85 years ago today, an Alaskan nurse named Mary Joyce ended her pioneering journey after setting off into the wilderness with five sled dogs she had inherited for a 1,000 mile dog sled journey from her home in Juneau toward Fairbanks.
Invited to the 1936 March Fairbanks Ice Carnival, she left in December and joined up with a native group that would guide her through the White Pass to Whitehorse. Challenged by illness and blizzard conditions she persevered through temperatures as low as -60°F with no shelter.
A book, Mary Joyce—Taku to Fairbanks, 1,000 Miles by Dogsled, featured her first hand account of these exploits, going a distance equal to today’s Iditarod sled race.
She was the first white person over a portion of the trail which later became part of the AlCan Highway. Born on a farm in Baraboo, Wisconsin, she was also a pilot, a stewardess, a homesteader, a movie actress, and a territorial government candidate—but always she loved her adopted Alaska, and the Taku Glacier Lodge which she helped to run, until her death in 1976. READ her thoughts about men telling her she couldn’t do it… (1936)
“Is there any reason why a woman should not be as capable as a man?” she wrote. When she told men about her travel plans she often heard, “‘But you can’t do that, there are mountains or something you can’t get over. Anyway it’s no place for a woman.’ Thus man disposes of woman.” Meanwhile, she went “quietly” about her business of getting ready…
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Voters in West Virginia approved the gradual emancipation of slaves (1863)
- Robert Frost, one of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century, was born (1874)
- Tennessee Williams, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright was born—his turbulent childhood, which included an alcoholic, workaholic father, and frequent uprooting, fueled his depression, but also prolific writing, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1911)
- Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed the logical Mr. Spock on the Star Trek television series in the 1960s, was born (1931–2015)
- Joe DiMaggio, beginning only his second year in Major League Baseball, took Ty Cobb’s advice and started using a heavier 40-ounce bat, which raised his slugging percentage almost 100 points, and preceded his famous 56-game hitting streak— a record that still stands today (1937)
- Jonas Salk announced a new vaccine to prevent polio, an acute, viral, infectious disease that by 1910 had resulted in thousands of children and adults paralyzed (1953)
- The Camp David peace treaty was signed between Israel & Egypt (1979)
- The first free elections were held in the USSR: 190 million votes were cast, Boris Yeltsin elected (1989)
- Bangladesh celebrates its Independence Day (1971)
- The film Tommy premiered in London, based on the rock opera by The Who (1975)
- The first single by Elvis Costello, Less Than Zero, was released (1977)
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial Ground-breaking ceremony held in Washington, D.C. (1982)
- Stanford researchers published a paper announcing the discovery of an antibody that was found to dramatically shrink or completely eradicate human cancer tumors that were transplanted into laboratory mice, no matter which type of cancer created the tumor (2012)
And, on this day in 1974, Gaura Devi led a group of 27 women of Laata village, Henwalghati, in the Garhwal Himalayas, to form circles around trees to stop them being felled by loggers. Their protest lasted four days and eventually succeeded when contractors gave up. It was the birth of the Chipko movement in India.
Happy 77th Birthday to Diana Ross, the Detroit lead singer of Motown’s most successful act—The Supremes (Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Baby Love, and Where Did Our Love Go?), the most popular girl group ever. The Guinness Book of World Records declared Ross the most successful female music artist in history, with the most hits—a career total of 70 hit singles, earned as a Supreme and solo performer. (1944)
Also, Happy 73rd Birthday to Steven Tyler. The lead singer and songwriter for Aerosmith, his high screams and on-stage acrobatics perfectly propelled hit singles like “Dream On”, “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way.
After drug rehab, he led the band in a remarkable comeback releasing the multi-platinum albums Permanent Vacation, Pump, Get a Grip, and Nine Lives, which produced a combined 13 Top 40 singles and won the band 4 Grammys. Raised in New York City by a classical pianist father, Tyler was also a judge on American Idol and the author of a bestselling book, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: a Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir. WATCH him sing Amazing Grace with a church choir… (1948)
And, Happy Birthday to Martin Short who turns 71 today. Born in Canada, the comic actor got his break on Saturday Night Live and won two career Emmys—one for comedic writing. Also a fantastic singer, he has won several theater awards including a 1999 Tony Award for his lead performance on Broadway, in Little Me.
He co-starred with his good friend Steve Martin, with whom he still performs, in the film Three Amigos, and you might remember him in Mars Attacks!, Father of the Bride, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, or Madagascar 3.
He’s continued to tour in a one-man show, which features many of his best-loved characters (like, Ed Grimley and Katharine Hepburn). Short released a 2014 memoir, covering his 40-year career in show business, entitled I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend. WATCH his hilarious Tonight Show visit in January… (1950)
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