1815 - Napoleon I of France is sent into exile on Saint Helena somewhere out there in the Atlantic Ocean.
1888 - The "From Hell" letter possibly sent by Jack the Ripper is received by investigators. Also known as the "Lusk letter," the letter is postmarked October 15 and was received by George Lusk . Upon opening the small box he discovered half a human kidney, probably from Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim. Who ever wrote the letter also claimed to have fried and eaten the missing kidney half. Though, through the years, some have contended that it may have been a sick practical joke.
1894 - Alfred Dreyfus, an up and coming artillery officer and Jewish, was arrested for spying. So begins the Dreyfus Affair. He was pardoned in 1899 by President Emile Loubet while serving time in prison on Devil's Island. New evidence, actually old evidence that was covered-up by anti-Semitic army officers, found him innocent of all the charges and in 1906 Dreyfus was officially exonerated by a military commission.
1917 - On this date, just outside of Paris at Vincennes, Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan and spy Mata Hari, was executed by firing squad for being a double agent and spying for Germany. Many have argued that Mata Hari never really was a double agent and was used as a scapegoat by the head of the French counter-espionage, Georges Ladoux, who had recruited Mata Hari to be a French spy. Of course later Ladoux himself was arrested for being a double agent. The facts of the case have remained a bit hazy, the official documents concerning the execution were sealed for 100 years, and more details won’t be revealed until 2017.
1928 - The dirigible Graf Zeppelin completed its first trans-Atlantic flight landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. A few years later an embargo by the United States prevented Germany from acquiring helium needed for such airships, the Germans converted their dirigibles, intended to be filled with helium gas, to flammable hydrogen. The Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937 ended the airship line and business. The Graf Zeppelin was retired a month later and turned into a museum.
1937 Ernest Hemingway's novel "To Have & Have Not" is published.
1940 - "The Great Dictator" the classic film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin is first released on this day, it’s Chaplin’s first "talkie," and becomes his most successful commercial film ever.
1946 - Leading member of the Nazi Party and morphine addict, Hermann Göring committed suicide by cyanide poisoning the night before his execution. He had been convicted for crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg Trials and had been sentenced to death by hanging.
1951 – I Love Lucy premieres. It’ll be on the air until 1960. Some 50 odd years after it’s debut I Love Lucy was voted the second greatest sitcom ever by TV Guide just behind Seinfeld.
1951 – What would contemporary life be without the accomplishments of Luis Miramontes. His scientific contributions are incredibly extensive, including some 40 national and international patents. But perhaps his greatest contribution to science and modern life (especially modern sexual practices), took place on this date in 1951 when Miramontes, only 26 years old, synthesized the first oral contraceptive.
1964 - Just two days after Craig Breedlove set a new auto land speed record, he broke it again, traveling at 526.277 mph driving in his Spirit of America Sonic 1 at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. A year later in November he’ll break this record two more times.
1977 - Has it already been 30 years? Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life," goes to #1 on the Billboard Charts and will stay there for 10 grueling weeks.
1981 - Professional cheerleader Krazy George Henderson leads what is thought to be the first audience wave in Oakland, during a nationally televised Oakland A’s American League Championship Series game against the New York Yankees. By the way, the Yankees won, New York - 4, Oakland -0, attendance was 47,302.
1988 – An injured Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers makes his only plate appearance during the ’88 World Series. Hobbling on two bad legs and facing future Hall-of-Famer Dennis Eckersley, the best relief pitcher of the era, Gibson hit a "backdoor slider" on a 3-2 count over the right-field fence, to beat the Oakland A’s in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. I remember it like it was just yesterday! And I”ll never forget announcer Vin Scully’s call: “High fly ball into right field, she i-i-i-is... gone!! … In a year that has been so improbable... the impossible has happened!!”