Good News in History, March 10

Happy Birthday to Hollywood star Jon Hamm who turns 50 today. He rocketed to fame playing the 60s advertising executive Don Draper in the TV hit Mad Men, for which he won two Golden Globes and an Emmy, after 15 nominations. He also had a recurring role on NBC’s 30 Rock and is reportedly reuniting with his co-star Tina Fey in a new film directed by Mad Men co-star John Slattery called Maggie Moore, a dark comedy about a sheriff in a small town.

Hamm is also getting ready to shoot Corner Office, a film adaptation of The Room, playing a compulsive bureaucrat who discovers a secret room that his co-workers deny exists—a dark satire being shot in Vancouver through mid-March. In 2020 he starred with Emily Blunt in Wild Mountain Thyme, a romantic drama set in Ireland. WATCH some of his funny moments on talk shows….(1971)

He portrayed the angel Gabriel opposite David Tennant in the Amazon Prime miniseries, adapted from Neil Gaiman’s book, Good Omens and also had a role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

– 2012 photo of Hamm (right) by City Year, CC license

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Thomas Jefferson was named minister to France replacing Benjamin Franklin (1785)
  • Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call saying, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you” (1876)
  • Viking Press produced the first Book-of-the-Month-Club selection, Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman (1926)
  • Neil Simon’s play The Odd Couple opened on Broadway (1965) 
  • Nearly one half million people in Turkmenistan took shovels in hand and spent the day planting 755,000 trees—an ongoing Green Belt project that aimed to combat the country’s creeping desertification by planting three million saplings that year (2013)

And, on this day in 1804, France transferred ownership of the Louisiana Territory to the U.S. in a ceremony in St. Louis. The US bought 828,000 square miles (2,140,000 km2), and paid France $15 million (68 million francs) in a deal known as The Louisiana Purchase. Napoleon needed the money to bolster his military for a looming conflict with the U.K.

Map by William Morris, CC license

Also, Happy Birthday to actress Sharon Stone, who turns 63 today. Years after starring in Basic Intinct and the Scorsese film, Casino, for which she earned an Oscar nomination, she suffered a brain embolism and spent time recovering with her three adopted sons. (1958)

And, 141 years ago today, members of the Salvation Army landed in the United States to begin their charitable operations, fifteen years after the group was founded in England. With a worldwide membership of over 1.7 million today, the Protestant Christian church sect runs the well-known international charity in 131 countries with a mission to run charity shops, operate shelters for the homeless, and provide disaster relief and humanitarian aid.

Photos by Thomas Hawk (left) and Dan King (right), via CC licenses

Going all the way back to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when the group’s nationwide appeals for donations yielded tremendous support, the Salvation Army has been among the first to arrive when natural or man-made disasters strike anywhere in the world. Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, they’ve allocated donations of more than $365 million to serve more than 1.7 million people. The Army’s immediate response to Katrina included the mobilization of more than 178 feeding units and 11 field kitchens which served more than 5.7 million hot meals and 8.3 million sandwiches. After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, they arrived immediately at some of the worst disaster sites to help retrieve and bury the dead, and have since rebuilt homes and constructed new boats to recover livelihoods.

The Salvation Army may be best recognized for their Christmas season bell-ringers—volunteers and employees who stand outside of businesses with red kettles, ringing bells to inspire spontaneous donations. A tradition in the U.S. has developed in the last decades whereby people drop valuable gold coins, rings, or bundles of large bills anonymously into the kettles. (1880)

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