John’s Believe It Or Not… July 25th

* 1978 World’s First Test Tube Baby Born. * 2000 Concorde jet crashes. * 1898 Puerto Rico invaded. * 1965 Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival. * 1985 Rock Hudson announces he has AIDS.

Rock Hudson in 1960.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did You Know…

* 1978 World’s First Test Tube Baby Born.

On this day in 1978, Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England, to parents Lesley and Peter Brown. The healthy baby was delivered shortly before midnight by caesarean section and weighed in at five pounds, 12 ounces.

Before giving birth to Louise, Lesley Brown had suffered years of infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes. In November 1977, she underwent the then-experimental IVF procedure. A mature egg was removed from one of her ovaries and combined in a laboratory dish with her husband’s sperm to form an embryo. The embryo then was implanted into her uterus a few days later. Her IVF doctors, British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and scientist Robert Edwards, had begun their pioneering collaboration a decade earlier. Once the media learned of the pregnancy, the Browns faced intense public scrutiny. Louise’s birth made headlines around the world and raised various legal and ethical questions.

The Browns had a second daughter, Natalie, several years later, also through IVF. In May 1999, Natalie became the first IVF baby to give birth to a child of her own. The child’s conception was natural, easing some concerns that female IVF babies would be unable to get pregnant naturally. In December 2006, Louise Brown, the original “test tube baby,” gave birth to a boy, Cameron John Mullinder, who also was conceived naturally.

Today, IVF is considered a mainstream medical treatment for infertility. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world have been conceived through the procedure, in some cases with donor eggs and sperm.

Lesley and John Brown, with their daughter Louise Brown on July 25, 1978
Lesley and John Brown, with their daughter Louise Brown on July 25, 1978 (origo.hu)

* 2000 Concorde jet crashes.

An Air France Concorde jet crashes upon takeoff in Paris on this day in 2000, killing everyone onboard as well as four people on the ground. The Concorde, the world’s fastest commercial jet, had enjoyed an exemplary safety record up to that point, with no crashes in the plane’s 31-year history.

Air France Flight 4590 left DeGaulle Airport for New York carrying nine crew members and 96 German tourists who were planning to take a cruise to Ecuador. Almost immediately after takeoff, however, the plane plunged to the ground near a hotel in Gonesse, France. A huge fireball erupted and all 105 people on the plane were killed immediately.

The Concorde fleet was grounded in the wake of this disaster while the cause was investigated. The Concorde, powered by four Rolls Royce turbojets, was able to cross the Atlantic Ocean in less than three-and-a-half hours, reaching speeds of 1,350 miles per hour, which is more than twice the speed of sound. The July 25 incident, though, was not related to the Concorde’s engine construction or speed.

The investigation revealed that the plane that took off just prior to Flight 4590 had dropped a piece of metal onto the runway. When the Concorde jet ran over it, its tire was shredded and thrown into one of the engines and fuel tanks, causing a disabling fire.

Concorde jets went back into service in November 2001, but a series of minor problems prompted both Air France and British Airways to end Concorde service permanently in October 2003.

Air France Flight 4590 - Seconds From Disaster - YouTube
Air France Flight 4590 – Seconds From Disaster – YouTube

* 1898 Puerto Rico invaded.

During the Spanish-American War, U.S. forces launch their invasion of Puerto Rico, the 108-mile-long, 40-mile-wide island that was one of Spain’s two principal possessions in the Caribbean. With little resistance and only seven deaths, U.S. troops under General Nelson A. Miles were able to secure the island by mid-August. After the signing of an armistice with Spain, American troops raised the U.S. flag over the island, formalizing U.S. authority over its one million inhabitants. In December, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Spanish-American War and officially approving the cession of Puerto Rico to the United States.

In the first three decades of its rule, the U.S. government made efforts to Americanize its new possession, including granting full U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans in 1917 and considering a measure that would make English the island’s official language. However, during the 1930s, a nationalist movement led by the Popular Democratic Party won wide support across the island, and further U.S. assimilation was successfully opposed. Beginning in 1948, Puerto Ricans could elect their own governor, and in 1952 the U.S. Congress approved a new Puerto Rican constitution that made the island an autonomous U.S. commonwealth, with its citizens retaining American citizenship. The constitution was formally adopted by Puerto Rico on July 25, 1952, the 54th anniversary of the U.S. invasion.

Movements for Puerto Rican statehood, along with lesser movements for Puerto Rican independence, have won supporters on the island, but popular referendums in 1967 and 1993 demonstrated that the majority of Puerto Ricans still supported their special status as a U.S. commonwealth.

Political Cartoon: "Will wear the Stars and Stripes" Uncle Sam: "Here, sonny,
“Will wear the Stars and Stripes” Uncle Sam: “Here, sonny, (Boricuolandía – WordPress.com)

* 1965 Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival.

