Good News in History, July 24

111 years ago today, American academic and explorer Hiram Bingham III, after being guided by indigenous farmers, became the first Westerner to lay eyes on Machu Picchu.

Set high on a peak in the Andes Mountains in Peru, the 15th century Incan citadel became the subject of a book by Bingham describing the, Lost City of the Incas, which later became an instant bestseller.

The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained generally unknown to the outside world until found by the American historian, who later became a Connecticut politician, serving as a U.S. senator in Washington, D.C. (1911)

MORE Good News on this Day:

Brigham Young led 148 Mormons fleeing from religious persecution into Salt Lake Valley—and following 17 months of travel, they established Salt Lake City (1847)
The Pact of Paris went into effect as an international treaty “providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy”—62 nations ultimately signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact—named for the French and American politicians who drafted the pact that heavily influenced later international law (1929)
U.S. President Richard Nixon was ordered by the Supreme Court to turn over subpoenaed White House tape recordings to the Watergate prosecutor (1974)
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the last Tsar of Bulgaria, when he was a child, became the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, and the only monarch in history to regain political power through democratic election to a different office (2001)
Lance Armstrong won a record-setting 7th Tour de France, nine years after being given a 50 percent chance of dying from testicular cancer (2005)
Photo by Drama League, CC license

And, Happy Birthday to Kristin Chenoweth, renowned actress and singer of Broadway and films, who turns 54 today. She won a Tony Award for her performance as Sally in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. She originated the role of Glinda in the musical Wicked, was often seen on Sesame Street, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a comedy series for her role in Pushing Daisies. The Oklahoma girl studied opera at the local university before deciding to pursue a career in musical theatre. Recently she starred in the NBC comedy “Trial and Error.” (1968)

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And, Happy 53rd Birthday to Jennifer Lopez, the American actress, singer, dancer, and producer who was born in The Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. Known as ‘J-Lo,’ her 1999 debut album, On the 6, helped propel the Latin pop movement in American music—and with the simultaneous release of her second album, J.Lo, and her starring role in the rom-com movie The Wedding Planner, Lopez became the first woman to have a number one album and film in the same week.

2014 by dvsross, CC license

Following other films, like Monster-in-Law, she became a judge on American Idol, and released her seventh studio album Love?. Her massive celebrity success, along business ventures—including a popular clothing and fragrance line, a production company, and a charitable foundation—J-Lo has become one of the most influential people in the world, according to Forbes and Time. Here’s a cute pic she posted of her and her son…

Jennifer posted this pic for her 9.6 million fans on Instagram – backstage on tour with her 11-year-old son two weeks ago

In 2009, Lopez launched the Lopez Family Foundation with her sister, Lynda. The nonprofit improves healthcare availability for underprivileged women and children, and offers a telemedicine program supported by a partnership with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The foundation has led to the expansion of medical facilities in Panama and Puerto Rico, and created the Center for a Healthy Childhood at the Montefiore Medical Center in her hometown of The Bronx. (1969)

102 years ago today, Bella Abzug was born in New York City. A lawyer nicknamed ‘Battling Bella,’ she was a social activist for peace, a U.S. congresswoman, and a fierce fighter for women’s rights—chairing several White House commissions, and founding organizations that worked around the world.

In 1970, Abzug’s first political campaign slogan was, ‘This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives.’ She was later invited to lead President Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Commission for Women.

When she was 13 and her father died, Abzug was told that her orthodox synagogue did not permit women to say the Mourner’s Kaddish, since that rite was reserved for sons of the deceased. But because her father had no sons, she went to the synagogue every morning for a year to recite the prayer, defying the tradition of her orthodox congregation.

Always wearing her characteristic hats, she was the author of two successful books, including, Bella: Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington. She died at age 77 after complications from heart surgery. (1920)

24 years ago today, Saving Private Ryan, staring Matt Damon and Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg, was released. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards at the 71st Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Hanks), and Best Original Screenplay, and won five: Best Director (Spielberg’s second), Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing, though it lost the Best Picture award to Shakespeare in Love in a controversial Oscars upset. (1998)

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