greek Orthodox herself. As a singer/songwriter, Wilson has released multiple albums, including the 2021 EP, Trilogy III.

In April 2015, Wilson announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. After a one-month hiatus, she returned to Larry David’s Broadway show Fish in the Dark co-starring Jason Alexander.  WATCH her perform her song, (When I’m Gone) Throw Me a Party… (1956)

Also, on this day in 1825, the Erie Canal opened a passageway from New York to the Great Lakes.

Erie Canal Drawing-1836-pubdomainThe canal was built to create a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Midwestern US. It took 8 years to construct the 36 locks which overcame a total elevation differential of about 565 feet (172 m). At a time when there were only pack animals and no steamships or railways, water became a cost-effective shipping method.

23 years ago today, Britain’s House of Lords voted to end the right of hereditary votes in the upper chamber of Parliament. For centuries, the House of Lords had included several hundred members who inherited their seats; the House of Lords Act of 1999 removed such a right.

When the Labor Party led by Tony Blair came to power in the 1997 general election landslide, it promised to reform the legislative body, saying, “The right of hereditary Peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be ended by statute,” a promise that would eventually reduce the House’s membership from 1,330 to 669. (1999)

And, 45 years ago today, the last known natural case of smallpox was uncovered in Somalia. Once it was treated, it marked the final eradication of the disease and the successful end to a spectacular vaccination campaign.

The English physician Edward Jenner had discovered the protective elixir 180 years earlier, but by 1958 two million people were still dying from smallpox every year. With vaccines from the USSR and the US, the World Health Organization undertook a global initiative to wipe out the disease, which also caused blisters, blindness, and deformity. An Australian effort crossed the finish line in the Horn of Africa when it cured Ali Maow Maalin (above), a a Somali hospital cook and health worker who was the last person known to be infected with naturally-occurring Variola minor smallpox in the world. In October 1977, he was diagnosed with the disease that has been called The Greatest Killer, but made a full recovery. He was grateful that his friends and colleagues could be saved and took on a noble mission. He died in 2013 from malaria while carrying out polio vaccinations following the reintroduction of that virus in Somalia. (1977)

Also, 52 years ago today, the comic strip Doonesbury premiered in 28 newspapers, introducing the world to college students Mike and BD. Created by cartoonist Garry Trudeau for the Yale school paper, it chronicles the adventures of an array of characters—from any current President of the United States to the title character, Michael Doonesbury, who has progressed from a college student to a youthful senior citizen over the decades.

The first strip syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1975—the first strip cartoon to be so honored. Created in the throes of ’60s and ’70s counterculture, and frequently political in nature, the name Doonesbury is a combination of the word ‘doone’ (prep school slang for someone who is clueless, inattentive, or careless) and the surname of Charles Pillsbury, Trudeau’s roommate at Yale University.

To mark the 50th year, a deluxe box set called [email protected] was released with a USB flash drive with all 50 years of Doonesbury comics, offered for the first time in digital format, and includes a searchable calendar archive, character biographies, a week-by-week description of the strip’s contents, a 224-page wire-bound book, plus historical trivia, and a commemorative 16″ x 20″ poster featuring new sketches of all the strip’s characters. (1970)

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