by Brian Burns and Judd Proctor
“Human Rights Day”
Human Rights Day is celebrated around the world every December 10th. It commemorates the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on December 10, 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Available in over 360 languages, it was the first worldwide enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.
The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred on December 4, 1950, when the U.N. General Assembly passed resolution 423(V). It invited all members and other interested organizations to celebrate Human Rights Day on December 10th as they saw fit.
The United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is bestowed every five years on Human Rights Day.
Every New Year’s Eve, Philadelphia clubs are putting the finishing touches on their elaborate costumes for the annual New Year’s Day Mummers Parade. Some of the getups cost tens of thousands of dollars to make, and weigh over 100 pounds. Together with movable scenery, they are months in the making. Some Mummers practice the 19th century cakewalk, known as the “Mummers Strut.”
This all takes place in clubhouses, many located on or near Two Street in South Philly.
And don’t forget the string bands. The earliest surviving one is Trilby, first parading in 1902. The Ferko String Band started marching in 1923, and has never missed a single parade.
“Acclaimed British Actor, Sir John Gielgud”
Sir John Gielgud is one of the greatest British actors of the twentieth century, playing leading and character roles on the stage and screen.
Born in 1904 in London, one of his very first roles was Humpty Dumpty. At seventeen he joined the Old Vic Theater Company, and two years later made his first silent film, “Who Is That Man?”
Easily transitioning to talkies in the 1930s, he became a box-office idol. He was known for his expressive voice, which fellow actor Alec Guinness said sounded “like a silver trumpet muffled in silk.”
Gielgud’s greatest legacy was pioneering the theater company system. He launched his own company in 1937 at the Queen’s Theater, proving his exceptional talents as a stage director.
Gielgud also had a long and happy gay life, living to age ninety-six. He met the love of his life, Martin Hensler, at an art show in the 1960s. They remained together for forty years, until Hensler’s early death in 1999. By all appearances, they were happily “married,” sharing a 17th-century Buckinghamshire estate with their three Tibetan terriers.
Hensler’s death devastated Gielgud, who himself passed away just a few months later. That night, the lights at the Gielgud Theatre in London were dimmed for three minutes – a symbolic tribute to the greatest Shakespearean actor of the century.