Happy 80th Birthday to actress Valerie Harper, the two-time cancer survivor who was advised last month to go into hospice care. Best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on the beloved 70s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff series Rhoda, she was given three months to live back in 2013—but defied the odds, and competed on Dancing With The Stars the following year.

Last month, her husband Tony Cacciotti said he would not follow advice to put her in hospice, saying “I can’t … because of our 40 years of shared commitment to each other. We will continue going forward as long as the powers above allow us, I will do my very best in making Val as comfortable as possible.” WATCH a recent news report about her life… (1939)

From her Facebook page during a tee shirt promotion

Originally a dancer, she earned four Emmy Awards and also a Tony nomination for her leading role in the 2010 play Looped. Her charity Lung Strong, had kept her active in the last years—as did cameo acting appearances and frequent voice-overs for animated characters on The Simpsons. Her 2013 memoir is called, I, Rhoda.

She said in a 2016 interview, “A lot of stuff that looks impossible is not—and every day there is evidence of it.” Harper’s family has set up a Go Fund Me page to help with medical bills—and it’s raised $66,000 since it was created on July 8.

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 to cheering crowds at the Bogota, Colombia, airport to become the first head of the Catholic church to visit Latin America—and kissed the ground while still on the tarmac (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).Althea_Gibson_NYWTS-pubdomain-600px

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.

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Six years later, the surviving crew members donated the America’s Cup—named for the victorious vessel—to the New York Yacht Club, specifying that it be held in trust as a perpetual challenge trophy to promote friendly competition among nations. After winning the trophy from England, the United States embarked on what would become the longest winning streak in sporting history, a 132-year stretch of domination that saw American boats successfully defend the trophy 24 times from 1870 through 1980—until 1983, when Australia II became the first successful challenger to lift the trophy, bringing it home to the Royal Perth Yacht Club.

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