Actress Charlize Theron born

On this day in 1975, the actress Charlize Theron, known both for her lithe blonde beauty (she was named 2007’s “Sexiest Woman of the Year” by Esquire magazine) and serious acting chops (she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for 2003’s Monster), is born in Benoni, South Africa.

Theron grew up on a farm in South Africa and modeled in Europe and New York as a teenager. After moving to Los Angeles as a young woman, she was reportedly discovered in a bank line by a talent agent. She made her movie debut with an uncredited part in Children of the Corn III (1995), which was soon followed by larger roles in such films as 1996’s That Thing You Do!, which marked Tom Hanks’ directorial debut; 1997’s The Devil’s Advocate, co-starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves; and 1998’s Mighty Joe Young, about an African gorilla brought to Los Angeles to escape poachers. Among Theron’s other high-profile movie credits over the next several years were The Cider House Rules (1999), the acclaimed adaptation of the John Irving novel; John Frankenheimer’s poorly received action thriller Reindeer Games (2000); The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), with Will Smith and Matt Damon; and The Italian Job (2003), a remake of the classic 1969 crime caper. She met her longtime boyfriend, the Irish actor Stuart Townsend, when the two starred together in the forgettable 2002 thriller Trapped.

In 2003, the actress shed her glamorous image and completely transformed her appearance for her role as the real-life prostitute-turned-serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Theron’s performance earned her the best reviews of her career, as well as an Academy Award for Best Actress. She received a second Best Actress Oscar nomination for another unglamorous performance in North Country (2005), which was inspired by the true story of a female miner in Minnesota who filed a landmark sexual-harassment lawsuit against her company for the abuse she received from male co-workers.

On the small screen, Theron was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for her portrayal of the Swedish actress Britt Eklund in the HBO movie The Life and Death of Peter Sellars (2004). She also turned in a notable guest-starring performance on the acclaimed Fox comedy series Arrested Development in 2005.Theron’s more recent film credits include In the Valley of Elah (2007), a drama involving soldiers recently returned from war in Iraq, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones; and the unconventional superhero film Hancock (2008), which reteamed the actress with her Bagger Vance co-star Will Smith.


U.S. satellite photographs earth

From the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the U.S. unmanned spacecraft Explorer 6 is launched into an orbit around the earth. The spacecraft, commonly known as the “Paddlewheel” satellite, featured a photocell scanner that transmitted a crude picture of the more

U.S. embassies in East Africa bombed

At 10:30 a.m. local time, a massive truck bomb explodes outside the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Minutes later, another truck bomb detonated outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, the capital of neighboring Tanzania. The dual terrorist attacks killed 224 people, including more

Trapped Russian sub rescued

On this day in 2005, a Russian Priz AS-28 mini-submarine, with seven crew members on board, is rescued from deep in the Pacific Ocean. On August 4, the vessel had been taking part in training exercises in Beryozovaya Bay, off the coast of Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka more

Wood raft makes 4,300-mile voyage

On this day in 1947, Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft captained by Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, completes a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti.Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could more

U.S. forces invade Guadalcanal

On this day in 1942, the U.S. 1st Marine Division begins Operation Watchtower, the first U.S. offensive of the war, by landing on Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands. On July 6, 1942, the Japanese landed on Guadalcanal Island and began constructing an airfield there. more

Tonkin Gulf Resolution is passed

The U.S. Congress passes Public Law 88-408, which becomes known as the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving President Johnson the power to take whatever actions he deems necessary to defend Southeast Asia including “the use of armed force.” The resolution passed 82-2 in the Senate, more

Lynne Cox swims into communist territory

On this day in 1987, Lynne Cox braves the freezing waters of the Bering Strait to make the first recorded swim from the United States to the Soviet Union. Lynne Cox’s swimming career began in her native New Hampshire when she was just nine years old. Not long after that, her more

Bush orders Operation Desert Shield

On this day in 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush orders the organization of Operation Desert Shield in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2. The order prepared American troops to become part of an international coalition in the war against Iraq that would be more

Mysterious explosions in Colombia

Seven army ammunition trucks explode in Cali, Colombia, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring thousands more on this day in 1956. The cause of the explosions remains a mystery. The previous day, 20 trucks fully loaded with dynamite departed the Colombian city of more

Georgia institutes a State Board of Corrections

Concerned with its reputation in light of recent revelations about inhumane prison conditions, Georgia changes its constitution to set up a State Board of Corrections. The board was directed to be more humane in its treatment of prisoners and abolished whippings, leg irons, and more

Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

The United States Congress overwhelming approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Lyndon B. Johnson nearly unlimited powers to oppose “communist aggression” in Southeast Asia. The resolution marked the beginning of an expanded military role for the United States in more

Confederate General Evander Law is born

Confederate General Evander Law is born in Darlington, South Carolina. Law had a distinguished career in the Confederate army and earned a reputation as a brave and effective field commander. Law, who attended the Citadel and studied law after his graduation, built a prewar more