Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today in Pop Culture History: Names Named and Jackie O.-ed

 20 October 1947: The House Un-American Activities Committee, headed by all-star a-hole Sen. Joseph McCarthy, opened hearings. The putative purpose of HUAC was to root out communist influence in the United States, and the entertainment industry was particularly hard hit, because everyone knows most violent coup d'etats are orchestrated by artists and writers. The "Hollywood Ten" refused to answer the committee's questions, and were subsequently blacklisted by the studios. Charlie Chaplin had to leave the country, and Elia Kazan had to account for why he named names for the rest of his career. Nope, no decency here.

20 October 1967 Seven of the fifteen men indicted for violating the rights of three murdered Civil Rights workers whose bodies were found in a dam near Meridian, Mississippi, in 1964. Yeah, that means eight were found not guilty, and the ones convicted of the lynching received sentences of only four to ten years. In 1994, a journalist uncovered evidence withheld in this trial, and a subsequent trial in 2004 resulted in a conviction of Edgar Ray Killen on three counts of murder. Pop culture connections: The film Mississippi Burning details the 1964 FBI investigation, and the first episode of season 4 of Mad Men has Don Draper name-dropping Andrew Goodman, one of the murdered men.

20 October 1977: Three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash near Gilsburg, Mississippi, along with a crew member and the pilot and co-pilot. Twelve other passengers escaped with severe injuries. In a bit of trivia that is sure to paralyze aviophobics everywhere, one of the band's back-up singers dreamed the plane would crash and refused to fly on it.

20 October 1968: Jackie Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, giving her a rock star moniker worthy of a style icon.

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