December 18

There are 2 entries for this date: Pedro Pablo Abarca Aranda Susan Sackett

    Pedro Pablo Abarca Aranda

    Pedro Pablo Abarca Aranda

    On this date in 1719, Spanish statesman Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea y Jiménez de Urrea, later the 10th count of Aranda, was born in northern Aragon. He started ecclesiastical studies in the seminary of Bologna, but at age 18 changed to the Military School of Parma. In 1740 he was severely wounded in combat in the War of the Austrian Succession. He then lived in Paris, where he met Diderot and Voltaire and studied the Encyclopédie and Enlightenment movements.

    After an ambassadorship to Poland, Aranda became governor of Valencia in 1764. When Charles III was driven from the capital in a 1766 riot, he summoned Aranda to Madrid and made him president of the Council of Castile. Until 1773 he was the most important government minister in Spain. He restored order and aided the king in his work of administrative reform.

    Perhaps his greatest achievement, which endeared him throughout Europe to the philosophical and anti-clerical parties, was his work on behalf of the suppression and expulsion of the Jesuits, whom the king considered responsible for the 1766 riot.  Aranda was well-known to American revolutionaries as a supporter. His open sympathy with the French Revolution in 1789 brought him into collision with reactionary forces in Spain and he was imprisoned for a short time at Granada and threatened with a trial by the Inquisition. The proceedings did not go beyond the preliminary stage and he died at age 80. (D. 1798)

    Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
    © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

    Susan Sackett

    Susan Sackett

    On this date in 1943, Susan Sackett was born in New York City. Growing up in both Connecticut and Florida, Sackett dreamed of working in Hollywood. After receiving a bachelor’s (1964) and master’s of education (1965) from the University of Florida in Gainesville, she taught at an elementary school in Miami for two years. Deciding to pursue her dream, she quit her teaching job, moved to Los Angeles and spent the next four years working as a publicity assistant and commercial coordinator for NBC.

    In August 1974, Sackett met and became the personal executive assistant of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the legendary television series “Star Trek.” Sackett served as a production assistant for the first “Star Trek” film (1979) and worked closely with Roddenberry on the next five “Star Trek” movies. Working as a production associate during the first five seasons of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” (1987-94), Sackett and writing partner Fred Bronson sold several stories and teleplays to the series. She worked for Roddenberry for 17 years until his death in October 1991.

    Sackett has written several books, including Letters to Star Trek (1977), Star Trek Speaks! (1979, with Fred and Stan Goldstein), The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1980, with Roddenberry) and a memoir, Inside Trek (2002). She also wrote You Can Be a Game Show Contestant and Win! (1982, with Cheryl Blythe), Primetime Hits (1993) and Hollywood Sings! (1995).

    Sackett is a member of MENSA, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Writer’s Guild of America. She moved to Arizona and became active in her local American Humanist Association chapter in 1994. She has been an FFRF member since 1995 and became a Lifetime Member in 2007.

    “I cannot find any good evidence for the existence of any gods, so I am ‘without a god’ — an atheist.”

    — Sackett, Freethought Today (May 2011)
    Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch; photo courtesy of Susan Sackett.
    © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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