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    Good News in History, February 8

    198 years ago today, Henry Walter Bates, naturalist, explorer, and author of one of the finest natural travel accounts ever written, was born in Leicester. The gentleman explorer would send 14,712 specimens (mostly insects) collected during a long career exploring in the Amazon back to England for scientific research. He wrote The Naturalist on the River Amazons, which Charles Darwin called “the best book of Natural History Travels ever published in England.” READ about Bates’ adventures… (1825)

    Born to a normal, literate, middle-class family in Great Britain, Henry Walter Bates struck a friendship with Alfred Russel Wallace, another naturalist who may have discovered evolution independent of Darwin’s findings. The two young men resolved to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and journey up into the Amazon Basin via rivers.

    After taking a sort of shopping list from various scientific institutions, Bates and Wallace set off for the Amazon via Liverpool, arriving in Belem at the end of May, 1848. Bates traveled up the Tocantins River, then the Amazon, all the way to a base camp at Tefe where he began collecting insect specimens to send back to London.

    Bates’ work on Amazonian butterflies led him to develop the first scientific account of mimicry, especially the kind of mimicry which bears his name: Batesian mimicry. This is the mimicry by a palatable species of an unpalatable or noxious species.

    After 11 years of work in the Amazon, Bates returned home, splitting his 14,000 specimens across three ships for the voyage to avoid the terrible fate of his poor friend Wallace, whose entire collection was sent on a single ship that was lost in the passage.

    MORE Good News on this Date:

    • The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II (1693)
    • The government first approved the arrival of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii (1885)
    • The Government of Sindh (in a province in Pakistan) abolished its Jagirdari feudal system. One million acres (4,000 km²) of land acquired in the process was to be distributed among the landless peasants (1955)
    • The first star plaques made of brass were installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 15 blocks of sidewalks at Hollywood and Vine that now contain 2,500 star-studded terrazzo slabs visited by 10 million people annually (1960)
    • Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, is released (1976)
    • U.S. Senate deliberations were broadcast on radio for the first time (1978)
    • First female ice hockey game in Olympic history (1998)

    Happy 91st birthday to John Williams, the Academy Award-winning composer of some of the finest film scores in history, including Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Home Alone, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and Harry Potter. In fact, he has scored 9 of the 25 highest-grossing films in the U.S. Last year he earned his 51st Oscar nomination (for The Last Jedi), which makes him the second most-nominated artist in Academy history, though he is gaining on Walt Disney who earned 59 nods, with 3 big scores coming up. WATCH a medley of film scenes, below… (1932)

    John_Williams_Hollywood_Bowl-2009-CC Alec McNayr
    2009 Photo by Alec McNayr, CC license

    The son of a jazz drummer, William’s early life and career saw him play a number of different instruments in college, including piano and brass. While attending Julliard University, he actually began performing in NYC jazz clubs as a pianist. Later in Los Angeles after beginning to score films, he released several jazz records, including World on a String and The John Towner Touch, which were released using his middle name of Towner.

    In a six-decade career, the New York composer, conductor, and pianist has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and 22 Grammys. The American Film Institute selected his 1977 Star Wars music as the greatest American film score of all time. Other notable works by Williams include theme music for four Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football, the television series Lost in Space, and many films from his long collaboration with Steven Spielberg.

    And, 113 years ago today, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated by a Chicago businessman, publisher William Boyce, after he got lost in foggy London and was inspired by an unknown boy who said he was a Scout.

    Matt Seymour

    The English lad offered to guide him to his destination, and when Boyce tried to pay him for his good deed, the boy politely refused. He explained he was a Boy Scout and, as such, never accepted money for doing good. Very intrigued, Boyce visited the headquarters of the Great Britain club.

    He knew that boys in the U.S. would love this idea too. Since then, about 110 million people have participated in Boy Scouts of America programs, with their stated mission of preparing young people “to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”

    WATCH the latest teen who earned every single merit badge–137 in all, becoming the 333rd Eagle Scout to do it in over a century… (1910)


    102 years ago today, Lana Turner was born, one of the highest-paid actresses in 1940s Hollywood. When Turner was 15, she was ‘discovered’ while purchasing a soda at the Top Hat Malt Shop in Hollywood. She was offered a contract by Warner Bros the following year.

    Over the course of her half-century career, she achieved fame as both a pin-up model and a film actress who earned the MGM studio more than $50 million during her 18 years there.

    Turner’s reputation as a glamorous femme fatale was enhanced by her critically acclaimed 1946 performance in the noir The Postman Always Rings Twice, a role which established her as a serious dramatic actress. Her popularity continued through the 1950s in dramas such as The Bad and the Beautiful, and Peyton Place—which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

    In 1982, she accepted a lucrative recurring role in the television series Falcon CrestWATCH a few of her most famous scenes… (1921)

    Lana died of cancer at age 74. – Photo (above) The Postman Always Rings Twice

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