May 21 in History


Staff member
Jun 3, 2003
May 21 1952

Mr. T is born in the ghetto.

May 21 1956

The Cherokee test of Operation Redwing commences over Bikini Atoll, consisting of a 3.8 megaton nuclear bomb dropped from a B-52 bomber. The bomb is successfully detonated at an altitude of 4,350 feet, but the flight crew missed their assigned target by four miles. Although it is a complete failure from a scientific standpoint, it demonstrates America's ability to deliver hydrogen bombs over long distances.

May 21 1972

A deranged Australian geologist takes a hammer to Michelangelo's Pieta, shouting "I am Jesus Christ -- risen from the dead!" Laszlo Toth is never charged with any crime, instead receiving a free trip to an Italian insane asylum. Toth's name is later adopted by comedian and SNL regular Don Novello (Father Guido Sarducci) for a long series of pranks by mail.

May 21 1979

A judge gives Dan White only seven years for the premeditated murders of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone, prompting thousands to march on San Francisco's City Hall. In what will come to be known as the White Night Riots, the demonstration takes a violent turn, resulting in significant property damage and the torching of twelve SFPD cruisers. Police respond with brutal beatdowns at gay bars in the Castro district.

May 21 1991

At an outdoor political rally, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and 16 bystanders are blown to bits by a pregnant woman bearing a basket of flowers. The suicide bomber is believed to have been a member of a Hindu terrorist group called the Tamil Tigers. (The assassin, Dhanu, is pictured above center.)

May 21 1996

At least 500 -- possibly as many as 1,000 -- people are killed when the Bukoba ferry suddenly capsizes on Lake Victoria. The manifest lists 443 people on board, but this doesn't count the hundreds of third-class passengers.

May 21 1997

Mattel introduces Barbie's new friend, Becky The School Photographer, a "differently-abled" doll in a bright purple wheelchair.