Good News in History, February 6

On this day 91 years ago, the charismatic, trombone-voiced actor Rip Torn was born in Lakeville, Connecticut. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part as Marsh Turner in Cross Creek in 1983. For Baby Boomers, his claim to fame would be his portrayal as Artie, the can-do pump-up-man producer on The Larry Sanders Show alongside Gary Shandling, for which he was nominated for six Emmy Awards, winning in 1996. Millennials will remember Torn as his role of wheelchair-bound, wrench-throwing Patches O’Houlihan in Dodgeball: A True Underdog StoryWATCH the best of Artie below. (1931)

– PHOTO CREDIT: Rip Torn young and old. CC license-Wikimedia.

Torn was also a very successful Broadway actor. He made his start with Sweet Bird of Youth for which he received a Tony nomination, after which he appeared in 9 other major productions, and directed one. On the NBC sitcom 30 Rock directed by Tina Fey, Torn had a beloved recurring role as the fictional CEO of General Electric and corporate guru, Don Geiss.

WATCH Artie in action, but beware, his foul language is that of several sailors. 

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The founding document of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed (1840)
  • The international arbitration court at The Hague was created when host country, the Netherlands, ratified a decree by the first peace conference (1900)
  • Bob Marley, the ground-breaking reggae musician who achieved international fame with his 1977 solo LP, Exodus, which sold 75 million copies worldwide, was born on a farm in Jamaica, a day that is a spiritual holiday in Jamaica and Ethiopia since his death from cancer at age 36 (1945)
  • Elizabeth ascended to the British throne to eventually become the longest serving Queen of England (1952)
  • George Harrison joined The Quarrymen, a Liverpool group featuring John Lennon, who named the band after the school, and his schoolmate Paul McCartney (1958)
  • Justice Mary Gaudron became the first woman to be appointed to the High Court of Australia (1987)
  • The Polish government began Round Table Talks in Warsaw with a banned trade union and its leader, Lech Wałęsa—the future president of Poland—during which the authorities gave in to major demands of the once-outlawed union called Solidarność, Solidarity (1989)

127 years ago today, the larger than life baseball star Babe Ruth was born.

He played his first game at age 18 and although best remembered for swatting home runs, The Bambino was one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers in the 1910s. The left-hander won 89 games in six seasons with the Boston Red Sox, including 24 in 1917, helping the team win three World Series titles.

Nicknamed The Sultan of Swat, Babe’s talent at the plate drew massive crowds to see him wherever he went, especially after his sale to the New York Yankees in 1920. He played 15 seasons in the NY pinstripes, racking up a prodigious 714 career home runs—and his slugging percentage (.690) remains an unbeatable major-league record even today. Ruth also was even quick on the bases—he boldly stole home ten times in his career. Considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time, he helped the Yankees to win the World Series four times.

Aging and traded to the Boston Braves, he was batting a dismal .155 in his final season when he added yet another myth to his name: In one of his last games he strode to the plate and hit 4-for-4, including three home runs. The last one was the final of Ruth’s career, and it sailed out of the park, completely over the right field upper deck—the first one ever hit out of Forbes Field. (1895)

51 years ago today, Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard did one last thing before leaving the surface of the moon, something he had planned for months—he teed up a golf shot.

composite shot of golf on moon - Moonshot book by Shepard

The NASA commander brought a six-iron club head on board inside his space suit pocket which had a fitting on it for attaching to the handle of a lunar sample scoop. In a constricting space suit, he topped and sliced his first two swings, but finally hit two balls, driving them “miles and miles and miles,” he told mission control, who was listened bemused.

After the fun, he removed the golf club head from the handle and brought it back to Earth, where it is currently on display at the US Golf Association Hall of Fame in New Jersey. For his book Moon Shot, composite photos of the lunar surface were used to produce a staged photo of the event, because there were no still photos of the event. WATCH the actual golf swings on film…(1971)

Follow along with a NASA transcript below the video:

08:17 Shepard: (Facing the TV) Houston, while you’re looking that up, you might recognize what I have in my hand as the handle for the contingency sample return; it just so happens to have a genuine six iron on the bottom of it. In my left hand, I have a little white pellet that’s familiar to millions of Americans. I’ll drop it down. Unfortunately, the suit is so stiff, I can’t do this with two hands, but I’m going to try a little sand-trap shot here. (Pause)
08:53 Mitchell: You got more dirt than ball that time.
08:58 Shepard: Got more dirt than ball. Here we go again.
09:01 Haise: That looked like a slice to me, Al.
09:03 Shepard: Here we go. Straight as a die; one more. (Long Pause) Miles and miles and miles.

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