Before he took the stage at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival—the annual event that had given him his first real national exposure one year earlier—Bob Dylan was introduced by Ronnie Gilbert, a member of The Weavers: “And here he is…take him, you know him, he’s yours.” In his 2004 memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan would write about how he “failed to sense the ominous forebodings in the introduction.” One year later, he would learn just how possessive the Newport audiences felt toward him. On this day in 1965, Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival, performing a rock-and-roll set publicly for the very first time while a chorus of shouts and boos rained down on him from a dismayed audience.

Six weeks earlier, Bob Dylan had recorded the single that marked his move out of acoustic folk and into the idiom of electrified rock and roll. “Like A Rolling Stone” had only been released five days before his appearance at Newport, however, so most in the audience had no idea what lay in store for them. Neither did festival organizers, who were as surprised to see Dylan’s crew setting up heavy sound equipment during sound check as that evening’s audience would be to hear what came out of it.

With guitarist Al Kooper and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band backing him, Dylan took to the stage with his Fender Stratocaster on the evening of July 25 and launched into an electrified version of “Maggie’s Farm.” Almost immediately, the jeering and yelling from the audience grew loud enough nearly to drown out the sound of Dylan and his band. It has been stated by some who witnessed the historic performance that some of the yelling from the audience that night was about the terrible sound quality of the performance—overloud in general and mixed so poorly that Dylan’s vocals were unintelligible. But what prompted the outright booing—even over Dylan’s next number, the now-classic “Like A Rolling Stone”—was a sense of dismay and betrayal on the part of an audience unprepared for the singer’s new artistic direction.

And what did the man himself think of the unfriendly reception he received from what should have been the friendliest of audiences? Some say he was extremely shaken at the time, but with four decades of hindsight, his feelings were clear. Reflecting on Ronnie Gilbert’s “Take him, he’s yours” comment, Dylan wrote, “What a crazy thing to say! Screw that. As far as I knew, I didn’t belong to anybody then or now.”

Dylan plays electric guitar at Newport Folk Festival.
Newport Folk Festival Marks 53 Years Since Bob Dylan Went Electric (Billboard)

* 1985 Rock Hudson announces he has AIDS.

On this day in 1985, Rock Hudson, a quintessential tall, dark and handsome Hollywood leading man of the 1950s and 1960s who made more than 60 films during his career, announces through a press release that he is suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). With that announcement, Hudson became the first major celebrity to go public with such a diagnosis. The first cases of AIDS, a condition of the human immune system, were reported in homosexual men in the United States in the early 1980s. At the time of Hudson’s death, AIDS was not fully understood by the medical community and the disease was stigmatized by the general public as a condition affecting only gay men, intravenous drug users and people who received contaminated blood transfusions.

Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., on November 17, 1925, in Winnetka, Illinois. He rose to fame in the 1950s, starring in such films as Giant (1956), for which he received an Academy Award nomination and A Farewell to Arms (1957). Hudson’s good looks and charm were on display in 1959’s Pillow Talk and several other romantic comedies he made with Doris Day in the early 1960s. In the 1970s, Hudson co-starred in the popular TV series McMillan and Wife. In the early 1980s, he began experiencing health problems and underwent heart bypass surgery. His final TV role was a recurring part on Dynasty from 1984 to 1985.

In July 1985 Hudson was hospitalized while in Paris. Some media reports indicated he was suffering from liver cancer. However, on July 25, Hudson issued a press release stating he had AIDS and was in France for treatment. Hudson, who had a three-year marriage during the 1950s to a woman who had been his agent’s secretary, was believed to be gay, although he never spoke publicly about his sexuality.

Hudson died on October 2, 1985, at age 59 in Beverly Hills, California. His death was credited with bringing attention to an epidemic that went on to kill millions of men, women and children of all backgrounds from around the world. Hudson’s friend and former Giant co-star Elizabeth Taylor became an AIDS activist and rallied the Hollywood community to raise millions for research. In 1993, Tom Hanks received a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in director Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia, the first major Hollywood movie to focus on AIDS.

Rock Hudson at Beverly Hills home in 1984.
Rock Hudson photographed at his Beverly Hills home on July 12, 1984. (Pinterest)

Today’s Sources: 

* This Day In History – What Happened Today                        http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/

                             

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

9 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 25th”

  1. Several points of bravery today. Certainly, Rock Hudson was brave to announce his diagnosis so that the disease would take on an air of importance. Bob Dylan was brave coming out with his new sound in spite of what his fans thought he should do. Leslie and Peter Brown were brave to try an early treatment for fertility problems. Thanks, John

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the Dylan story. I had no idea he was booed from the Newport audience. And Rock Hudson died at only 59. His movies with Doris Day and Tony Randall were some of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hudson was one of my favorite actors too. Often, fans don’t like their idols changing styles. Doesn’t look like Dylan cared a whole lot about that incident.

      Liked by 1 person

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