Good News in History, December 26

80 years ago today, The Philadelphia Story, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart debuted at Radio City Music Hall. Directed by George Cukor, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won two, for best screenplay and best actor—to Stewart, who played a tabloid journalist from Spy covering the wedding of a wealthy socialite.

Hepburn acquired the film rights to the mega-successful Broadway play, in order to control it as a vehicle for her screen comeback—and come back she did. It broke the box office record.

One critic said The Philadelphia Story had “just about everything that a blue-chip comedy should have—a witty, romantic script (by Donald Ogden Stewart); the flavor of high-society elegance, in which the patrons invariably luxuriate; and a splendid cast of performers.” WATCH the famous scene, ‘Oh C.K.Dexter Haven!’… (1940)

The studio, MGM, later remade the film in 1956 as a musical, retitled High Society, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • George Washington’s first victory over the British troops came quickly, after he led 2,400 troops, 18 cannons and 75 horses through sleeting and rain across the Delaware river in darkness for a surprise attack in Trenton (1776)
  • The English mathematician, inventor and mechanical engineer, Charles Babbage, considered to be the “father of the computer” who originated the concept of a programmable computer—and co-invented the first mechanical calculating machine—was born (1791)
  • Charles Pathé, the French pioneer of film and recording industries, was born (1863)
  • Led Zeppelin played their first concert in North America—as the back-up band for Vanilla Fudge and Spirit when their renown debut album hadn’t been released yet (1968)

People are celebrating around the world today: Boxing Day, the second day of Christmas; St. Stephen’s Day; and, in South Africa, The Day of Goodwill – a public holiday.

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Also, Kwanzaa, a week-long celebration of West African heritage in the Americas, begins today and runs through January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.

Also, Happy Birthday to actor Jared Leto who turns 49 years old today. (1971)

41 years ago today, a 4-night charity extravaganza—the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea—kicked off in London featuring British bands Queen, the Clash, The Pretenders, The Who, Elvis Costello, Wings, and more. Organized by Paul McCartney, the benefit shows raised money for UNICEF and the United Nations to care for victims and refugees of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, where three million people had been killed by Pol Pot’s forces.

The star-studded production was recorded and offered for sale on vinyl and cassette—and became a film. It was one of the first live benefit rock concerts, which laid the foundation for Band Aid, Live Aid, Earth Aid. Take your pick of videos on YouTube from the concert, here. (1979)

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