Home Decades 1990s 1997

1997

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January

bullimore199709 – Yachtsman Tony Bullimore is found alive five days after his boat capsized in the freezing Southern Ocean, 2200 km off the coast of Australia.

17 – Comedian Bill Cosby‘s only son is murdered while changing a flat tyre on his Mercedes convertible in the early hours of the morning. The body of Ennis William Cosby (27) is found near the Santa Monica Mountains in California.

20 – Bill Clinton is inaugurated for his second term as President of the United States.

21 – Colonel Tom Parker – former manager of Elvis Presley – suffers a stroke and dies in Valley Hospital, Las Vegas.

February

04 – A Santa Monica civil jury finds OJ Simpson culpable in the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. The court awards the Goldman family $8.5 million in compensation.

05 – Three of Switzerland’s biggest banks create a 100 million Swiss franc ($71 million) Holocaust Memorial Fund after years of international pressure.

06 – Diane Blood (32) wins the right to use her dead husband’s sperm to conceive a child in the UK.

11 – A group of scientists in Edinburgh announce that they have successfully cloned a ewe using the cell of another adult sheep. Dolly the sheep was actually born on 5 July 1996, but the announcement was delayed so that her development could be monitored before it was made public. Dolly was put down in 2003 when it was found she had a fatal lung disease.

19 – A New York judge dismisses a $7 million lawsuit filed against Mötley Crüe for the hearing loss apparently suffered by a fan at one of their concerts.

March

05 – North Korea and South Korea meet for the first time in 25 years for peace talks.

20 – The maker of Chesterfield cigarettes settles 22 state lawsuits by admitting the industry has marketed cigarettes to teenagers.

22 – The Hale-Bopp comet comes closest to the earth. Amateur astronomers Alan Hale in New Mexico and Thomas Bopp in Arizona separately discovered the comet on the same day in 1995. After this year’s appearance, it is calculated that the Hale-Bopp comet will disappear from sight again until the year 4397.

26 – 39 members of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult commit mass suicide at a million-dollar mansion outside San Diego, California by drinking a deadly cocktail of vodka and barbiturates. The members believed that by killing themselves they would gain passage on a UFO trailing the Hale-Bopp comet, currently visible in the night sky. The bodies are found dressed in dark pants and Nikes and draped with purple shrouds.

30 – Channel 5 is launched on British television.

April

07 – Liam Gallagher of Oasis marries actress Patsy Kensit.

12 – 20 anti-tank mines are found under a bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on the Pope’s planned route around the city. The devices are discovered the day before the Pope is due to arrive, but the visit goes ahead as planned.

13 – Golfer Tiger Woods (21) becomes the youngest ever winner of the US Masters. He also becomes the first black golfer to win a major tournament, with a winning margin of 12 strokes.

21 – The ashes of 1960s LSD guru Timothy Leary and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry are blasted into space in the Earth’s first space funeral.

22 – A four-month siege at the Japanese embassy in Peru is brought to an end when the building is stormed by security forces. All 12 of the Tupac Amaru rebels inside the embassy are killed, with all but one of the 72 hostages freed.

25 – The US Senate ratifies the global treaty banning the development, production, storage and use of chemical weapons.

May

03 – A group intent on gaining independence for Texas from the United States surrenders to the authorities ending an armed standoff in which two people have been held hostage.

03 – At Dublin’s Point Theatre, Katrina & The Waves win the 42nd Eurovision Song Contest with Love Shine A Light.

04 – The Labour Party wins a landslide victory in the UK general election ending 18 years of Conservative government. Tony Blair will be the new prime minister – at 43, the youngest British PM for nearly 200 years.

29 – Singer Jeff Buckley drowns in the Mississippi while in Memphis, Tennessee to record his second album. He had taken an impromptu midnight swim fully clothed, only to be sucked under by the wash from a passing barge. His body was washed up a week later. He was 30 years old.

June

04 – Former Small Faces bassist Ronnie Laine (51) dies at his home in Trinidad, Colorado, following a long struggle with Multiple Sclerosis.

13 – Timothy McVeigh is found guilty of planting the 1995 bomb that killed 168 in Oklahoma City and is sentenced to death by a court in Denver, Colorado.

30 – London publisher Bloomsbury issues the first of J K Rowling’s novels for children, entitled Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone. The series of books subsequently sells over 400 million copies.

