113 years ago today, Fr. Georges Dominique Pire was born in Dinant, Belgium. The Dominican friar won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958 for his work helping the plight of refugees in Europe after the Second World War. During the war itself, Pire served as chaplain to the Belgian resistance, actively participating in its activities, such as helping smuggle Allied pilots out of the country. He received several medals for this service after the war, but it was his tireless advocacy of the newly-termed “internationally displaced persons” that led to his notoriety. READ all about what he did for them… (1910)
In 1949, he began studying issues relating to postwar IDPs and wrote a book about them, entitled From the Rhine to the Danube with 60,000 IDPs. Pire founded an organization to help them, which worked on building villages in Austria and Germany and assimilating them into a new culture.
After winning the Nobel, Pire turned his attention to the eradication of poverty, founding the NGO Islands of Peace, dedicated to the long-term development of rural populations in developing countries. Projects were started in Bangladesh and India, and have grown to include Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru.
30 years after his death due to prostate cancer, all four of the organizations he founded are still active.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- The first singing telegram offered by Postal Telegram Co. (1933)
- Roy Lichtenstein‘s first solo exhibition opened, which featured his first employment of Ben-Day dots, speech balloons and comic imagery sourcing (1962)
- The Clash started recording their debut album at CBS studios in London in the first of three weekend sessions that would complete production for just £4000 (1977)
- Senator Barack Obama kicked off his historic presidential campaign with a speech at the state house in Springfield, Illinois (2007)
Happy 94th birthdays to the pioneering Whittaker twin brothers, Jim and Lou. Jim was the first American to summit Everest as part of the expedition funded by National Geographic in 1963. Lou, who is often credited wrongly as going on that trip, would nevertheless head-up the first American ascent of Everest by the jagged North Col pass in 1984. Together they are some of the most influential American mountaineers in history, with Lou founding Rainier Mountaineering Inc. which has led thousands to the summit of Mount Rainier, the largest mountain in the lower 48, while Jim in the same decade became the CEO of REI Co-op after becoming their first full-time employee in 1955. Jim later became Robert F. Kennedy’s personal mountaineering guide. WATCH Jim’s famous ascent, and learn about the Whittaker dynasty… (1929)
Born in Washington state, the Whittaker brothers started climbing when they were in the Boy Scouts. By the time Lou was eighteen, he had climbed all the major peaks in Washington. At nineteen, he began guiding on Mount Rainier. Jim on the other hand would become an internationally-renowned climber with the Everest ascent, but he followed it up by becoming the first American to summit K2 in 1978, and the guide in the hugely-successful Mt. Everest International Peace Climb in 1990.
In it, Jim led climbers from the United States, USSR, and China to summit Mount Everest. In addition to putting twenty climbers on the summit, the expedition hauled off a large amount of trash left on the mountain by previous expeditions. Lou’s sons, Peter and Win, are now incredibly successful climbers and guides on Mount Rainier like their father. Peter has summited Everest thrice, and served as the guide for both the oldest man and the oldest woman to reach the summit of Mt. Vinson in Antarctica: the top of the bottom of the world.
Jim authored Life on the Edge while Lou wrote Memoirs of a Mountain Guide. Big Jim, and Big Lou, are both Washington mountains named for the famous brothers, who are both still alive, and presumably climbing.
On this date in 1942, the first gold record (simply sprayed with gold lacquer) was presented to Glenn Miller by RCA to celebrate the sale of 1.2 million copies of Chattanooga Choo Choo. The publicity stunt was later adopted by the Recording Industry Association of America, which began presenting actual gold records and also trademarked the name.
And, 74 years ago today, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman opened on Broadway in the Morosco Theatre. The story, featuring an insecure and mentally unstable salesman named Willy Loman, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and also a Tony Award for Best Play. Widely considered to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, the actors nominated for Tonys while playing Loman in four Broadway revivals include Philip Seymour Hoffman, George C. Scott, Brian Dennehy, and Dustin Hoffman. WATCH a video featuring a great Dustin Hoffman clip with a young John Malkovich as his son, Biff. Also, view this entire performance on YouTube, here. (1949)
And, Happy Birthday to actress and producer Laura Dern who turns 56 today. She earned her second Academy Award for her performance as a divorce lawyer in the 2019 film Marriage Story—see her Oscar speech below. She also starred in the Oscar-nominated film Little Women.
Born to actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, Laura canceled her college classes so she could act in the David Lynch film Blue Velvet, which propelled her career. She then received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal in Rambling Rose, and achieved international stardom following her role in the Spielberg blockbuster Jurassic Park. She has since earned a Golden Globe for a role in Recount (playing Katherine Harris), another Academy Award nod for Wild, and an Emmy for Big Little Lies. CHECK OUT her Oscar acceptance speech, and take a look at her career… (1967)
52 years ago today, Carole King released her 2nd studio album Tapestry, one of the best-selling albums of all time. It won 4 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and featured two No.1 hit singles—It’s Too Late and I Feel the Earth Move—that spent five weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. The brilliant songwriter also penned these memorable tunes for the LP: You’ve Got a Friend, So Far Away, Where You Lead, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
The cover photograph was taken at her Laurel Canyon home near Los Angeles, holding a tapestry she hand-stitched, next to her cat Telemachus. Watch her sing one of these tunes from home during lockdown in 2020, thanking essential workers… (1971)