November 20



The U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,074 to 46-year-old inventor and newspaperman Garrett Morgan for his three-position traffic signal. Though Morgan’s was not the first traffic signal (that one had been installed in London in 1868), it was an important innovation nonetheless. By having a third position besides just “Stop” and “Go,” it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier signals had. The signal Morgan patented was a T-shaped pole with three settings. At night, when traffic was light, it could be set at half-mast (like a blinking yellow light today), warning drivers to proceed carefully through the intersection. He sold the rights to his invention to General Electric for $40,000.


John Kander and Fred Ebb's Tony Award winning "Cabaret" opened at Broadhurst Theater NYC for 1165 performances. The musical is set in 1929–1930 Berlin during the waning days of the Weimar Republic as the Nazis were ascending to power. Cabaret focuses on the hedonistic nightlife at the seedy Kit Kat Klub and revolves around American writer Clifford Bradshaw's relations with English cabaret performer Sally Bowles. The award-winning musical inspired numerous subsequent productions in London and New York as well as the popular Academy Award winning 1972 film of the same name.


The UC Berkeley football team won an improbable last-second victory over Stanford when they complete five lateral passes around members of the Cardinals’ marching band, who had wandered onto the field a bit early to celebrate the upset they were sure their team had won, and score a touchdown. After catching the last pass of the series, Cal’s Kevin Moen careened through the confused horn section and made it safely to the end zone. Then he slammed into trombone player Gary Tyrell. (A photograph from the Oakland Tribune of the jubilant Moen and the terrified Tyrell in the moment just before the collision is still displayed triumphantly all over Berkeley.)

November 21


Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph, a way to record and play back sound. He stumbled on one of his great inventions, the phonograph, while working on a way to record telephone communication at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. His work led him to experiment with a stylus on a tinfoil cylinder, which, to his surprise, played back the short song he had recorded, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Public demonstrations of the phonograph made the Yankee inventor world famous. Edison set aside this invention in 1878 to work on the incandescent light bulb, and other inventors moved forward to improve on the phonograph.


Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone as the underdog prizefighter Rocky Balboa, debuted in New York City. The movie, which opened in theaters across the United States was a huge box-office hit and received 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for the then-little known Stallone. Rocky ultimately took home three Oscars, including one for Best Picture, and made Stallone one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. In first installment of the Rocky franchise, Rocky Balboa (Stallone) is an uneducated, small-time club fighter and debt collector who gets an unlikely shot at the world heavyweight championship held by Apollo Creed.


350 million people around the world tuned in to television’s popular primetime drama “Dallas” to find out who shot J.R. Ewing, the character fans loved to hate. J.R. had been shot on the season-ending episode the previous March 21st, which now stands as one of television’s most famous cliffhangers. The plot twist inspired widespread media coverage and left America wondering “Who shot J.R.?” for the next eight months. A full 76% of Americans tuned into the November 21st episode to solve the mystery, identifying Kristin Shepard, J.R.’s wife’s sister and his former mistress, as the culprit.

November 22


Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, was killed off North Carolina’s Outer Banks during a bloody battle with a British navy force sent from Virginia. Queen Anne’s Revenge served as the flagship of a pirate fleet featuring up to four vessels and more than 200 men. Teach became the most infamous pirate of his day, winning the popular name of Blackbeard for his long, dark beard, which he was said to light on fire during battles to intimidate his enemies. Blackbeard’s pirate forces terrorized the Caribbean and the southern coast of North America and were notorious for their cruelty.


John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible. As their vehicle passed the Texas School Book Depository Building at 12:30 p.m., Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired three shots from the sixth floor, fatally wounding President Kennedy and seriously injuring Governor Connally. Kennedy was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. He was 46. Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who was three cars behind President Kennedy in the motorcade, was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States at 2:39 p.m.


In the presence of members of Congress and the media, the Northrop B-2 “stealth” bomber was shown publicly for the first time at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The aircraft, which was developed in great secrecy for nearly a decade, was designed with stealth characteristics that would allow it to penetrate an enemy’s most sophisticated defenses unnoticed. At the time of its public unveiling, the B-2 had not even been flown on a test flight. It rapidly came under fire for its massive cost–more than $40 billion for development and a $1 billion price tag for each unit. As of 2018, twenty B-2s are in service with the United States Air Force, which plans to operate them until 2032, when the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider is to replace them.

November 23


III Summer (Modern) Olympic Games closed in St Louis. The first Olympic Games held in the US were scheduled for Chicago, but the location was changed to St. Louis when Olympic organizing committee officials decided to combine the Olympics with the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, a large fair celebrating the 100th anniversary of the U.S. acquisition of the Louisiana Territory. The Games were poorly attended by both spectators and athletes. The remoteness of St. Louis and growing tension in Europe over the Russo-Japanese War kept away many of the world’s best athletes.


US President Warren G. Harding signed the Willis-Campbell Act. It was a piece of legislation intended to clarify and tighten regulations around the medicinal use of alcohol during Prohibition. The law specified that only "spirituous and vinous liquors" (i.e. spirits and wine, thus excluding beer) could be prescribed medicinally, reduced the maximum amount of alcohol per prescription to half a pint, and limited doctors to 100 prescriptions for alcohol per 90-day period. It was commonly known as the "beer emergency bill". The Act kept in force all anti-liquor tax laws that had been in place prior to the passage of the Volstead Act in 1919, giving authorities the right to choose whether or not to prosecute offenders under prohibition laws or revenue laws, but at the same time guaranteeing bootleggers that they would not be prosecuted in both ways.

