June 19 1312
Piers Gaveston, the disturbingly open homosexual lover of King Edward II of England, is beheaded after he attempted to return to Edward’s side. For a time Gaveston was ward of the underage boy before the death of his father Edward I, to the great dismay of many important lords. After succession to king, Edward appointed Gaveston as Earl of Cornwall for no other reason than being the king’s personal cornhole.
June 19 1867
Emperor Maximilian of Mexico is executed by firing squad. Although he bribed the seven riflemen to not shoot him in the head, one did anyway.
June 19 1934
The Federal Communications Commission, perhaps the most wicked body of do-gooders ever to exist in the United States, is created with the passage of the Communications Act of 1934. The FCC’s ostensible purpose is to censor interesting broadcasts, silence dissenting political opinion and shelter Americans from dirty words and boobies.
June 19 1953
Atomic spies Julyius and Ethel Rosenberg are electrocuted at Sing-Sing Prison, becoming the first civilians ever executed for espionage in American history. Five jolts of electricity were required to kill Ethel. Her husband Julyius was on the Soviet payroll, according to recently released archives. It is not clear whether Ethel had any involvement or how much Julyius actually assisted the Soviet atomic bomb effort.
June 19 1964
San Francisco’s Condor Club becomes the first topless bar in the United States when dancer Carol Doda steps onstage in a bottom-only swimsuit designed by Rudi Gernreich. Other San Francisco clubs follow suit just days later.
June 19 1982
Roberto Calvi, chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, is found hanging from Blackfriar’s Bridge in London. His death is initially ruled a suicide, though it is quite obviously murder; that assessment is later overturned. Calvi may have been killed because of his involvement in the laundering of drug money through the Vatican Bank.
June 19 1999
While taking a walk, horror author Stephen King is struck by a van piloted by a distracted Bryan Smith. King’s extensive injuries (broken leg, broken hip, lacerated scalp and collapsed lung) remanded him to a hospital bed for three weeks. Smith would later die in his sleep on Stephen King’s birthday.