On This Day February 20
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1902 – Pioneering photographer and preservationist Ansel Adams (d. 1984)
1927 – Oscar-winning actor-director Sidney Poitier (“Lilies of the Field,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “To Sir, With Love,” “Sneakers,” “The Jackal”)
1946 – Singer-songwriter and guitarist John Warren Geils, Jr., known professionally as J. Geils, frontman for the 80s rockers The J. Geils Band. (d. 2017)
1963 – Retired basketball star Charles Barkley, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History
1966 – Fashion icon, supermodel and entrepreneur Cindy Crawford
1967 – Legendary grunge music pioneer Kurt Cobain, lead singer-songwriter-guitarist of the band Nirvana (d. 1994)
1988 – Grammy-winning R&B singer-songwriter Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty (“Umbrella,” “We Found Love,” “The Monster”)
1792 – President George Washington signs the Postal Act, creating the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
1895 – American journalist, author, orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass dies at the age of 78. Douglass conferred with President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and recruited northern blacks for the Union Army. After the War, he fought for the rights of women and African Americans alike.
1962 – John Glenn launches into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard NASA’s Mercury capsule, named Friendship 7, on the first orbital flight by an American astronaut. He completes three Earth orbits in just under five hours, ushering in a new era of spaceflight for the United States.
1965 – Ranger 8 crashes into the moon after a successful mission to photograph possible landing sites for the Apollo program.
1986 – The Soviet Union launches the first components of the Mir space station, which orbits Earth more than 86,000 times before falling harmlessly into the South Pacific near Fiji in March 2001.
1998 – American Tara Lipinski is 15 when she wins the Gold medal in women’s figure skating at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, becoming the youngest gold medalist in her sport.
2003 – One hundred people are killed, 230 others are injured when pyrotechnics during a Great White concert at The Station nightclub in Warwick, Rhode Island ignite flammable foam installed as soundproofing. The club burns to the ground in less than three minutes.
1959 – Legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix is 16 years old when he makes his stage debut during a performance at Temple De Hirsch Sinai synagogue in Seattle. He is fired before the second set begins.
1965 – “This Diamond Ring,” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys, begins a two-week ride atop the Billboard singles chart.
1970 – The single “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On),” by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, is released in the U.S. Lennon wrote, recorded and mixed the track all in one day, on January 27, 1970, with producer Phil Spector, at the Abbey Road Studios in London.
1982 – The J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” is midway through a six-week domination of the Billboard Hot 100. It is the first single from the band’s “Freeze Frame” album. The music video becomes an early staple of MTV programming.
1988 – “Seasons Change,” by one-hit wonder Exposé, tops the Billboard Hot 100 for a week.
1991 – Actor Jack Nicholson presents Bob Dylan with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 34th Annual Grammys.
1993 – “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston, enters its 13th week as a No. 1 single. Written by Dolly Parton, the song is from the soundtrack to the movie, “The Bodyguard,” starring Houston and Kevin Costner.
1999 – Monica is in the middle of a four-week run at No. 1 on the pop chart with “Angel of Mine.”
2010 – Kesha dominates the pop chart with “Tik Tok,” which enters its eighth week at No. 1.