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Good News on This Day in History – October 20



Happy 61st birthday to the Survivorman, Les Stroud. The Canadian primitive living expert, Chief Scout, television producer, documentarian, and renowned musician became famous across America and Canada for his 4 season show, Survivorman, that launched the incredibly popular genre of wilderness survival TV series on Discovery. On it, he demonstrates real survival skills that have been referenced by many people as saving them from harrowing ordeals in nature. Outside of his rough and rugged life on camera, he regularly tours as Les Stroud and the Pikes, a blues, folk, Americana band with Les on blues harmonica, vocals, and guitar. READ More about the Survivorman… (1961)

Survivorman – fair use

Among the numerous television productions Stroud has worked on included, in 2006, a 90-minute special documenting his family’s journey to building an off-the-grid home. The show, Off the Grid with Les Stroud, chronicled the process of buying property and refitting an old farm house.

While it sounds spin-offy and rubbish, Stroud’s follow up to Discovery Channel’s discontinuation of SurvivormanBeyond Survivaldocumented 10 visits to various hunter-gather and indigenous groups around the world to learn their survival techniques. The show included never-before-filmed ceremonies and demonstrations by people as diverse as the Sea Gypsies of Malaysia, and the Q’Ero Inca descendants.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • Yugoslavian cities of Belgrade and Dubrovnik were liberated in World War II (1944)
  • The Return of the King, the third and final volume of The Lord of the Rings series  authored by J. R. R. Tolkien was published (1955)
  • The Sydney Opera House opened as a multiple venue performing arts center after a design by Danish architect Jørn Utzon won a competition in 1957 to create the iconic structure in Sydney Harbor in Australia (1973)
  • The John F. Kennedy library was opened in Boston (1979)
  • British human rights activist James Mawdsley, 27, was released from a Burma prison after serving 415 days of a 17-year sentence in solitary confinement for protesting against the slaughter of ethnic minorities and distributing pro-democracy leaflets (2000)

91 years ago today, legendary baseball player Mickey Mantle was born in Oklahoma. He played his entire 18-year career (1951–1968) for the New York Yankee and, despite many injuries, hit a stellar 536 career home runs with a .298 batting average. Regarded as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history, he led the league in home runs four times—and won 7 World Series Championships. He also had the highest stolen base percentage in history at the time to win a Triple Crown.

Mantle’s trading cards are extremely valuable among collectors, especially his 1952 Topps, one of which sold for $5.2 million this year.

Signing a ball in 1988 by Preston Mesarvey, CC license

“Mickey was the type of guy who cared about you as a person,” one teammate recalled. “He never complained about his injuries and always tried to lead by example. He always had that country boy attitude that made you feel at ease. He was a huge star, but he never treated you like he was better than you.” Also with quite a sense of humor, he enjoyed playing practical jokes in the clubhouse, like leaving around fake snakes, bugs, or frogs.

It was Mickey Mantle Day at Yankee Stadium, June 8, 1969. Mantle’s Number 7 was retired and he was a given a bronze plaque to be hung on the center field wall near the monuments to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

In 1995, doctors discovered that Mantle’s liver had been severely damaged by alcohol-induced cirrhosis and hepatitis C—and he had inoperable liver cancer. Before he died later that year at age 63, he established the Mickey Mantle Foundation to raise awareness for organ donations. WATCH a short video from the Hall of Fame… (1931)

Also Happy 64th Birthday to Viggo Mortensen, the actor best known for his portrayal of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

By Casa de América, CC license

He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role in the 2016 film Captain Fantastic. His other notable films include The Road, A Perfect Murder, The Indian Runner, Crimson Tide, Hidalgo, and Portrait of a Lady. (1958)

And, 72 years ago today, Tom Petty, was born in Gainesville, Florida. As an 11-year-old he met Elvis Presley, which sparked his love of rock and roll.

As a guitar playing singer-songwriter, he was one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, with over 80 million records sold worldwide. The ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’ was the leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but is also known as the co-founder of a 1980s supergroup with George Harrison, the Traveling Wilburys.

A biography written by his friend, Petty: The Biography, details his struggle with heroin in the 1990s. More recently, until his death in 2017,  Petty touted the benefits of practicing Transcendental Meditation. (1950)

By John Guano, CC license

And, 18 years ago today, the Boston Red Sox defeated the NY Yankees in Game 7 of the American League playoff, becoming the first (and only) MLB team in history to overcome a 0-3 deficit in the championship series—winning four straight.

They went on to the World Series and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four more straight games, to bring home to Boston their first national championship since 1918—finally breaking ‘the curse of the Bambino’. WATCH the amazing video of what happened after the Sox were 3 outs from being swept… (2004)


And, 132 years ago today, Jelly Roll Morton, the ragtime and jazz innovator, bandleader and composer was born in New Orleans. Morton has been called the inventor of jazz. He proved that a genre rooted in improvisation could retain its essential characteristics. His composition Jelly Roll Blues, published in 1915, was one of the first jazz compositions ever published. Morton also wrote Wolverine Blues, Black Bottom Stomp—and, a tribute to turn-of-the-century New Orleans musicians called, I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say.

Born to a bricklayer and domestic worker, he began playing piano at age 14. He created his unique style of jazz piano because “All my fellow musicians were much faster in manipulations, I thought than I, and I did not feel as though I was in their class.” So he used a slower tempo to permit flexibility through the use of more notes, a pinch of Spanish for flavor, and “the avoidance of playing triple forte continuously.”

In 1935, his 30-year-old composition King Porter Stomp, became Benny Goodman‘s first hit, but Morton received no royalties. Folklorist Alan Lomax heard him play, and in 1938, Lomax invited Morton to record piano music and interviews for the Library of Congress. The 8-hours of recordings, released years later as boxed-set, won two Grammy Awards. During the same year, Morton was posthumously honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Dying at age 51 in part because a Whites-only hospital would not treat him, he was eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. LISTEN to Dr. Jazz, and see a montage of photos… (1890)

SHARE The Milestones, Memories, and Music…

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