September 12 1878
The magnificent phallic symbol Cleopatra’s Needle is erected in London on the bank of the Thames. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Cleopatra. The obelisk has a twin in New York’s Central Park, also named Cleopatra’s Needle. It has nothing to do with Cleopatra, either.
September 12 1966
NBC television premieres The Monkees, a sitcom about four guys in a rock band. When the show becomes a hit, the fictional Monkees somehow release a string of albums, even though three of the actors can’t even play their instruments.
September 12 1970
After releasing most of their captives, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine blows up three hijacked passenger jets in the Jordanian desert. The 40 remaining Israeli hostages are taken to secret locations in Amman, Jordan.
September 12 1977
The body of Steven Biko is discovered on the floor of a jail cell in Pretoria. The South African civil rights activist had been beaten and tortured six days earlier, during an interrogation in Port Elizabeth. Police officials claim that Biko probably suffered the fatal injuries when he “fell out of bed.”
September 12 1992
Anthony Perkins, star of the Hitchcock classic Psycho, dies of AIDS in his Hollywood hills home. His extraordinary versatility as an actor is captured in the films Psycho II, Psycho III, and Psycho IV: The New Beginning.
September 12 1994
After a night of boozing and smoking crack, Frank Corder steals a Cessna P150 and crashes it into the south lawn of the White House. The wreckage tumbles over a tree and a hedge before coming to rest against the West Wing of the Executive Mansion. Corder’s flamboyant suicide attack never actually imperiled President Clinton’s life, since the First Family was sleeping elsewhere at the time.