On This Day in History February 20

February 20 – Events:

  • 1472 – Orkney and Shetland are left by Norway to Scotland, due to a dowry payment.
  • 1547 – Edward VI of England is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey.
  • 1792 – The Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department, is signed by President George Washington.
  • 1798 – Louis Alexandre Berthier removes Pope Pius VI from power.
  • 1810 – Andreas Hofer, Tyrolean patriot and leader of rebellion against Napoleon’s forces, was executed.
  • 1816 – Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville debuts at Teatro Argentina, with a fiasco.
  • 1835 – Concepción, Chile is destroyed by an earthquake.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Olustee occurs – the largest battle fought in Florida during the war.
  • 1872 – In New York City the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens.
  • 1873 – The University of California opens its first medical school in San Francisco, California.
  • 1901 – The legislature of Hawaii Territory convenes for the first time.
  • 1909 – Publication of the Futurist Manifesto in the French journal Le Figaro.
  • 1913 – King O’Malley drives in the first survey peg to mark commencement of work on the construction of Canberra.
  • 1931 – California gets the go-ahead by the U.S. Congress to build the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
  • 1933 – The Congress of the United States proposes the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would end Prohibition in the United States.
  • 1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.
  • 1942 – Lieutenant Edward O’Hare becomes America’s first World War II flying ace.
  • 1943 – American movie studio executives agree to allow the Office of War Information to censor movies.
  • 1943 – The Parícutin volcano begins to form in Parícutin, Mexico.
  • 1944 – World War II: The “Big Week” ended with American bomber raids on German aircraft manufacturing centers.
  • 1944 – World War II: The United States takes Eniwetok Island.
  • 1944 – Batman & Robin comic strip premiers in newspapers.
  • 1947 – State of Prussia ceases to exist.
  • 1952 – Emmett Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.
  • 1959 – The Avro Arrow program to design and manufacture supersonic jet fighters in Canada is cancelled by the Diefenbaker government amid much political debate.
  • 1962 – Mercury program: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn orbits the earth three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes, becoming the first American to orbit the earth.
  • 1965 – Ranger 8 crashes into the moon after a successful mission of photographing possible landing sites for the Apollo program astronauts.
  • 1976 – The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization disbands.
  • 1986 – Soviets launch Mir.
  • 1987 – Unabomber: In Salt Lake City, Utah, a bomb explodes in a computer store.
  • 1989 – Total eclipse of the Moon.
  • 1991 – A gigantic statue of Albania’s long-time dictator, Enver Hoxha, is brought down in the Albanian capital, Tirana, by mobs of angry protesters.
  • 1992 – The FA Premier League is founded.
  • 1998 – American figure skater Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest gold medalist at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
  • 2002 – In Reqa Al-Gharbiya, Egypt, a fire on a train injures over 65 and kills at least 370.
  • 2005 – Spain becomes the first country to vote in a referendum on ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union, passing it by a substantial margin, but on a low turnout.

February 20 – Birthdays:

