Not Your Century

On hiatus as of March 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis. Get unlimited access to the Chronicle. | A daily celebration of the news — and the news media — of years gone by. King Kaufman takes you on a quick tour of the Bay Area and the world as it used to be, which often colors the world of your century.

1959: The Dalai Lama Escapes
The 23-year-old religious and spiritual leader of Tibet gets an invitation from the occupying Chinese to come to a dance performance. Without bodyguards. Sensing a trap, he flees on foot over the Himalayas to India, where he remains in exile.
5 min
1922: Fatty Arbuckle's Third Trial
He's a giant of silent comedies, in more ways than one. Hollywood's first million-dollar star is a baby-faced man-mountain with the grace of a dancer. But a sensational rape and manslaughter case has derailed his life and career.
7 min
1918: The Flu Pandemic
A century before the COVID-19 coronavirus, the United States, like all combatants in the Great War, wants to keep the exploding flu crisis quiet to protect morale and prevent the enemy from seeing weakness. Sound familiar? | (Correction: An earlier version of this episode contained an error. Some 675,000 AIDS deaths occurred in the United States.)
6 min
1964: The Palace Hotel Protest Leader
As an 18-year-old, Tracy Sims was the leader of civil rights protests that forced San Francisco hotels to end hiring discrimination. Now Tamam Tracy Moncur, the retired schoolteacher remembers a time when "the whole country was on fire for civil rights."
17 min
1981: Walter Cronkite Signs Off
"That's the way it is," says the Most Trusted Man in America — for the last time, as he retires from anchoring the CBS Evening News. It's like a presidential changeover.
7 min
1946: Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech
In a college gym in small-town Missouri, former Prime Minister Winston Churchill tries to shake Americans out of their postwar bliss by saying their old ally "Uncle Joe" Stalin has dropped an "Iron Curtain" across Europe.
5 min
1991: The Rodney King Beating
When a commotion outside his apartment woke George Holliday up at 1 a.m., the plumber grabbed his new camcorder and went out to his balcony. He saw a police beating, and within a few days, everyone would see it.
5 min
1991: Murder in Porn's First Family
The Mitchell Brothers, Jim and "Party Artie," revolutionized the adult entertainment business, first with their O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, then with movies like "Behind the Green Door." They were close. Then Jim killed Artie. Why?
5 min
1965: Malcolm X Suspect Arrested
In the wake of the Fusion and Netflix series "Who Killed Malcolm X?" the New York D.A. has reopened the case of Muhammad Abdul Aziz, then known as Norman 3X Butler, who served 20 years for the murder despite multiple alibi witnesses.
5 min
1945: Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima
AP Photographer Joe Rosenthal had one chance to get what would become one of the most iconic pictures in history. He didn't miss. After the war, he spent 35 years at the San Francisco Chronicle.
6 min
1972: Nixon Arrives in China
The lifelong anti-Communist shocks the world by initiating the first high-level contact with the People's Republic in more than 20 years. Even after he's driven from office, it would remain a signature achievement.
4 min
1963: A Great City Forced to Drink Swill
Total SF host Peter Hartlaub joins King Kaufman to talk about the most infamous headline in San Francisco history and the man behind it, Scott Newhall, the mad genius of the Chronicle's mid-century rise.
10 min
1937: Golden Gate Bridge Disaster
Chief engineer Joseph Strauss' massive safety net had saved 12 construction workers who'd fallen during construction. They called themselves the Halfway to Hell Club. Then a broken bolt turned the net into a killer.
5 min
1929: St. Valentine's Day Massacre
In the most famous hit in American mob history, seven members of Bugs Moran's North Side Gang are gunned down, cementing control of Chicago for Al Capone's South Side Gang.
5 min
1999: Impeachment Acquittal
Despite a GOP majority in the Senate, President Bill Clinton is easily acquitted on both articles of impeachment stemming from his lies about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
5 min
1967: The Pill and the Puritan Ethic
Sparks fly at a San Francisco panel on changing sexual mores as anthropologist Margaret Mead suggests a new kind of marriage and promotes access to birth control for 16-year-old girls.
5 min
1986: Steve Jobs Buys Pixar
The big Bay Area business news of the day is Wells Fargo buying Crocker Bank. Nobody knew the computer graphics division of Lucasfilms would become a $7 billion company.
5 min
1956: Integration Fail at Alabama
Seven years before Gov. George Wallace's Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, Autherine Lucy integrates the University of Alabama. But she's expelled after two days — "for her own protection."
6 min
1997: Vallejo Courthouse Bombing
They were the gang that couldn't bomb straight. Their plan to blow up court records was dumb, they didn't know anything about dynamite, and they talked too much.
5 min
1865: 13th Amendment Passes House
As the Union nears victory in the Civil War, a constitutional amendment that would ban slavery wins a close vote. All that's needed now is ratification by three-quarters of the states. But do states at war with the U.S. count?
5 min
1977: "Roots" Is a Sensation
An 8-part miniseries about slavery told from the point of view of the slaves? ABC acted like it was afraid its adaptation of Alex Haley's novel was going to flop. It became the biggest hit in TV history.
5 min
1971: Charles Manson Convicted
After a circus of a trial, the leader of a murderous "family" and three female followers are guilty on all charges in the Tate-Labianca Murders, which claimed the lives of Sharon Tate and six others.
5 min
1972: Japan Holdout Soldier Found
When Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi of the Imperial Japanese Army is captured on Guam, the first thing he asks is whether FDR has died yet. Well, yes, 27 years earlier, just before the end of World War II.
5 min
1901: Queen Victoria Dies
Britain mourns its longest-reigning monarch, who dies after nearly 64 years on the throne. Her screw-up, playboy son Bertie is about to be crowned King Edward VII — and all he'll do is save the monarchy. | Related: Edward VII Dies
6 min
1954: The Moskovitz Kidnapping
It's one of the most dramatic capers in San Francisco history, and San Francisco has no idea it's going on. The media agrees to clam up so the bad guys won't know the cops are on the case. Related: Patty Hearst
7 min