Year
1996

Joan Collins wins lawsuit against Random House

On this day in 1996, actress and bestselling novelist Joan Collins won a judgment against Random House for $1 million. In 1990, Random House had offered Collins $4 million in a two-book deal, and paid a $1.2 million advance, with the rest due on delivery of the manuscripts. But when Collins turned in the first of the two books, the publishing house claimed it was “unreadable” and sued for the return of the advance. The court ruled in favor of Collins and demanded that Random House pay her an additional $1 million for the work she turned in.

The novel, not surprisingly, was never published.

Collins, a British-born actress and older sister of bestselling novelist Jackie Collins, had already starred in some 50 movies and 25 television shows, including the 1980s hit Dynasty, when she sold her first novel to Simon and Schuster for a rumored $3 million. Critics trashed the book, Prime Time (1988), which nonetheless became a bestseller. Her next book, My Secrets, was published in 1994, followed by Second Act in 1996. Her tangle with Random House evidently failed to quell her literary ambitions: She published My Friends’ Secrets, a beauty book, in 1999.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Deerfield razed in Queen Anne’s War

Deerfield, a frontier settlement in western Massachusetts, is attacked by a French and Native American force. Some 100 men, women, and children were massacred as the town was burned to the ground. The Deerfield raid was the bloodiest event of Queen Anne’s War, a conflict known to ...read more

Kerner Commission Report released

The President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders—known as the Kerner Commission—releases its report, condemning racism as the primary cause of the recent surge of riots. Headed by Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, the 11-member commission was appointed by President ...read more

Shaker founder born

Ann Lee, the founder of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, a Christian sect commonly known as the Shakers, is born in Manchester, England. In 1770, “Mother” Ann broke from the Quakers to establish her own religious movement based on celibacy, sexual ...read more

McDaniel wins Oscar

On February 29, 1940, Gone with the Wind is honored with eight Oscars by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. An epic Southern romance set during the hard times of the Civil War, the movie swept the prestigious Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, ...read more

South Korean troops withdrawn

South Korea pulls 11,000 troops out of Vietnam as part of its program to withdraw all of its 48,000 troops from the country. The South Korean contingent had begun arriving in country on February 26, 1965, as part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. ...read more

Hank Aaron record-breaking deal

On February 29, 1972, Hank Aaron signs a three-year deal with the Atlanta Braves that pays him $200,000 per year, making him the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball at the time. Two years later, Aaron became baseball’s home run king when he broke Babe Ruth’s ...read more

“Alfalfa” Murray on cover of Time

One of the most colorful western politicians of his day, William “Alfalfa” Murray makes the cover of Time magazine after announcing his long-shot candidacy for the Presidency. Born in poverty near Toadsuck, Texas, in 1869, Murray dabbled in a ...read more

Earthquake devastates Moroccan city

The city of Agadir in Morocco is reduced to ruins by an earthquake on this day in 1960. Northeastern Africa was not generally an area known for earthquakes, though there had been a deadly tremor in Algeria six years earlier. Agadir, located south of Casablanca on the Atlantic ...read more

Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid splits

Union General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry raiders split into two wings on their way south to Richmond. Colonel Ulrich Dahlgren and 500 troopers swung out further west as Kilpatrick and 3,000 men rode on to the outskirts of Richmond. The raid stalled there, and Dahlgren was ...read more

Two ships sink in North Sea battle

On the afternoon of February 29, 1916, both the British armed merchant ship Alcantara and the German raider Grief sink after engaging each other in a close-range battle on the North Sea. The German raider Grief was in disguise, flying under the Norwegian flag and with Norwegian ...read more