October 20, 1918 -
Rarely seen now, but one of Charlie Chaplin most popular films at it time, Shoulder Arms, was released on this date.
Many in Hollywood advised Chaplin not to tackle the subject of WWI but with his usual keen sense of what material was right for him, Chaplin would go on to direct what was to become the most popular film of the entire war period.
October 20, 1939 -
The 9th Marx Brothers film, At the Circus, premiered on this date.
The scene in the midget's trailer was the only time Harpo Marx was even vaguely heard on-screen (when he sneezes).
October 20, 1973 -
One of the rare ballad for The Rolling Stones, Angie became a #1 hit on this date.
In 2005 German chancellor Angela Merkel appropriated this acoustic ballad for her Christian Democratic Union Party. "We're surprised that permission wasn't requested," said a Stones spokesman of Merkel's choice of song. "If it had been, we would have said no."
October 20, 1955 -
Harry Belafonte, advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes, recorded the famous "Day-O" (Banana Boat Song) on this date.
Belafonte's version used lyrics adapted by Irving Burgie and William Attaway. Burgie, sometimes credited as "Lord Burgess," is a popular Caribbean composer. Attaway was a novelist and songwriter who was friends with Belafonte. Burgie and Attaway wrote most of the songs on the Calypso album.
(Now try getting the song out of your head today.)
Today in History:
October 20, 480 BC -
(Sometimes the world changes in a day) The Athenian fleet, under the command of Themistocles, defeated the Persians in the Naval Battle of Salamis on this date.
That victory will arguably lead to the rise of Greece as a global power and the eventual dissemination of Greek philosophies and ideals, such as democracy, throughout the western world. And as always, there was much roasted lamb consumed and much sodomy engaged in that night.
October 20, 1818 -
The International Boundary is commonly referred to as the world's longest undefended border, but this is true only in the military sense, as civilian law enforcement is present. But we're keeping an eye on those sneaky Canadians and their cheese curd fries.
October 20, 1930 -
Death row murderer Wiliam Kogut committed suicide in San Quentin prison with MacGyver like ingenuity. He tore the red spots from a deck of playing cards, the the time the red dye used on the pack of cards was made from nitrocellulose, saturated them with water, and jammed them into a length of steel pipe from his bed frame. Kogut placed the bomb on the heater and waited for science to take it's course.
October 20, 1944 -
Gen. Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore at Leyte in the Philippines, 2 1/2 years after he'd said, "I shall return," on this date.
He landed with Sergio Osmena, the president-in-exile, Gen’l. Carlos Romulo, who later served as foreign minister and a boatload of press and photographers to record the event.
October 20, 1947 -
Chaired by J. Parnell Thomas (one of the committee's members was Richard M. Nixon), The House Un-American Activities Committee began its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood.
The resulting hysteria results in the creation of a blacklist in the film industry, preventing certain individuals from working in the business for years. (I can't what for Trumbo to open later this year.)
October 20, 1967 -
Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin reported that on this date they had captured a purported Sasquatch on film at Bluff Creek, California. This came to be known as the Patterson-Gimlin film, which is purported to be the best evidence of Bigfoot by many advocates.
If only that had named their film - Bigfoot: America's Hairy Sex God, perhaps it would have done better box office in it's opening weekend.
Many years later, Bob Heironimus, an acquaintance of Patterson's, claimed that he had worn an ape costume for the making of the film. Organizations such as Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization have suggested that that Heironimus himself is a fraud.
October 20, 1973 -
The Saturday Night Massacre: Richard Nixon fired Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus when they each refuse to fire special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox on this date. Who was the man who finally fired Cox:
Robert Bork - it's that evil beard.
October 20, 1977 -
En route to a gig at Louisiana State University, Lynyrd Skynyrd band members Ronnie Van Zandt and Steve Gaines were killed when their private plane runs out of fuel and crashes into a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Their record company MCA withdraws the flame-filled cover art for their ironically-named Street Survivors album
Drunken frat boys everywhere mourn and cry out, "Play 'Freebird' man".
And so it goes.