Good News in History, February 7

Happy 65th Birthday to comedian Emo Philips, whose childlike, almost idiot savant-sounding, delivery in a wandering falsetto voice produces a comic timing uniquely his own. Also an actor, writer, and producer, his stand-up comedy persona makes use of paraprosdokians—using a figure of speech so that at the end of a sentence he could surprise to make the listener reframe the first part—much like Groucho Marx. His album E=mo², recorded live at Caroline’s in Manhattan, won a 1985 award for best comedy album.

In 2018, Philips toured with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic throughout the US, for Yankovic’s Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour.

One of his jokes goes: “When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realized, the Lord doesn’t work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me.” Another begins: “Thanks for cheering me up; I loaned a friend of mine $8,000 for plastic surgery—now I don’t know what he looks like.” WATCH a montage of stand-up… (1956)

– Featured photo by slgckgc, CC license

MORE Good News from this Date:

  • Charles Dickens was born (1812)
  • Tasmania created the first law anywhere providing secret ballots for elections (1856)
  • Charlie Chaplin first appeared as The Tramp in the comedy film Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
  • The whimsical, rambling English comedian, actor, writer, and political activist, Eddie Izzard was born (1962)
  • Switzerland women gained right to vote (1971)
  • Grenada gained independence (1974)
  • US astronauts performed the first untethered space walk, which lasted nearly six hours (1984)
  • The Soviet Communist Party gave up its control and allowed other political parties to compete (1990)
  • Haiti‘s first elected president was sworn-in after 28 years of one-family rule (1991)
  • Britain’s Ellen MacArthur sailed into the record books as the fastest ever to solo navigate a round-the-world voyage (2005)

And 57 years ago today, Beatlemania reached American shores, and 3,000 adoring fans caused riotous scenes at a New York airport.

The Beatles touched down in the US for the first time, launching Rock and Roll’s “British invasion”. Filmmaker Albert Maysles was given access to the band, hanging out in their hotel rooms and elsewhere during those ten days, and he captured unprecedented footage. Watch a segment below on YouTube showing scenes from his documentary. You can stream or buy the fascinating historical film, The Beatles – The First U.S. Visit, on Amazon. (1964)

And 154 years ago today, Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in rural Wisconsin.

Laura Ingalls Wilder portrait 18 years oldThe author known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books based the stories on her childhood growing up in a settler and pioneer family. Married in Missouri, Wilder became an editor for a local newspaper, penning a regular column called “As a Farm Woman Thinks”. When she was nearly 65 years old, her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published. (1867)

2013 Photo by TechCrunch / Max Morse

Also, Happy Birthday to Ashton Kutcher who turns 43 today. An actor and producer first seen in a sitcom, That ’70s Show, in 1998–2006, he made his film debut in the romantic comedy Coming Soon and made a mark with his 2000 hit comedy film Dude, Where’s My Car? Beyond his romantic comedies like Just Married, No Stings Attached, and Valentine’s Day, he used his popularity as the first Twitter user to reach 1 million followers to promote a mission with his ex-wife Demi Moore—to eliminate sex-trafficking and child exploitation. Kutcher called his proudest moment, his recent testimony before Congress on the issue. (1998)

81 years ago today, Walt Disney’s second feature length film, Pinocchio, premiered.jiminy cricket and Pinocchio-Walt Disney Productions-1940

Based on an Italian children’s novel, the animated Disney movie involves an old woodworker named Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. The puppet is brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can become a real boy if he proves himself to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish”. With the help of Jiminy Cricket, his wise guide, he sets off on adventures toward his goal.

Even with its highly realistic hand-drawn animation effects, the movie was a box office flop—but today it’s considered among Disney’s finest productions. WATCH the puppet sing, ‘I‘ve got no strings’… (1940)


Also, 102 years ago today, Desmond Doss, the US Army corporal who saved 75 men while refusing to carry a weapon during one of the worst battles of World War II, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. Raised a devout Seventh-day Adventist Christian, Doss volunteered to serve as a combat medic, so he could save lives instead of take lives.

Doss on top of the Maeda Escarpment (or Hacksaw Ridge), May 4, 1945

For his heroism beyond the call of duty, he was twice awarded the Bronze Star and won the prestigious Medal of Honor—all as a conscientious objector who would not kill the enemy. His story was told in the 2016 Oscar nominated feature film Hacksaw Ridge.

Before placing the Medal of Honor around the young man’s neck, President Harry Truman read the long citation of Doss’s bravery on the Japanese island of Okinawa: “When the 1st Battalion of the 77th Infantry Division assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high, they drew heavy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire that left 75 casualties and drove the Americans back. Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the cliff (pictured below) and lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face to the friendly hands below.”

He later said his constant prayer was, “Lord, help me get one more.” Days later, “he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines; and two days later he treated four men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making four separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.”

The full citation lists even more incredible deeds, including eventually being badly injured, yet directing medics to go care for others on the battlefield, instead.

At a 2003 Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, officials presented Doss with a trophy and told a story about the bible his wife had given him years earlier on their wedding day. After reaching the hospital ship to be treated for injuries offshore, Doss noticed his portable bible was missing from his pocket, the one he had carried throughout his many battles. He asked that word be sent to the Company B soldiers to look for it. The men who had once considered him a coward because of his non-violence searched the blown-up terrain and, in a mini-miracle, found the treasured keepsake and returned it. (1919)

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