Good News in History, March 31

Happy Birthday to the Jedi Master Ewan McGregor, who turns 50 years-old today. Born in Scotland, the actor rocketed to international fame in 1999, playing a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars prequel, Episode I, The Phantom Menace. He played the Jedi again in the succeeding Star Wars sequels Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

His performance in the romantic drama Moulin Rouge! earned McGregor his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor—and 11 years later (2012) he earned a second nomination for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

In 2020 he was featured on the Smithsonian Channel as the narrator of Stormborn, a docu-series that followed animals battling the elements along the coast of McGregor’s homeland of Scotland, as well as Iceland and Norway.

And, this week, Disney announced that its new series Obi-Wan Kenobi is finally starting to shoot, following COVID-19 delays. McGregor, who is also an executive producer on the project, will co-star once again with Hayden Christensen who returns in the role of Anakin Skywalker, the young Darth Vader.

Available exclusively on Disney+, the story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of their last meeting when Kenobi watched his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin, turn to the dark side. WATCH a teaser trailer… (1971)

–2012 photo, above, by Georges Biard, CC license

The series Obi-Wan Kenobi is set 11 years before the timeline of A New Hope—the 1970s Star Wars original. The cast will also include Joel Edgerton, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, Rupert Friend and others. When they finish shooting the trailer might look something like this…

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Johann Sebastian Bach, the composer who revolutionized religious and secular music and inspired Mozart, was born (1685)
  • Composer Joseph Haydn (Father of the Symphony and String Quartet, and mentor to Beethoven. was born in Austria (1732)
  • The Eiffel Tower, designed by architect Gustave Eiffel, officially opened to commemorate the French Revolution (1889)
  • Britain & France agreed to support Poland if it were invaded by Germany (1939)
  • Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire for the first time, ascending to a new level with his stage persona, two months before Are You Experienced was released (1967)
  • Albania held first multi-party election in 50 years (1991)
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Zen master and author led a “Sit in Peace” meditation on the open grounds of London’s famed Trafalgar Square (2012)

And, on this day in 1927, César Chávez, the civil rights hero and labor leader of one of the most abused and exploited groups in America, was born.

He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 to help migrant workers—and like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., was a spiritual figure and crusader for nonviolent social change, using peaceful tactics such as fasts, boycotts, strikes and pilgrimages. When he died in 1993, at age 66, more than 50,000 marched in his funeral under a hot California sun. A migrant worker himself, education was always a priority for Chávez because, after eighth grade, he had to leave school to work in the fields to support his family. Chávez had great intellectual curiosity, was self-taught, and read widely throughout his life on many topics. His birthday today is a holiday in eight states.

Happy 86th Birthday to Herb Alpert, the musician and modern artist who is best know for the music of his Tijuana Brass band. He had five No.1 albums, sold 72 million records worldwide, and won nine Grammy Awards—including one for a recent album in 2013.

Receiving the National Medal of Arts in 2013 at the White House

He is the “A” in A&M Records, which he co-founded, and he has given away more than $54 million to arts programs and environmental campaigns. (1935)

And, on this day in 1949, the RCA Victor company introduced the 45-rpm record, an advancement that had taken almost a decade to develop. The 7-inch single was designed to offered better fidelity and longer playing time than the 78-rpm record currently in use. Most importantly, using the new record players, listeners could stack the disks, and hear up to ten records in a row with “speedy, silent, hardly noticeable changes,” as the advertisements boasted. The music system was designed to compete with the Long Playing records (LPs) introduced by Columbia a year earlier. The ‘45s’ became a staple in jukeboxes and homes for decades to come.

And on this day in 1948, the US Congress passed the Marshall Plan to rebuild war-torn Europe after World War II. Recognizing the need for economic stability on the continent, former Army Chief of Staff George Marshall responded to the high unemployment and food shortages with an initiative that provided $13 billion in aid to 18 European countries, and gave each country a role in creating its own plans for recovery. When the funding ended four years later, the economy of every participant state had surpassed pre-war levels by 25-35% percent. Five years after its launch, Marshall received a Nobel Peace Prize for his good-deed foreign policy. WATCH a video…


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