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Good InfoGood News in History, April 20

Good News in History, April 20

60 years ago today, Andy Serkis, a very special actor, was born. Lord of the Rings fans will tell you that Gollum is of the three most important characters, and Serkis’ portrayal and vocalization of the crawling, mutated schizophrenic obsessed with recovering the ring of power, will be remembered for all time as one of cinema’s great castings. Serkis, who has a fondness for motion capture suits, also played King Kong, Caesar the Chimp in Planet of the Apes, and Baloo the Bear in the Jungle Book, and is perhaps the only actor in history more famous for playing animals than humans. WATCH him explain the hilarious inspiration for the Gollum noise… (1964)

Andy Serkis at San Diego Comic Con 2017 – CC Gage Skidmore

Serkis is also a talented director, and along with shooting a number of films by himself, contributed as the director of the second unit shooting of The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit when director Peter Jackson was working on location elsewhere. Serkis made his directorial debut with Breathe. He also directed and starred in the film, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and the sequel to Venom, titled, Venom: Let There Be Carnage.


MORE Good News on this Day in History:

  • The Secchi disk, created by Italian astronomer Angelo Secchi, was first demonstrated as an inexpensive and straightforward method of measuring water clarity, using a white frisbee-sized disk–sometimes with black and white quadrants–which is still widely used to measure a lake’s transparency (1865)
  • Lionel Hampton, the American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, and bandleader, was born (1908)
  • Fenway Park opened as the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team (1912)
  • The Chicago Cubs played their first game at Wrigley Field, known then as Weeghman Park before William Wrigley Jr., a chewing gum manufacturer, bought the Cubs baseball team and renamed the stadium after himself (1916)
  • Billie Holiday recorded what is thought to be the first Civil Rights song, Strange Fruit (1939)
  • Apollo 16‘s lunar module landed on the moon (1972)
  • Annie Hall, the film that won Diane Keaton her first Oscar and also won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for her co-star, and the screenwriter, Woody Allen, was released (1977)
  • Professional basketball player Michael Jordan set an all-time record for points in an NBA playoff game with 63 against the Boston Celtics (1986)
  • China removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses (2001)

Happy 52nd birthday to Stephen Marley, the second-oldest and Grammy Award-winniest son of reggae legend Bob Marley and his wife Rita. Marley is an eight-time Grammy Award winner, three times as a solo artist, twice as a producer of younger brother Damian Marley’s Halfway Tree and Welcome to Jamrock albums, and a further three times as a member of his older brother Ziggy Marley’s group Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers.

Stephen Marley performing in 2007 – CC 2.0. David Koppe

He played all the instruments on several of his solo albums, including Mind Control (2007), Mind Control Acoustic (2008), Revelation Part I: The Root of Life (2011), and Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life (2016).

The New York Times wrote on the release of Revelation Part II: “Being Bob Marley’s son has given Stephen Marley a voice with archetypal familiarity, some instant brand recognition and a cultural responsibility. On “Revelation Pt. I,” Mr. Marley stayed close to the roots reggae sound Bob Marley perfected in the 1970s with the Wailers, though his album added a few guest rappers. “Revelation Pt. II” is far less purist; it strives for both innovation and radio-friendly crossover. Mr. Marley’s aching voice suits love songs just as well as protests… and more often than not, Mr. Marley lives up to the ambition that his last name demands of him.” (1972)

153 years ago today, the ‘Ku Klux Klan Act’ became U.S. law, protecting Blacks from the abuses being committed in the Deep South.

After the Civil War, President Ulysses S. Grant conducted an aggressive—and ultimately successful—campaign against White supremacist hate groups. Thanks to the officially named Civil Rights Act of 1871—championed by two White Republican Congressmen, Benjamin Butler and Samuel Shellbarger (pictured)—Grant deployed federal soldiers to arrest Klan members, enlisted U.S. attorneys to try their cases, and organized federal judges to oversee Klan trials that convicted hundreds of the group’s members.

Under the Klan Act, federal troops, rather than state militias, were used to enforce laws, and Klansmen were prosecuted in federal court. Habeas corpus was suspended in nine counties in South Carolina, which gave the president the power to imprison people without a trial in order to enforce the constitutional rights of freed African Americans… (1871)

These efforts were so successful that the Klan was destroyed in South Carolina and decimated throughout the rest of the former Confederacy. The Klan was not to exist again until its recreation 44 years later.

And, 38 years ago today, Vladimir Horowitz, one of the world’s greatest pianists, returned to his Russian homeland, after 61 years away, to perform for an emotional audience in his hometown of Moscow. At the age of 82, Horowitz gave one of the most emotionally astonishing and riveting performances of his life. (Audio CD)

Horowitz in Moscow with Charles Kuralt (DVD)

Charles Kuralt featured the historic recital on his Sunday Morning TV show, along with footage of Horowitz’s return to his native Soviet Union. To say that this concert was an emotional experience is an understatement, and a lesser pianist might have wilted under the pressure, but he seemed ecstatically inspired to be playing once again for his fellow Moscovites. (1986)

Photo by SarahStierch, CC license

Also, on this day 16 years ago, Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver ever to win an IndyCar Series race. Considered to be a pioneer for women in motorsports, Patrick’s achievements allowed her to break the gender barrier in a predominately male industry and become influential for many women who have taken up a career in auto racing since then. (2008)

Happy 75th Birthday to Jessica Lange, the 13th actress in history to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, winning an Academy Award (2), Primetime Emmy (3), and a Tony Award (for Long Day’s Journey into Night) all in one career. She is tied as the sixth most Oscar-nominated actress in history and has won 5 Golden Globes for productions like Tootsie, Frances, Blue Sky, Grey Gardens—as well as television accolades for American Horror Story.

She made her professional film debut in Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 remake of King Kong, for which she also won her first Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year. Also a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Lange received three more Oscar nominations for Country, Sweet Dreams, and Music Box, before winning her third Golden Globe Award, and the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as a manic depressive housewife in Blue Sky. (1949)

And, 44 years ago today, 84-year-old George Burns, the comic entertainer who starred in the movie Oh God and won a supporting actor Oscar for his performance in The Sunshine Boys, became the oldest person to have a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when ‘I Wish I Was 18 Again’ peaked at No.49 on the chart.

According to This Day in Music, when Burns was asked if he wished he were 18 again, he replied “I wish I was 80 again.” WATCH his interview on 60 Minutes… (1980)

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