102 years ago on this day, Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The actor, director, writer and producer made his mark in radio and film with two groundbreaking works. The radio broadcast War of the Worlds worried countless listeners who thought the theatrical news reports of a Martian invasion were real. His very first film, Citizen Kane, which he co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in, is consistently ranked as one of the greatest films of all-time. (1915)
His distinctive directorial style featured layered and nonlinear narrative forms, innovative uses of lighting such as chiaroscuro, unusual camera angles, sound techniques borrowed from radio, deep focus shots, and long takes. Welles also broke new ground in theater with Caesar, his 1937 Broadway adaptation of Julius Caesar. Since the War of the Worlds broadcast aired on Welles’ Mercury Radio Theater, the FCC established rules against hoaxes to avoid unnecessarily tying up emergency phone lines.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- The Eiffel Tower opened as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World’s Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution (1889)
- President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960
- The Channel Tunnel was opened “as the first land link between Britain and Europe since the Ice Age 40 million years ago. After traveling through the tunnel, which took eight years and billions of pounds to build, the Queen said it was one of the world’s great technological achievements.” — BBC (1994)
- The first open election in South Africa was held, and the once outlawed African National Congress won control of parliament from the all-white minority government (1994)
- On his trip to Syria, Pope John Paul II became the first pope ever to enter a mosque (2001)
- Sadiq Khan became the first Muslim mayor of a Western capital, as he beat his Conservative rival in London (2016)
And, on this day in 1954, Roger Bannister, a 25-year-old British medical student, became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes — significant because for many years no one believed it to be possible and thus no one had achieved it. As soon as Bannister set it as a goal, proved it was possible, and people believed it to be true, within one year four others matched the accomplishment. Today there are 855 sub-4-minute milers, internationally.
Other Notable Birthdays: Willie Mays (86); George Clooney (56)