On this day in history, November 21

A little-known actor is launched into stardom with the release of his low-budget movie about the rise of an underdog.

A little-known actor is launched into stardom with the release of his low-budget movie about the rise of an underdog.

Published Nov 21, 2023


What happened today, back in the day

164BC Judas Maccabeus restores the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is commemorated around this time each year by the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

1620 The Pilgrim Fathers reach America (Provincetown Harbor, Massachusetts).

1783 Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes, make the first untethered hot air balloon flight in a Montgolfier hot air balloon. Their flight lasts 25 minutes and carries them nearly 10km at a height of about 300 feet over Paris. Benjamin Franklin is one of the spectators.

1894 Port Arthur, China, falls to the Japanese; the victors massacre the inhabitants.

1905 Albert Einstein’s paper that leads to the formula, E = mc², is published in the journal Annalen der Physik.

1910 Sailors on Brazil’s warships violently rebel in what is now known as the Revolta da Chibata (Revolt of the Lash).

1918 Two German ammunition trains explode in Hamont, Belgium, killing 1 750 people.

1920 In Dublin, 31 people are killed on what becomes known as “Bloody Sunday”.

1942 Former prime minister, General Barry Hertzog, 76, dies. He became prime minister after the defeat of General Jan Smuts and his South African Party, but his refusal to support South Africa’s involvement in World War II led to his fall, and he was replaced by Smuts.

1976 The low-budget film “ Rocky”, starring Sylvester Stallone, premières in New York. It wins the Best Picture Oscars, became a pop-culture milestone and an enduring franchise for Stallone, who wrote the screenplay in three and a half days, shortly after watching a world title bout between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner, the underdog who was the inspiration for the movie.

1977 First flight of the Concorde supersonic airliner.

1969 The first permanent Arpanet link, one of the foundations of the internet is established.

1985 Thirteen residents are gunned down by the police in Mamelodi.

1995 The Dayton Agreement is signed, ending 3½ years of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2004 The Paris Club agrees to write off 80% (up to $100 billion) of Iraq’s external debt.

2017 Robert Mugabe resigns, during impeachment proceedings, after 37 years as Zimbabwe’s president.

2018 Former Guatemalan soldier Santos López Alonzo sentenced to 5 160 years for killing 171 people in Dos Erres during the civil war there.

2022 A magnitude 5.6 earthquake strikes near the city of Cianjur, on the Indonesian island of Java, killing 603 people, while another 7 729 were injured. More than 53 000 homes, schools, offices and places of worship were damaged, including 12 000 houses that were either completely levelled to the ground or too badly damaged to be considered safe to live in. What made the quake unusual was that it is rare for one with a magnitude of less than six – which scientists classify as “moderate” – to have such a devastating impact.