Happy Birthday to Jane Goodall who turns 85 years old today. The beloved British primatologist first observed chimpanzees creating tools in 1960 (and 2 years earlier had been a secretary). It was the first time that an animal was observed to modify an object to create a tool for a specific purpose. She studied at Cambridge, became Dr. Jane Goodall, and put forth another unconventional idea for the time: “It isn’t only human beings who have personality, who are capable of rational thought [and] emotions like joy and sorrow.”
She is best known for her 45-year study of wild chimpanzees’ social and family interactions in Tanzania. She left the jungle to become an activist, and save the dwindling numbers of chimpanzees. Donate on her birthday… (1934)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan giving $5 billion in aid to 16 war-torn European countries to help them rebuild after World War II (1948)
- The Leadbeater’s possum (fairy possum) was rediscovered in Australia after 72 years (1961)
- The first handheld portable cell phone call is made in New York City (1973)
- Magicians Penn & Teller opened their Refrigerator Tour in New York City with a refrigerator being dropped on top of them from a height of about 20 feet (1991)
- The Iowa Supreme Court, citing the doctrine of equal protection under the law, declared the state’s ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional (2009)
- Apple Inc. released the first iPad, a touchscreen tablet computer that could play music, send and receive email and browse the web (2010)
And, Happy Birthday to comedian-actor Eddie Murphy who turns 58 today. Eddie took after his father, a transit cop in Brooklyn, who was an amateur comedian. Though he died when Eddie was young, by age 15 Murphy was performing and creating his own stand-up routines—and at 19 was hired by Saturday Night Live.
After four years on the show, Eddie went on to star in such films as Beverly Hills Cop and the brilliant Dan Akroyd pairing in Trading Places, and a voiceover part in Shrek (the donkey). His on-stage brilliance was evident when he played all the major roles in 1996’s The Nutty Professor and when his musical performance was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007 for Dreamgirls. He was awarded the Mark Twain Prize in 2015. Click to see Eddie’s collection of stand-up and films.(1961)
And, on this day in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. It was the last speech delivered by the Baptist minister, as the following day he was assassinated. Delivered like a prophesy at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, the speech included King talking about the possibility of an untimely death. The rousing conclusion contained this:
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” (Hear the full speech on YouTube, or read the text)
And, on this day in 1860, the first successful Pony Express run, from Missouri to California, began. The service delivered newspapers, mail, and small packages from St. Joseph, Missouri, across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, to Sacramento, California by horseback using a series of relay stations.
Vital for the new state of Calif., the service reduced the travel time for messages between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to 10 days. William Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, was one of their best riders. On November 7, 1860, California’s newspapers received word of Lincoln’s election only seven days and 17 hours after the East Coast papers, an unrivaled feat at the time. Cody, just 16-years-old, once rode 322 miles in less than 22 hours using 21 different horses, after the relay rider had been killed. (Learn more about the Pony Express in these books and DVDs.)