Almanac – November 03

1783 – John Austin, a highwayman, was the last person to be publicly hanged at London’s Tyburn gallows.

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1899 – Rezső Seress born. Hungarian pianist and composer. His most famous composition is Szomorú Vasárnap (“Gloomy Sunday“), written in 1933, which gained infamy as it became associated with a spate of suicides.

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1926 – Annie Oakley died. American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Oakley’s amazing talentand timely rise to fame led to a starring role in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, which propelled her to become the first American female superstar. She died of pernicious anemia in Greenville, Ohio at the age of sixty-six.

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1957 – Wilhelm Reich died.  Austrian psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of psychoanalysts after Sigmund Freud, and one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.

He coined the term “orgone” – derived from “orgasm” and “organism” – for a cosmic energy he said he had discovered, which he said others referred to as God. In 1940 he started building orgone accumulators, devices that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.

Following two critical articles about him in The New Republic and Harper’s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a “fraud of the first magnitude.” Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated it, Reich was sentenced to two years in prison, and in August that year six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court, one of the most notable examples of censorship in the history of the United States. He died in jail of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole

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1957 – The Soviet Union launched  Sputnik 2. On board was the first animal to enter orbit, a dog named Laika. She was destined to also be the first animal to die in orbit.

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1979 – Greensboro massacre: Five members of the Communist Workers Party were shot dead and seven are wounded by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis during a “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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1986 – Iran-Contra Affair: The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reported that the United States has been secretly selling weapons to Iran in order to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.

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1993 – Leon Theremin died.  Russian and Soviet inventor. He is most famous for his invention of the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments.

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2002 – Lonnie Donegan died. Scottish-born skiffle musician, with more than 20 UK Top 30 hits to his name. Known as the “King of Skiffle” and is often cited as a large influence on the generation of British musicians who became famous in the 1960s.

The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums states Donegan was “Britain’s most successful and influential recording artist before The Beatles. He chalked up 24 successive Top 30 hits, and was the first UK male to score two U.S. Top 10s”.

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