On this day: Harry Houdini survives water coffin

EVENTS, birthdays, anniversaries
On this day in 1926, escapologist Harry Houdini survived for 90 minutes in a bronze coffin in a pool in a Los Angeles hotel. Picture: ContributedOn this day in 1926, escapologist Harry Houdini survived for 90 minutes in a bronze coffin in a pool in a Los Angeles hotel. Picture: Contributed
On this day in 1926, escapologist Harry Houdini survived for 90 minutes in a bronze coffin in a pool in a Los Angeles hotel. Picture: Contributed

Oyster season opens.

1388: Battle of Otterburn in which James, Earl of Douglas, was killed and Henry Percy (Hotspur), son of the Earl of Northumberland, was captured.

1583: Sir Humphrey Gilbert founded St John’s, Newfoundland, the first English colony in North America.

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1600: The Gowrie Conspiracy, an unsuccessful attempt by Alexander, Lord Ruthven, and the Earl of Gowrie to seize King James at Gowrie House in Perth.

1704: The Act of Security was approved. It allowed the Estates of Scotland to choose a successor to Queen Anne other than the one elected by the English parliament if Scottish conditions were not met, and precipitated an English demand for an Act of Union.

1850: Australia Government Act granted representative governments to South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, which was separated from New South Wales.

1852: The re-erection of the Crystal Palace began at Sydenham, south London.

1858: First transatlantic telegraph cable was completed. Laid by USS Niagara and HMS Agamemnon, it was opened by Queen Victoria and President James Buchanan exchanging greetings.

1901: Britain’s first cinema opened in the Mowhawk’s Hall, Upper Street, Islington.

1926: Houdini, escape artist, survived one-and-a-half hours in a bronze coffin in a hotel swimming pool in Los Angeles.

1939: British transatlantic airmail service was inaugurated.

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1943: Capture of Catania gave Allied forces command of Sicilian Straits off Italy.

1949: United States aid to Nationalist China ceased.

1955: European Monetary Agreement was signed.

1963: US, Britain and Soviet Union signed treaty outlawing nuclear tests.

1973: Two men identified as Black September guerrillas attacked travellers at Athens Airport with grenades and machine guns, leaving three dead and 55 wounded.

1974: Ex-president Richard Nixon admitted his complicity in the Watergate affair.

1986: Princess Anne rode her first winner as an amateur jockey, Gulfland, at Redcar.

1990: US troops intervened in Liberia’s civil war to rescue about 70 Americans in Monrovia after hostage threat by rebels.

1990: Sunday postal collections resumed in some areas of Britain after an absence of 20 years.

1992: Sally Gunnell won the Olympic 400 metres hurdles in Barcelona.

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2010: The Copiapó mining accident occurred, trapping 33 Chilean miners approximately 2,300ft below the ground.

2011: A US helicopter crashed in Afghanistan killing 31 US soldiers and seven Afghan commandos.

2012: Scottish tennis star Andy Murray won a gold medal after beating Roger Federer in the Olympic men’s singles final at Wimbledon. Later in the day, Murray took a silver medal in the mixed doubles.


Janet McTeer OBE, British actress, 54; Paula Creamer, American golfer, 29; Kevin Darley, British jockey, 55; Barbara Flynn, British actress, 67; Jan Francis, British actress, 68; Baron John Monks, life peer and former secretary-general, European Trades Union Confederation (1993-2003), 70; Rodney Pattisson MBE, British yachtsman, 72; John Whitaker MBE, British showjumper, 60; Andy Roxburgh OBE, football coach 72; Louis Walsh, TV talent show judge, 63; Loni Anderson, American actress, 70; Mark Strong, British actor, 52; Pete Burns, singer, 56; Ray Clemence MBE, former England international goalkeeper, 67; David Healy MBE, footballer, 36.


Births: 1662 James Anderson, Scottish lawyer and historian; 1681 Vitus Bering, Danish explorer; 1815 Edward John Eyre, British explorer in Australia; 1843 James Scott Skinner, fiddler; 1850 Guy de Maupassant, French novelist; 1862 Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man”; 1906 Joan Hickson OBE, actress; 1906 John Huston, American film director; 1910 Jacquetta Hawkes, author and archaeologist; 1911 Robert Taylor, film actor; 1930 Professor Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the Moon, 20 July, 1969; 1937 Alan Howard CBE, British actor

Deaths: 1729 Thomas Newcomen, inventor of first atmospheric steam engine; 1754 James Gibbs, Aberdeen-born architect whose designs included St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London; 1778 Robert Mackay (Rob Donn), Gaelic poet of Sutherland; 1848 Friedrich Engels, co-author of The Communist Manifesto; 1955 Carmen Miranda, Portuguese-Brazilian singer, dancer, movie star; 1958 Joseph Holbrooke, composer, conductor, pianist; 1962 Marilyn Monroe, US film actress; 1984 Richard Burton, actor; 2000 Sir Alec Guinness, actor; 2014 Chapman Pincher, British investigative journalist.

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