40 years ago today, astronaut Bruce McCandless II drifted away from the space shuttle Challenger’s payload bay as part of the first untethered space walk. Using a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) to control his movements rather than being joined to the craft by a safety tether. A picture of McCandless floating in space some 320 feet (98 meters) from the shuttle has become one of the most popular in the NASA archive. READ more about the nerve-wracking event… (1984)
“Many in the agency were fearful about the use of a self-propelled and untethered backpack in space,” said Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, NASA Human Spaceflight Historian, on the occasion.
“Previous spacewalkers remained connected to the vehicle with tethers. This jet-pack allowed crews to move outside of the cargo bay and perform activities away from the safety of the spacecraft.”
McCandless remembered trying to ease the tension for his wife and the flight controllers in Mission Control, saying something similar to Neil Armstrong’s declaration as he first stepped on the Moon in 1969. “It may have been one small step for Neil,” he proclaimed, “but it’s a heck of a big leap for me.”
MORE Good News from this Date:
- Charles Dickens was born (1812)
- Tasmania created the first law anywhere providing secret ballots for elections (1856)
- Charlie Chaplin first appeared as The Tramp in the comedy film Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
- The whimsical, rambling English comedian, actor, writer, and political activist, Eddie Izzard was born (1962)
- Switzerland women gained right to vote (1971)
- Grenada gained independence (1974)
- US astronauts performed the first untethered space walk, which lasted nearly six hours (1984)
- The Soviet Communist Party gave up its control and allowed other political parties to compete (1990)
- Haiti‘s first elected president was sworn-in after 28 years of one-family rule (1991)
- Britain’s Ellen MacArthur sailed into the record books as the fastest ever to solo navigate a round-the-world voyage (2005)
51 years ago today, Raw Power by Iggy Pop and The Stooges, was released on CBS records. Acknowledged as one of the most influential records in rock history, The Stooges sowed important seeds for punk rock and the hardcore genres with a new aggressive style unlike their previous albums, fronted by the album’s single Search and Destroy. Far too aggressive for corporate radio sensibilities, the lack of the album’s commercial exposure drove the band downhill towards a drug-fueled breakup.
After Iggy Pop’s original mix of the album was rejected because he put every instrument on one side of a stereo track, with just the vocals on the other one, CBS’ partner MainMan told them that David Bowie was going to handle the mixing from then on.
“To the best of my recollection it was done in a day,” Pop recalled of the sessions. “I don’t think it was two days. On a very, very old board, I mean this board was old! An Elvis type of board, old-tech, low-tech, in a poorly lit, cheap old studio with very little time. To David’s credit, he listened with his ear to each thing and talked it out with me, I gave him what I thought it should have, he put that in its perspective, added some touches.”
“…the most absurd situation I encountered when I was recording was the first time I worked with Iggy Pop,” Bowie later recalled. “He wanted me to mix Raw Power, so he brought the 24-track tape in, and he put it up. He had the band on one track, lead guitar on another, and him on a third. Out of 24 tracks, there were just three tracks that were used. He said ‘see what you can do with this’. I said, ‘Jim, there’s nothing to mix.’” (1973)
On this day 97 years ago, the Parisian songstress Juliette Gréco was born. Famous for her ability to sing everything from the sultriest jazz to the most delicate poetry, she remains the archetypal Parisian café and lounge singer. Her best-known songs are Paris Canaille (Paris Scoundrel) La Javanaise (The Javan) and Déshabillez-Moi, (Undress Me). She won many of France’s highest cultural honors, and became an icon of desire, Along with marrying three different men, had many alleged affairs including with her film producer, Albert Kamus. She remained a friend and lover of Miles Davis for decades.
Gréco became emersed in Parisian Left Bank bohemian culture and drew upon much of the poetry adored by that crowd for her songs. Her on-stage demeanor was simple. Standing in front of the microphone, she would say the song name and the poet who wrote it. She was quoted once as having a voice filled with “one million poems,” and until she reached celebrity status, she normally performed in a black turtleneck and black slacks. The next time you listen to The Beatles’ Michelle, you will be hearing Paul McCartney’s attempt at wooing the Parisian damsel.
“We’d tag along to these parties, and it was at the time of people like Juliette Gréco, the French bohemian thing. They’d all wear black turtleneck sweaters, it’s kind of where we got all that from, and we fancied Juliette like mad,” Paul once said. “Have you ever seen her? Dark hair, real chanteuse, really happening. So I used to pretend to be French, and I had this song that turned out later to be ‘Michelle’.”
