Jul 28 1841 James Boulard and Henry Mallin pull the decomposed body of a young woman from the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey. Mary Cecilia Rogers, who worked at a popular cigar store, is initially thought to have been killed in the course of a brutal gang rape, but ultimately it seems more likely that she died from a botched abortion. Years later, novelist Edgar Allen Poe adapts the sensational news story about "The Beautiful Cigar Girl" into the short story "The Mystery of Marie Roget."
Jul 28 1945 A US Army B-25 bomber crashes into the Empire State Building between the 78th and 79th floors. An engine plunges down an elevator shaft, sparking a fire in the basement. Eleven people in the building are killed, in addition to the three man bomber crew.
Jul 28 1957 A C-124 transport plane carrying three nuclear weapons jettisons its precious cargo into the Atlantic, somewhere east of Delaware and New Jersey. The bombs are never recovered.
Jul 27 1890 At the Chateau d'Auvers, Vincent van Gogh presses a revolver to his chest and pulls the trigger. Somehow the bullet misses the vital organs, and the painter manages to stumble over to a friend's house. The following night, Van Gogh dies of an infection in the arms of his brother Theo.
Jul 27 1996 During a celebration for the Atlanta Olympics, overfed security guard Richard Jewell notices a suspicious green knapsack in Centennial Park. He immediately alerts police and helps to clear people from the area shortly before the pipe bomb explodes.
For his trouble, Jewell becomes the FBI's preliminary suspect and news organizations run wild with the story. Because he didn't do it, numerous media outlets end up paying him large undisclosed settlements. Also, the FBI uses the event as an excuse to lobby for further clampdowns on civil liberties.
Jul 27 2002 A Sukhoi SU-27 fighter crashes and explodes at an air show in the Ukraine, killing 78 and injuring more than 100 others. It is the worst airshow crash in history. The two pilots ejected and survived.
Jul 25 1990 At a baseball game, actress Rosanne Arnold warbles the Star Spangled Banner, grabs her crotch, and endears herself to an entire nation.
Jul 25 1999 Woodstock '99 festival ends in looting and rioting, leaving 12 trailers burned, towers toppled, and several women raped during the course of the show. About 500 state troopers were needed to quell the mass uprising of peace and love, apparently triggered by overpriced vendors and commercialization.
Jul 25 2000 A right tire explosion on the Concorde causes the plane to crash after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, leaving 113 dead. It is the first crash in Concorde's history, and the only supersonic commercial flight to ever crash.
Jul 22 1934 John Dillinger is killed by the FBI at the Biograph Cinema in Chicago. After seeing this picture, many people come to believe that he must have possessed an enormous schlong. Actually, it is his arm in rigor mortis. (A competing theory holds that this is not Dillinger at all, but some patsy chosen because of the FBI's inability to capture the gangster.)
Jul 22 1991 Tracy Edwards escapes from Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment, handcuffs still attached. After being summoned to the scene, Milwaukee police encounter the partial remains of 11 previous victims. Dahmer is ultimately charged with 15 murders.
Jul 22 1994 In court, O.J. pleads "absolutely, 100% not guilty" of savagely killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Jul 20 1969 On live television, the world watches as Neil Armstrong steps foot on the Moon. That is, unless it was faked.
Jul 20 1973 In Hong Kong, martial artist Bruce Lee drops into a coma and dies of cerebral edema. He had been experiencing brain problems beginning in May, which included sporadic loss of consciousness. Lee's death transpires shortly before the release of Enter the Dragon, his most successful film.
Jul 20 1994 O.J. Simpson offers a $500,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the Real Killers. To this day progress remains elusive, although Simpson's golf score has improved somewhat.
Jul 20 2005 The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) changes the rating of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas from mature to adults only forcing a recall. The game had been distributed with a hidden sex game made unlockable by a clever hacker's modification titled Hot Coffee. The recall cost Rockstar Games millions of dollars although the incident generated lots of free publicity.
Jul 19 1692 Five Salem witches are hanged for the crime of witchcraft, based primarily on the accusations of little girls who were bewitched. Eventually, the village executes a total of 20 witches.
Jul 19 1952 During a series of UFO sightings in Washington, D.C. occurring over July 13-29, unidentified objects are picked up on D.C.'s National Airport radar system. Sightings in the region are so extensive the Air Force is prompted to hold a press conference. Conveniently, these are all "radar mirages" resulting from "temperature inversions."
Jul 19 1966 Frank Sinatra marries Mia Farrow in Las Vegas. Ava Gardner's famous comment on the union: "Hah! I always knew Frank would end up in bed with a little boy!"
Jul 19 1991 Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson rapes Desiree Washington, one of the Miss Black America contestants, after a pageant rehearsal. The illicit nookie lands Tyson in prison for three years.
Jul 3 1971 Jim Morrison is found dead of an apparent heart attack in his Paris apartment bathtub. That's what he wants us to think, anyway.
Jul 3 1988 Mistaking it for a F-14 fighter plane, the American warship USS Vincennes shoots down Iran Air flight 655, killing all 290 people aboard. Despite his country's having recklessly downed a passenger airliner while operating inside Iran's territorial waters, Vice President George Bush declares a month later: "I will never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don't care what the facts are."
Jul 3 1989 Television actor Jim Backus, known to millions as Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island, dies in Los Angeles of Parkinson's disease.
Jul 2 1881 President James A. Garfield is shot in a train station by Charles Julius Guiteau, a lunatic trying to become ambassador either to Austria or France. Garfield lingers for three months before finally dying.
Jul 2 1937 Attempting to become the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe in an airplane, Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific with her navigator, Fred Noonan.
Jul 2 1942 On page six, the New York Times reports Germany's mass extermination of 700,000 Jews, by use of poison gas.
Jul 2 1947 Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot witness a "large glowing object" zoom across the sky at 400 or 500 miles per hour. The next day, Mac Brazel discovers the wreckage of a flying saucer -- not fragments of an experimental balloon composed of neoprene -- on a remote pasture outside Roswell, New Mexico.
Jul 2 1961 In the tile-covered foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho, novelist Ernest Hemingway commits suicide with his favorite shotgun. When the body was later found, "only his chin, mouth, and vestigial scraps of his cheeks were still connected to his body."
Jul 2 1982 UC Berkeley electrical engineering professor Diogenes Angelakos picks up an unattended package in Cory Hall. The pipe bomb hidden inside the parcel explodes, shredding the man's right hand. Coincidentally, Angelakos is present three years later, when the Unabomber claims a second victim in the computer science department, John Hauser. Jul 2 1994 Colombian soccer star Andres Escobar is shot twelve times outside a bar in Bogota, and dies on the spot. Only ten days prior, Escobar had inadvertently scored a goal for the American team in the 1994 World Cup playoffs, resulting in a first-round elimination for Colombia.