50 years ago today, the Oscar-nominated World War II drama The Dirty Dozen was released. Inspired by a true story, a small band of convicted criminals are trained for a top-secret mission, to attack a fancy chateau full of Nazi officials prior to D-Day. Directed by Robert Aldrich, the all-star cast featured Lee Marvin, Donald Sutherland, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Telly Savalas, George Kennedy, John Cassavetes, and Trini Lopez. WATCH the classic 2-minute trailer… (1967)

If there are any survivors on this virtual suicide mission, the newly-skilled commandos are to be pardoned and returned to active duty at their former ranks.


Based on the best-selling novel, the cast included many World War II American veterans who became actors, including Lee Marvin, Robert Webber and Robert Ryan (US Marines), Telly Savalas (US Army) and Charles Bronson (Army Air Forces), Ernest Borgnine (Navy), and Clint Walker (Merchant Marine). Jim Brown, one of the greatest NFL football players of all time, was forced to choose between his roles as running back and film star during the making of the film—he chose acting.

A massive commercial success, the film was also nominated for four Academy Awards.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity with his famous kite and key experiment (1752)
  • British pilot John Alcock and Scottish aviator Arthur Brown completed the first nonstop transatlantic flight in Galway, Ireland after lifting off from St. John’s, Newfoundland 16 hours earlier (1919)
  • King Hussein of Jordan married American Lisa Halaby, who became the Jordan’s beloved Queen Noor (1978)
  • Bono, U2 and Sting headlined a concert in New Jersey celebrating 25 years of Amnesty International (1986)
  • Ontario passed North America’s first pay equity law to legislate equal pay for women (1987)
  • Nik Wallenda became the first person to successfully tightrope walk over Niagara Falls (2012)



And, 802 years ago today, England’s King John put his seal to the Magna Carta. The historic document established the foundations of parliamentary democracy, human rights and the supremacy of law for rebellious English Barons demanding freedom and legal due process. The clause at the heart of the Great Charter states that no free man should be seized or imprisoned or stripped of his rights or outlawed or exiled except by the judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. First drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons, it laid the foundations for the current British–and later, American– legal and constitutional system, with three of the 60 clauses still in force today. The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantees that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”, a phrase that was derived directly from Magna Carta. (1215)

Harry Nilsson-fair use


Also, on this day in 1941, the singer, songwriter Harry Nilsson was born in Brooklyn, NY. His work, characterized by pioneering overdub experiments in the 70s, included ‘Without You‘, ‘One (is the Loneliest Number)’, and ‘Everybody’s Talkin” from the film Midnight Cowboy. When John Lennon and Paul McCartney held a press conference in 1968 to unveil the record label Apple Corps, Lennon was asked to name his favorite American artist. He replied, “Nilsson”. McCartney was asked next, and he said, “Nilsson”. At age 52, the musician died of heart failure. Nilsson’s multi-octave voice was never so full of life as it was on the Nilsson Schmilsson LP, which earned him a 1973 Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year. “Without You” won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Lennon produced and played on his Pussy Cats LP.