50 years ago today, the Prague Spring began after a true reformer was elected within the Communist party of Czechoslovakia. The liberal-minded Alexander Dubcek started to grant additional rights to citizens— loosening restrictions on the media, speech and travel. . . The Soviet Union finally brought down its iron hammer to halt the democratization eight months later, invading the country with a half a million heavily-armed troops. But it wasn’t enough to stop a spirited non-violent resistance mounted throughout the country… (1968)

While the Soviet military had predicted that it would take four days to subdue the country the resistance held out for eight months, and was only circumvented by diplomatic strategies. Although a new Soviet-controlled government reversed almost all of Dubček’s reforms, the Prague Spring inspired iconic civil disobedience, music and literature such as the work of Václav Havel, Karel Husa, Karel Kryl, and Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. 20 years later, freedoms were finally restored when the Velvet Revolution ended pro-Soviet rule peacefully.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The discovery of a type of radiation, later known as X-rays, was reported (1896)
  • Nellie Tayloe Ross in Wyoming succeeded her late husband becoming the first female governor in the US (1925)
  • The Daily Mail became the first transoceanic newspaper (1944)
  • Pope Paul VI met the Greek Orthodox leader, the first time the two sides talked since 1439 (1964)
  • Bruce Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., was released, but sold just 25,000 copies in its first year (1973)

Happy Birthday to Oscar-winning actress (and fashionista) Diane Keaton, who turns 72 years old today.

Creative Commons photo

Keaton became famous (a goal she’d set as a little girl) for her starring roles in Woody Allen comedies, including her fourth, Annie Hall, that won her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Another huge hit, with co-stars Goldie and Bette, The First Wives Club brought in $180 million after its 1996 release. Keaton wrote her family memoir, “Then, Again”, in 2011, and a tell-all autobiography in 2014 about her life in a beauty-fixated industry, “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty”. (1946)

2013 photo by jdeeringdavis, CC

And, Happy Birthday to Philadelphia native Bradley Cooper, who turns 43 years old today. Before pursuing drama, the multiple Academy-award nominated actor earned an honors degree in English from Georgetown University. (1975)