Today marks the 135th anniversary of one of America’s best known shootouts — that between the Earp brothers and the Clanton-McLaury gang at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
The town had flourished as a mining spot in the years since 1877, when silver was discovered nearby. In that time, the Earp brothers had emerged as the powerhungry law and order of the area; the Clanton-McLaury gang the rebellious cowboys. On this day, the latter group decided to confront the Earps for what they believed was ruthless, baseless enforcement.
The shootout featured around 30 shots in a 30-second burst, and it left Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers dead. Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded, but survived.
Oct. 27, 1932, saw the birth of one of the great American poets of the 20th century. Sylvia Plath was born in Boston to a German immigrant father and a second-generation American mother, of Austrian descent.
Plath excelled intellectually from a young age, publishing her first poem at 8 years old, around the time her father died due to complications from untreated diabetes. She published collections of poetry and the novel “The Bell Jar” during her 20s, and was widely recognized for her virtuosic talent.
In 1956, she met the writer Ted Hughes, and they began a relationship that would lead to a marriage, two children and a subsequent separation. Plath struggled with mental illness most of if not all her adult life, and in 1963, at 30 years old, she killed herself in her home.
Several years later, on Oct. 29, 1966, a different kind of lore took hold in American pop music. “96 Tears,” a song from the garage rock band ? (Question Mark) and the Mysterians, hit the top spot on the Billboard pop chart.
The success of the song brought overnight attention to an unassuming group from Michigan, which featured a lead singer who actually went by the name “?” or “Question Mark” and who remains adamant that he is an alien. The band is sometimes considered a one-hit wonder — it never enjoyed this kind of success again — but many today believe its music to be an early forerunner to the punk movement of the midto late-70s.
In a much different sort of historical event, Martin Luther posted his 95 revolutionary theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, on Oct. 31, 1517. These ideas would go on to spring the Protestant Reformation.
For one, Luther condemned the Roman Catholic Church for its practice of asking payment in exchange for forgiveness of sins. His controversial ideas and increasing popularity led to his excommunication from the Catholic Church, as well as a declaration from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Germany that anyone could murder him without punishment.
Luther was protected, however, and lived until 1546, by which time he had laid the groundwork for the Protestant movement.
Five years before Luther nailed his criticism to a door, one of the great accomplishments of Renaissance art was revealed to the public for the first time. On Nov. 1, 1512, the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo, opened for exhibit.
It took the great artist some three or four years to complete the work, and now it stands alongside other projects, like the marble David sculpture, as one of his finest. In his lifetime, Michelangelo was considered Europe’s top living artist; today he is recognized as one of the greatest artists to ever live.