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This Week in History: February 14th to 20th

February 15, 2020

February 15th:

On this day in 1930, Nico Minardos, the Greek-American actor and producer, was born in Pangrati, Athens. Known for The Twilight Zone (1959), Assault on Agathon (1976), and Mission Impossible (1966), he was a household name during his prime. A few interesting factions about Minardos: (1) In 1966, he and Eric Fleming were shooting a scene on the Huallaga River in Peru for a TV movie called High Jungle. The canoe they were in tipped over and both Fleming and Minardos were thrown into the river. Minardos managed to swim to shore, but Fleming unfortunately drowned. (2) Minardos traded his home in Beverly Hills for a sailing yacht in Florida, which he subsequently sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Greece with a crew that included his son George. (3) In 1986, Minardos was caught in an FBI sting operation in New York and was indicted by then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani on charges of conspiracy to illegally ship arms to Iran. Minardos was interviewed by Mike Wallace for a segment of the CBS show 60 Minutes regarding his role in the case. Although the indictment was eventually thrown out, the cost of his legal defense drove him to the point of bankruptcy and also ended his Hollywood career. Minardos was the subject of a 2010 documentary about his life titled Finding Nico, which was produced and directed by his godson, Owen Prell, whose father was a longtime friend of Minardos from their bachelor days in Los Angeles in the 1950s.

February 18th:

On this day in 1952, Greece and Turkey officially became members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the international alliance consisting of member states from North American and Europe. Greece and Turkey signed the Protocol to NATO in London a few months earlier (in October of 1951) but they did not become official members until February. NATO has added new members seven times since its founding in 1949, and since 2017 NATO has had 29 members. The twelve countries that took part in the founding of NATO were: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

February 19th:

On this day in 1880, Constantino Brumidi, the Greek-Italian historical artist, passed away at the age of 74. Brumidi trained in drawing, painting, and sculpture at Rome’s prestigious Accademia di San Luca. By 1840, his artistic skills were put to good use when Brumidi and several other artists were commissioned to restore the historic Renaissance frescoes in the Vatican Palace. Brumidi also earned important commissions to decorate several palaces and churches in Rome. Following a pardon by Pope Pius IX for his role in Italy’s republican revolution, Brumidi immigrated to the United States in 1852. Five years later he became a naturalized citizen. In 1855, Brumidi was hired to decorate the extension of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. with murals and frescoes. His Capitol frescoes were probably the first true frescoes to be painted in this country. For the next 25 years, Brumidi continued to embellish the walls of the Capitol. Proud of his achievements in America, Brumidi is reported to have remarked, “my one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beautiful the Capitol of the one country on earth in which there is liberty.”

 

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