03-17-2017 02:28 AM
Actress Maureen O’Hara was born Maureen FitzSimons on August 17, 1920 in Dublin, Ireland's Ranelagh district. The second oldest of Marguerite’s and Charles’s six children, she displayed an early gift for dramatics and graduated from the famed Abbey Theatre in 1937. Her dream was to be an opera singer, but under actor Charles Laughton’s mentorship, she went on to become a renowned movie actress. She is best known for holding her own against her male co-stars in swashbucklers such as Sinbad the Sailor and The Black Swan, as well as for classic films including, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Parent Trap.
She became an American citizen on January 25, 1946, while also retaining her Irish citizenship. It was the first time in history that the United States government recognized an Irish citizen as Irish. O’Hara challenged the judge who had wanted her to swear her allegiance to England. This led to a change in process for all Irish immigrants.
Earlier this year, the 94-year-old O'Hara received an honorary Academy Award for her impressive body of work. Liam Neeson and Clint Eastwood introduced the red-haired beauty, and each confessed to having a crush on her. Neeson described her as "one of the true legends of cinema" and "one of the most adventurous women who ever lived," because she was a pioneer among actresses in doing her own stunts on screen.
03-17-2017 10:33 PM
Dr. Joanne Liu has been the International President of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since October 1, 2013.
Work with MSF
Her time with MSF started in 1996, when she worked with Malian refugees in Mauritania. Since then, she has provided support after the tsunami in Indonesia, assisted people affected by the earthquake and cholera epidemic in Haiti, and worked with Somali refugees in Kenya.
Work Outside MSF
Born in Quebec City, Canada, Dr. Liu decided to become a pediatrician at an early age.
She trained at McGill University School of Medicine, specializing in pediatrics at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital.
She has a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine from New York University School of Medicine and an international master's in health leadership from McGill University.
She is an associate professor at the Université de Montréal and has also taught at Fudan University in Shanghai.
Dr. Liu helped create the telemedicine project, which connects MSF physicians in 150 remote sites with a pool of more than 300 medical specialists across the globe.
In 2013, Dr. Liu received the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s Teasdale-Corti Humanitarian Award.
03-18-2017 06:57 PM
Diahann Carroll Biography
Her television nominations go back to 1963, and in 1968 Diahann Carroll became the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, “Julia” for NBC, which soared to the top of the Nielsen rating and received an Emmy nomination in its first year on air.
She was nominated for an Emmy Award for the successful NBC series, “A Different World”, as outstanding actress in a comedy series, and also co-starred in the award winning night-time series “Dynasty”, which is still in syndication around the world.
She had a recurring role in Showtime’s hit series “Soul Food”, playing the outspoken ‘Aunt Ruthie’, for which was nominated twice for a NAACP Image Award, guest starred in Lifetime TV’s “Strong Medicine” and in NBC’s TV show “Whoopi”, playing Whoopi Goldberg’s mother. She also starred on stage in the musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar” receiving more critical acclaim.
She starred on stage as ‘Norma Desmond’ in the Toronto premiere production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical “Sunset Boulevard”, staged by director Trevor Nunn and the show’s entire original creative team. Hailed by the press as “the ultimate Norma Desmond”, Diahann Carroll played to sell-out crowds and her Canadian cast recording outsold all other recordings of the show.
Diahann made her Broadway stage debut starring in Harold Arlen and Truman Capote’s “House of Flowers” and after seeing her in this production, Richard Rodgers created the Broadway production “No Strings” as a starring vehicle for Miss Carroll, for which she won the Tony Award. She also starred on Broadway in the award winning play “Agnes of God”.
Her film work includes “Claudine”, for which she received a 1974 Best Actress Academy Award nomination, “Carmen Jones”, “Paris Blues”, “Porgy & Bess”, “Hurry Sundown”, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” and “Eve’s Bayou”.
She is an award-winning actress, a successful entrepreneur, a devoted humanitarian… indeed, Diahann Carroll is a legend.
03-18-2017 07:10 PM
Geraldine A. Ferraro Biography
After attending the Marymount School, Geraldine A. Ferraro went to Marymount Manhattan College at the age of 16 on a scholarship. She graduated in 1956 and soon after became a teacher in the New York City public school system. Interested in a legal career, Ferraro took night classes at Fordham University where she earned her law degree in 1960.
That same year, Ferraro married realtor John Zaccaro. The couple had three children, Donna, John Jr., and Laura. While her children were young, she worked in private practice. In 1974, Ferraro began her career in public service, becoming an assistant district attorney in Queens County. One of her most notable contributions to district attorney’s office was creating the special victims bureau, which prosecuted a variety of cases involving crimes against children and the elderly as well as sexual offenses and domestic abuse.
Geraldine A. Ferraro made her first bid for office in 1978, seeking election to the House of Representatives for the New York City’s ninth district. In her home turf of Queens, she positioned herself as a politician tough on crime and as a person who understood the struggles of the working class.
