On this day : The 1st November 1967

download (15)

Paul Newman stars in Cool Hand Luke

Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman as a tough, anti-authoritarian, poker-playing prisoner, debuts in theaters. Newman received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the jail-breaking Luke Jackson, whom the American Film Institute in 2003 named one of the top 50 greatest movie heroes in history. For his role as the chain-gang boss, Dragline, co-star George Jackson collected a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Voyage of the Damned, The Amityville Horror, The Pope of Greenwich Village), Cool Hand Luke contained the now-famous lines: “What we have here is a failure to communicate” and “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, long as I have my plastic Jesus, right here on the dashboard of my car…”

At the time of Cool Hand Luke’s debut, Paul Newman was already on the path to becoming one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men. The actor, who was born January 26, 1925, in Cleveland and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and later graduated from Kenyon College. He acted on Broadway in the early 1950s and made his big-screen debut in 1954’s The Silver Chalice. Newman received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Brick Pollitt in 1958’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,based on the Tennessee Williams play and co-starring Elizabeth Taylor. Newman’s next two Best Actor Oscar nominations came for The Hustler (1961) and Hud (1963).

In 1969, the famously blue-eyed actor teamed up with Robert Redford to play a pair of Old West bank robbers in the hit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,which earned seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. The two handsome screen icons collaborated again in 1973’s The Sting, which collected seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Newman went on to star in such movies as Absence of Malice (1981) and The Verdict (1982), both of which earned him Best Actor Oscar nominations, and The Color of Money (1986), for which he took home his first Best Actor Oscar. In the film, directed by Martin Scorsese, Newman plays Fast Eddie Felson, a pool hustler who finds a protege in a young player portrayed by Tom Cruise. In the later years of his acting career, Newman also received Oscar nominations for his performances in Nobody’s Fool (1994) and Road to Perdition (2002), with Tom Hanks.

Newman, who outside of acting was known for his avid interest in race-car driving and his Newman’s Own line of foods (the profits of which go to charity), also stepped behind the camera to direct such movies as Rachel, Rachel (1968), which starred his second wife, Joanne Woodward (the couple married in 1958 and starred in 10 movies together) and earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination, and The Glass Menagerie (1987), which featured Woodward and John Malkovich. Paul Newman died at his home in Westport, Connecticut, on September 26, 2008, at the age of 83.

Advertisements

On this day : The 28th June 1914

images (4)

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

On 28th June, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.

The archduke traveled to Sarajevo in June 1914 to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Ottoman territories in the turbulent Balkan region that were annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908 to the indignation of Serbian nationalists, who believed they should become part of the newly independent and ambitious Serbian nation. The date scheduled for his visit, June 28, coincided with the anniversary of the First Battle of Kosovo in 1389, in which medieval Serbia was defeated by the Turks. Despite the fact that Serbia did not truly lose its independence until the Second Battle of Kosovo in 1448, June 28 was a day of great significance to Serbian nationalists, and one on which they could be expected to take exception to a demonstration of Austrian imperial strength in Bosnia.

The day was already an important one. For Ferdinand, it marked his wedding anniversary and the only day that the emperor would allow him to be seen in public with his commoner wife, Sophie.

For the Bosnian Serbs, whose country was formally annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908, it was a day of anger. Opposition to the Austro-Hungarian annexation led to the formation of the Young Bosnia movement, largely made up of Serbian and Bosniak students. It was The Black Hand Gang, a more radical group within the movement, that plotted the assassination of the archduke.

As he and his wife drive through Sarajevo in an open top car, the seven assassins of the Black Hand are already in position. The first two would-be assassins miss their chance as the archduke’s car passes by. The third man, Nedeljko Čabrinović throws a bomb at the car but it bounces off the hood and explodes behind, injuring twenty bystanders.

Čabrinović attempts suicide but his cyanide tablet is a dud. He throws himself into a river, only to find it is just four inches deep. He is caught by an angry mob and almost beaten to death before being taken into custody.

The archduke, outraged at the attack, proceeds to a town hall meeting. Later in the day he sets off for the hospital to visit the victims of Čabrinović’s attack. Enroute his driver takes a wrong turn into Franz Josef Street where another of the Black Hand Gang, Gavrilo Princip, is sitting in a café.

Princip, a 19 year old Croat previously rejected from joining the Bosnian guerrillas in the First Balkan War due to his small stature, is determined to prove himself. As the archduke’s car backs out of the street Princip opens fire at point-blank range. He fires two shots, hitting the pregnant Sophie in the stomach and Ferdinand in the neck. Ferdinand cries out “don’t die darling, live for our children” but they both perish there in the car. Princip then turned the gun on himself, but was prevented from shooting it by a bystander who threw himself upon the young assassin. A mob of angry onlookers attacked Princip, who fought back and was subsequently wrestled away by the police. Meanwhile, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie lay fatally wounded in their limousine as it rushed to seek help; they both died within the hour.

