200 years ago today, Walt Whitman, one of America’s greatest poets, was born in New York. He published his seminal collection, Leaves of Grass, when he was 37 years old, which challenged the definition of poetry, and forever changed its form and function.  WATCH a short bio… (1819)

Published in 1855 with his own money, Leaves of Grass was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. It was considered obscene at the time, but by the end of his life was recognized as a masterpiece.

He also wrote, “O Captain! My Captain!,” a 1865 poem about the death of Abraham Lincoln. (See 10 mementos of his life in the N.Y. Times)

MORE Good News on this Day in History:

  • The U.S. enacted its first copyright statute to protect the works of creative authors in the literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual fields, so they may reap the fruits of their intellectual creations for a period of time (1790)
  • Big Ben, the world’s largest four-faced, chiming clock first started ticking (1859)
  • The Soviet Union signed an agreement pledging respect for Outer Mongolia as sovereign to China (1924)
  • Republic of South Africa was founded (1961)
  • The pilot episode of Seinfeld was first broadcast on NBC (1990)
  • The United States announced it was no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union (1994)

And, Happy 89th birthday to actor, director Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood-2010-CC-Flickr-gdcgraphics
2010 Photo by gdcgraphics via Flickr- CC

Born in San Francisco, he went from starring in Hollywood’s Westerns and defining the word cool, to writing and directing some of the most acclaimed films of the 21st century—like, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, and Gran Torino– all while in his 70s and 80s. Did you know he also served one term as Mayor of the California city, Carmel-by-the-Sea. (1930)

And on this day in 1908, Mel Blanc was born—the voice of so many renown cartoon characters of the 20th century, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, and the Tasmanian Devil. WATCH him perform all the voices on David Letterman…