This Day in African History – Nelson Mandela Released
By Alistair Boddy-Evans, About.com Guide February 11, 2010
After imprisonment for 27 years, Nelson Mandela was finally released by South Africa’s Apartheid regime on 11 February 1990. Mandela walked out of the gates of Victor Verster Prison, Paarl, and was whisked away in a silver BMW to Cape Town where he appeared on the balcony of the City Hall. 50,000 people congregated to hear his address: Read more…
The National Gallery London ~ One Of The Best Collections Of European Art In The World
Louis XV was king of France from 1715 to 1774. He was nicknamed ‘the Well-Beloved’, but his failures contributed to the crisis that brought on the French Revolution.
Louis was born at Versailles on 15 February 1710. At the age of five, he succeeded his great grandfather Louis XIV as king of France. The Duke of Orleans became regent. After the duke’s death, Louis was heavily influenced by his former tutor, Andre-Hercule de Fleury, whom he later created chief minister. Fleury ensured relatively stable government for the next 17 years. In 1725, Louis was married to Maria Leczczynska, daughter of the deposed king of Poland.
After Fleury’s death Louis took only a sporadic interest in government. He was heavily influenced by a series of favourites, particularly his mistresses Madame de Pompadour and, after Pompadour’s death in 1764, the Comtesse du Barry.
In 1733, France became involved in the War of the Polish Succession, in an attempt to restore the queen’s father to the Polish throne. The attempt failed, but France gained the Duchy of Lorraine.
In 1740, in the War of the Austrian Succession, France allied with Prussia against Britain and Austria. The French won a series of military victories and occupied the Austrian Netherlands. However, Louis subsequently returned the territory to Austria, for which he was lauded abroad but heavily criticised in France.
In the Seven Years War (1756-1763) alliances were reversed, and the French fought with their long-standing enemy Austria against Britain and Prussia. The French defeat resulted in the loss of most her colonies to Britain, marking a low point in French prestige.
In the 1760s, a new minister, the Duc de Choiseul, managed to restore some stability to France. But the extravagances of Louis’s court, the huge expense of decades of warfare and the defeat of attempts at reform left monarchy and government weakened by the end of Louis’s reign. He died at Versailles on 10 May 1774 and was succeeded by his grandson who became Louis XVI.
On this day in 1977, the legendary actress Joan Crawford dies of a heart attack in her New York City apartment.
Born Lucille Fay Le Sueur (her birth year has been variously recorded as 1904 or 1908), Crawford was a nightclub dancer who broke into Broadway musicals in the Jazz Age of the 1920s. She first twisted her way into Hollywood stardom as a vivacious flapper in the 1928 silent film Our Dancing Daughters. She made a series of similar pictures, including Dancing Lady (1933), which co-starred Fred Astaire in his silver-screen debut. Crawford’s seamless transition into the sound film era made her one of the most popular and–by the late 1930s–one of the highest-paid leading ladies in Hollywood. She fought for more varied and less stereotypical parts, winning dramatic roles in films such as The Women (1939), Susan and God (1940), Strange Cargo (1940) and A Woman’s Face (1941).
In 1945, just when her career appeared to be on the wane, Crawford turned in the performance for which she would most be remembered, playing the title role in Mildred Pierce. As the waitress and single mother who makes her fortune with a chain of restaurants, Crawford won an Academy Award for Best Actress and established herself as a respected dramatic actress. She would be nominated for another Best Actress Oscar for 1947’s Possessed and a third for 1952’s Sudden Fear.
By the late 1950s, Crawford had become a representative for the Pepsi-Cola Company, whose board chairman and chief executive, Alfred N. Steele, she married in 1955. Three previous marriages–to the actors Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Franchot Tone and Phillip Terry–had ended in divorce. When Steele died in 1959, Crawford was named the first female director of Pepsi-Cola’s board. In 1962, the tenacious actress made a celebrated foray into the horror genre with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, co-starring Bette Davis. Having always enthusiastically welcomed and cultivated her fame, Crawford published her autobiography, A Portrait of Joan, that same year. She went on to make a number of thrillers in the last years of her career, as well as occasional appearances in television dramas.
Less than two years after Crawford’s death in 1977, her adopted daughter Christina published Mommie Dearest, in which she alleged that the famous actress had been emotionally and physically abusive to Christina and her adopted brother. The book was later made into a critically panned film, starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford.
Joan Crawford dies. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 12:13, May 10, 2011, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/joan-crawford-dies.