During her three terms in office, Ferraro fought for women’s rights, urging the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. She also became a fierce opponent of President Ronald Reagan and his economic policies, objecting to possible cuts to social security and Medicare programs. Ferraro served on several committees, including the Public Works Committee and the Budget Committee. As one of the few women in Congress at the time, she became a powerful symbol to the feminist movement.
Ferraro was mentioned as a possible running mate for Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential candidate. Mondale had served as vice president under President Jimmy Carter and was very cautious in making his selection. He eventually decided to pick Geraldine Ferraro, who became the first woman to receive the vice presidential nomination from either of the country's two major parties. Mondale and Ferraro made an interesting pair—he was a Midwesterner, and she was a Roman Catholic and a New Yorker.
03-19-2017 08:37 PM
Jackie Joyner-Kersee Biography
Regarded as one of the greatest female athletes in history, Joyner-Kersee won a silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as gold and bronze medals in the long jump in 1988 and 1992, respectively. She is currently the heptathlon world record-holder, scoring 7,291 points—she's set a record in the heptathlon four times—at the Summer Olympics in 1988, and taking home a gold medal. Joyner-Kersee is also a former long jump word record holder; she tied world long-jump record in 1987, with a 7.45-meter jump (her record was broken in 1988 by Galina Chistyakova, who jumped 7.52 meters). Joyner-Kersee is currently the American record-holder in the long jump.
Joyner-Kersee's last Olympic run came in 1996, when she took home a bronze medal in the long jump at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. She did not compete in the heptathlon that year due to a pulled hamstring.
A sufferer of exercise-induced asthma, Joyner-Kersee officially retired from track and field in 2001 at age 38. Following her retirement, she founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation, which is aimed at encouraging youth in her underprivileged hometown to play sports. Additionally, in 2007, Joyner-Kersee helped establish Athletes for Hope along with such sports heroes as Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali and Mia Hamm. This organization supports and encourages athletes "to make a difference in the world," according to its website.
03-19-2017 08:43 PM
Billie Jean King Biography
Born on November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California, Billie Jean King became the top-ranked women's tennis player by 1967. In 1973, she formed the Women's Tennis Association and famously defeated Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes." The first prominent female athlete to admit her homosexuality, King continued her work as an influential social activist after retiring from tennis.
Billie Jean Moffitt was born on November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California, to parents Bill and Betty. The Moffitts were an athletic family: Bill was offered a tryout for an NBA team before becoming a firefighter, and Betty, a homemaker, was an excellent swimmer. Their second child, Randy, became a Major League Baseball pitcher.
Billie Jean’s early sport was softball; at age 10, she played shortstop on a team of 14- and 15-year-old girls that won the city championship. However, her parents suggested she try a more "ladylike" sport, and at age 11, she began to play tennis on the Long Beach public courts.
Rise to No. 1
In 1958 Billie Jean emerged as a talent to watch when she won the Southern California championship for her age bracket, and in 1959 she started to receive coaching from former women's tennis great Alice Marble. After a series of losses to top-seeded players in various competitions around the country, in 1961 Billie Jean made sports headlines for the first time when she and Karen Hantze Susman became the youngest pair to win the Wimbledon women's doubles titles.
While attending California State University, Los Angeles, from 1961 to 1964, Billie Jean continued to compete in tournaments and also worked as a tennis instructor to make ends meet. She also married law student Larry King during this time. However, after achieving mixed results in several of the competitions, Billie Jean soon realized that she would need to step up her practice schedule if she wanted to reach her full potential, and she embarked on an exhaustive training regimen and worked on sharpening her fundamentals.
Billie Jean King's efforts were finally rewarded in 1966, when she won her first major singles championship at Wimbledon. She went on to successfully defend that title in each of the following two years, and added her first U.S. Open singles championship in 1967 and her only Australian Open triumph the following year. In 1968, having claimed the world's No. 1 ranking in women's tennis, King turned professional.
Renowned for her speed, net game and backhand shot, King was a regular presence in the winner's circle in singles, doubles and mixed-doubles tournaments over the next few years. In 1972, she won the U.S. Open, French Open, and Wimbledon to claim three Grand Slam titles in one year.
Activist and Innovator
Never shy about speaking her mind, King jolted the tennis establishment with her views that the sport needed to shed its country-club image and offer equal payouts to both genders. In 1970 she joined the brand-new Virginia Slims Tour for women, and in 1971 she became the first female athlete to top $100,000 in prize money in a single year. But she simmered over the smaller paychecks earned by her peers.
In 1973, King spearheaded the formation of the Women's Tennis Association. Leveraging her position as its most celebrated player, she threatened a boycott of the 1973 U.S. Open if the pay inequality was not addressed. Her demands met, the U.S. Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to women and men.
The following year, King and her husband founded the World TeamTennis co-ed circuit. As player-coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms, she was one of the first women to coach professional male athletes.
