• Weird History

The History Behind Tarantino's 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood'

With fighting in Vietnam, millions of people demanding love and peace, and one giant leap for mankind, 1969 was a very busy year. It was also an important one for Charles Manson, who spent the previous several years gathering a motley group of impressionable young people he called his "Family." Manson’s charisma and strange Hollywood connections helped draw people to him, and Manson filled the Manson Family with beliefs about a coming race conflict and his identity as the real Jesus Christ.

No stranger to depicting aggression, Quentin Tarantino adds the Manson story to his film output with the summer 2019 movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. While not much is known about the plot aside from Manson’s inclusion, a multitude of important events which happened that year might show up as well. Does Leonardo DiCaprio attend Woodstock? Will Margot Robbie be shown watching the very first episode of Sesame Street? Considering Tarantino’s love of obscure pop culture and the conflict and frustration in 1969, some great historic landmarks could be included.

  • Photo: Cecil Stoughton / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Mary Jo Kopechne Perishes In A Car Driven Off A Bridge By Ted Kennedy

    Mary Jo Kopechne was a volunteer for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign and later worked in Robert Kennedy's office. On July 18, 1969, she attended a cookout with Senator Ted Kennedy on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha's Vineyard. Kennedy allegedly held the event to honor Kopechne and five other women for their political work but left the event early with Kopechne. He claimed he intended to give her a ride to her hotel since she felt sick, but evidence later proved Kopechne left her room key and purse at the cookout.

    The next morning, Kennedy informed police he had driven off a bridge with Kopechne still inside the car, although he claimed to have tried to save her. Authorities discovered her in the submerged vehicle but couldn't charge Kennedy with Kopechne's passing since there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. They couldn't test for alcohol in his blood since so much time had passed between the incident and his report. Questions still remain about Kennedy's role in the event and what exactly happened that night, but he did plead guilty to leaving the scene.

  • Category 5 Hurricane Camille Makes Landfall

    Category 5 hurricanes are the most powerful storms on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, and since 1924, four have made landfall in the US: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Michael in 2018, and 1969's Hurricane Camille.

    As Hurricane Camille approached from Cuba in mid-August, researchers noted the strength of the storm calmed down, and they thought the storm would head towards Florida. Contrary to what experts believed, the hurricane continued to travel north and gained more strength.

    Hurricane Camille hit Mississippi and Louisiana on August 17, 1969. It had winds of up to 175 mph across both states and raised the tide level as much as 10 feet. The storm completely wiped out Mississippi's Harrison County and leveled almost 4,000 homes across the state. Flooding and landslides caused even more damage and took the lives of more than 100 people. Researchers consider it to be the second strongest hurricane to ever hit the US.

  • A Rig Off The California Coast Spills Around 4.2 Million Gallons Of Oil Into The Ocean

    On January 28, 1969, a blowout at Union Oil's Platform A rig off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA, began spilling oil into the ocean. The rig continued to leak for 11 days, and oil flowed as far away as Mexico. The blowout triggered several underwater faults to open, which caused gas and oil to continue spread throughout the rest of the year. Investigations showed the company had used thin casing pipe in order to cut costs.

    More than 3,700 birds lost their lives, and the incident helped prompt the US government to take several steps to prevent future oil spills. As a direct result, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed in 1970, and Earth Day was founded. The Union Oil spill was also the first time the CIA used spy planes to take aerial photographs for reasons other than national defense.

  • Richard Nixon Takes Office And Pledges To Withdraw Troops From Vietnam

    Richard Nixon was sworn in as president of the United States on January 20, 1969. At that point, the US had been involved in Vietnam for four years, and Nixon promised to start withdrawing troops. Through a process he called Vietnamization, Nixon planned to train the people of South Vietnam to fight for themselves, allowing the US military to leave but still appear to help by not completely abandoning Vietnam.

    In order to achieve this, Nixon began gradually withdrawing US troops from Vietnam and designed a system of political reforms to strengthen and modernize South Vietnam’s government and military.

    Despite Nixon's efforts to step back from Vietnam and still save face, he secretly ordered incursions and air raids in neighboring Cambodia, which extended America's involvement in the region until 1973.