The video rental store Blockbuster may seem like an outdated mode of movie distribution now, but when the first store opened in Texas on Oct. 19, 1985, such was not the case.
Up to this point, most video stores were smallscale operations with limited selections. Blockbuster changed the game, featuring thousands of tapes on its shelves, as well as a computerized checkout process.
The chain quickly expanded beyond its first store and enjoyed almost two decades of highly profitable business. It faltered in the 2000s, however, with additional competition from companies like Amazon and Netflix. In 2016, Blockbuster has just around 10 stores still open — the majority of those in Alaska, interestingly enough.
Decades before Blockbuster had its impact on the film industry, post-World War II politicians had theirs.
As the Cold War heated up between the United States and Soviet Union, conservative watchdogs in this country sought to expose what they believed was a communist infiltration. On Oct. 20, 1947, the Red Scare kicked into high gear when a Congressional committee began investigating Hollywood, of all places, for its supposedly rampant communism.
A number of those who resisted the allegations as infringements on their First Amendment Rights served jail terms. Due to pressure from Congress, Hollywood blacklisted the work of others still, including playwright Arthur Miller, filmmaker Orson Welles and writers Dashiell Hammett and Dorothy Park. This blacklist has been repealed and work reinstated.
On Oct. 21, 1959, the new, strangely-shaped Guggenheim Museum opened at the edge of Central Park in New York City. It’s considered one of the top contemporary art collections in the world.
The building itself was the result of 16 years of planning and construction helmed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the best-known architect in American history. He died six months before the museum opened, with opinion somewhat split on whether his creation succeeded (some said the building was more about the architect than the art inside). Either way, the museum draws nearly a million visitors every year.
In another bit of history pulled from the stuff of American folklore, Oct. 23, 1993, saw a walkoff home run to end the World Series. Toronto Blue Jay Joe Carter homered to send his team home with a win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies led 6-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth of the sixth game in the series (the Blue Jays led 3 games to 2). Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, who had saved 43 games during the regular season, gave up the iconic blast to left field. The YouTube video and game call is worth a watch.
About 45 years earlier, the best-known American wrestler was born.
Dan Gable was born Oct. 25, 1948, in Waterloo, Iowa. Though he would become the most accomplished collegiate wrestler the United States had ever seen (he went nearly undefeated — 181-1), he didn’t devote himself entirely to the sport until age 15, when tragedy struck his family.
While away on vacation with his parents for the weekend, his 19- year- old sister was murdered in their home by a 16- yearold neighbor named John Thomas Kyle. Gable has said over the years that this horrific event inspired him to become the best he could be as a wrestler, in order to give his parents something to look forward to, something to hope for. He has said that “It made me even more of a horse with blinders as far as wrestling went.”
Gable went on to wrestle at Iowa State University, winning every match except for the final one of his career, when Larry Owings, a University of Washington wrestler, bested him to win the national championship. Gable then won a gold medal in the 1972 Olympics without surrendering a single point the entire tournament, and later coached the University of Iowa wrestling team to 15 national titles from 1976 to 1997.