Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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There are 2 entries for this date: E.B. Foote and Robert Altman
E.B. Foote

E.B. Foote

On this date in 1829, reformer Edward Bliss Foote was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was brought up in a conforming Presbyterian household. Foote was a physician with a hand in the newspaper business, publishing the first newspaper in New Britain, Conn. Becoming a Unitarian, then an agnostic, he befriended D.M. Bennett, publisher of The Truth Seeker. Foote was the only foe of the first Comstock bill, which was introduced in the New York legislature in 1872, and passed despite his efforts. The repressive Comstock Act was soon adopted by Congress, creating censorship of the press through postal regulations. Comstock went after his early foe in 1874, charging Foote with violating postal laws for mailing an educational pamphlet advocating the right of families to limit their size through "contraceptics." Foote was fined $3,500 by Judge Benedict of the U.S. Circuit Court of the southern district of New York in 1876. Foote helped to organize the National Defense Association seeking repeal of the Comstock laws, and aided other Comstock victims. He worked actively within medical societies and at the state legislature to oppose the legitimization of Christian scientists and faith healers. A lifelong advocate of woman's suffrage, he sent a check of $25 to Susan B. Anthony when she was fined $100 for voting in the 1872 presidential election. Dr. Foote was a member of numerous freethought and professional groups. His son Edward Bond Foote also became a physician and freethinker. D. 1906.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert Altman

Robert Altman

On this date in 1925, brilliant film director and screenwriter Robert Bernard Altman was born in Kansas City, Mo., into a Catholic family. Altman’s mother, a Christian Scientist who converted to Catholicism and father, a wealthy insurance salesman, sent their eldest son to Catholic school. He was enrolled at age 16 in military school, and enlisted in the Air Force in 1945. Altman became a copilot of B24 bombers in World War II and participated in 46 missions over the Dutch East Indies. As he left home for the war, “his mother and two sisters putting him on the train told him ‘Thank God you’ve got your religion. You’re going to need it now.’ From that day, he says, he never went to mass again. ‘At home, you had to. Then, when I left the family, I stopped’ “ (The Guardian, U.K., “Still Up to Mischief,” by Suzie Mackenzie, April 30, 2004). Enthralled by film, Altman moved to Hollywood after his discharge from the U.S. military. He acted in the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1947) and co-wrote the screenplay of a film called “Bodyguard” (1948). Struggling for a breakthrough in Hollywood, Altman returned to Kansas City and was hired by a local film company as a writer in 1950. He began directing short films for the company, and made his silver screen directorial debut with “The Delinquents” (1957). That year he returned to Hollywood and began directing the popular television series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1957-1958). “MASH” (1970) was his first cinematic success as a Hollywood director.

In his illustrious career as screenwriter, director and producer, Altman was nominated for seven Academy Awards: 1971 Best Director for “MASH,” 1976 Best Director and Best Picture for “Nashville,” 1993 Best Director for “The Player,” 1994 Best Director for “Short Cuts,” and 2002 Best Picture and Best Director for “Gosford Park.” He won a prestigious “Honorary Award” from the Academy in early 2006 for “a career that has repeatedly reinvented the art form and inspired filmmakers and audiences alike.” Altman died at age 81 of complications from leukemia. Julie Christie, an actress who was directed by Altman in the memorable “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971), noted, “Robert’s cool is part of his belief system. He won’t be bound by rules and he doesn’t expect you to be, either. . . . And he doesn’t expect people to be sheep” (The Guardian, April 30, 2004). He was survived by his wife of 47 years, their two children, and three children from previous marriages. D. 2006.

" . . . by the age of 20 this whistle-blower had resisted two of the most powerful institutions – church and army, both. He is an atheist, 'And I have been against all of these wars ever since.' "

—Journalist Suzie Mackenzie remarking on and quoting Altman in “Still Up to Mischief,”

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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