Good News in History, October 4

Happy 66th birthday to Austro-German actor Christoph Waltz. For American audiences he will be remembered well for his breath-holding acting as SS officer Hans Landa in the Quentin Tarantino Film Inglorious BasterdsHe had a long and prosperous acting career before breaking into Hollywood; in Europe, where he acted in German and English language films including as German mythological hero Tristan, and as philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. READ more… (1965)

Christoph Watlz, CC 4.0. Viennale, 2017 Manfred Werner.

Waltz was born in Vienna to a German father who applied for him to become a citizen of Germany after his birth. He received Austrian citizenship in 2010, thus holding citizenships of both Austria and Germany, but considers the debate concerning his citizenship a “legal, citizenship law banality”, as he did not care about it at all.

In Hans Landa, Quentin Tarantino was afraid he had written an unplayable character, but Waltz excelled in the role, winning the Golden Globe and Academy awards for Best Supporting Actor, awards he coincidently claimed again 3 years later for another Quentin Tarantino character, Dr. King Schultz the dentist/bounty-hunter in Django Unchained

MORE Good News on this Day:

Mexico adopted a new constitution, becoming a federal republic (1824)
Belgium was created following a separation with The Netherlands (1830)
First meeting of the Boys’ Brigade in Glasgow, Scotland (1883)
Gutzon Borglum began sculpting Mt. Rushmore (1927)
The Soviet Union launched the first successful artificial object to exit the Earth’s atmosphere—the satellite Sputnik 1 (1957)
Independence for Basutoland from Britain, renamed Lesotho (1966)
The addition of the Environmental Protection Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty was first signed; went into force 7 years later (1991)
The Rome General Peace Accords ended a 16-year civil war in Mozambique – annual holiday (1992)
Hundreds of thousands of men attended Promise Keepers rally in D.C. (1997)
The Supreme Court added a third female justice when Elena Kagan took her place at the end of the bench (2010)

Happy 76th Birthday to actress and producer Susan Sarandon. She won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Dead Man Walking, and was nominated four other times. She’s known for the strong women she portrayed—in Thelma and Louise, Bull Durham, and Lorenzo’s Oil—as well as for her tenacious activism in real life.

2016 by gobbott, CC license.

Sarandon, who also co-starred in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is co-owner of the adult table tennis clubs called SPiN in NYC, LA, Toronto, and elsewhere—but her filmmaking career is no where near retirement.

In Ride the Eagle, her latest film that opened two months ago, Sarandon plays a woman who abandoned her 12-year-old son decades earlier, an affable struggling musician played by Jake Johnson (New Girl, who cowrote this script). Now dead, Honey leaves her Yosemite cabin to her son on the condition that he completes a handful of tasks she assigns him. As Leif begrudgingly goes canoeing and fishing, as per her wishes, Honey encourages him via a videotape she recorded to love himself and get busy living by doing what he loves most. J.K. Simmons plays a neighbor who was his mom’s lover, who helps him understand her further. (1946)

CHECK Out the fun trailer…

Photo by David Shankbone, CC license

Also, Happy 65th Birthday to Russell Simmons, the music producer and entrepreneur who cofounded Def Jam Recordings, the iconic hip-hop label behind artists like LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys and Jay Z.

Having once been a drug abuser, Simmons, a big proponent of daily yoga and meditation, has taught his mindfulness practice to students in some of the most violent schools in Chicago—and witnessed a subsequent drop in crime. He is also an author, with his most recent books being, Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple, and The Happy VeganWATCH his interview on how to be happy… (1957)

And, on this day in 1883, the Orient Express travel line commenced from Paris to Constantinople (Istanbul). The long-distance passenger train service created by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits became a showcase of luxury and comfort at a time when traveling was still rough and dangerous.

Photo by Murdockcrc, CC license

Synonymous with intrigue due to the many portrayals in films and books, the Orient Express contained dozens of sleeping compartments and a luxurious dining car, which is now in the OSE museum of Thessalonica, and in which scenes for Murder on the Orient Express and other movies were filmed. In 2009, the Orient Express ceased to operate and the route disappeared from European railway timetables, reportedly a “victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines”.

Also, 57 years ago today, Pope Paul VI became the first reigning pontiff to visit the Western hemisphere when he landed in New York City to address the United Nations pleading for peace at a time when the U.S. was escalating the war in Vietnam and a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union.

Pope Paul VI with President Kennedy in Rome (1963)

The ‘first modern pope’, he was the first to visit six continents, traveling more widely than any of his predecessors, earning him the nickname ‘The Pilgrim Pope’. His speech to the U.N. was “expressing the wish that this central seat of human relationships for the civil peace of the world may ever be conscious and worthy of this high privilege. No more war, never again war. Peace, it is peace that must guide the destinies of people and of all mankind.” (1965)

17 years ago today, SpaceShipOne, funded by Microsoft’s Paul Allen, became the first private manned-spacecraft to fly into sub-orbital space.

Photo after flight by D Ramey Logan, CC license

That same year, its innovative design won the US$10 million Ansari X Prize. Piloted and returned to Earth by Mike Melvill, he became the first ever licensed U.S. commercial astronaut.

The aerospace company Scaled Composites, founded by aircraft designer Burt Rutan, is currently located in Mojave, California, and is working toward the goal of taking the first passengers into space. WATCH a Smithsonian video about the ship’s innovative hinged wing design that made it perfect for reentry… (2004)

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