On This Day October 20
1977 – A plane carrying southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird”) crashes in Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines.
1947 – In what comes to be known as the “Red Scare,” the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opens hearings in Washington designed to expose communists in Hollywood. Many screenwriters, actors and directors are arrested and blacklisted by studio executives. Some would never work in Hollywood again.
1973 – In what came to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to dismiss Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
1950 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame (“Breakdown,” “American Girl,” “Refugee,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Free Fallin”) (d. 2017)
Own a Piece of This Day
Birdman of Alcatraz
Starring Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter and Telly Savalas and directed by John Frankenheimer
Starring Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and Jerry Orbach, and directed by Emile Ardolino