Today is July 25.
At 50 minutes to midnight, 45 miles south of Nantucket Island, the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria and the Swedish ocean liner Stockholm collided in a heavy Atlantic fog. Fifty-one passengers and crew were killed in the collision, which ripped a great hole in the broad side of the Italian vessel. Miraculously, 1,660 persons aboard the Andrea Doria were rescued before it sank the next morning.
Mata Hari, archetype of the seductive female spy, was sentenced to death in France for spying on Germany's behalf on this date in 1917. She was executed the following October. As an entertainer, she packed dance halls from Russia to America with her near-nude exotic Indian dances. She was also a famous courtesan, and with the outbreak of World War I her catalog of lovers began to include high-ranking French officers. In February 1917, French authorities arrested her for espionage.
After asking from the cockpit "Where is England?", French pilot Louis Bleriot took off on this date in 1909 from Les Baraques, France, and flew across the English Channel, landing in a field near Dover, England, 36 minutes later. He was the first person to fly a "heavier-than-air machine" across the English Channel in what also was the world's first international airplane flight.
A New York court on this date in 1997 convicted Autumn Jackson, who claimed to be the out-of-wedlock daughter of Bill Cosby, of seeking to extort money from the entertainer by threatening to go to the tabloid newspapers with her story.
The world's first "test-tube" baby, an infant girl named Louise Brown, was born in Oldham, England, on this date in 1978. Actually, "test-tube" is a misnomer: she was actually conceived in a petrie dish.
We now return you to the present, already in progress.