July

01 – British governor Chris Patten transfers control of Hong Kong back to the Chinese authorities after more than 150 years of British rule.

01 – Actor Robert Mitchum dies in Santa Barbara, USA.

02 – Screen legend James Stewart dies in Los Angeles.

03 – President Clinton makes his first formal response to accusations of sexual harassment by Paula Jones. He denies all the charges and asks that the judge dismiss the case.

04 – The US Pathfinder probe, launched on 4 December 1996, lands on Mars and sends back pictures of rocky landscape. Argument rages over whether or not to send humans next time.

09 – Mike Tyson is banned from boxing for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear.

10 – Scientists in London discover DNA from a Neanderthal skeleton which supports the theory that all humanity descended from a single woman, dubbed African Eve, between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

13 – The body of Che Guevara is returned to Cuba for burial.

15 – Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace is gunned down on the steps of his Miami Beach residence by gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who kills himself in a nearby houseboat a few days later. Cunanan was being sought by the FBI in connection with four other murders.

31 – Police in New York City intercept five bombs believed to be intended for use in terrorist attacks on city subways.

August

06 – Apple Computers and Microsoft agree to share technology in a deal that gives Microsoft a stake in Apple’s survival.

21 – In the largest food recall in US history, Hudson Foods Inc closes a plant in Nebraska after recalling 25 million pounds of ground beef potentially contaminated with E coli bacteria.

25 – A court in Berlin sentences former East German leader Egon Krenz to six years in prison for the shoot-to-kill policy employed by border guards against people trying to flee East Germany.

31 – Diana, Princess of Wales, is involved in a car accident in an underpass off the Place de l’Alma in Paris. Her companion, Dodi Al-Fayed, and driver Henri Paul are killed but Diana and her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones are still alive. It takes two hours to cut Diana from the wreckage and she is pronounced dead by doctors at Salpêtrière hospital at 04:00 local time.

September

05 – After a lifetime caring for the sick and needy, Mother Teresa (87) dies at the headquarters of the order she founded in Calcutta.

06 – More than one million people line the route of Diana’s funeral procession in London, and almost 2.5 billion watch it on television.

09 – Sinn Fein – the political wing of the IRA – formally renounces violence and takes its place in talks on Northern Ireland’s future. They are joined shortly by Northern Ireland’s main Unionist party – the first time all the major players meet around one table.

09 – Veteran actor Burgess Meredith dies in Malibu.

12 – A referendum in favour of devolution means that Scotland will have its own parliament for the first time in over 300 years.

24 – Student Barry Loukaitis of Frontier Junior High, Moses Lake, Washington, is convicted of shooting dead two of his fellow students and one teacher. His lawyers claimed he committed the murders in emulation of the Pearl Jam video for their song Jeremy.

26 – A double earthquake in central Italy badly damages the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, killing four people and destroying a priceless set of frescoes by the medieval artist Cimabue. The church is restored at a cost of $50 million and reopens in 1999.

October

12 – John Denver dies at the age of 53 when the experimental aircraft he is flying crashes into Monterey Bay, California.

31 – A Boston (US) jury finds British au pair Louise Woodward (19) guilty of second-degree murder of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen who died in her care. Woodward will later have her conviction reduced to manslaughter.

November

08 – Chinese engineers divert the Yangtze River to make way for building work on the Three Gorges Dam.

13 – Saddam Hussein expels six UN arms inspectors from Iraq. Suspecting that the Iraqi leader is continuing to manufacture chemical weapons, Clinton weighs whether or not to attack him. Hussein eventually backs down and lets the inspectors get on with their business.

22 – INXS singer Michael Hutchence is found dead, hanging by a leather belt from the back of his hotel room door in the Ritz Carlton, Sydney, Australia. The coroner concludes he took his own life after consuming drugs and alcohol.

December

11 – Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams becomes the first political member of the IRA to meet a British leader in 76 years when he visits prime minister Tony Blair in London.

11 – More than 150 countries meet in Kyoto, Japan, and agree to control the Earth’s greenhouse gases.

17 – 122 governments sign the Ottawa Treaty, which bans antipersonnel land mines. Over 150 countries have now ratified the treaty but superpowers such as Russia, China and the United States have not signed.

31 – The Kennedy family suffer yet another tragedy when Michael Kennedy – 39-year old son of the late US Senator, Robert – is killed in an accident while skiing on Aspen Mountain in Colorado.

 

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