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1997–Singer-songwriter John Denver, dies in a plane crash at age 53. An experimental, amateur-built, Long-EZ airplane, he was piloting crashes into Monterey Bay, California. Witnesses say the plane, made of fiberglass with a single engine and two seats, was flying at about 500 feet “when it just sort of dropped unexpectedly into the ocean... when it hit the water it broke into numerous parts.” Denver was the only occupant in the plane.



BC 539–The army of Cyrus the Great of Persia takes Babylon.

633–King Edwin of Northumbria is defeated and killed by the British, under Penda of Mercia and Cadwallon of Gwynedd.

1113–The city of Oradea is first mentioned under the Latin name, Varadinum ("vár" means fortress in Hungarian).

1279–Nichiren Daishonin, a Japanese Buddhist monk and founder of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, inscribes the Dai-Gohonzon.

1320–Byzantine Emperor, Michael IX Palaiologos, dies in Thessalonica, Greece, at age 43.

1398–The Treaty of Salynas is signed between the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas the Great, and the Teutonic Knights.

1492–With a crew of 90 and three ships, the “Nina,” the “Pinta,” and the “Santa Maria,” Christopher Columbus lands on Guanahani Island in the Bahamas. The explorer believes he has reached East Asia. An entry in his journal describes meeting the natives of the island, “As I saw that they were friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted and became wonderfully attached to us.”

1558–Maximilian III, Archduke of Austria, is born in Wiener Neustadt, Lower Austria. He was also known as Maximilian the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights.

1582–Due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.

1654–The Delft Explosion devastates the city in the Netherlands, killing more than 100 people.

1692–The Salem witch trials are ended by a letter from Massachusetts Governor William Phips.

1748–British and Spanish naval forces engage at the Battle of Havana, during the War of Jenkins' Ear.

1773–America’s first insane asylum opens for “Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds” in Virginia.

1792-The first celebration of Columbus Day in the U.S. is held in New York, while the first monument honoring Christopher Columbus is dedicated in Baltimore, Maryland.

1793–The cornerstone of Old East, the oldest state university building in the United States, is laid on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

1798–Flemish and Luxembourgish peasants launch the rebellion against French rule, known as the Peasants' War.

1799–Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse is the first woman to jump from a balloon with a parachute (from an altitude of 900 meters).

1810–The first Oktoberfest takes place, as the Bavarian royalty invite the citizens of Munich, Germany, to join the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

1822–Pedro I of Brazil is proclaimed Emperor of the Empire of Brazil.

1823–Charles Macintosh of Scotland begins selling raincoats, or “Macs” as they are called in Great Britain.

1847–German inventor and industrialist, Werner von Siemens, founds Siemens & Halske, which later becomes Siemens AG.

1871–The Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) enacted by British rule in India, names over 160 local communities “Criminal Tribes” or hereditary criminals. It is repealed in 1949, after the Independence of India.

1875–Occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, artist, and author, Aleister Crowley, is born Edward Alexander Crowley at Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England. While at Cambridge University, Crowley became a published poet. Rumor has it that he was recruited by British Intelligence at this time, and remained an operative the rest of his life. Crowley joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at the age of 23, where he was trained in ceremonial magic. He was the founder of several esoteric orders, and the author of numerous books on the occult. He gained the reputation of the "wickedest man in the world" in the British press for his libertine lifestyle, and was erroneously labeled a Satanist. He remains one of the most infamous and controversial figures in British history

1892–The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is first recited in public schools on Columbus Day.

1896–Politician, Christian Emil Krag-Juel-Vind-Frijs, dies in Boller, Denmark, at age 78. He was the 10th Prime Minister of Denmark. Being the wealthiest large squire of Denmark and personally honored by his peasants, Frijs played a role in politics from the 1850s.

1901–President Theodore Roosevelt renames the “Executive Mansion” the “White House.”

1915–During World War I, British nurse, Edith Cavell, is executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium.

1918–A massive forest fire kills 453 people in Cloquet, Minnesota.

1920–Construction of the Holland Tunnel begins. The tunnel would provide a direct link between Twelfth Street in Jersey City, New Jersey, and Canal Street in New York City. The tunnel has two tubes more than 8,000 feet long. The tunnel would open to traffic on November 13, 1927.

1921–Animator, Art Clokey, is born Arthur Charles Farrington in Detroit, Michigan. He was a pioneer in the popularization of stop motion clay animation, best known as the creator of "Gumby." Clokey and his wife, Ruth, came up with the character, Gumby, and his horse, Pokey, who first appeared on The Howdy Doody Show, and later The Adventures of Gumby. Clokey's second most famous production is that of Davey and Goliath: the series was funded by the Lutheran Church in America.

