October 20

1803 The U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.

1882 Actor Bela Lugosi (DraculaAbbot And Costello Meet FrankensteinGlen Or GlendaBride Of The MonsterPlan 9 From Outer Space) is born. He dies in 1956.

1889 Actress Margaret Dumont (she was the straight woman in the Marx Brothers movies Animal CrackersDuck SoupA Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races, among others) is born. She dies in 1965.

1935 Actor Jerry Orbach (Dirty DancingLaw & Order) is born. He dies in December 2004.

1942 Actor Earl Hindman (Home Improvement‘s Wilson the unseen neighbor) is born. He dies in 2003.

1944 During World War Two, General Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore at Leyte in the Philippines and said “I have returned.” (Two-and-a-half years after he had famously said, “I shall return.”)

1947 Hollywood came under scrutiny as the House Un-American Activities Committee opened hearings into alleged Communist influence in the movie industry.

1955 Publication of The Return of the King, being the last part of The Lord of the Rings.

1960 “Only The Lonely” by Roy Orbison hits Number One on the U.K. pop chart.

1965 “Yesterday” by the Beatles is certified gold.

1967 Seven members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted of civil rights violations in the 1964 murder of civil rights workers James ChaneyAndrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

1968 Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

1969 John Lennon & Yoko Ono release the Wedding Album box set, which includes a photo of a piece of wedding cake, a poster of wedding pictures, and several other artifacts. It’s the couple’s third album in a year.

1969 The Who kicks off a six-night run at the Fillmore East in New York City, where they perform Tommy.

1970 Jim Morrison is found guilty of indecent exposure and profanity stemming from a recent Doors performance.

1970 Abraxas by Santana is certified gold.

1973 “Angie” by the Rolling Stones hits Number One on the pop chart.

1973 The so-called “Saturday Night Massacre” took place. Late on this Saturday, President Richard Nixon dismissed special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, and fired Deputy Attorney General William Ruckleshaus for refusing to dismiss Cox himself. Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned in protest. Outcry over the firings led to the appointment of a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, and calls for Nixon’s impeachment that didn’t end until he resigned in 1974.

1973 TV’s The Six Million Dollar Man made its debut, starring Lee Majors as a bionic man.

1974 The Grateful Dead plays the last of their five “Farewell” shows at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco.

1976 The Led Zeppelin film The Song Remains The Same premieres in London.

1976 EMI outbids Polydor and signs the Sex Pistols for 40,000 British pounds.

1977 A plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd and members of its management and crew crashes in a swamp near Gillsburg, Mississippi. The crash kills lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, lead guitarist Steve Gaines, and Gaines’ sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, as well as manager Dean Kilpatrick.

1978 The Police make their U.S. debut at CBGB’s in New York City.

1979 “Video Killed The Radio Star” by the Buggles hits Number One on the U.K. pop chart.

1979 “I Can’t Tell You Why” by the Eagles is released.

1982 The world’s worst soccer tragedy occurred in Moscow, when 340 fans were crushed to death in an open staircase in a match between Soviet and Dutch players.

1984 “Hard Habit To Break” by Chicago peaks at Number Three on the pop chart, where it stays for two weeks.

1984 “Cover Me” by Bruce Springsteen peaks at Number Seven on the pop chart.

1990 X by INXS peaks at Number Five on the album chart.

1992 Main Offender by Keith Richards is released.

1994 Actor Burt Lancaster (From Here To EternityGunfight At The O.K. CorralBirdman Of AlcatrazAtlantic CityField Of Dreams) dies at age 80.

1995 The movie Get Shorty, starring John TravoltaGene HackmanRene RussoDanny DeVitoDennis FarinaDelroy LindoJames Gandolfini, and David Paymer, opens.

2000 Johnny Winter falls down a flight of stairs at his home in Connecticut and injures one of his hips. The damage is severe enough that Winter has surgery to correct the problem a few days later. He’s since made a full recovery.

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