Today's History Trivia for August 20
480 B.C. Sparta 300 - Battle of Thermopylae The famous battle that the movie 300 was based on. King Leonidas of Sparta leads Greek armies against the Persian invasion by Xerxes. The vastly outnumbered Greek forces blocked the only road by which the massive Persian army could pass. After the second day, a traitor named Ephialtes revealed to the Persians a path that led behind the Greek lines. Upon realizing he was being outflanked and doomed, Leonidas ordered the bulk of his army to retreat. He protected their retreat by remaining with a small contingent of 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans who continued to block the path, fighting to the death allowing the others to escape. The Greeks would eventually defeat the Persian army.
1998 Al-Qaeda The U.S. fires 66 missiles at six Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and 13 missiles at a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan, in retaliation for the US embassy bombings. About 30 people are killed in the Afghanistan attacks, but no important al-Qaeda figures are killed.
1989 Menendez Murders Erik and Lyle Menendez murder their wealthy parents with a shotgun. The were both convicted and sentenced to life in prison in highly-publicized trials.
1977 Voyager II is launched.
1975 Viking I launched towards Mars.
1960 First living organisms to return from space Soviet Sputnik 5 - which had been launched the previous day - is recovered. Its payload included two dogs, two mice, 40 rats, and various insects and plants.
1920 First commercial radio station WWJ of Detroit begins operating.
1866 Civil War Pres. Johnson declares the war ended, including Texas.
1844 First U.S. President not to run for a second term Pres. Tyler withdraws from the presidential race.
Today's Birthdays for August 20
1833 Benjamin Harrison d. 1901 23rd U.S. President (1889-93). His support of spending programs during his term earned Congress the name "The Billion Dollar Congress." He was the first U.S. President to a attend a major league baseball game (June 6, 1892 Cincinnati beat Washington 7-4).
1955 Jay Acovone American actor. TV: Beauty and the Beast (D.A. Joe Maxwell).
1954 Theresa Saldana d. 2016 American actress. She founded Victims for Victims after surviving a nearly fatal knife attack by a deranged admirer. Film: Raging Bull (1980). TV: Commish (1991-96, Rachel the wife of Police Commissioner Tony Scali).
1948 Robert Plant British rock musician, lead singer and harmonica player for Led Zeppelin. Music: Stairway to Heaven (wrote the lyrics). Video The Song Remains the Same.
1946 Connie Chung (Constance Yu-Hwa), American anchorwoman for CBS.
1944 Graig Nettles American baseball player. During a 1974 game the tip of his bat came off exposing an illegal cork center.
1942 Isaac Hayes d. 2008 American Oscar-Grammy-winning singer, composer, actor. Film: Shaft (1971, won Oscar and Grammy for the Score). TV: South Park (1997-2006, voice of Chef).
1940 Gary Collins American football wide receiver and punter (1962-71, Cleveland Browns). He scored the first touchdown of Monday Night Football (1970).
1923 Jim Reeves d. 1964 American Country Music Hall of Famer (1967). Music: Mexican Joe (1953, #1). He had 17 top 10 hits after his death.
1918 Jacqueline Susann d. 1974 American actress, author. Writings: Valley of the Dolls (1966), selling 17,000,000 copies and becoming the all-time best-selling novel.
1907 Alan Reed d. 1977 (Teddy Bergman), American actor. TV: The Flintstones (voice of Fred).
Deaths for August 20
2012 Phyllis Diller b. 1917 (Phyllis Driver), American comedienne, actress. She got her start when, as a 40-year-old mother of five, began doing stand-up. Quote: "Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight."
2001 Sir Fred Hoyle b. 1915 British astronomer, mathematician, a proponent of the "steady-state" theory, in which the universe has no definite beginning. In 1950 he coined the term "big bang" as a derogatory description of the alternate theory in which the universe was created 10 to 20 billion years ago when a single point expanded.
1989 George Adamson b. 1906 British environmentalist, protector of lions. He and his wife, Joy, were featured in the movie Born Free (1966) about the lioness Elsa. He was killed by poachers.
1970 Mickey Daniels b. 1914 (Richard Daniels, Jr.), American actor, appeared in 49 of the Our Gang films.
1961 Percy Williams Bridgman b. 1882 American Nobel prize-winning physicist. He was the first Harvard physicist to win the Nobel Prize for Physics (1946 for his work in high pressure). He was able to reach pressures of 400,000 atmospheres.
1915 Paul Ehrlich b. 1854 German Nobel-winning bacteriologist, immunologist. He discovered the first cure for syphilis (1910).
1914 Saint Pius X b. 1835 Italian religious leader, 257th Pope (1903-14), canonized in 1954.
1912 William Booth b. 1829 English preacher, he and his wife Catherine founded the Salvation Army (1865).
1823 Pius VII b. 1742 (Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti), Italian religious leader, 251st Pope (1800-23).
984 John XIV b. ???? religious leader, 136th Pope (983-984).