July 19 - 21 in History


Staff member
Jun 3, 2003
Jul 21 365

Earthquake destroys the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria, causing the sea to recede and then re-enter the city with tremendous force. Many of those not killed by collapsing buildings were drowned. Fifty thousand die.

Jul 21 1913

Thirty-five negro inmates roast in their cells when the Oakley Prison Farm in Jackson, Mississippi catches fire.

Jul 21 1919

Two passengers, a mechanic and 10 bank employees are killed in Chicago when a Goodyear blimp, the Winged Foot Express, catches fire and crashes through the roof of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank.

Jul 21 1925

John Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in a Tennessee public school. The jury fines him $100.

Jul 21 1972

In Milwaukee, George Carlin is arrested for obscenity and disorderly conduct for performing his "Seven Dirty Words" routine in front of a group of wheelchair-bound children. He is released after posting $150 bail.

Jul 21 1981

Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 years in prison for the shooting of John Lennon. His only response is to read a passage from a J.D. Salinger novel. Chapman currently works as a janitor in Attica State Prison.

Jul 20 1923

While driving his 1919 Dodge, retired revolutionary Pancho Villa is ambushed and assassinated. But even with 16 gunshot wounds he still manages to kill one of his attackers. Curiously, Villa's head is stolen from his grave three years later and never recovered. Despite persistent rumors, Yale's secret society Skull and Bones denies they possess the artifact.

Jul 20 1944

In an attempt on Hitler's life, a timebomb explodes in the situation room of the Wolf's Lair, killing four Nazi officers but only wounding the Fuhrer. After his close call, Hitler becomes even more paranoid. A massive purge is to follow, resulting in the execution of thousands of officers.

Jul 20 1951

In Jerusalem at the al-Aqsa Mosque, King Abdullah of Jordan is shot three times in the head and chest by Mustapha Shukri Usho, a Palestinian opposed to peace with Israel. Abdullah dies on the spot.

Jul 20 1969

On live television, the world watches as Neil Armstrong steps foot on the Moon. That is, unless it was faked.

Jul 20 1973

In Hong Kong, martial artist Bruce Lee drops into a coma and dies of cerebral edema. He had been experiencing brain problems beginning in May, which included sporadic loss of consciousness. Lee's death transpires shortly before the release of Enter the Dragon, his most successful film.

Jul 20 1994

O.J. Simpson offers a $500,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the Real Killers. To this day progress remains elusive, although Simpson's golf score has improved somewhat.

Jul 19 1692

Five Salem witches are hanged for the crime of witchcraft, based primarily on the accusations of little girls who were bewitched. Eventually, the village executes a total of 20 witches.

Jul 19 1937

The Nazis open "Entartete Kunst," the Degenerate Art show, in Munich. The traveling exhibition offers up Expressionism for ridicule, carefully arranged by (offensive) subject. The German youth are not admitted, lest they become tainted.

Jul 19 1952

During a series of UFO sightings in Washington, D.C. occurring over July 13-29, unidentified objects are picked up on D.C.'s National Airport radar system. Sightings in the region are so extensive the Air Force is prompted to hold a press conference. Conveniently, these are all "radar mirages" resulting from "temperature inversions."

Jul 19 1957

Michael Landon stars in his first film, I Was a Teenage Werewolf. He must have been so proud.

Jul 19 1966

Frank Sinatra marries Mia Farrow in Las Vegas. Ava Gardner's famous comment on the union: "Hah! I always knew Frank would end up in bed with a little boy!"

Jul 19 1991

Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson rapes Desiree Washington, one of the Miss Black America contestants, after a pageant rehearsal. The illicit nookie lands Tyson in prison for three years.

Jul 19 1993

President Clinton unveils the universally-unpopular "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule. One person summarizes the policy: "the military now permits gays to remain in the military, provided they don't act like fairies."