  • 1631 – Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of Leeds, English statesman (d. 1712)
  • 1745 – Henry James Pye, English poet (d. 1813)
  • 1751 – Johann Heinrich Voß, German poet (d. 1826)
  • 1753 – Louis Alexandre Berthier, French marshal (d. 1815)
  • 1757 – John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller, English philanthropist (d. 1834)
  • 1794 – William Carleton, Irish novelist (d. 1869)
  • 1802 – Charles de Bériot, Belgian violinist (d. 1870)
  • 1819 – Alfred Escher, Swiss politician, railroad entrepreneur (d. 1882)
  • 1839 – Benjamin Waugh, American minister; founder of the NSPCC (d. 1908)
  • 1844 – Ludwig Boltzmann, Austrian physicist (d. 1906)
  • 1844 – Joshua Slocum, Canadian seaman and adventurer (d. 1909)
  • 1848 – Edward Henry Harriman, American railroad executive (d. 1909)
  • 1850 – Nérée Beauchemin, Canadian physician and poet (d. 1931)
  • 1866 – Carl Westman, Swedish architect and designer (d. 1936)
  • 1867 – Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife (d. 1931)
  • 1918 – Leonore Annenberg American Billionaire
  • 1880 – Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen, French aristocrat and novelist (d. 1923)
  • 1887 – Vincent Massey, Governor-General of Canada (d. 1967)
  • 1888 – Georges Bernanos, French writer (d. 1948)
  • 1893 – Russel Crouse, American playwright (d. 1966)
  • 1898 – Enzo Ferrari, Italian automobile manufacturer, designer and racing car driver (d. 1988)
  • 1898 – Jimmy Yancey, American pianist (d. 1951)
  • 1899 – Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, American businessman (d. 1992)
  • 1901 – Cecil Harmsworth King, English newspaper owner (d. 1987)
  • 1901 – Muhammad Naguib, President of Egypt (d. 1984)
  • 1902 – Ansel Adams, American photographer (d. 1984)
  • 1904 – Alexei Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1980)
  • 1906 – Gale Gordon, American television and radio actor (d. 1995)
  • 1907 – Malcolm Atterbury, American actor (d. 1992)
  • 1912 – Pierre Boulle, French author (d. 1994)
  • 1914 – John Daly, South African-born broadcaster (d. 2001)
  • 1920 – Evgeny Dragunov, Russian weapons designer (d. 1991)
  • 1923 – Forbes Burnham, President of Guyana (d. 1985)
  • 1924 – Gloria Vanderbilt, American socialite and clothing designer
  • 1925 – Robert Altman, American film director (d. 2006)
  • 1925 – Heinz Kluncker, German trade union leader
  • 1926 – Richard Matheson, American author
  • 1927 – Roy Cohn, American lawyer (d. 1986)
  • 1927 – Ibrahim Ferrer, Cuban musician (Buena Vista Social Club) (d. 2005)
  • 1927 – Sidney Poitier, American actor
  • 1929 – Amanda Blake, American actress (d. 1989)
  • 1930 – Willie Cunningham, Northern Irish footballer
  • 1934 – Bobby Unser, American racing driver
  • 1936 – Marj Dusay, American actress
  • 1936 – Larry Hovis, American actor (d. 2003)
  • 1936 – Shigeo Nagashima, Japanese baseball player and coach
  • 1937 – Robert Huber, German chemist, Nobel laureate
  • 1937 – Roger Penske, American racing driver, race team owner and entrepreneur
  • 1937 – Nancy Wilson, American singer
  • 1938 – Richard Beymer, American actor
  • 1939 – Frank Arundel, English footballer
  • 1940 – Jimmy Greaves, English footballer
  • 1941 – Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canadian singer
  • 1942 – Phil Esposito, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1942 – Charlie Gillett, British radio DJ
  • 1942 – Mitch McConnell, American politician
  • 1942 – Claude Miller, French film director and screenwriter
  • 1943 – Antonio Inoki, Japanese professional wrestler
  • 1943 – Mike Leigh, British film director
  • 1944 – Robert de Cotret, French Canadian politician (d. 1999)
  • 1944 – Willem van Hanegem, Dutch footballer and coach
  • 1945 – Andrew Bergman, American screenwriter and film director
  • 1945 – Brion James, American actor (d. 1999)
  • 1945 – Annu Kapoor, Indian actor
  • 1946 – Brenda Blethyn, English actress
  • 1946 – Richard Cocciante, French-Italian singer and songwriter
  • 1946 – Sandy Duncan, American singer and actress
  • 1946 – J. Geils, American guitarist (The J. Geils Band)
  • 1947 – André van Duin, Dutch comedian
  • 1947 – Eggert Magnusson, Icelandic football executive
  • 1947 – Peter Osgood, English footballer (d. 2006)
  • 1947 – Peter Strauss, American actor
  • 1948 – Pierre Bouchard, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1948 – Jennifer O’Neill, Brazilian-born actress
  • 1949 – Ivana Trump, Czech-born American socialite
  • 1950 – Walter Becker, American guitarist (Steely Dan)
  • 1950 – Ken Shimura, Japanese performer and actor
  • 1950 – Tony Wilson, British journalist and impresario (d. 2007)
  • 1951 – Edward Albert, American actor (d. 2006)
  • 1951 – Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  • 1951 – Randy California, American guitarist (Spirit) (d. 1997)
  • 1951 – Phil Neal, English footballer
  • 1953 – Riccardo Chailly, Italian conductor
  • 1953 – Poison Ivy, American musician (The Cramps)
  • 1954 – Jon Brant, American musician (Cheap Trick)
  • 1954 – Anthony Stewart Head, English actor
  • 1954 – Patty Hearst, American socialite
  • 1956 – Rick Green, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1957 – Glen Hanlon, Canadian ice hockey coach
  • 1957 – Charlie Adler, American voice actor
  • 1959 – Bill Gullickson, American baseball player
  • 1960 – Joel Hodgson, American comedian (Mystery Science Theater 3000)
  • 1960 – Kee Marcello, Swedish guitarist
  • 1962 – Kenn Nesbitt, American children’s author
  • 1963 – Charles Barkley, American basketball player
  • 1963 – Ian Brown, English singer (The Stone Roses)
  • 1963 – Jon Lynn Christensen, former Nebraska Congressman
  • 1963 – Marilisa Xenogiannakopoulou, Greek politician
  • 1964 – French Stewart, American actor
  • 1964 – Rodney Rowland, American actor
  • 1966 – Cindy Crawford, American model
  • 1967 – Kurt Cobain, American musician (Nirvana) (d. 1994)
  • 1967 – Katherine Soucie, American voice actress
  • 1967 – Andrew Shue, American television actor
  • 1967 – Lili Taylor, American actress
  • 1968 – Ted Hankey, English darts player
  • 1969 – Vaginal Davis, American drag queen and performance artist
  • 1969 – Gedo, Japanese professional wrestler
  • 1969 – Danis Tanovic, Bosnian film director and screenwriter
  • 1969 – Tommy Vardell, National Football League fullback
  • 1971 – Jari Litmanen, Finnish footballer
  • 1971 – Shawn McKenzie, American programmer
  • 1972 – Brent Gretzky, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1972 – K-OS, Canadian musician/rapper
  • 1974 – Ophelie Winter, French actress
  • 1975 – Liván Hernández, Cuban baseball player
  • 1975 – Brian Littrell, American singer (Backstreet Boys)
  • 1976 – Rohan Gavaskar, Left-handed batsman, India ODI 2004 (son of Sunil Gavaskar)
  • 1976 – Ed Graham, English drummer (The Darkness)
  • 1976 – Gail Kim, Canadian professional wrestler
  • 1977 – Bartosz Kizierowski, Polish swimmer
  • 1977 – Stephon Marbury, American basketball player
  • 1977 – T.J. Slaughter, American football player
  • 1978 – Lauren Ambrose, American actress
  • 1978 – Jakki Degg, English glamour model/actress
  • 1978 – Jay Hernandez, American actor
  • 1978 – Julia Jentsch, German actress
  • 1980 – Artur Boruc, Polish footballer
  • 1980 – Massimo Donati, Italian footballer
  • 1980 – Imanol Harinordoquy, French rugby union footballer
  • 1981 – Tony Hibbert, English footballer
  • 1981 – Chris Thile, American musician
  • 1982 – Jason Hirsh, American baseball player
  • 1983 – Jose Morales, Puerto Rican baseball player
  • 1983 – Justin Verlander, American baseball player
  • 1985 – Ryan Sweeney, American baseball player
  • 1985 – Yulia Volkova, Russian singer (t.A.T.u.)
  • 1986 – Dilaver Güçlü, Turkish footballer
  • 1988 – Rihanna, Barbadian singer
  • 1989 – Melanie Leishman, Canadian actress

