February 26, 2021

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Good News on This Day in History – December 14


35 years ago today, Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to be elected chief of a major American Indian tribe, taking office as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

For a decade, she revitalized the Nation’s tribal government and improved its education, health, and housing. During her tenure the nation’s membership more than doubled, to 170,000. Before she died at the age of 69, she authored two bestselling books, the autobiography Mankiller: A Chief and Her People and Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women. (1985)

– Photo credit: (right) Phil Konstantin, CC license

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Roald amundsen‘s exploration team became the first to reach the South Pole (1911)
  • Saturday night fever premiered, starring a young John Travolta as a champion dancer in a working-class dead-end job — it made Travolta a household name, disco a worldwide sensation, and the soundtrack, featuring the Bee Gees, one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time (1977)
  • The Clash released London Calling, an album mix of punk, reggae, rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and hard rock, which was ranked # 8 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (1979)
  • The Dayton accord was signed by leaders of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia ending the bitter three-year Bosnian war (1995)
  • President Bill Clinton watched as hundreds of Palestinian leaders renounced a call for the destruction of Israel (1998)
  • The highest bridge in the world, the Millau viaduct, was officially opened near Millau, France (2004)

And, on this day in 1993, the award-winning film Philadelphia debuted on big screens. The first big-budget Hollywood film to tackle the issue of HIV / AIDS and related homophobia, it starred a young Tom Hanks as a hotshot attorney who gets fired by his powerful law partners, and Denzel Washington, who plays the counsel who reluctantly agrees to try the lawsuit in court. Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor, while Springsteen’s song “Streets of PhiladelphiaWon for Best Original Song. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the groundbreaking drama was a big box office success. WATCH the compelling trailer …

On this day 101 years ago, Felix the cat first appeared in film, sporting his new name in The Adventures of Felix. The legendary cartoon character created in the silent film era by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer in Australia was a whimsical black cat that walked on two legs and often had the moves and childlike nature of Charlie Chaplin (who was an inspiration for Sullivan).

The first cartoon superstar, Felix was the first cartoon character created specifically for animated film. He routinely paced back and forth deep in thought — his trademark move. His shape transformed over the decades into a less angular, more cute cat with longer legs.

Four years after Felix’s screen debut, the character made the jump to comic strips in 1923 (with the partners producing the strips through the mid-40s). Commercial success went far beyond screen and print, however, when — as early as the 20s—Felix the cat became the first licensed and mass-merchandised character ever, with its likeness appearing on clocks, lighters, toys, postcards, and salt shakers. In 1927, the fabulous feline was the first giant balloon character to appear in the Macy’s Day Parade. WATCH a video on Felix through the century… (1919)


Sullivan’s descendants partnered with producers to create a technicolor version of the cartoon, and later a television series in the late 50s, during which a new element was introduced — a ‘magic bag’ of tricks. The show ran for 260 episodes, and restored the cat’s place in the public zeitgeist. One more series in the late 90s revised Felix’s cunning and mischievous personality, which had been dropped in the 50s. In 2014, the family sold the rights to DreamWorks animation who simply continued marketing the image, without producing any new content. Although Felix the Cat couldn’t compete with Disney or Looney Tunes, and stay relevant, the face of “the wonderful, wonderful cat” is still one of the most iconic images today, widely available on all manner of online merchandise for sale.

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