ON THIS DAY in 1878, John Kehoe, the last member of the secret society of coal workers known as the “Molly Maguires,” was executed in Pennsylvania. Kehoe was portrayed by Sean Connery in the 1970 Martin Ritt film, THE MOLLY MAGUIRES, also starring Richard Harris.
ON THIS DAY in 1770, composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven was born* in Germany. Beethoven’s life was dramatized in the 1994 film, IMMORTAL BELOVED, starring Gary Oldman. (*Baptismal date)
ON THIS DAY in 1944, the Battle of the Bulge–a major German offensive against the Allies–began, in the Ardennes forest, Belgium. This event was depicted in the 1965 film THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE, starring Henry Fonda and Robert Ryan.
ON THIS DAY in 1911, a team of explorers led by Norwegian Roald Amundsen became the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen’s expedition was documented in THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH, a 1985 made-for-TV series.
ON THIS DAY in 1939, the Battle of the River Plate began; the first naval battle of World War II, and the only hostilities of the war in South America. The battle was dramatized in the 1956 Powell/Pressburger film, BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE, or PURSUIT OF THE GRAF SPEE.
ON THIS DAY in 1917, the Boys Town orphanage was founded in Nebraska by Father Edward J. Flanagan. The story of Flanagan’s home for wayward boys was dramatized in the 1938 film, BOYS TOWN, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney.
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ON THIS DAY in 1884, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was published for the first time, in England and Canada. Twain’s novel was adapted for the screen in 1939 as HUCKLEBERRY FINN, and starred Mickey Rooney.
ON THIS DAY in 1905, screenwriter and member of “the Hollywood Ten” Dalton Trumbo was born. His refusal to testify about Communists in the film industry was depicted in the 2007 documentary, TRUMBO.
ON THIS DAY in 1626, Queen regnant of Sweden Christina Alexandra was born in Tre Kronor castle, Sweden. The 1933 Rouben Mamoulian film, QUEEN CHRISTINA, starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, was based upon her life.
ON THIS DAY in 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, resulting in the United States entry into World War II. This event was depicted in the 1953 film, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, with Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed.
ON THIS DAY in 1969, during a Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway in California, Meredith Hunter was assaulted by Hells Angels security guards and stabbed to death. The incident was documented in the 1970 film, GIMME SHELTER.
ON THIS DAY in 1945, “Flight 19”—five Avenger torpedo bombers piloted by 14 U.S. Navy airmen—disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle during a training exercise. The aircraft were featured in the 1977 Steven Spielberg film, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.
ON THIS DAY in 1875, imprisoned New York City politician Boss Tweed, while on a home visit, escaped to Cuba. In 2002, Tweed was portrayed by Jim Broadbent in Martin Scorsese’s GANGS OF NEW YORK.
ON THIS DAY in 1960, the musical Camelot debuted on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre. In 1967, Joshua Logan directed the film adaptation of CAMELOT, which starred Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave.