1933 — Guiseppe Zangara fails to kill Franklin Roosevelt

Guiseppe Zangara was a mentally disturbed former bricklayer who had made it his mission in life to kill Presidents and Kings (followed, he claimed, by ‘all capitalists’). In 1933, while President-Elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt was giving an impromptu speech from the back of a convertable car in Bayfront Park, Miami, Zangara fired five shots at him with a .32 calibre pistol purchased at a nearby pawnshop.

His first shot missed, and bystanders tackled him, making his other four shots go wild. One of them hit Anton Cermak, the Mayor of Chicago who was part of Roosevelt’s party. Cermak died of his wounds 19 days later, and Zangara was executed for the murder a fortnight after that. Roosevelt would go on to become the single longest serving President in United States history. On the day of the shooting, Cermak had told him “I’m glad it was me instead of you” – a sentiment echoed by everyone glad of the Allied victory in World War Two.

Referenced in:
How I Saved Roosevelt — Stephen Sondheim

1945 – The Bombing of Dresden ends

One of the more pointless and vindictive acts on the part of the Allies, the bombing of the German city of Dresden from February 13 to 15 in 1945 was a massive operation consisting of four separate air raids. A total of 3600 planes took place in the raids, which dropped more than 3900 tonnes of incendiaries and high explosives on the city.

The resulting firestorm covered 15 square miles and killed thousands of people – the lowest estimate is 22,000, and the high end runs up to 250,000 – all for a target of little military value. Although Dresden did house industrial facilities, as well as communications and railway infrastructure, none of these were targetted in the raids. Instead, residential and historical landmark areas were bombed.

For these reasons and others – not least the spotlight shone on this event by author Kurt Vonnegut in his book Slaugterhouse Five – the incident remains a controversial one.

Referenced in:

Dresden — Cold Chisel
The Hero’s Return — Pink Floyd

1973 — “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” premieres

“Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” was an iconic British sitcom in the 1970s. Its lead character, everyman Frank Spencer (played by Michael Crawford), went from disaster to disaster, and was terrifically annoying – yet somehow, Crawford’s performance (and the writing) never made him unsympathetic.

“Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” ran for a total of 22 episodes, split into three seasons (7 episodes in the first season and 6 in each of the other two) and three Christmas specials, the last of which screened in 1978. It has frequently been repeated in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth, being particularly popular in Australia (which, in turn, lead to a plotline about Frank moving to Australia in the final season).

Referenced in:
Kylie Said To Jason — KLF