Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1974

Sex scandal involving Arkansas politician

Representative Wilbur D. Mills, a Democrat from Arkansas, resigns as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the aftermath of the first truly public sex scandal in American politics.

On October 7, 1974, at 2 a.m., Mills was stopped by Washington park police while driving at night with his lights off. The 65-year-old representative, an influential congressman and married man, was visibly intoxicated, his face was scratched, and his companion, 38-year-old Annabell Battistella, had bruised eyes. Battistella then proceeded to jump into the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial and had to be pulled out by the police. She was later identified as a popular stripper who went by the names “Fanne Foxe” and the “Argentine Firecracker.”

Congressmen had been involved in these types of improprieties before but the details were generally kept quiet, saving the politicians from public disgrace. However, on this occasion, the story of Representative Mills’ sordid affair with the stripper was heavily publicized. At first, Mills denied all the allegations but later admitted he had joined a party Battistella was present at after “a few refreshments.” Mills was subsequently reelected to Congress, but because of the escalating scandal, he was forced to retire his chairmanship and later announced that he would not run for reelection.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Avatar makes its world premiere

On this day in 2009, “Avatar,” a 3-D science-fiction epic helmed by “Titanic” director James Cameron, makes its world debut in London and goes on to become the highest-grossing movie in history. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver, the box-office mega-hit ...read more

Bunche receives Nobel Peace Prize

For his peace mediation during the first Arab-Israeli war, American diplomat Ralph Joseph Bunche receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. Bunche was the first African American to win the prestigious award. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1904, he entered the field of U.S. ...read more

First Nobel Prizes awarded

The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel ...read more

Wilson awarded Nobel Peace Prize

On this day in 1920, the Nobel Prize for Peace is awarded to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for his work in ending the First World War and creating the League of Nations. Although Wilson could not attend the award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, the U.S. Ambassador to Norway, Albert ...read more

Wyoming grants women the vote

Motivated more by interest in free publicity than a commitment to gender equality, Wyoming territorial legislators pass a bill that is signed into law granting women the right to vote. Western states led the nation in approving women’s suffrage, but some of them had rather ...read more

Emily Dickinson is born

On this day in 1830, Emily Dickinson is born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Dickinson was a witty and popular student at Amherst Academy and at Mt. Holyoke but was viewed as somewhat unconventional. She made a few trips to Philadelphia and Boston but rarely left Amherst. She ...read more

Ford builds its 1 millionth car

On December 10, 1915, the 1 millionth Ford car rolls off the assembly line at the River Rouge plant in Detroit. At first, Henry Ford had built his cars like every other automaker did: one at a time. But his factories’ efficiency and output steadily increased, and after he ...read more