Though Princip and his fellow conspirators attempted to deflect the blame away from Serbia, the assassination of the archduke was viewed as a provocation by the Austro-Hungarians. Too young to face the death penalty, Princip was tried and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He died in 1918 from a combination of malnutrition and tuberculosis.

The assassination of Franz-Ferdinand and Sophie set off a rapid chain of events: Austria-Hungary, like many in countries around the world, blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the question of Slav nationalism once and for all. As Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention–which would likely involve Russia’s ally, France, and possibly Britain as well. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed. Within a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia had lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and World War I had begun.

Assassination-of-Franz-Ferdinand-3

On this day : The 16th May 1943

_67592461_dambusters-compo

The Dambusters Raid

By 1943 the German threat in North Africa had been negated; there was no chance that the Nazis could or would invade Britain; and the Americans had entered the conflict on the Allied side. Yet still Britain endured regular poundings from Luftwaffe bombing raids ; and the German war machine, centred on the Ruhr, was turning out arms and ammunition for the Third Reich’s forces. Such was the background to 617 Squadron’s Dambusters Raid, or Operation Chastise as it was officially dubbed.
Chastise was intended to hit German industrial production by destroying several strategically important dams that provided both hydro-electric power and water for factories in the area. As the dams were too small to be hit with accuracy by high level bombing, and defended by nets from torpedo attack, a new method was devised by Barnes Wallis – the bouncing bomb. This was a cylindrical device, rotated at high speed to impart backward spin that made it skip over the water like a skimming-stone until hitting the dam walls, at which point its remaining spin would roll it down the face of the dam where a depth sensitive detonator would explode it beneath the water, in theory causing devastating breaches.
The raid proved very costly, 53 of the 133 aircrew on the mission being killed, and eight of the 19 Avro Lancaster bombers not returning. The floods caused by breaches in the Möhne and Eder dams wreaked havoc in the area, and many of those killed were Allied prisoners of war and forced labourers from the USSR. But for more than a month the power generating capacity of the region was drastically reduced; and above all British morale was raised by the daring nature of the attack, and the reassurance that we had secret weapons to combat those it was constantly feared the Germans were developing. The operation’s leader, Guy Gibson , won the VC for his action in drawing fire from planes yet to complete their bomb run by offering his as a target; sadly he was later killed during a mission in 1944.

On this day : The 12th April 1961

gagarin-e1431456895431

First man in space

Aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin becomes the first human being to travel into space. During the flight, the 27-year-old test pilot and industrial technician also became the first man to orbit the planet, a feat accomplished by his space capsule in 89 minutes. Vostok 1 orbited Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles and was guided entirely by an automatic control system. The only statement attributed to Gagarin during his one hour and 48 minutes in space was, “Flight is proceeding normally; I am well.”

After his historic feat was announced, the attractive and unassuming Gagarin became an instant worldwide celebrity. He was awarded the Order of Lenin and given the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Monuments were raised to him across the Soviet Union and streets renamed in his honor.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7. By that time, the Soviet Union had already made another leap ahead in the “space race” with the August 1961 flight of cosmonaut Gherman Titov in Vostok 2. Titov made 17 orbits and spent more than 25 hours in space.

To Soviet propagandists, the Soviet conquest of space was evidence of the supremacy of communism over capitalism. However, to those who worked on the Vostok program and earlier on Sputnik (which launched the first satellite into space in 1957), the successes were attributable chiefly to the brilliance of one man: Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. Because of his controversial past, Chief Designer Korolev was unknown in the West and to all but insiders in the USSR until his death in 1966.

Born in the Ukraine in 1906, Korolev was part of a scientific team that launched the first Soviet liquid-fueled rocket in 1933. In 1938, his military sponsor fell prey to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s purges, and Korolev and his colleagues were also put on trial. Convicted of treason and sabotage, Korolev was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp. The Soviet authorities came to fear German rocket advances, however, and after only a year Korolev was put in charge of a prison design bureau and ordered to continue his rocketry work.

In 1945, Korolev was sent to Germany to learn about the V-2 rocket, which had been used to devastating effect by the Nazis against the British. The Americans had captured the rocket’s designer, Wernher von Braun, who later became head of the U.S. space program, but the Soviets acquired a fair amount of V-2 resources, including rockets, launch facilities, blueprints, and a few German V-2 technicians. By employing this technology and his own considerable engineering talents, by 1954 Korolev had built a rocket that could carry a five-ton nuclear warhead and in 1957 launched the first intercontinental ballistic missile.

That year, Korolev’s plan to launch a satellite into space was approved, and on October 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 was fired into Earth’s orbit. It was the first Soviet victory of the space race, and Korolev, still technically a prisoner, was officially rehabilitated. The Soviet space program under Korolev would go on to numerous space firsts in the late 1950s and early ’60s: first animal in orbit, first large scientific satellite, first man, first woman, first three men, first space walk, first spacecraft to impact the moon, first to orbit the moon, first to impact Venus, and first craft to soft-land on the moon. Throughout this time, Korolev remained anonymous, known only as the “Chief Designer.” His dream of sending cosmonauts to the moon eventually ended in failure, primarily because the Soviet lunar program received just one-tenth the funding allocated to America’s successful Apollo lunar landing program.

