1692 – The last hangings of the Salem Witch Trials take place

It is perhaps the most infamous outbreak of mass hysteria in American history (with the possible exception of the McCarthy Era).

From February 1692 through to late September of that year, a total of 20 people were executed, with five more nearly dying in prison. Over 150 people were accused. Most of them were accused based on ‘spectral evidence’ – which is to say, dreams and visions. Every person actually brought to court was convicted, although some were pardoned.

I’m not sure what’s more shameful about this whole episode. Is it that it happened at all, or that there are still people who think it didn’t go far enough…

Referenced in:

Salem ’76 – Mary Lou Lord
Lords of Salem – Rob Zombie
American Witch – Rob Zombie
Witch Hunting in Salem – Ishia
Salem 1692 – Ceremonial Castings
The Dead Can’t Testify – Billy Talent
Burn the Witch – Queens of the Stone Age

1989 — Irving Berlin dies

Born Israel Isidore Baline, the composer better known as Irving Berlin was 101 years old when he died. His family came to America in 1893, fleeing the anti-Jewish pogroms of Russia. They settled on the Lower East Side of New York City, where the family got involved in music and Irving’s talents as a musician first came to light.

Over the course of his life, he wrote more than 1800 songs, which included the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, including songs such as “White Christmas” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and such classic musicals as “Annie Get Your Gun”. His music was nominated for Academy Awards on eight separate occasions, but he never won one.

It doesn’t seem to have bothered him much, although he did retire from songwriting in the Sixties and spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity in his beloved New York City.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers