On this Day July 20
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1822 – Scientist Gregor Mendel, known as the father of modern genetics (d. 1884)
1919 – Explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest (d. 2008)
1938 – Actress Diana Rigg, who played Emma Peel from the 60s British TV spy drama “The Avengers”
1938 – Golden Globe-winning actress Natalie Wood (“Miracle on 34th Street,” “Splendor in the Grass,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” “West Side Story”) (d. 1981)
1945 – Singer-songwriter Kim Carnes, best known for her 1981 hit single “Bette Davis Eyes”
1947 – Grammy-winning rock guitarist Carlos Santana, who pioneered the fusion of rock and Latin American music
1969 – Actor Josh Holloway, best known for playing Sawyer on the ABC series “Lost”
1971 – Golden Globe-winning actress Sandra Oh (“The Princess Diaries,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Sideways,” “Grey’s Anatomy”)
1973 – Actor, rapper and songwriter Omar Epps (“Juice,” “ER,” “Breakfast of Champions,” “House,” “Resurrection”)
1944 – A plot to murder German dictator Adolf Hitler fails as a bomb planted in a briefcase goes off, but leaves him only slightly wounded. Known as Operation Valkyrie, the assassination attempt was masterminded by senior-level German military officials who wanted to remove Hitler in order to establish a new government. Hitler’s would-be assassins are executed after being discovered.
1969 – More than a billion people around the world are glued to TV sets and radios as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to step onto the surface of the moon. He famously marks the landmark event by saying, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
1973 – Actor and martial arts icon Bruce Lee dies unexpectedly at the age of 32, just before the release of his film, “Enter the Dragon.” The official cause of death is a brain edema, possibly triggered by a reaction to a prescription painkiller that Lee was reportedly taking for a back injury.
1976 – On the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Viking 1, an unmanned U.S. planetary probe, becomes the first spacecraft to successfully land on the surface of Mars.
1976 – In Major League Baseball, “Hammerin'” Hank Aaron hits his 755th and final home run during the Milwaukee Brewers’ game against the California Angels.
1977 – A flash flood washes over Johnstown, Pennsylvania, killing 84 people and causing millions of dollars in damage. The disaster marks the third time that floods, caused by dam failures, devastate the same community. The Great Flood of 1889 killed more than 2,000 people in Johnstown. A second flood in 1936 left two dozen people dead.
2012 – Twelve people are killed and 70 others are injured when a gunman opens fire inside a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The theater was packed with Batman fans that were there for a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The tragedy becomes the deadliest mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine shooting in 1999 in which 12 high school students and a teacher were gunned down.
1963 – Beach music is the favorite on this day, as Jan and Dean’s “Surf City” hits No. 1 on the singles chart.
1968 – Trumpeter Hugh Masekela begins a two-week run on top of the singles chart with the jazz instrumental “Grazing in the Grass.” In 2018, the song is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
1968 – Heavy metal strikes the album chart for the first time in the form of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which was originally supposed to be titled “In The Garden of Eden.” The 17-minute title track takes up all of Side Two and was edited down to 2:53 for release as a single.
1974 – Early disco hit “Rock Your Baby,” by George McCrae, begins its second and final week as a No. 1 single.
1985 – Duran Duran begin their second and final week on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “A View to a Kill,” from the James Bond movie of the same name.
1986 – The movie “Sid & Nancy,” based on the life of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, premieres in London, starring Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb.
1991 – One-hit-wonder EMF kick off a week at No. 1 on the pop chart with “Unbelievable.”
1996 – “How Do U Want It,” by 2Pac featuring K-Ci & JoJo, grabs the top spot on the Billboard single chart. The track remains at No. 1 for a week.
2002 – “Hot in Herre,” by Nelly, is in the midst of a seven-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track garners Nelly a 2003 Grammy for Best Male Rap Solo Performance, a brand new category at the time.