Congratulations to actress Valerie Harper who is celebrating her 78th birthday Tuesday. Best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on the beloved 70s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff series Rhoda, she is twice a cancer survivor, having been given three months to live in 2013—a year in which she competed on Dancing With The Stars. Originally a dancer, she earned four Emmy Awards and also a Tony nomination for her leading role in the 2010 play Looped. WATCH her talk about her remission… (1939)
Her husband of 30 years, former fitness trainer Tony Cacciotti, encourages her to exercise. Her charity, Lung Strong, also keeps her active, as do cameo acting appearances and frequent voice-overs for animated characters on The Simpsons. She said in a 2016 interview (below), “A lot of stuff that looks impossible is not—and every day there is evidence of it.”
MORE Good News on this Day:
- 12 nations signed the First Geneva Convention to adopt international law protecting wounded soldiers, field medics and the Red Cross during battle, and to preserve a certain degree of humanity even in times of war (1864)
- Pope Paul VI arrived in Bogota, Colombia, the first visit of a pope to Latin America (1968)
- Neil Young released his album, After The Gold Rush (1970)
- Nolan Ryan struck out Rickey Henderson to become the first Major League Baseball pitcher to record 5,000 strikeouts (1989)
- The last Jewish settlers left the Gaza Strip, ending decades of Israeli occupation (2005)
- Libyan freedom fighters flow into Tripoli without opposition marking the near collapse of Muammar Gaddafi (2011)
Also on this day in 1950, Althea Gibson became the first black competitor in international tennis, after US officials, bowing to pressure, invited the 23-year-old to play in the National Championships (now the US Open). Born in South Carolina to sharecropper parents who moved to Harlem when Althea was six, their neighbors took up a collection to pay for her tennis lessons. In 1956, she became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals– then won both again in 1958. Often compared to Jackie Robinson, and with a lifetime total of 11 Grand Slam tournaments, she is called one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
And, on this day in 1851, an upstart team of sailors, on a boat christened America, sailed past 15 others from the Royal Yacht Squadron to win the club’s annual race around the Isle of Wight, finishing 8 minutes ahead of the closest rival. The trophy they won, and brought home to the U.S., was renamed America‘s Cup and dedicated to ongoing competitions, becoming the oldest competitive trophy in international sports–predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years.