Written by Selina

Modified & Updated: 31 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


July 17th – the 198th day of the year might not seem entirely special, but there are so many fascinating facts and events that happened on this date in history. From important political decisions to international celebrity birthdays, July 17th has seen its share of notable moments throughout the years – and now you can become an expert on all of them. Let’s take a journey into the past as we explore everything that occurred today in the annals of history.

Table of Contents

Historical Discoveries

1791: Members of the French National Guard, led by Marquis de Lafayette, stormed the Parisian prison known as the Hôtel des Invalides to seize weapons and ammunition. You may also know this event as the Champ de Mars Massacre, which occurred just two days before the famous storming of the Bastille. This notable event significantly eroded the popularity of Lafayette, and was a critical moment in the early stages of the French Revolution.

a french revolution illustration, abstract concept art
Image from Adobe Stock

Scientific Breakthroughs

1902: The Guglielmo Marconi Company successfully completed the first-ever radio message transmission between the United Kingdom and Canada. This groundbreaking event laid the foundation for the development of modern radio communication and marked a significant step in the evolution of global communication technology.

1975: According to NASA, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project marks the first joint space mission between the United States and the Soviet Union, which took place on the 15th. Two days later, on the 17th, astronauts from both sides docked and did the first international in space. This mission demonstrated the potential for collaboration between the two superpowers in the field of space exploration, paving the way for future joint ventures.

space shuttles taking off on a mission
Image from Adobe Stock

Political Milestones

1917: The British Royal Family changed their surname to Windsor when King George V adopted the surname of his family. This radical change was to discharge any pro-German association after the First World War.

1936: The Spanish Civil War began, pitting the Republican government against a coalition of right-wing Nationalist forces led by General Francisco Franco. The conflict lasted until 1939 and had profound consequences for Spain and the global political landscape, eventually giving rise to the dictatorship of Franco.

1945: The Postdam Conference began, bringing The Big Three – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Prime Minister Clement Attlee took over from July 26 onwards), U.S. President Harry Truman, and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union together for a sit-down discussion.

The Postdam Conference
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Cultural Events

1955: Disneyland, the first Disney theme park, opened in Anaheim, California. The park, created by Walt Disney, revolutionized the amusement park industry and became a cultural phenomenon, attracting millions of visitors from around the world.

1984: The film adaptation of The NeverEnding Story, a German fantasy novel by Michael Ende, was released. The movie became a cult classic and inspired a generation of fans with its imaginative storytelling and iconic characters.

1995: Bill Gates officially became the world’s richest man, claiming a whopping net worth of 12.9 billion USD.

Bill Gates

Notable Birthdays

  1. Erle Stanley Gardner (1889–1970) – An American author and lawyer who is best known for creating the character of Perry Mason, a defense attorney who appears in many of his novels. He wrote over 80 books in his lifetime and is considered one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century.
  2. Phyllis Ada Diller (1917–2012) – An American stand-up comedian, actress, and author. Diller’s groundbreaking career paved the way for future generations of female comedians and left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.
  3. Donald Sutherland (1935) – A Canadian actor who has appeared in many films and TV shows throughout his career. Some of his most notable roles include “MASH,” “The Hunger Games” series, and “Ordinary People.
  4. Camilla (1947) – A member of the British royal family and the wife of King Charles. She is the Queen consort of the United Kingdom. Camilla is a respected member of the royal family and is known for her warm personality and dedication to charitable causes.
  5. Phoebe Snow (1950) – An American singer and songwriter who was known for her soulful voice and eclectic music style. She released several albums throughout her career, including “Phoebe Snow” and “Second Childhood.
  6. David Hasselhoff (1952) – An American actor and singer. He has a nickname “The Hoff”. According to Guinness World Records, he is the most watched person on television. Prior to Samuel L. Jackson, Hasselhoff played the original Nick Fury from Marvel Comics.
  7. Angela Merkel (1954) – A German politician who served as the Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021, was born in Hamburg, West Germany. Merkel’s leadership and commitment to European unity made her one of the most influential and respected figures in global politics.
  8. Cécile de France (1975) – A Belgian actress who has appeared in many French and international films. Some of her most notable roles include “High Tension,” “Hereafter,” and “The Young Pope.
  9. Luke Bryan (1976) – An American country singer who has released several hit albums and singles. He is known for songs such as “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” “Drink a Beer,” and “Play It Again”.
  10. Billie Lourd (1992) – An American actress who is best known for her roles in the TV series “Scream Queens” and “American Horror Story.” She is also the daughter of the late Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movies.

Final Word

July 17th is a day that carries a rich historical legacy, with events spanning a wide range of fields, including science, politics, and culture. From groundbreaking achievements like the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and Marconi’s wireless telegraph to influential figures such as Phyllis Diller, these events and individuals associated with this date have left their mark on the world.

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