70 years ago today, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner first debuted in a Merrie Melodies cartoon called Fast and Furry-ous. The duo went on to star in 49 cartoons and theatrical shorts, and in each episode, the Coyote repeatedly attempts to catch and eat the fast-running ground bird, but never succeeds. He uses absurdly complex contraptions, often devices from a mail-order company called the Acme Corporation, to try to catch his prey, which all comically backfire, leaving the Coyote injured in slapstick fashion.
Always taking place in the natural habitat of the southwest American desert, one running gag involved the Coyote falling from a high cliff. After he goes over the edge, the rest of the scene, shot from a bird’s-eye view, shows him falling into a canyon so deep, that his figure is eventually lost to sight, except for a dust cloud rising from the canyon floor where he hits—sometimes followed by an anvil.
The characters were created for Warner Bros. by writer Michael Maltese (though dialogue was rarely used, except for the signature sound, ‘Beep, Beep’) and animation director Chuck Jones (who later created a film and TV series with the characters—and also pitted the Coyote against Bugs Bunny in more cartoons). Warner Bros. is reportedly developing Coyote vs. Acme into a Wile E. Coyote movie with The Lego Batman Movie director Chris McKay slated to produce. WATCH some clips… (1949)
Jones based the Coyote on Mark Twain’s book Roughing It, in which Twain described the coyote as “a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton” that is “a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry.”
More Good News on this date:
- Ken Kesey was born, the American author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and member of the psychedelic literary posse, the Merry Pranksters (1935-2001)
- The first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, was unveiled by NASA–with the cast of TV’s Star Trek present–after a write-in campaign succeeded in changing the name from Constitution (1976)
- Vanessa Williams was crowned the first black Miss America (1983)
- The Camp David Accords were signed by Israel and Egypt (1978)
- North Korea, South Korea, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Micronesia joined the United Nations (1991)
- The last Russian troops departed from Poland (1993)
- Heather Whitestone of Alabama became the first deaf woman crowned as Miss America (1994)
- Northern Ireland‘s main Protestant party joined peace talks, bringing together all players for the first time (1997)
- President Clinton lifted 50-year restrictions on trade, travel & banking with North Korea (1999)
And, on this date in 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement began in Zuccotti Park, in the heart of New York’s financial district. Within weeks, encampments sprang up around the world to join the protest against social and economic inequality for “the 99 percent”. Some lasting and positive direct action did result.
And, Happy 74th Birthday to legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson, who won an amazing eleven National Basketball titles as a coach: six with Michael Jordan the Chicago Bulls and five with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. (1945)
And on this day in 1963, The Fugitive first aired on ABC. The American drama series starred David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, a physician who is wrongfully convicted of his wife’s murder and sentenced to receive the death penalty. Nominated for five Emmy Awards, it won for Outstanding Dramatic Series in 1966, before ending the following year. The mysterious “One-Armed Man”, alongside 3-time Emmy-nominated Janssen’s understated performance earned the show a spot on the 2002 TV Guide list of The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Typically, The Fugitive was able to attract two or more guest stars per episode, legends from stage and screen, like Robert Duvall, Mickey Rooney, Dabney Coleman, Ed Asner, William Shatner, Telly Savalas, Ed Begley, Jack Klugman, Leslie Nielsen, Kurt Russell, Charles Bronson, Ossie Davis, Angie Dickinson, Diane Ladd, Hope Lange, Carol Lawrence, Carroll O’Connor, Vin Scully, Brenda Vaccaro, and Tuesday Weld.
Also, on this day in 1787, the final draft of the United States Constitution, a blueprint for how the nascent government would function, was completed and signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard liberty and equality, the interests of majority rule and minority rights, and the federal and state governments. Though it began with the now-famous phrase, “We the people,” there were many disappointed delegates who refused to sign the draft, due to certain compromises.
The Great Compromise ended the stalemate between “patriots” (who favored states-rights) and “nationalists” (who favored stronger federal powers) and the question of how to apportion for representation in the congress. Numerous other compromises accommodated the factions but also led to only 39 of the 55 delegates agreeing to sign the document. The final arbiter of law in the nation, The Constitution’s first three words—We the People—affirmed that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times (the first ten, known as the Bill of Rights, protected personal freedoms and restricted government power) to meet the challenges of a profoundly changing country. It is the model on which the constitutions of other nations were based. Written on parchment, the original four pages are stored and viewable at the National Archives in Washington, DC.