100 years ago today, Liberace was born in West Allis, Wisconsin. A child prodigy of Italian and Polish parents, the classical pianist and singer entertained audiences for four decades marked by his flamboyant costumes on stage, film, screen, and album covers.
At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Liberace was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with established concert residencies in Las Vegas, and an international touring schedule. Liberace embraced a lifestyle that earned him the nickname “Mr. Showmanship”. WATCH a 3–part interview from 1986 that revealed his more private side, including home movies and concert footage… (1919)
(1983 Photo by Alan Light, CC license)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- A single vote in the United States Senate saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment (1868)
- In Rome, Pope Benedict XV canonized Joan of Arc as a saint (1920)
- In Hollywood, California, the first Academy Awards were handed out (1929)
- Theodore Maiman operated the first optical laser, at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California (1960)
- Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest (1975)
- The Kuwaiti National Assembly passed a law 35–23 permitting women to vote and run for office, as long as they adhere to Islamic law (2005)
- U2’s Bono was guest editor for a day at UK’s newspaper, The Independent, and featured the AIDS issue on every page— calling it the Red Edition, it sold out within hours and raised money, half of all revenue generated, for the AIDS fight in Africa (2006)
Happy Birthday to Pierce Brosnan who turns 66 today. Famous for playing James Bond in four films, the Irish immigrant came to the U.S. looking for acting work, which he found, and now says he is “proud to be an American.”
Last year Brosnan was sporting a white beard, speaking in a Texas drawl, and riding a horse while shooting the second season of AMC’s drama, The Son. After losing both his first wife and daughter to cancer, he has been happily remarried for almost a quarter century.
After first tasting ‘root beer’, the traditional beverage dating back to the colonial era in America, while on his honeymoon, the Philadelphia pharmacist decided to make his own recipe. He began selling it in powder form to mix with water and eventually produced the soft drink. The Hires family sold the business in 1960, but other corporations still produce it, making it the longest continuously made soft drink in the United States.
And, on this day in 1717, the French playwright, novelist, and poet Voltaire was imprisoned in the Bastille for speaking out against political and religious repression. However, he used the opportunity to begin writing his first script, and after his release seven months later, he started producing successful plays, like Candide, which made him one of the most popular writers in Europe.
An advocate of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the separation of church and state, he became a forerunner to the American and French Revolutions. Famous Quotes Include:
“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
“Judge a man by his questions, rather than by his answers.”
“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”
“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
In all, he wrote more than 20,000 sharp-witted letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets, including non-fiction scientific works, having been heavily influenced by Sir Isaac Newton while living in London in exile. 13 years after his death at age 83, when he was denied a Christian burial in his beloved Paris for his lifelong criticism of Church authorities, his remains were brought back to Paris. He was enshrined in the Panthéon by the National Assembly of France, which regarded him as a forefather for the newly successful French Revolution. It is estimated that a million people attended the funeral procession, which stretched throughout the streets of Paris.