120 years ago today, the American actor Jimmy Cagney was born. Known for his distinctive vocal style and deadpan comic timing, he won acclaim and major awards for playing multifaceted tough guys in films such as The Public Enemy (1931)—but he also danced and sang in musicals like Yankee Doodle Dandy. The American Film Institute ranked him eighth among its list of greatest male stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood and Orson Welles said he was “maybe the greatest actor who ever appeared in front of a camera”. WATCH Jimmy at 56 in tap shoes with Bob Hope performing an impressive dance battle in The Seven Little Foys… (1899)

James Cagney’s seventh film, The Public Enemy, became one of the most influential gangster movies of the period and made him one of Hollywood’s leading stars. In 1938 he received his first Academy Award for Best Actor nomination for his subtle portrayal of the tough guy/man-child Rocky Sullivan in Angels with Dirty Faces. In 1942, Cagney won the Oscar for his energetic portrayal of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy—and was nominated a third time in 1955 for Love Me or Leave Me, then Cagney retired in 1961 to spend time on his farm with his family. He came out of retirement 20 years later for a part in the movie Ragtime (1981). Cagney also made numerous morale-boosting troop tours before and during World War II with his buddy Bob Hope.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • US President Lincoln signed the first federal law allowing persons of African descent to serve in the U.S. military (1862)
  • The first electrical air conditioner was switched on by Willis Carrier, the engineer who invented, designed, and built the machine in Buffalo, New York (1912)
  • US Air Force pilot Gail Halvorsen first met the suffering, yet appreciative, children of Berlin during the humanitarian airlift and went on to pioneer for them the idea of dropping candy with miniature parachutes, resulting in 23 tons of candy being delivered throughout the blockade (1948)
  • Disneyland first opened its magical doors to the public in Anaheim, California (1955)
  • Britain announced that Queen Elizabeth II had signed into law the bill passed by Parliament legalizing same-sex marriages in England and Wales (2013)

And, on this day in 1975, two spacecrafts—an American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz—docked with each other in orbit.Apollo-Soyuz stamps Russian English mashup

They remained linked in space for 47 hours, marking the first time such a link-up occurred between spacecraft from two nations—and, at the end of the Cold War, a symbol of the policy of détente that the two superpowers began pursuing.

Happy 84th Birthday to Donald Sutherland, the Canadian actor known for his roles in films such as The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H, Klute, The Hunger Games, and the Academy Award-winning, Ordinary People.

Donald_Sutherland_2013-Frantogian-CC
2013 photo by Frantogian-CC

He named his four sons, including actor Kiefer Sutherland, after directors, like Robert Redford, with whom he has worked. (1935)

And, on this day in 1968, Yellow Submarine, the animated film by the Beatles premiered in London. The full length epic fantasy features the Fab Four as cartoon characters who agree to travel with Young Fred in his Yellow Submarine to free the people of ‘Pepperland’. Under attack from the music-hating Blue Meanies, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ sails to the rescue and restores the landscape of color, flowers and music.

The actual Beatles performed the songs, but participated only in the closing scene of the film, directed by animation producer George Dunning. Their cartoon counterparts were voiced by actors—yet audiences and critics loved it. WATCH the original psychedelic trailer…

 

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