John Lennon wrote is his third book Skywriting by Word of Mouth, “I’d always had a fantasy about a woman who would be a beautiful, intelligent, dark-haired, high-cheek-boned, free-spirited artist à la Juliette Gréco.”
One look at this vintage video of her singing, and you’ll understand why men around the world, and many she worked with, photographers, musicians, film directors, and writers would fall for her. (1927)
And 60 years ago today, Beatlemania reached American shores, and 3,000 adoring fans caused riotous scenes at a New York airport.
The Beatles touched down in the US for the first time, launching Rock and Roll’s “British invasion”. Filmmaker Albert Maysles was given access to the band, hanging out in their hotel rooms and elsewhere during those ten days, and he captured unprecedented footage. Watch a segment below on YouTube showing scenes from his documentary. You can stream or buy the fascinating historical film, The Beatles – The First U.S. Visit, on Amazon. (1964)
And 157 years ago today, Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in rural Wisconsin.
The author known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books based the stories on her childhood growing up in a settler and pioneer family. Married in Missouri, Wilder became an editor for a local newspaper, penning a regular column called “As a Farm Woman Thinks”. When she was nearly 65 years old, her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published. (1867)
Happy 68th Birthday to comedian Emo Philips, whose childlike, almost idiot savant-sounding, delivery in a wandering falsetto voice produces a comic timing uniquely his own. Also an actor, writer, and producer, his stand-up comedy persona makes use of paraprosdokians—using a figure of speech so that at the end of a sentence he could surprise to make the listener reframe the first part—much like Groucho Marx. His album E=mo², recorded live at Caroline’s in Manhattan, won a 1985 award for best comedy album.
In 2018, Philips toured with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic throughout the US, for Yankovic’s Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour.
One of his jokes goes: “When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new bike. Then I realized, the Lord doesn’t work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me.” Another begins: “Thanks for cheering me up; I loaned a friend of mine $8,000 for plastic surgery—now I don’t know what he looks like.” WATCH a montage of stand-up… (1956)
Also, Happy Birthday to Ashton Kutcher who turns 46 today. An actor and producer first seen in a sitcom, That ’70s Show, in 1998–2006, he made his film debut in the romantic comedy Coming Soon and made a mark with his 2000 hit comedy film Dude, Where’s My Car? Beyond his romantic comedies like Just Married, No Stings Attached, and Valentine’s Day, he used his popularity as the first Twitter user to reach 1 million followers to promote a mission with his ex-wife Demi Moore—to eliminate sex-trafficking and child exploitation. Kutcher called his proudest moment, his recent testimony before Congress on the issue. (1998)
Based on an Italian children’s novel, the animated Disney movie involves an old woodworker named Geppetto who carves a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. The puppet is brought to life by a blue fairy, who informs him that he can become a real boy if he proves himself to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish”. With the help of Jiminy Cricket, his wise guide, he sets off on adventures toward his goal.
Even with its highly realistic hand-drawn animation effects, the movie was a box office flop—but today it’s considered among Disney’s finest productions. WATCH the puppet sing, ‘I‘ve got no strings’… (1940)
Also, 103 years ago today, Desmond Doss, the US Army corporal who saved 75 men while refusing to carry a weapon during one of the worst battles of World War II, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. Raised a devout Seventh-day Adventist Christian, Doss volunteered to serve as a combat medic, so he could save lives instead of take lives.
For his heroism beyond the call of duty, he was twice awarded the Bronze Star and won the prestigious Medal of Honor—all as a conscientious objector who would not kill the enemy. His story was told in the 2016 Oscar-nominated feature film Hacksaw Ridge.
Before placing the Medal of Honor around the young man’s neck, President Harry Truman read the long citation of Doss’s bravery on the Japanese island of Okinawa: “When the 1st Battalion of the 77th Infantry Division assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high, they drew heavy artillery, mortar and machine gun fire that left 75 casualties and drove the Americans back. Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the cliff (pictured below) and lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face to the friendly hands below.”
He later said his constant prayer was, “Lord, help me get one more.” Days later, “he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines; and two days later he treated four men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making four separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.”
The full citation lists even more incredible deeds, including eventually being badly injured, yet directing medics to go care for others on the battlefield, instead.
At a 2003 Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, officials presented Doss with a trophy and told a story about the bible his wife had given him years earlier on their wedding day. After reaching the hospital ship to be treated for injuries offshore, Doss noticed his portable bible was missing from his pocket, the one he had carried throughout his many battles. He asked that word be sent to the Company B soldiers to look for it. The men who had once considered him a coward because of his non-violence searched the blown-up terrain and, in a mini-miracle, found the treasured keepsake and returned it. (1919)
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