Today in History: Feb. 21, Malcolm X shot and killed at age 39


In 1437, James I, King of Scots, was assassinated; his 6-year-old son succeeded him as James II.

In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

In 1911, composer Gustav Mahler, despite a fever, conducted the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in what turned out to be his final concert (he died the following May).

In 1964, the first shipment of U.S. wheat purchased by the Soviet Union arrived in the port of Odessa.

In 1965, minister and civil rights activist Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in New York. (Three men identified as members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of murder and imprisoned; all were eventually paroled. The convictions of two of the men were dismissed in November 2021; prosecutors said new evidence had undermined the case against them.)

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.

In 1973, Israeli fighter planes shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing all but five of the 113 people on board.

In 1975, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up (each ended up serving 1 1/2 years).

In 1992, Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States won the gold medal in ladies’ figure skating at the Albertville Olympics; Midori Ito of Japan won the silver, Nancy Kerrigan of the U.S. the bronze.

In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean by balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

In 2018, the Rev. Billy Graham, a confidant of presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died at his North Carolina home at age 99.

In 2019, teachers in Oakland, California, went on strike in the latest in a wave of teacher activism that had included walkouts in Denver, Los Angeles and West Virginia.

In 2020, a temporary truce between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan took effect, setting the stage for the two sides to sign a peace deal the following week.


Actor Gary Lockwood is 87.

Actor-director Richard Beymer is 85.

Actor Peter McEnery is 84.

Film/music company executive David Geffen is 81.

Actor Tyne Daly is 78.

Actor Anthony Daniels is 78.

Tricia Nixon Cox is 78.

Former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 77.

Rock musician Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads) is 75.

Actor Christine Ebersole is 71.

Actor William Petersen is 71.

Actor Kelsey Grammer is 69.

Singer/guitarist Larry Campbell is 69.

Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 66.

Actor Kim Coates is 66.

Actor Jack Coleman is 66.

Actor Christopher Atkins is 63.

Actor William Baldwin is 61.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., is 60.

Rock musician Michael Ward is 57.

Actor Aunjanue Ellis is 55.

Blues musician Corey Harris is 55.

Country singer Eric Heatherly is 54.

Rock musician Eric Wilson is 54.

Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 51.

Singer Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) is 47.

Actor Tituss Burgess is 45.

Actor Jennifer Love Hewitt is 45.

Comedian-actor Jordan Peele is 45.

Actor Brendan Sexton III is 44.

Singer Charlotte Church is 38.

Actor Ashley Greene is 37.

Actor Elliot Page is 37.

Actor Corbin Bleu is 35.

Actor Hayley Orrantia is 30.

Actor Sophie Turner is 28.