Good News in History, January 28

Happy 85th Birthday to Alan Alda, best known for his comedic role as Capt. Hawkeye Pierce in the TV series M*A*S*H, for which he was nominated for 21 Emmy Awards during the run from 1972-83, and won five. He also wrote and directed many episodes, including the ​2-hour series finale—which became the single most-watched episode of any series in American TV history.

MASH-season-2-hawkeye-hotlipsHe made his film directorial debut in The Four Seasons, which he co-wrote, starring alongside Carol Burnett, and made his marriage debut in 1957 co-starring with his college sweetheart Arlene—to whom he is still wedded.

Beyond Arlene, and doing extensive charity work (especially for St. Jude’s), his major passion is for science. He hosted and did interviews for the PBS show Scientific American Frontiers, and now Alda uses his expertise in acting and communication to help scientists communicate more effectively when sharing their findings to the public. 15,000 people were trained since he founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in 2010.

He was diagnosed in 2015 with Parkinson’s disease and developed tremors, but that didn’t keep him from using his distinctive voice. In 2020 he released an original podcast called Soldiers of Science: The Vietnam War, Anthony Fauci & the Doctors who Revolutionized American Medicine. He’s also began hosting two podcasts: Clear + Vivid with Alan Alda, as well as Science Clear + Vivid. (1936)

Over the last decade, Alda has published two memoirs, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: and Other Things I’ve Learned, and Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself. (2015 photo, above: Moody College of Communication Austin 2015, CC license)

WATCH him talk about his SAG Lifetime Achievement award…

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The Warsaw Confederation sanctioned religious freedom in Poland (1573)
  • Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was first published — with its first print run selling out at about 1,500 copies (1813)
  • The world’s largest snowflakes fell in Fort Keogh, Montana, which were reported to be 15 inches / 38 cm wide (1887)
  • A Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to honor the unknown dead of World War I (1921)
  • Iceland became the first country to legalize abortion (1935)
  • Italian police rescued a U.S. General after 42 days as hostage of the Red Brigade (1982)

On this day 36 years ago, a group of American performers recorded the charity song, We Are the World, to raise money for famine relief in Africa. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, the song became the fastest-selling American pop single in history, selling over 20 million copies and raising over $63 million immediately for humanitarian aid.

More than 45 of America’s biggest names in music “checked their egos at the door’ to make the USA for Africa recording, including Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Harry Belafonte, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, and more. With its dazzling cast, the song eventually became the biggest selling single in both pop music history.

In the 36 years since then, the recording produced by Quincy Jones has raised over one hundred million dollars for African relief. Check out the USAforAfrica.org website for more photos and info. GET THE CHILLS WATCHING the historic video below… (1985)

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