We Made It – It’s Friday! Did you know…
* 1891 – Shipping – RMS Empress of India in Vancouver. (She is the first of the Canadian Pacific Steamships “Empress” liners to arrive at Vancouver Harbour, via the Suez Canal and Hong Kong; carries 486 passengers and a cargo of tea and silk. RMS Empress of Japan will arrive on June 2, followed by RMS Empress of China; Canadian Pacific Steamships had signed a contract for subsidized mail service between Britain and Hong Kong via Canada. Vancouver, BC)
* 1789 Fletcher Christian leads a mutiny on HMS Bounty against its captain William Bligh. (The mutiny on the Royal Navy vessel HMS Bounty occurred in the south Pacific on 28 April 1789. Led by Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, disaffected crewmen seized control of the ship from their captain, Lieutenant William Bligh, and set him and 18 loyalists adrift in the ship’s open launch. The mutineers variously settled on Tahiti or on Pitcairn Island. Bligh meanwhile completed a voyage of more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) in the launch to reach safety and began the process of bringing the mutineers to justice. Christian’s group remained undiscovered on Pitcairn until 1808, by which time only one mutineer, John Adams, remained alive. Almost all his fellow mutineers (including Christian), and their male Polynesian companions had killed each other over time in varying conflicts. Only survivors were Adams and Ned Young, who had subsequently died of Asthma in 1800. No action was taken against Adams. Descendants of the mutineers and their Tahitian consorts live on Pitcairn into the 21st century. The generally accepted view of Bligh as an overbearing monster and Christian as a tragic victim of circumstances, as depicted in well-known film accounts, has been challenged by late 20th- and 21st-century historians from whom a more sympathetic picture of Bligh, and a more critical one of Christian, has emerged.)
* 1925 T.S. Eliot accepts a job at Faber and Faber publishers. (Poet T.S. Eliot accepts a position as editor at Faber and Faber publishers. The job allows Eliot, who is already recognized as a major poet, to quit his job as a bank clerk at Lloyd’s Bank in London. He holds the publishing position until his death, in 1965. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a well-established family. His grandfather had founded Washington University in St. Louis, his father was a businessman, and his mother was involved in local charities. Eliot took an undergraduate degree at Harvard, studied at the Sorbonne, returned to Harvard to study Sanskrit, and then studied at Oxford. After meeting poet and lifelong friend Ezra Pound, Eliot moved permanently to England. In 1915, he married Vivian Haigh-Wood, but the marriage was unhappy, partly due to her mental instability. She died in an institution in 1947. Eliot began working at Lloyd’s Bank in 1917, writing reviews and essays on the side. He founded a critical quarterly, Criterion, and quietly developed a new brand of poetry. His first major work, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, was published in 1917 and was hailed as the invention of a new kind of poetry. His long, fragmented images and use of blank verse influenced nearly all future poets, as did his masterpiece The Waste Land, published in Criterion and the American review Dial in 1922. While Eliot is best known for revolutionizing modern poetry, his literary criticism and plays were also successful. Eliot lectured in the U.S. frequently in the 1930s and ’40s, a time when his own worldview was undergoing rapid change as he converted to Christianity. In 1957, he married his assistant Valerie Fletcher. The couple lived happily until his death, in 1965.)
* 1945 Benito Mussolini executed. (On this day in 1945, “Il Duce,” Benito Mussolini, and his mistress, Clara Petacci, are shot by Italian partisans who had captured the couple as they attempted to flee to Switzerland. The 61-year-old deposed former dictator of Italy was established by his German allies as the figurehead of a puppet government in northern Italy during the German occupation toward the close of the war. As the Allies fought their way up the Italian peninsula, the defeat of the Axis powers all but certain, Mussolini considered his options. Not wanting to fall into the hands of either the British or the Americans, and knowing that the communist partisans, who had been fighting the remnants of roving Italian fascist soldiers and thugs in the north, would try him as a war criminal, he settled on an escape to a neutral country. He and his mistress made it to the Swiss border, only to discover that the guards had crossed over to the partisan side. Knowing they would not let him pass, he disguised himself in a Luftwaffe coat and helmet, hoping to slip into Austria with some German soldiers. His subterfuge proved incompetent, and he and Petacci were discovered by partisans and shot, their bodies then transported by truck to Milan, where they were hung upside down and displayed publicly for revilement by the masses.)
* 1965 My Name is Barbra is Barbra Streisand’s debut television special. (My Name is Barbra was the first special to be shot and aired under a $5 million, 10-year contract signed between Streisand and CBS in June 1964. Quite apart from the money, what made the deal so extraordinary was the creative control it gave to Streisand. She chose to exercise that control by eschewing many of the conventions of the then-popular musical variety show genre. Rather than shooting only in a studio, Streisand and her crew filmed one of their major sequences on location in the fur department of Bergdorf Goodman, where Streisand vamped in exotic fur coats and specially designed hats by Halston to a medley of poverty songs, including “Give Me the Simple Life” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” And rather than filling out the bill with big-name guest stars—a safe strategy for a young and still-rising star—Streisand performed every number alone. “You can imagine how nervous that made the network,” Streisand later remarked, “when they learned that there would be major guest stars, not even any minor ones—just me and a bunch of great songs and some wonderful musicians.” However nervous they might have been, CBS executives were thrilled with the results. My Name is Barbra was a huge critical and ratings hit on this night in 1965. It won two Emmys and a Peabody Award and helped make Barbra Streisand truly a household name, further ensuring the success of later Streisand CBS specials like Color Me Barbra (1966) and The Belle of 14th Street (1967).
Look who was born on this date!
* James Monroe in 1825. (5th US President: The last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation. As president, he bought Florida from Spain. He originated the Monroe Doctrine was a U.S. policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas beginning in 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued in 1823 at a time when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved or were at the point of gaining independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires.)
* Oskar Schindler in 1908. (German industrialist, a German spy, and a member of the Nazi party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in what is now Poland and the Czech Republic respectively.)
* Harper Lee in 1926. (American Author: Known for her 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, which deals with the issues of racism that she observed as a child in her hometown. Although it was her only published novel, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature.)