75 years ago today George Cukor’s film Gaslight was released. The mystery-thriller was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, but it was Ingrid Bergman’s portrayal of a young wife being driven mad by her thieving, murdering husband that shone brightest, winning her three awards including the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress. Charles Boyer was nominated for his leading role, and also notable was Angela Lansbury, nominated for Supporting Actress in her screen debut, playing the maid at age 18.

The title of this fictional work, based on Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play, Gas Light, actually became a psychological term (gaslighting), which describes the form of psychological abuse in which the victim is gradually manipulated into doubting their own sanity—and is the first artistic portrayal of this type of insidious abuse. WATCH the original trailer with a few great scenes… (1944)

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • The Anglo-Dutch Slave Trade Treaty was signed by the Netherlands and Britain to outlaw slave trading and allow both nations to search vessels of the other suspected of carrying slaves, detain, and prosecute crew members found guilt. (1818)
  • The U.S. state of Michigan ended the death penalty (1846)
  • The National Association, the first professional baseball league, opened its first season in Fort Wayne, Indiana (1871)
  • Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea (1953)
  • Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979)
  • Latvia proclaimed the renewal of its independence after the Soviet occupation (1990)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed a peace accord regarding Palestinian autonomy granting self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho (1994)
  • Today is International Firefighters Day, first proclaimed in Australia, but now observed worldwide (1999)
  • The Milwaukee Art Museum addition, the first Santiago Calatrava-designed structure in the United States, opened to the public along the shoreline of Lake Michigan (2001)
  • The power company, American Electric Power Ohio, began offering $1 million in grants to lower income homeowners having trouble paying soaring energy bills (2009)

And, on this day in 1961, thirteen volunteer activists, called Freedom Riders, began their bus trip through the south to protest lingering segregation on public transportation and in restaurants, even though five years earlier discrimination against blacks on buses had been declared unconstitutional.

mug-shots-1960s-Freedom_RidersThe original group of 13 — 7 blacks and 6 white — which included current congressman John Lewis, grew to as many as 1,000 riders. During their journey, one bus was fire-bombed and riders were beaten by angry white mobs with chains to unconsciousness.

The ride ended May 25 in Jackson, Mississippi, when they were arrested, Lewis spending 37 days in jails and a state penitentiary. The Freedom Riders gave world publicity to the racial discrimination suffered by African Americans and, in doing so, helped to bring about positive change. President Kennedy and attorney general Robert Kennedy finally made a move to try to protect the riders and change the accepted rules of transportation in the south that ignited the protests. (source: wikipedia)

And, on this day in 1916 Jane Jacobs was born, a secretary from Greenwich Village who, angered by a scheme to erect a Manhattan Expressway through nearby SoHo and Little Italy, ended up changing urban planning forever.

Jane_Jacobs-urban planner-wikipedia

Even though Jacobs had no formal training or college degree, the activist’s influential 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, turned urban planning upside down. She argued that cities were living organisms that should be fun to live in, and criticized developments or freeways that isolated communities from the activity around it. Her clarion call caused cities like Baltimore to embrace mixed use development, which transformed its Inner Harbor from urban decay into a major tourist attraction.

Jacobs believed her philosophy is what keeps cities safe, and coined the term, “eyes on the street”. She moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and also influenced Vancouver, BC’s urban planning for which she has been called “the mother of Vancouverism”, referring to that city’s use of her “density done well” philosophy. She passed away in 2006. WATCH a short bio…

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