Today is Saturday, Sept. 21, the 264th day of 2013. There are 101 days left in the year.
Today’s highlight in history:
On Sept. 21, 1912, magician Harry Houdini first publicly performed his so-called Chinese Water Torture Cell trick at the Circus Busch in Berlin, escaping after being immersed upside-down in a vertical water tank, his ankles secured in a set of stocks which made up the tank lid, which was locked into place.
On this date:
In 1792, the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.
In 1893, one of America’s first horseless carriages was taken for a short test drive in Springfield, Mass., by Frank Duryea, who had designed the vehicle with his brother, Charles.
In 1897, the New York Sun ran its famous editorial, written anonymously by Francis P. Church, which declared, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
In 1912, legendary cartoon animator Chuck Jones was born in Spokane, Wash.
In 1937, “The Hobbit,” by J.R.R. Tolkien, was first published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd. of London.
In 1938, a hurricane struck parts of New York and New England, causing widespread damage and claiming some 700 lives.
In 1948, Milton Berle made his debut as permanent host of “The Texaco Star Theater” on NBC-TV.
In 1962, “The Jack Paar Program,” a weekly, prime-time show that followed Paar’s stint on “The Tonight Show,” began a three-year run.
In 1970, “NFL Monday Night Football” made its debut on ABC-TV as the Cleveland Browns defeated the visiting New York Jets, 31-21.
In 1982, Amin Gemayel, brother of Lebanon’s assassinated president-elect, Bashir Gemayel, was himself elected president. National Football League players began a 57-day strike, their first regular-season walkout.
In 1987, NFL players called a strike, mainly over the issue of free agency. (The 24-day walkout prompted football owners to hire replacement players.)
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo crashed into Charleston, S.C. (the storm was blamed for 26 directly caused U.S. deaths). Twenty-one students in Alton, Texas, died when their school bus, involved in a collision with a soft-drink delivery truck, careened into a water-filled pit.
Ten years ago: Former Citigroup CEO John S. Reed was named temporary head of the New York Stock Exchange. Paul Martin was elected by Canada’s Liberal Party to succeed Jean Chretien as prime minister. NASA’s aging Galileo spacecraft deliberately plunged into Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, bringing a fiery conclusion to a 14-year exploration of the solar system’s largest planet and its moons.
Five years ago: South African President Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation. “Mad Men” became the first basic-cable show to win the top series Emmy; “30 Rock” and its stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin won comedy awards. The United States took back the Ryder Cup with a 16 1/2-11 1/2 victory over Europe. Baseball said farewell to the original Yankee Stadium as the Bronx Bombers defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-3.
One year ago: No one was injured when a plane carrying Ann Romney made an emergency landing in Denver after smoke filled the cabin. The wife of the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was traveling from Omaha, Neb., to Los Angeles, when an apparent electrical fire broke out. A man was bitten multiple times after leaping from a monorail into a tiger exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. People lined up to buy Apple’s iPhone5 as it went on sale in the United States and several other countries.
Today’s birthdays: Poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen is 79. Author-comedian Fannie Flagg is 72. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is 70. Musician Don Felder and author Stephen King are 66. Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore is 64. Actor-comedian Bill Murray is 63. Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye is 62. Rock musician Philthy Animal is 59. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and movie producer-writer Ethan Coen are 56. Actor-comedian Dave Coulier is 54. Actor David James Elliott is 53. Actresses Serena Scott-Thomas and Nancy Travis are 52. Actor Rob Morrow is 51. Retired MLB All-Star Cecil Fielder is 50. Actress Cheryl Hines is 48. Country singer Faith Hill and musician Tyler Stewart (Barenaked Ladies) are 46. Country singer Ronna Reeves, actress-talk show host Ricki Lake, and rapper Dave (De La Soul) are 45. Actor Rob Benedict is 43. Actor James Lesure, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Luke Wilson are 42. Actor Paulo Costanzo is 35. Actor Bradford Anderson is 34. Actress Autumn Reeser is 33. TV personality Nicole Richie is 32. Actors Maggie Grace and Joseph Mazzello are 30. Rapper Wale is 29. Actors Nikolas and Lorenzo Brino are 15.
Thought for today: “The crisis of yesterday is the joke of tomorrow.” — H.G. Wells, English author (born this day in 1866, died 1946).