Good News in History, January 17

119 years ago today, Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard debuted at the Moscow Art Theater. Chekhov described his final play as a comedy, with some elements of farce, though its first producer Konstantin Stanislavski treated it as a tragedy. Since its first production, directors have contended with its dual nature. It is often identified as one of the three or four outstanding plays by Chekhov. READ a bit about the story… (1904)

The Cherry Orchard in premier, 1904

Madame Lyubov Andreievna Ranevskaya, a landowner, is the linchpin around which the other characters revolve. A commanding and popular figure, she represents the pride of the old aristocracy, now fallen on hard times. Her confused feelings of love for her old home and sorrow at the scene of her son’s death, give her an emotional depth that keeps her from devolving into a mere aristocratic grotesque. Most of her humor comes from her inability to understand financial or business matters.

Her journey through the difficult times fallen on her was a commentary of the old order’s inability to adapt to social change in Russia; to wit, Tsarist censorship covered up many of the more radical elements, especially of the student character Peter. Ever since, directors have struggled to adapt to molding this overarching sorrow into a comedic production.

Widely regarded as a classic of 20th-century theater, the play has been translated and adapted into many languages and produced around the world, and is considered among Checkov’s best plays.

MORE Good News on this Date:

Statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston (1706)
James Cook became the first to cross the Antarctic Circle (1773)
Joni Mitchell released her album Court and Spark, with hits like Free Man in Paris, Help Me, and Raised on Robbery (1974)
39 years ago today, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs did not violate federal copyright laws (1984)
Israel handed over its military headquarters in the West Bank city of Hebron to the Palestinians, ending 30 years of occupation there (1997)

101 years old today, America’s beloved comedic actress Betty White, was born. Passing away last at her Los Angeles home, she had been planning to celebrate her centennial with a special one-night-only film screening of “Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration,” which will still be running in 900 theaters if you want to attend.

2010 photo by David Shankbone

White found the secret to aging gracefully in a different maxim than trying to be forever young when she told the AP: “Don’t try to be young, just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them.”

Most remembered for her television roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland, she won 7 Emmy awards—and, at 88 years old, an eighth Emmy for her hosting of Saturday Night Live.

She’s also the author of two memoirs, If You Ask Me, and Here We Go Again: My Life In Television.

WATCH her 2018 Emmy Awards acceptance speech… (1922)

Happy 61st Birthday to beloved funny man, and overall brilliant actor Jim Carrey. Coloring the comedy film scene of the 90s as over the top investigator Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, as well as others like The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, Carrey would prove himself exceptionally-talented in drama as well, through films like The Truman Show, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which he starred alongside Zooey Deschanel, whom he also shares his birthday with.

Happy 77th Birthday to William ‘Poogie’ Hart, the R&B singer who co-founded The Delfonics in the 1960s. One of the pioneers of the Philly soul sound, he wrote hits like, La-La Means I Love You, Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), and Ready or Not Here I Come. (1945)

And, Happy 43rd Birthday to actress and singer-songwriter Zooey Deschanel. She is best known for her deadpan roles in comedy films such as Elf, Failure to Launch, Yes Man, 500 Days of Summer, and Our Idiot Brother. She also recently starred on the popular Fox sitcom New Girl (2011–2018) for which she received nominations for an Emmy Award and three Golden Globes.

2018 photo released by the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti; CC license

Deschanel had performed in a jazz cabaret act, before joining M. Ward to form She & Him. They released six albums together and Zooey earned a Grammy nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media with So Long, a tune featured in the 2011 film soundtrack for Winnie the Pooh. She plays keyboards, percussion, banjo, and ukulele—and co-founded a website, HelloGiggles, which was acquired by Time, Inc. five years ago. CHECK OUT clips from her top ten movies… (1980)

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