1923–Businesswoman, Jean Nidetch, is born Jean Evelyn Slutsky in Brooklyn, New York. She co-founded Weight Watchers.

1928–An iron lung respirator is used for the first time at Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

1933–The military Alcatraz Citadel becomes the civilian Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.

1934–Architect and abstract artist, Richard Meier, is born in Newark, New Jersey. Some of his best known designs are the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, and the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California.

1935–Operatic tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, is born in Modena, Italy. He was one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time.

1938–Production begins on the film The Wizard of Oz.

1940–Silent film actor, Tom Mix, is killed in a car crash in Arizona.

1942–In World War II, Japanese ships retreat after their defeat in the Battle of Cape Esperance.

1944–The Axis occupation of Athens, Greece, comes to an end.

1945–Desmond Doss is the first conscientious objector to receive the U.S. Medal of Honor.

1948–Rick Parfitt, guitarist for Status Quo, is born Richard John Parfitt in Woking, Surrey, England. The English rock act scored more than 20 “Top 10” hits in England, but is only known in the U.S. for 1968’s psychedelic classic Pictures of Matchstick Men.

1957–After a concert in Sydney, Australia, Little Richard announces he wants to give up rock ‘n’ roll. He says: “If you want to live for the Lord, you can’t take rock and roll, too. God doesn’t like it.” When his sax player, Clifford Burks, dares him to prove his “faith in God,” Little Richard tosses four diamond rings, valued at $8,000, into Sydney’s Hunter River. Richard flies to Los Angeles, California, the next day to be baptized a Seventh Day Adventist and “to prepare for the end of the world.” He becomes a full-time minister and then records gospel albums. However, Little Richard returns to rock ‘n’ roll in 1962.

1959–At the national congress of APRA in Peru, a group of leftist radicals are expelled from the party and will later form APRA Rebelde.

1960–Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, pounds his shoe at a United Nations General Assembly session. The U.N. Assembly President, Frederick Boland, was so irritated that he split his gavel trying to re-establish order.

1960–Television viewers in Japan unexpectedly witness the assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, leader of the Japan Socialist Party, when he is stabbed and killed during a live broadcast.

1962–The Columbus Day Storm strikes the U.S. Pacific Northwest with record wind velocities, killing 46 people and causing at least $230 million in damages.

1962–Actor, Carlos Bernard, is born Carlos Bernard Papierski in Evanston, Illinois. He is best known for the recurring role of Tony Almeida on the TV series 24.

1963–After nearly 23 years of imprisonment, Reverend Walter Ciszek, a Jesuit missionary, is released from the Soviet Union.

1964–The Soviet Union launches the Voskhod 1 into Earth orbit, as the first spacecraft with a multi-person crew not required to wear space suits.

1966–Musician, Denny Laine, leaves The Moody Blues.

1966–The Jimi Hendrix Experience is formed in London, England. Other band members include Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.

1967–U.S. Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, states during a news conference that proposals by the U.S. Congress for peace initiatives are futile because of North Vietnam's opposition.

1968–Equatorial Guinea becomes independent from Spain.

1968–John Sebastian leaves The Lovin' Spoonful to launch his solo career.

1969–Yoko Ono suffers her second miscarriage, the baby having been expected to be born in December.

1969–A mysterious phone caller urges disc jockey Russ Gibb, at Detroit underground radio station WKNR, to listen to The Beatles’ Revolution Number Nine backwards. He does and listeners think they hear a voice saying, “Turn me on, dead man.” After this, the “Paul Is Dead” craze approaches the intensity of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast. The rumors continue to be reported by hundreds of U.S. radio stations.

1969–Olympic ice skater and actress, Sonja Henie, dies during a flight from Paris, France, to Oslo, Norway, at age 57. She had been diagnosed with leukemia in the mid-1960s. Henie was a three-time Olympic Champion (1928, 1932, and 1936) in Ladies' Singles, a 10-time World Champion (1927-1936) and a six-time European Champion (1931-1936). Henie won more Olympic and World titles than any other ladies' figure skater. At the height of her acting career she was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood.

1970–President Richard Nixon announces that the United States will withdraw 40,000 more troops from Vietnam before Christmas.

1970–Bill Graham holds an auction of rock memorabilia and artifacts at New York's Fillmore East to benefit political peace candidates. Among the items on the block are a guitar smashed to bits by the Who's Pete Townsend, Ian Anderson's flute, a multi-colored bra tossed to the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia by an audience member, and a spiral notebook with the original scrawled lyrics to Joni Mitchell's first album, Songs to a Seagull.

1971–The 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire is held.

1971–Rock 'n' roller, Gene Vincent, dies of a bleeding ulcer at age 36.

1979–The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the first of five books in the science fiction series by Douglas Adams, is published.