03-19-2017 10:49 PM - edited 03-19-2017 10:50 PM
Phillis Wheatley was the first published African-American female poet. She was born in West Africa around 1753, before she was kidnapped and sold into the Maafa (slavery) at the tender age of seven or eight. Her first name was apparently derived from the ship that carried her to America, The Phillis. Phillis was enslaved by the Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write and encouraged her poetry when they saw her talent. She published her first poem in 1767 and her first volume of verse, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773. Her popularity as a poet both in the United States and England ultimately brought her freedom from the Maafa (slavery) on October 18, 1773. Phillis Wheatley was a strong supporter of independence during the Revolutionary War and felt that the Maafa (slavery) was an issue that separated whytes from true heroism: whytes can not “hope to find/Divine acceptance with the’ Almighty mind” when “they disgrace/And hold in bondage Africa’s blameless race.”
Although the date and place of her birth are not documented, scholars believe that Phillis Wheatley was born in 1753 in West Africa, most likely in present-day Gambia or Senegal. Wheatley was seized when she was about seven years old and brought to British-ruled Boston, Massachusetts, on July 11, 1761, on a slave ship called The Phillis. In the month of August 1761, she was sold to a wealthy Boston merchant and tailor John Wheatley, who bought her to be a personal servant for his wife Susanna. John and Susanna named her Phillis, after the ship that had brought her to America. She was given their last name of Wheatley.
The Wheatleys’ 18-year-old daughter, Mary, first tutored Phillis in reading and writing. Their son Nathaniel also helped her. Soon Phillis was immersed in the Bible, astronomy, geography, history, British literature (particularly John Milton and Alexander Pope), and the Greek and Latin classics of Virgil, Ovid, Terence, and Homer. Recognizing her literary ability, the Wheatley family supported Phillis’s education and left the household labor to their other enslaved domestics. The Wheatleys often showed off her abilities to friends and family.
Although scholars had generally believed that an elegiac poem, on the death of Reverend George Whitefield (1770) was Wheatley’s first published poem; Phillis’s first poem was written when she was thirteen-year-old, after she had heard about a miraculous saga of survival at sea. “On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin” was published on 21 December 1767 in the Newport, Rhode Island. However, it was the Whitefield elegy that brought Phillis national renown. Published as a broadside and a pamphlet in Boston, Newport, and Philadelphia, the poem brought Phillis international acclaim.
By the time she was eighteen, Phillis had gathered a collection of twenty-eight poems for which she, with the help of Mrs. Wheatley, ran advertisements for subscribers in Boston newspapers in February 1772. When she was unable to garner support for the publication of her poetry, Phillis travelled with Nathaniel Wheatley to London in 1773. By this time she was suffering from a chronic asthma condition. Phillis had an audience with the Lord Mayor of London (an audience with George III was arranged, but Phillis returned home beforehand), as well as with other significant members of British society. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published, with Phillis having received patronage from Selina Hastings, the Countess of Huntingdon, in England. As proof of her authorship, the volume included a preface in which 17 Boston men, including John Hancock, asserted that she had indeed written the poems in it.
Poems on Various Subjects is a landmark achievement in U.S. history. In publishing it, Phillis became the first African American and first U.S. enslaved woman to publish a book of poems, as well as the third American woman to do so. The book sold well.
Phillis was freed within weeks of her return from England, some three months before Mrs. Wheatley died on 3 March 1774. Many British editorials had castigated the Wheatleys for keeping Phillis in slavery while presenting her to London as the African genius.
A strong supporter of America’s fight for independence, Phillis penned several poems in honor of the Continental Army’s commander, George Washington. In March 1776, Phillis met with George Washington at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Phillis had written to him previously, including a poem entitled, “To His Excellency, George Washington”. In his reply to her of February 28, 1776, he addressed her as “Miss Phillis.” It is thought by scholars that this might be the first time in George Washington’s life that he addressed a Black woman as “Miss.” Thomas Paine republished the poem in the Pennsylvania Gazette in April 1776.
On 1 April 1778, Phillis Wheatley married John Peters, a free black grocer. She bore him three children, all of whom died in infancy. They struggled with poor living conditions and in 1784 John Peters was imprisoned for debt. Wheatley died that same year on December 5, 1784, at the age of 31. Her third child, an infant son died three and a half hours after her death.
03-19-2017 10:53 PM
Anna Bissell, America’s First Ever Woman CEO
Anna Bissell (1846–1934) Although it was her husband, Melville Bissell (1843–1889) who invented and patented an innovative carpet sweeper in 1876 and later founded the Bissell company, after his death, it was Anna who aggressively marketed the sweepers, even gaining a royal fan, Queen Victoria, who insisted that her palace be “Bisselled” every week in the late 1800s. Anna was active in the Bissell company from the start. She even traveled across America selling the Bissell carpet sweepers at the budget-conscious price of $1.50 and persuaded major marketplaces, including Wanamaker’s (one of America’s first department stores) to carry her product. As Bissell’s CEO, she thrust the company into the international market and by 1899 she had created the largest organization of its kind in the world. And Anna did not stop there, she continued to oversee the ins and outs of production and was well known for her familiarity with every facet of her business. Anna was also amongst the first entrepreneurs to provide her employees with pensions plan and workers’ compensation. Her dedication to the industry was fierce and her force as a woman in a male-dominated world was powerful. It was said that she “studied business the way other women of her time studied French” and upon her death, she was described as "a successful business woman in an era where business was almost wholly a masculine field."
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