Good News in History, July 22

59 years ago today, Philadelphia’s first heavyweight boxing champion, Sonny Liston KO’d Floyd Patterson in a rematch of the bout that the year before won him the belt. The fight went much the same way, a knockout within the first round, only that the rematch had lasted four-seconds longer. Never having a particularly good relationship with the public, his victory was roundly booed. “The public is not with me. I know it,” Liston said afterward. “But they’ll have to swing along until somebody comes to beat me.” READ more… 

It was to be the only title defense of Liston’s career, after which back to back losses to Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) kept him away from the title ever after. Nevertheless, it was enough, along with an incredible record of 50-4 with 39 knockouts, that has Sonny Liston placed in many critics’ eyes as among the 10 best boxers to ever step into the ring.

Liston was a motherless child with many siblings raised a flint-hearted father. His parental figures were gang members rather than teachers. He couldn’t read, he had several arrest warrants issued for him throughout his career, but despite all this his wife called him a sweet, gentle man with her and their adopted kids. Several contemporaries said he was intelligent and compelling to speak with, and when Philadelphia opted not to celebrate his victory, it broke his heart.

MORE Good News on this Day:

Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first person on record to cross North America over the Great Divide, traveling through Canada, much of the way on foot (1793)
Wiley Post, from Oklahoma, became the first person to fly solo around the world, a 15,596 mile flight in the Winnie Mae in less than 8 days (1933)
Martial law in Poland was officially revoked (1983)
The Citizen’s Charter, launched by British Prime Minister John Major, promised to improve public services (1991)

Other Notable Birthdays: funk music innovator George Clinton (80); actor Danny Glover (75); singer Don Henley (74); writer and comic actor Albert Brooks (74); actor Willem Dafoe (66); singer Selena Gomez (29)

26 years ago today, The Daily Show began satirizing and skewering politicians and broadcasters on cable TV’s Comedy Central. “Nobody had done it before,” said former head writer and co-creator Lizz Winstead. “We became the watchdogs of the watchdog.”

Her co-creator Madeleine Smithberg supplemented the brilliant talents of host Jon Stewart with a posse of comical ‘correspondents’ like Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Ed Helms, Rob Corddry, Mo Rocca, Aasif Mandvi, Jon Oliver, and Lewis Black.

Describing itself as a fake news program (a la SNL’s ‘Weekend Update’), The Daily Show won dozens of Emmys and two Peabody Awards. The show morphed into an actual news source for millions because of their truth-telling and bipartisan attitude—they pummeled both Democrats and Republicans, both Fox News and MSNBC. “From Comedy Central’s World News Headquarters in New York, this is The Daily Show…” WATCH a video of top moments…(1996)

And, on this day in 1796, the city of Cleveland was founded by General Moses Cleveland on the southern shore of the Great Lake Erie near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

The skyline in 2006 by Avogadro, CC license

Its proximity to water helped make it a manufacturing powerhouse in the twentieth century. The Ohio city is home to a world class symphony orchestra, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The year 2016 was the first time in a half century that a sports team from the city claimed a championship trophy, with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the National Basketball League title. (Click to enlarge the landscape photo, by Avogadro, CC)

2005, public domain

Happy 90th Birthday to novelist Tom Robbins. His wildly poetic stories, like Jitterbug Perfume and Still Life With Woodpecker, have strong social and philosophical undercurrents, an irreverent bent, and scenes extrapolated from careful researching of bizarre facts.

In 2000, Robbins was named one of the 100 Best Writers of the 20th Century by Writer’s Digest magazine. His novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was made into a movie in 1993 by Gus Van Sant and stars Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, and Keanu Reeves.

Inspiring quotes include, “Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature,” and “We’re our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.” (1932)

Happy 73rd Birthday to the author who birthed the genre known as Young Adult Fiction, S.E. Hinton. She wrote her pivotal novel “The Outsiders” — about a gang of ‘greasers‘ in an Oklahoma high school — when she was sixteen years old. Since 1967, the book has sold 15 million copies, and still sells 500,000 annually as the book is required reading for teens in schools today.

As a student at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, she experience widespread disdain toward greaser culture and it inspired her to write the empathetic story. In one of her classes there, she was given a D by her creative writing teacher.

Francis Ford Coppola directed two films based on her books, The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, and co-wrote the screenplay with Hinton, who also performed in cameo appearances and worked as a location scout in Oklahoma, where all her novels were set. Coppola chose an amazing lineup of young actors, including Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, and Emilio Estevez. She has also written two children’s books (in the 90s), and since 2004 has penned two adult fiction novels, including Some of Tim’s Stories and Taming the Star Runner. (1948)

82 years ago, Alex Trebek, the beloved Canadian-American TV host of Jeopardy was born in Sudbury, Ontario.

2012 photo by the Peabody Awards, CC license

He earned a university degree in philosophy, but began working in broadcasting, eventually moving to L.A. and hosting a number of game shows starting in 1973. While taping five Jeopardy shows a week for 36 years, Trebek also has taken the show on the road performing for US military troops overseas to boost morale with the USO.

Diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March 2019, he continued to tape weekly episodes until the COVID-19 lockdowns, which gave him time to finish a book. He also published a 2020 memoir, The Answer Is . . . Reflections on My Life. He died shortly after. WATCH a 2020 interview about his health and new book… (1940)

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