Korolev died in 1966. Upon his death, his identity was finally revealed to the world, and he was awarded a burial in the Kremlin wall as a hero of the Soviet Union. Yuri Gagarin was killed in a routine jet-aircraft test flight in 1968. His ashes were also placed in the Kremlin wall.

On this day in Football History : February 27 1977

Maradona Goes International

diego-maradona-1977

On 27 February 1977, Argentina beat Hungary 5-1 in a friendly that marked the international debut of 16-year old Diego Maradona. At the time, Hungary had been the more successful team, with two World Cup finals (1938 and 1954), three Olympic gold medals (1952, 1964, 1968) and one silver medal (1972). But they were in decline, failing to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, the 1976 Olympics, or the 1976 European Championship. Argentina, meanwhile, had reached the Olympic final in 1928 and the World Cup final in 1930, but had since done little on the global stage (they did have 12 Copa América trophies, however).

For the friendly, they met at the Bombanera in Buenos Aires, where approximately 60,000 people turned out to watch. By half time, the hosts were up 4-0 with a hat-trick from Daniel Bertoni (11′, 18′) and a goal from Leopoldo Luque (37′). Luque added another just after the break (47′) to extend the lead to 5-0 before Hungary substitute Zombori Sándor pulled one back in the 61st minute.
One minute later, Argentina made a couple of substitutions of their own, taking Ricardo Villa off for Jorge Benítez and replacing Luque with young Argentinos Juniors midfielder Diego Maradona. It was Maradona’s first appearance for Argentina and he would go on to become the country’s greatest player, earning a total of 91 caps and leading them them to World Cup glory in 1986.

On this day : The 16th February 1894

hardinwantedposter

John Wesley Hardin is pardoned

Infamous gunslinger John Wesley Hardin is pardoned after spending 15 years in a Texas prison for murder. Hardin, who was reputed to have shot and killed a man just for snoring, was 41 years old at the time of his release.

Hardin probably killed in excess of 40 people during a six-year stretch beginning in 1868. When he was only 15, Hardin killed an ex-slave in a fight, becoming a wanted fugitive. Two years later, he was arrested for murder in Waco, Texas. Although it was actually one of the few he had not committed, Hardin did not want to run the risk of being convicted and escaped to the town of Abilene.

At that time, Abilene was run by Wild Bill Hickok, who was friendly with Hardin. However, one night Hardin was disturbed by the snoring in an adjacent hotel room and fired two shots through the wall, killing the man. Fearing that not even Wild Bill would stand for such a senseless crime, Hardin moved on again.

On May 26, 1874, Hardin was celebrating his 21st birthday when he got into an altercation with a man who fired the first shot. Hardin fired back and killed the man. A few years later, Hardin was tracked down in Florida and brought to trial. Because it was one of the more defensible shootings on Hardin’s record, he was spared the gallows and given a life sentence. After his pardon, he moved to El Paso and became an attorney. But his past caught up with him, and the following year he was shot in the back as revenge for one of his many murders

On this day : The 14th February 1929

80833872

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Four men dressed as police officers enter gangster Bugs Moran’s headquarters on North Clark Street in Chicago, line seven of Moran’s henchmen against a wall, and shoot them to death. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, as it is now called, was the culmination of a gang war between arch rivals Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

George “Bugs” Moran was a career criminal who ran the North Side gang in Chicago during the bootlegging era of the 1920s. He fought bitterly with “Scarface” Al Capone for control of smuggling and trafficking operations in the Windy City. Throughout the 1920s, both survived several attempted murders. On one notorious occasion, Moran and his associates drove six cars past a hotel in Cicero, Illionis, where Capone and his associates were having lunch and showered the building with more than 1,000 bullets.

A $50,000 bounty on Capone’s head was the final straw for the gangster. He ordered that Moran’s gang be destroyed. On February 14, a delivery of bootleg whiskey was expected at Moran’s headquarters. But Moran was late and happened to see police officers entering his establishment. Moran waited outside, thinking that his gunmen inside were being arrested in a raid. However, the disguised assassins were actually killing the seven men inside.

The murdered men included Moran’s best killers, Frank and Pete Gusenberg. Reportedly Frank was still alive when real officers appeared on the scene. When asked who had shot him, the mortally wounded Gusenberg kept his code of silence, responding, “No one, nobody shot me.”

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre actually proved to be the last confrontation for both Capone and Moran. Capone was jailed in 1931 and Moran lost so many important men that he could no longer control his territory. On the seventh anniversary of the massacre, Jack McGurn, one of the Valentine’s Day hit men,was killed in a crowded bowling alley with a burst of machine-gun fire.

McGurn’s killer remains unidentified, but was likely Moran, though he was never charged with the murder. Moran was relegated to small-time robberies until he was sent to jail in 1946. He died in Leavenworth Federal Prison in 1957 of lung cancer.