Happy 85th Birthday to Mikhail Gorbachev, the world leader most responsible for the end of the Cold War between Russians and Americans. He was the last leader of the Soviet Union, whose policy of Perestroika (restructuring) moved the nation toward democratic and capitalist principles–and inadvertently led to its dissolution, and an end to communist party rule. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for introducing the policy of Glasnost, which called for increased openness and transparency in government and gave freedoms to the Soviet people, never previously experienced. (1931)
His negotiations with President Reagan over strategic nuclear arms led to a lifelong friendship. He was responsible for “tearing down” the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany. (Pictured below: the dismantled wall in 1990, with affectionate thanks to “Gorbi’)
Gorbachev has remained involved in world affairs. He founded the Gorbachev Foundation in 1992, headquartered in Moscow. He later founded Green Cross International, an environmental group working on conservation efforts and greenhouse gas reduction.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- The Semaphore machine was unveiled in Paris for visual communication over long-distances, especially from towers (1791)
- The US Congress prohibited the importation of slaves (1807)
- Russian serfdom was abolished by Alexander II (1861)
- Constantinople Convention was signed, giving free maritime passage through the Suez Canal during war and peace (1888)
- Miles Davis held the first recording session for his LP, Kind of Blue, with saxophonists John Coltrane in New York City (1959)
- The movie King Kong premiered in New York City (1933)1
- Morocco declared independence from France (1956); Rhodesia from Britain (1970)
- CDs and Compact Disc players were first released in the U.S. and Europe, making playing LPs easier and virtually eliminating skips and scratchy sounds (1983)
- Twelve European Community nations agreed to ban the production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the century (1989)
- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, San Marino, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan joined the United Nations (1992)
And, on this date in 1965, The Sound of Music premiered starring Julie Andrews as the spunky nanny to the Austrian von Trapp family. An adaptation of the Broadway play with music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, it featured some of the most beloved songs in film history, including “Edelweiss”, “My Favorite Things”, and “Do-Re-Mi.” It became the highest grossing film to date and won the Best Picture Oscar.