Tag Archives: 1939

Almanac – June 17

1631 – Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth. Her husband, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I, spent the next 17 years building her mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.

 

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1939 – Last public guillotining in France: Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, was guillotined in Versailles, outside the Saint-Pierre prison.

The “hysterical behaviour” of spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions.

 

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1958 – Jello Biafra born. Former lead singer and songwriter for San Francisco punk rock band Dead Kennedys, now focused primarily on spoken word.
He is a staunch believer in a free society, who utilizes shock value and advocates direct action and pranksterism in the name of political causes,  known to use absurdist media tactics in the leftist tradition of the Yippies, to highlight issues of civil rights and social justice.

 

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Almanac- May 07

1939 – Jimmy Ruffin born.  American soul singer, and elder brother of David Ruffin of The Temptations.

He had several hit records between the 1960s and 1980s, the most successful being “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.

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1946 – Thelma Houston born.  American singer and actress.

She scored a number-one hit in 1977 with her cover version of the song “Don’t Leave Me This Way“, which won the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

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Almanac – April 20

1912 – Bram Stoker died.  Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.

During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

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1939 – Billie Holiday recorded “Strange Fruit“, considered by some to be the first Civil Rights song.

Written by Abel Meeropol, a white Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, and a member of the Communist Party, it exposed American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans.

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1943 – Edie Sedgwick born. American actress, socialite, fashion model and heiress. She is best known for being one of Andy Warhol‘s superstars.

Sedgwick became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965 after starring in several of Warhol’s short films.

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Almanac – April 04

1913 – Muddy Waters born. American blues musician,  considered the “father of modern Chicago blues“. He was a major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s and is ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

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1928 – Maya Angelou born. American author and poet, whose list of occupations includes pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, castmember of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs.

She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

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1939 – Major Lance born. American R&B singer. After a number of US hits in the 1960s, including “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”, he became an iconic figure in Britain in the 1970s among followers of Northern Soul.

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1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. At 6:01 p.m., a shot rang out as King stood on the motel’s second-floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder.

After emergency chest surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m.  According to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s autopsy revealed that though only 39 years old, he “had the heart of a 60 year old“, which Branch attributed to the stress of 13 years in the civil rights movement.

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