The first issue of the pictorial magazine Life was published, featuring a cover photo of the Fort Peck Dam's spillway by Margaret Bourke-White. The magazine was launched by influential American publisher Henry Luce, who had already enjoyed great success as the publisher of Time, a weekly news magazine. Whereas the original mission of Time was to tell the news, the mission of Life was to show it.

November 24


A new Lockheed VC-121E Constellation was brought into service for President Dwight Eisenhower, which he names "Columbine III," and is christened Air Force One by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. Though not the first plane to use the call sign Air Force One, it is the first to do so from the start of its service. In 1953, two planes nearly collided over New York City. One was Eastern Airlines flight 8610 and the other was Air Force flight 8610. Because they had the same call sign, they both entered the same airspace. After this incident, it was decided that the president’s plane should have its own unique call sign, Air Force One.


Philadelphia Warrior Wilt Chamberlain snagged 55 rebounds in a game against the Boston Celtics and set an NBA record for the most rebounds in a single game. Chamberlain is considered one of the best offensive basketball players of his era. He broke more than 70 NBA records. In his 14-year career in the NBA, he scored 31,419 points. He was the highest scorer in the NBA from 1960-1966 and led the league in rebounding for 11 of his 14 seasons. During the 1966-67 season, when his coach asked him to shoot less and pass more, Chamberlain had more assists than anyone else in the league.


A hijacker calling himself D.B. Cooper highjacked a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 and demanded $200,000 in ransom money. Wearing only wraparound sunglasses, a thin suit, and a raincoat, Cooper parachuted into a thunderstorm with winds in excess of 100 mph and temperatures well below zero at the 10,000-foot altitude where he began his fall. No trace of Cooper has ever been found. In 1980, an eight-year-old boy uncovered a stack of nearly $5,880 of the ransom money in the sands along the north bank of the Columbia River, five miles from Vancouver, Washington. The fate of Cooper remains a mystery.

November 25


Three days after his assassination in Dallas, Texas, President John F. Kennedy was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


Pat Summerall and John Madden broadcast a game together for the first time. There've been plenty of great broadcasting teams to take the booth in NFL history -- but this pairing stands a cut above the rest. John Madden and Pat Summerall worked as a broadcasting team for a whopping 22 years. Together, they covered eight Super Bowls and worked with multiple networks. They called their final game together in February 2002 with Fox. From the 1990s and into the early 2000s, Summerall also lent his voice to Madden's famous football video game series. Pat Summerall died of a heart attack in 2013. John Madden passed away at the age of 85 in late 2021. While each of these football icons have passed on, both of their voices will live on in the minds of NFL fans everywhere.


Three weeks after a Lebanese magazine reported that the United States had been secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of seven American hostages, Attorney General Edwin Meese reveals that, on white house orders, proceeds from the arms sales were diverted to the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. The revelation, confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources, came as a shock to officials outside President Reagan’s inner circle and went against the stated policy of the administration. In addition to violating the U.S. arms embargo against Iran, the arms sales contradicted President Reagan’s vow never to negotiate with terrorists.

November 26


President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. This followed the precedent set by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 which was followed annually by every subsequent president—until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. He thought this would help bolster retail sales during one of the final years of the Great Depression by adding an extra seven days of Christmas shopping. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation. In 1941, Roosevelt admitted his mistake and reverted back to the precedent established by Lincoln.


Casablanca, a World War II-era drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premieres in New York City; it will go on to become one of the most beloved Hollywood movies in history. In the film, Bogart played Rick Blaine, the owner of a swanky North African nightclub, who is reunited with the beautiful, enigmatic Ilsa Lund (Bergman), the woman who loved and left him. Directed by Michael Curtiz, Casablanca took home three Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film featured a number of now-iconic quotes, including Rick’s line to Ilsa: “Here’s looking at you, kid,” as well as “Round up the usual suspects,” “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”


The original Price Is Right, hosted by Bill Cullen, premiered on NBC's daytime schedule. During the American game show, contestants made successive bids on merchandise prizes with the goal of bidding closest to the actual retail price of the prize without going over. The show was a precursor to the current and best-known version of the show, which premiered in 1972 on CBS's daytime schedule. It makes The Price Is Right one of only a few game shows to have aired in some form across all three of the Big Three television networks. Bob Barker hosted 35 seasons of daily episodes until his retirement in 2007 when Drew Carey assumed hosting duties.



While returning to base from another mission, Air Force 1st Lt. James P. Fleming and four other Bell UH-1F helicopter pilots received an urgent message from an Army Special Forces team pinned down by enemy fire. Lieutenant Fleming and another pilot pressed on with the rescue effort while others could not because of low fuel. The first attempt failed because of intense ground fire, but refusing to abandon the Army green berets, Fleming managed to land and pick up the team. When he safely arrived at his base near Duc Co, it was discovered that his aircraft was nearly out of fuel. Lieutenant Fleming was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Ann Colón