Good News in History, January 12

50 years ago today, the American television sit-com All In the Family debuted on CBS. The controversial comedy created by Norman Lear was the first program to portray on TV the sexism and racism within American families.

For nine seasons, the writers and cast—Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers, and Rob Reiner—broke ground by depicting issues previously considered unsuitable for a U.S. network comedy—antisemitism, homosexuality, religion, the Vietnam War, menopause and, (especially) racism. The series became one of television’s most influential comedic programs, as it injected the sitcom format with dramatic moments centered around realistic, topical conflicts. WATCH some scenes, but beware: the language may shock you… (1971)


MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Jack London, the adventurer, workers’ rights activist, and author of novels like The Call of the Wild and White Fang, was born in San Francisco (1876)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park was established by the US Congress to protect 415 square miles of spectacular mountain peaks towering at 12,000-ft high in Colorado (1915)
  • The first person was cryonically preserved for later resuscitation (1967)
  • Mali votes for new constitution granting political freedom to parties (1992)

And, 89 years ago today, Hattie Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. The Democrat from Arkansas was the first female to serve a full term and the first woman to preside over the Senate.

Caraway surprised Arkansas politicians by announcing that she would run for a full term, joining a field already crowded with prominent candidates who had assumed she would step aside following her appointment to serve out her late husband’s term. She told reporters, “The time has passed when a woman should be placed in a position and kept there only while someone else is being groomed for the job.” (1932)

And, 52 years ago today, Led Zeppelin‘s debut album was released. It was recorded over just 36 hours at Olympic Studios in Barnes, London, costing the band just £1,782. Most of the tracks were performed ‘live’ in the studio, with very few overdubs added. The groundbreaking heavy rock LP spent more than a year—71 weeks—on the UK album chart, and the blues-based quartet became one the most influential bands in rock history. WATCH the video of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, a TV segment that was recorded before a small audience on Danmark Radio / Danish TV in Copenhagen. (1969)

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