What happened today, back in the day
534BC Thespis of Icaria becomes the first recorded actor to portray a character onstage. It is from him that we get the word “Thespian”, meaning an actor/actress, or related to drama.
1859 Notorious Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid is born in New York City (probably as Henry McCarty). He was a ruthless killer who escaped from jail and a sentence of hanging at age 21. Recaptured at Stinking Springs, New Mexico, he escaped. At Fort Sumner, on a July night in 1881, he reportedly asked, “Who’s there?” The response was two bullets through the heart from the gun of a vengeful Sheriff Pat Garrett.
1892 Baron Pierre de Coubertin launches his plan for a modern Olympic Games.
1900 Major-General Smith-Dorrien, leaving only the church standing, razes Dullstroom to the ground during the Anglo-Boer War.
1882 The families who survived the Thirstland Trek and made it to Angola are naturalised as Portuguese subjects.
1921 US President Warren Harding signs the Willis Campell Act (anti-beer bill) forbidding doctors from prescribing beer or liquor for medicinal purposes.
1939 The British armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi is sunk by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Rawalpindi’s captain, despite being hopelessly outgunned, decides to fight, rather than surrender as demanded by the Germans. He was heard to say, ‘We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye’.
1942 Chinese steward Poon Lim begins a 133-day raft odyssey adrift in the south Atlantic after his ship was torpedoed by a U-boat.
1992 The first smartphone, the IBM Simon, is introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1996 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 is hijacked, then crashes off the Comoros, killing 125.
2004 Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu, delivering the Nelson Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, warns that BEE benefits only a small elite, while South Africa is “sitting on a powder keg” of poverty. “An unthinking, uncritical, kowtowing party line-toeing is fatal to democracy,” he says.
2019 Sumatran rhino officially extinct in Malaysia after the last known specimen dies of cancer in Sabah.
2021 Egypt reopens its 3 000-year-old Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor with a grand ceremony. The 1.7 mile long ancient walkway, connecting two of the Egyptian city's greatest temples and lined with 1 000 sphinxes, took decades to excavate.