70 years ago today, the World Health Organization was established by the United Nations. Over the past 7 decades, WHO has spearheaded efforts to rid the world of killer diseases like smallpox and to fight against deadly habits like tobacco use. Thanks to 194 Member States, across six regions working from more than 150 offices, 6 million fewer children died before they reached their fifth birthday than in 1990. Smallpox has been defeated and polio is on the verge of eradication. Many countries have successfully eliminated measles, malaria and debilitating tropical diseases like guinea worm and elephantiasis, as well as mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. (1948)
More Good News on this Date:
- “Prohibition” against drinking beer was ended in the US, and the return of the malty beverage is celebrated on this day as, Brew Year’s Day (1933)
- Francis Ford Coppola, 77, the Oscar-winning film director, writer, producer, and vintner was born (1939)
- Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared a moratorium on the deployment of middle-range missiles in Europe (1985)
- Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage (2009)
On this day in 2015, the jazz singer-songwriter Billie Holiday was born. Nicknamed “Lady Day,” Holiday’s vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.
In the late 1930s she recorded “Strange Fruit”, a song based on a poem about lynching. Her autobiography, “Lady Sings the Blues,” also the title of a 1956 LP, was later turned into a movie starring Diana Ross. She died at age 44. [Photo by William P. Gottlieb, 1947]
Alan Freed’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Dance Party’ was hosted by the DJ who first promoted the new musical genre. Often called “the father of rock ‘n’ roll,” Freed introduced the phrase “rock and roll” in the early 1950s and said, “Rock and roll is a river of music that has absorbed many streams: rhythm and blues, jazz, rag time, cowboy songs, country songs, folk songs. All have contributed to the big beat.”
Celebrate the tenth annual International Cloud Lovers Day. It’s a day to look up at the sky, wherever you are on planet Earth, and spend a few moments appreciating the beauty and splendor of clouds.
An event planner from Boston, Danny Bloom, co-created the celebration while living in Taiwan. A new blog features great cloud photos, a cloud-spotter app, and much more from the Cloud Appreciation Society. (2007)
More Notable Birthdays: Russell Crowe, 54, Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)