Storybook: The Death of a Princess
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, August 29. Good morning! This is The world and all in it of WORLD Radio supported by the listeners. I am Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next step: the world history book. This week marks the 25th anniversary of a death that would shock the world, as well as a birth that would change it.
EICHER: But first, let’s go back to the publication of an American classic. Meet arts and media editor Collin Garbarino.
COLLIN GARBARINO: The old Man and the Sea came out 70 years ago this week, and high school playlists haven’t been the same since. Here’s Charlton Heston reading the beginning of Ernest Hemingway’s classic short story.
HESTON: He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days without catching any fish. During the first forty days, a boy had been with him. But after forty days without fish, the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was definitely and definitely salao, which is the worst form of bad luck, and the boy had gone on their orders in another boat which had caught three good fish first. the week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in every day with his empty skiff and he would always come down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and the harpoon and the sail which was wrapped around the mast. The sail was patched with sacks of flour and, rolled up, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.
The story follows the adventure of Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman. His unlucky streak seems to end when he catches a giant marlin, but bringing in the huge fish becomes a life-or-death struggle that teaches readers perseverance.
Heston: He can’t do this forever. But four hours later, the fish was still swimming steadily out to sea, towing the skiff, and the old man was still securely tied with the line across his back.
Scribner’s published the hardcover book, but the story also appeared in full the same week in Life magazine. The old Man and the Sea could have been about a failed fisherman, but the story turned out to be an instant hit. Life sold five million copies in just two days.
Hemingway won a Pulitzer for history the following year, and The old Man and the Sea ended up being the last major piece of fiction published by Hemingway during his lifetime.
And now we look back to the end of August 1997 – a week that brought both tragic endings and unlikely beginnings.
Early in the morning of August 31, Princess Diana died in a car accident in Paris. She and her boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed, were riding in the backseat of a black Mercedes as they cruised through town trying to avoid the paparazzi. The car was traveling at twice the legal speed limit when the French driver, who had been drinking, lost control and hit a pillar in a tunnel.
ROBIN COOK: Well, we understand the princess is in hospital. We are deeply shocked by the news. And our first thoughts right now are with the princess and her family. Our ambassador is in the hospital and we will provide all possible assistance. In the meantime, all I would add is that I think it will be doubly tragic if it turns out that this accident was partly caused by the persistent harassment of the princess and her privacy by photographers. Thanks a lot.
Fayed died at the crash site, but Diana was taken to a nearby hospital where she died of her injuries hours later.
ANNOUNCER: This is BBC television from London. Not long ago, Buckingham Palace confirmed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The princess died following a car accident in Paris. She was 36 years old. A statement released by the Palace says the Queen and the Prince of Wales are deeply shocked and saddened by the terrible news.
Diana’s death sparked a national outpouring of grief. And she was given a royal funeral at Westminster Abbey a week after the accident.
THE AUDIO: [Elton John singing]
And finally, today is the 25th anniversary of the founding of Netflix. The whole business started because company founder Reed Hastings got stuck with a $40 late fee. He had forgotten to return the film Apollo 13 at his local Blockbuster.
REED HASTINGS: It got me thinking, I can’t be the only one struggling with this late fee issue. It just got me thinking about the internet and DVDs, and how something could work without late fees.
He had the idea of sending these little red envelopes by post, which allowed him to deliver films inexpensively.
REED HASTINGS: So I stuffed a bunch of CDs – you couldn’t buy DVDs back then – and mailed them to me, and then I had to wait 24 hours to see them come home to see if they were all going to be shattered into pieces with my idea. And then you know the next day, 3 o’clock, the postman arrives. I tear the envelopes and the first is fine and the second is fine, and the third is fine.
Hastings says that’s when he knew his idea would work, but Netflix wasn’t an overnight success. In the late 1990s, few Americans owned DVD players, and the company lost tens of millions of dollars in its early years. But as DVD players got cheaper, Netflix subscriptions took off. But the company has continued to adapt, first at the forefront of the streaming revolution and then producing its own original content.
And Blockbuster? Well, let’s just say nobody pays them late fees anymore.
It’s this week’s WORLD history book. I am Colin Garbarino.
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