Happy Birthday to comedic actor and writer John Cleese who turns 80 years old today. While studying law at Cambridge, he joined the theater club because he could “make people laugh.” There, he met his future writing partner Graham Chapman, and within four years they met the other collaborators who formed Monty Python. The sketch comedy troupe’s Flying Circus television show ran for 4 seasons and became an instant comedy classic, leading to four feature films.


Cleese also wrote books, and movie scripts, including A Fish Called Wanda, the film that garnered Kevin Kline an Oscar. In recent years, he wrote an autobiography, “So, Anyway”.

Cleese said recently that he doesn’t feel grownup at all. “I feel like I’m about 43… The key thing is to realize that very little matters—just the happiness of the people around you.” WATCH him talk to Lorraine Kelly on ITV, about turning 80, his love of cats, and being “too naughty and rude” to be accepting a knighthood from the Queen… (1939)

– Photo from 2008 by Paul Boxley, CC license

More Good News on this Date:

  • The city of Amsterdam was founded (1275)
  • Philadelphia was founded (1682)
  • The first of the Federalist Papers, a series of essays calling for ratification of the U.S. Constitution, was published in a New York newspaper (1787)
  • The first New York City Subway line opened (1904)
  • Walt Disney’s 1st TV show, “Disneyland”, premiered on ABC (1954)
  • Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean and Natalie Wood, was released (1955)
  • Egypt’s Sadat and Israel’s Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize (1978)
  • Turkmenistan achieved independence from the Soviet Union (1991)
  • The Curse of the Bambino ended as the Boston Red Sox swept four games to win the World Series, their first Major League Baseball championship in 86 years (2004)

And, on this day in 1858, the great American President Theodore Roosevelt was born. A writer and conservationist, during his 8-years in office (1901–1909), he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in America. Once a sickly child with debilitating asthma, he overcame his physical health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle, and his determined face would be chiseled onto Mount Rushmore decades later.

He was the youngest person to become president (at age 42), and campaigned with a promise to restore fairness to the average citizen—by breaking up trusts, regulating railroads, and providing consumer protection with pure food and drugs. Making conservation a top priority, Roosevelt established many new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation’s natural resources. In foreign policy, his successful efforts to broker the end of the Russo-Japanese War won him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize. WATCH a short bio…

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