100 years ago today, American cartoonist Winsor McCay released the first long-form animation film, the Sinking of the Lusitania. Far from being funny, the 12-minute film depicted the huge British steam liner carrying 2,000 passengers when it was torpedoed by a German submarine. The originator of animated cartoons was frustrated when his media bosses, the Hearst empire, downplayed the incident in its newspapers, because they wanted America to stay out of World War I. So McCay spent all his spare hours producing a the film, which took him 22 months to create, to tell the tale of the most “dastardly, cowardly act.” 25,000 drawings were sketched and photographed for the musical animation which used the latest cel technology. WATCH 8-mins of the film… (1918)
It was not until Disney’s feature films in the 1930s that the animation industry caught up with McCay’s level of modernist technique. The seminal film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- The Mayflower launched from a pier in Southampton, England (1620)
- Tivoli Gardens opened — and is still intact today — in Copenhagen, Denmark (1843)
- Thomas Edison made the first-ever recording — “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (1877)
- Korean Liberation Day (1945)
- India gained its independence from the UK after some 200 years of British rule with Jawaharlal Nehru taking office as the first Prime Minister of India, while Mohandas K. Gandhi, the real hero, was absent and, instead, remained in humble service (1947)
- The Woodstock Music and Art Festival opened (1969)
- A SETI project radio telescope at Ohio State University received a radio signal from deep space; the event is named the “Wow! signal”, for the notation made by a volunteer on the project (1977)
In 1914, the Panama Canal officially opened its gates to ships after completion of one of the largest, most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.
The series of locks and manmade lakes constructed by France and the U.S. connected the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, eliminating the need for a lengthy, hazardous route around South America.
And on this day in 1965, The Beatles played the first ever stadium concert, performing for 56,000 screaming teens at Shea Stadium in New York City.
A pivotal event in rock and roll, John Lennon later called it a career highlight, saying, “I saw the top of the mountain.” The Beatles At Shea became a documentary produced by Ed Sullivan, which included backstage scenes of The Fab Four fooling around in the dressing room, and a 30-minute performance video of their songs: Twist and Shout, She’s a Woman, I Feel Fine, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Ticket to Ride, Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby, Can’t Buy Me Love, Baby’s in Black, Act Naturally, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and I’m Down. Watch a few moments of history below…