Year
1993

Schindler’s List opens, wins Spielberg his first Oscar

On this day in 1993, Schindler’s List, starring Liam Neeson in the true story of a German businessman who saves the lives of more than a thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust, opens in theaters. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and took home seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was the first Best Director win for Spielberg, who had been nominated in the category for three of his earlier films: 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1981’s Raiders of the LostArk and 1982’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Schindler’s List was adapted from Thomas Keneally’s 1982 book Schindler’s Ark, about the Catholic businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved a large number of Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in a factory that made supplies for the German army. The film co-starred Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant and Ralph Fiennes as an evil Nazi officer.

Spielberg, born on December 18, 1946, had his first major success as a director with 1975’s Jaws, about a killer shark that terrorizes a New England beach community. Jaws became the first movie in history to gross more than $100 million. Spielberg’s next film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, about several humans who have life-changing run-ins with UFOs, was another huge box-office success. Spielberg scored yet another massive hit with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, which starred Harrison Ford as the adventurous archeologist Indiana Jones. The movie, co-written by George Lucas (Star Wars), was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It became a successful movie franchise, and Spielberg helmed the film’s sequels: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008). Spielberg’s credits also include E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park (1993), two of Hollywood’s all-time highest-grossing movies, as well as the Academy Award-winning dramas The Color Purple (1985) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), which earned him his second Best Director Oscar. Among Spielberg’s more recent directorial credits are Minority Report (2002), with Tom Cruise; Catch Me if You Can (2002), with Leonardo DiCaprio; and Munich (2005), for which he received another Best Director Oscar nomination.

Liam Neeson, born on June 7, 1952, in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, began his stage career in the 1970s and during the 1980s appeared in such films as Excalibur (1981), The Mission (1986), Suspect (1987), with Cher, and The Good Mother (1988), with Diane Keaton. Following his performance in Schindler’s List, for which he earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination, Neeson starred in such movies as Rob Roy (1995), Michael Collins (1996) and Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace (1999). Among Neeson’s other credits are the director Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002), Love Actually (2003), with Hugh Grant; the biopic Kinsey (2004), Batman Begins (2005) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (2005).

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Bill of Rights is finally ratified

Following ratification by the state of Virginia, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, become the law of the land.In September 1789, the first Congress of the United States approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and ...read more

Stephen M. Balzer patents rotary-engine auto

On this day in 1896, the U.S. government awards Patent Number 573,174 to inventor Stephen M. Balzer for a gasoline-powered motor buggy that he built two years earlier. Balzer never mass-produced any of his cars, but his “experimental” vehicle was one of the first functioning ...read more

Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens

On this day in 2001, Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens after a team of experts spent 11 years and $27 million to fortify the tower without eliminating its famous lean.In the 12th century, construction began on the bell tower for the cathedral of Pisa, a busy trade center on ...read more

Jockey Sandy Hawley wins record 500th race

On December 15, 1973, Sandy Hawley becomes the first jockey to win 500 races in a single year. Born in Ontario, Canada, Hawley began working at Toronto race tracks when he was a teenager. He won his first race in October 1968 at Toronto’s Woodbine race track and quickly racked up ...read more

Sitting Bull killed by Indian police

After many years of successfully resisting white efforts to destroy him and the Sioux people, the great Sioux chief and holy man Sitting Bull is killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota.One of the most famous Native Americans of the 19th century, ...read more

Heavy rain leads to mudslides in Venezuela

Flooding and mudslides caused by extremely heavy rains on this day in 1999 kill thousands in Venezuela. Another 350,000 people, mostly the very poor, were left homeless from the terrible storm.In the Caracas metropolitan area, about 80 percent of the population was impoverished ...read more

James Brown begins his prison sentence

Legendary singer James Brown, also known as the “Godfather of Soul” and the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” becomes inmate number 155413 at the State Park Correctional Institute in South Carolina. Brown had had several run-ins with the law during the summer of 1988 that ...read more

Battle of Nashville, Tennessee

On this day in 1864, the once powerful Confederate Army of Tennessee is nearly destroyed when a Union army commanded by General George Thomas swarms over the Rebel trenches around Nashville.The Battle of Nashvillewas thefinale in a disastrous year for General John Bell Hood’s ...read more

The Bill of Rights becomes law

On this day in 1791, Virginia becomes the last state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making the first ten amendments to the Constitution law and completing the revolutionary reforms begun by the Declaration of Independence. Before the Massachusetts ratifying convention would ...read more