February 20 – Deaths:

  • 702 – K’inich Kan B’alam II, king of the Maya state of Palenque (b. 635)
  • 1154 – Saint Wulfric of Haselbury Plucknett
  • 1171 – Conan IV, Duke of Brittany (b. 1138)
  • 1194 – King Tancred of Sicily
  • 1258 – Al-Musta’sim, last Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad
  • 1408 – Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, English statesman (b. 1342)
  • 1431 – Pope Martin V (b. 1368)
  • 1524 – Tecún Umán, last leader of the Quiché-Maya
  • 1579 – Nicholas Bacon, English politician (b. 1509)
  • 1618 – Philip William, Prince of Orange (b. 1554)
  • 1626 – John Dowland, English composer and lutenist (b. 1563)
  • 1762 – Tobias Mayer, German astronomer (b. 1723)
  • 1771 – Jean Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan, French geophysicist (b. 1678)
  • 1773 – King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia (b. 1701)
  • 1778 – Laura Bassi, Italian scholar (b. 1711)
  • 1790 – Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1741)
  • 1803 – Marie Dumesnil, French actress (b. 1713)
  • 1806 – Lachlan McIntosh, Scottish-born American military and political leader (b. 1725)
  • 1810 – Andreas Hofer, Tyrolean national hero (executed) (b. 1767)
  • 1871 – Paul Kane, Irish-born painter (b. 1810)
  • 1893 – P.G.T. Beauregard, American Confederate general (b. 1818)
  • 1895 – Frederick Douglass, American abolitionist writer (b. 1818)
  • 1905 – Jeremiah W. Farnham, American merchant captain
  • 1907 – Henri Moissan, French chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1852)
  • 1916 – Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Swedish writer and pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1844)
  • 1920 – Robert Peary, American explorer (b. 1856)
  • 1941 – La Bolduc, French Canadian singer and songwriter (b. 1894)
  • 1961 – Percy Grainger, Australian composer (b. 1882)
  • 1963 – Ferenc Fricsay, Hungarian conductor (b. 1914)
  • 1963 – Jacob Gade, Danish Composer(b. 1879)
  • 1966 – Chester Nimitz, American admiral (b. 1885)
  • 1968 – Anthony Asquith, British film director and writer (b. 1902)
  • 1969 – Ernest Ansermet, Swiss conductor (b. 1883)
  • 1970 – Sophie Treadwell, American playwright and journalist (b. 1885)
  • 1972 – Maria Goeppert-Mayer, German physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1906)
  • 1972 – Walter Winchell, American journalist (b. 1897)
  • 1976 – René Cassin, French judge, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1887)
  • 1976 – Kathryn Kuhlman, American evangelist (b. 1907)
  • 1981 – Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg, magazine editor, socialite (b. 1904)
  • 1983 – Fritz Köberle, Austrian-Brazilian physician (b. 1910)
  • 1985 – Clarence “Ducky” Nash, American voice actor (b. 1904)
  • 1992 – Roberto D’Aubuisson, Salvadoran politician (b. 1944)
  • 1992 – Dick York, American actor (b. 1928)
  • 1993 – Ferruccio Lamborghini, Italian automobile manufacturer (b. 1916)
  • 1996 – Solomon Asch, American psychologist (b. 1907)
  • 1996 – Toru Takemitsu, Japanese composer (b. 1930)
  • 1997 – Zachary Breaux, American jazz guitarist (b. 1960)
  • 1999 – Sarah Kane, English playwright (b. 1971)
  • 1999 – Gene Siskel, American film critic (b. 1946)
  • 2000 – Anatoly Sobchak, Russian politician (b. 1937)
  • 2001 – Rosemary DeCamp, American actress (b. 1910)
  • 2003 – Maurice Blanchot, French author (b. 1907)
  • 2003 – Orville Freeman, American politician (b. 1918)
  • 2003 – Harry Jacunski, American football player
  • 2003 – Ty Longley, American guitarist (Great White) (b. 1971)
  • 2003 – Mushaf Ali Mir, Pakistani Chief of the Air Staff (b. 1947)
  • 2005 – Pam Bricker, American jazz singer and Thievery Corporation vocalist (b. 1954)
  • 2005 – Sandra Dee, American actress (b. 1944)
  • 2005 – John Raitt, American actor (b. 1917)
  • 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (b. 1937)
  • 2005 – Tom Willmore, English geometer (b. 1919)
  • 2006 – Curt Gowdy, American sportscaster (b. 1919)
  • 2006 – Lucjan Wolanowski, Polish journalist, writer and traveller (b. 1920)
  • 2007 – F. Albert Cotton, American chemist (b. 1930)
  • 2008 – Emily Perry, English Actress (b. 1907)

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