1873 John McGraw was born.
1897 Walter Winchell was born.
1948 The United Nations World Health Organization was established. (World Health Day) (See November 12th entry.)
1949 South Pacific opened on Broadway.
1953 Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold was elected U. N. secretary - general. (See July 29th entry.)
This is World Health Day. In 1948, the United Nations established the World Health Organization to research and prevent disease and improve public health worldwide. Thanks to this organization, smallpox was completely eradicated and the fight continues to eliminate other fatal illnesses in every comer of the planet. The World Health Organization is uniquely privileged; it is concerned with a subject that transcends national borders and prejudices. Medical science does not usually consider its processes state secrets; it does not wage economic warfare; it does not hold human life to be merely a cheap and replaceable commodity.
The impact some people make is often felt beyond their own time. That was probably true of Walter Winchell who was born on this date in 1897. During the 1930s and 1940s, Winchell was one of America’s most influential columnists and broadcasters. But as a lasting influence, he is remembered more as a maker of words than as a rumor peddler. We often hear words and phrases like “scram,” or people being “that way.” Those are idioms that Winchell not only popularized; he invented most of them. Some of his usages of the English language have faded. But in the end, it isn’t what Winchell said; it was how he said it that was significant.
When John J. McGraw was born on this date in 1873, baseball was a fairly new game. McGraw helped to make baseball the national pastime. He spread its fame and charm worldwide. He was a fine player, and a great manager. McGraw not only developed championship teams and trained outstanding future managers; he led the New York Giants on several international tours. He wrote books about the game and created a whole standard of conduct for the playing field: taking a combative stance; arguing with umpires; and running his ball club with an iron hand that earned him the nickname “Little Napoleon.”
Today is the anniversary of a controversial theatrical landmark. In 1949, the musical South Pacific opened on Broadway to a shocked audience. The successful team of Rodgers and Hammerstein had written a musical about the affects of racial prejudice! One song struck deep into hearts of theatergoers that night—“You’ve Got to Be Taught.” It reminded people that prejudice often was taught at home.