Good News in History, August 13

25 years ago today, the first ever episode of the TV cartoon series South Park aired. becoming infamous for its profanity and dark, surreal humor that satirizes a wide range of topics toward an adult audience, it has consistently achieved the highest ratings of any basic cable TV show, and has won five Primetime Emmys. Its over 300 episodes are crafted over 6 days between the minds of a small group of writers, and at first animated using construction paper, then with computer software following the success of the pilot. READ about their breakneck episode production process… (1997)

Production of an episode begins on a Thursday, with the show’s writing consultants brainstorming with the show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. After exchanging ideas, Parker will write a script, and from there the entire team of animators, editors, technicians, and sound engineers will each typically work 100–120 hours in the ensuing week. Parker and Stone state that subjecting themselves to a one-week deadline creates more spontaneity amongst themselves in the creative process, which they feel results in a funnier show.

Their animation and thematic process are heavily influenced on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and the cartoons made by Terry Gilliam for the television show on the BBC. Parker and Stone first began working together because they shared a love of the English sketch comedy troupe.

Over the years South Park became famous for, sometimes within a week, setting an episode as satire to controversies or scandals that would sometimes still be in the news by the time the episode aired, giving them show tremendous pull as a social commentary that can be enjoyed in view of fresh outrage. This has seen them offend essentially every facet of society, except perhaps the Mormons, who despite being the victim of many jokes and a South Park Special, are known to spread their religion using the South Park satire of their faith as an icebreaker.

MORE Good News on this Day:

The first true stainless steel was produced by Harry Brearley in Sheffield, England when he added chromium to a steel alloy, resulting in a metal that will rarely corrode, rust or stain (1913)
Walt Disney released its fifth animated feature, Bambi, based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods, a coming-of-age story that went on to become a film classic (1942)
The Central African Republic declared independence from France (1960)
The Beatles’ first film A Hard Day’s Night opened in theaters across America, earning rave reviews and box office success (1964)
Jefferson Airplane made their live debut at San Francisco’s Matrix Club—and a band photo from that night later appeared on the front cover of their hit album, Surrealistic Pillow (1965)
Lou Brock became only 14th player in major league baseball history to reach the milestone of 3,000 career hits (1979)
The 2-day Moscow Music Peace Festival in Lenin Stadium, featuring Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, and The Scorpions, went down in history as the first concert in the Soviet Union where a requirement to stay seated was discarded, and the audience was allowed to stand up and dance (1989)
Libya agreed to set up a $2.7 billion fund for families of 270 victims of the 1988 Pan Am bombing (2003)

14 years ago today, American swimmer Michael Phelps won the men’s 200m butterfly in Beijing, on his way to setting the record for most gold medals earned by an individual athlete in a single Olympics (8)—and setting a world record in every single event.

Winning 20th Gold Medal in 2016, Rio de Janeiro – by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, CC license

The Baltimore kid who was diagnosed with severe ADHD, and medicated during the school week, proved his English teacher a fool for saying he would never be successful. The retired athlete has co-authored several books, including No Limits: The Will to Succeed, and a children’s book, How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals.

With a total of 28 lifetime Olympic medals, Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever. He also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (23), Olympic gold medals in individual events (13), and Olympic medals in individual events (16). WATCH how close he came to failing in his bid for 8 Golds… (2008)

On this day in 1899, the iconic film director Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex. Known as The Master of Suspense, he directed some of the most groundbreaking films of all time after he moved to America—including Psycho, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Dial M for Murder, and perhaps, most terrifying of all, The Birds. Arguably the most influential filmmaker of all time, he directed over 50 movies, and also hosted and produced the television anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1955–1965.

From the trailer to The Birds, YouTube

As a 20-year-old, Hitchcock entered the film industry, designing title cards, yet made his directorial debut at age 26. The Academy Award-winner’s “Hitchcockian style” includes the use of camera movement to mimic a person’s gaze, thereby turning viewers into voyeurs, and framing shots to maximize anxiety and fear. WATCH a short bio…

162 years ago today, Annie Oakley, who became the first American woman ‘superstar,’ was born in a cabin in rural Ohio.

To support her five siblings and widowed mother, Phoebe Annie Mosey took up hunting and trapping at age eight. She sold so much game that, at age 15, her earnings eventually paid off the mortgage on her mother’s farm.

Annie used her skill to compete against a traveling show marksman, Frank Butler, who bet $100 that he could beat any local fancy shooter. He was shocked when a five-foot-tall girl beat him—and the two married a year later.

In 1885, the couple joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, where she earned more than any other performer on tour, except “Buffalo Bill” Cody himself. Her feats of marksmanship were so incredible she even performed for Queen Victoria. At 30 paces she could split a playing card held edge-on, she hit dimes tossed into the air, and cigarettes from her husband’s lips.

Throughout her career, it is believed that Oakley taught upwards of 15,000 women how to use a gun—both for protection and as a form of physical and mental exercise. See books about Oakley and WATCH a short bio… (1860)

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