1979–The lowest recorded non-tornadic atmospheric pressure, 87.0 kPa, occurs in the western Pacific Ocean during Typhoon Tip.

1983–Japan's former Prime Minister, Tanaka Kakuei, is found guilty of taking a $2 million bribe from Lockheed and is sentenced to four years in jail.

1984–The Provisional Irish Republican Army attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. Thatcher escapes, but the bomb kills five people and wounds 31 others.

1986–Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visit the People's Republic of China.

1988–Two officers of the Victoria Police are gunned down execution-style in the Walsh Street police shootings in Australia.

1988–The Birchandra Manu massacre takes place in Tripura, India.

1992–A 5.8 earthquake hits Cairo, Egypt, killing at least 510 people.

1994–The Magellan spacecraft burns up in the atmosphere of Venus.

1996–Having suppressed the film for 27 years, The Rolling Stones finally agree to the release of their 1968 TV special The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.

1996–Tennis player, Jean-René Lacoste, dies in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France at age 92. He was nicknamed "the Crocodile" by fans because of his tenacity on the court during his tennis matches. He created the Lacoste tennis in 1929.

1997–The Sidi Daoud massacre in Algeria kills 43 people at a fake road block.

1997–Singer-songwriter, John Denver, dies in a plane crash near Pacific Grove, California, at age 53. An experimental, amateur-built, Long-EZ airplane he was piloting crashed into Monterey Bay. Witnesses say the plane, made of fiberglass with a single engine and two seats, was flying at about 500 feet “when it just sort of dropped unexpectedly into the ocean... when it hit the water it broke into numerous parts.” Denver was the only occupant in the plane. Denver's remains were cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Rocky Mountains.

1998–Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, dies five days after he was beaten, robbed, and left tied to a wooden fence post outside of Laramie, Wyoming.

1999–Pervez Musharraf takes power in Pakistan from Nawaz Sharif through a bloodless coup.

1999–The former Autonomous Soviet Republic of Abkhazia declares its independence from Georgia.

2000–The USS Cole is badly damaged in Aden, Yemen, by two suicide bombers. Seventeen crew members are killed and at least 39 are wounded.

2002–Terrorists detonate bombs in the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali, killing 202 people and wounding over 300 others.

2002–Bandleader, Ray Conniff, dies from a fall he suffered in a bathtub in Escondido, California, at age 85. He was a orchestra leader and arranger best known for the Ray Conniff Singers during the 1960s. They had an huge hit with the first of four Christmas albums, Christmas with Conniff, in 1959.

2003–Michael Schumacher wins his sixth Formula One Drivers' Championship at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix, beating the 48-year-old record held by Juan Manuel Fangio.

2003–Jockey, Bill Shoemaker, dies at age 72. For 29 years he held the world record for total professional jockey victories. When Shoemaker earned his 6,033rd victory in September 1970, he broke jockey Johnny Longden's record. Soon after retiring as a jockey in 1990, Shoemaker returned to the track as a trainer for such clients as Gulfstream magnate, Allen Paulson, and composer, Burt Bacharach. He continued to train racehorses until his retirement on November 2, 1997.

2009–Dickie Peterson, bass player and lead singer for Blue Cheer, dies of liver cancer in Erkelenz, Germany, at age 63.

2011–Actress, Patricia Breslin, dies after a lengthy hospitalization with pancreatitis in Baltimore, Maryland, at age 80. She is best known for her guest roles in various television series in the 1950s and 1960s. She was seen in Robert Montgomery Presents, The People’s Choice, Maverick, The Millionaire, The Rifleman, Tales of Wells Fargo, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, and Peyton Place. She appeared in the films Go Man Go, Andy Hardy Comes Home, Homicidal, and I Saw What You Did.

2011–Computer scientist, Dennis Ritchie, dies in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, at age 70. He had been in frail health for several years following treatment for prostate cancer and heart disease. His death came a week after that of Steve Jobs, but it did not receive as much media coverage. He created the C programming language and, with long-time colleague, Ken Thompson, the Unix operating system.

2013–Fifty-one people are killed after a truck veers off a cliff in La Convención Province in Peru.

2015–Actress, Joan Leslie, dies in Los Angeles, California, at age 90. She appeared in the films Camille, Susan and God, Foreign Correspondent, High Sierra, Sergeant York, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Hard Way, The Sky’s the Limit, Hollywood Canteen, Rhapsody in Blue, and The Revolt of Mamie Stover.

2016–John Stumpf resigns as CEO and Chairman of Wells Fargo Bank amid a scandal over its fraudulent sales practices.


PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: Nichiren Daishonin; Charles Macintosh; the Holland Tunnel; Tom Mix; The Jimi Hendrix Experience; Gene Vincent; Pervez Musharraf; and Patricia Breslin.

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