1980 “King of Cool” Steve McQueen dies On this day in 1980, the actor Steve McQueen, one of Hollywood’s leading men of the 1960s and 1970s and the star of such action thrillers as Bullitt and The Towering Inferno, dies at the age of 50 in Mexico, where he was undergoing an experimental treatment for cancer. In 1979, McQueen had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer often related to asbestos exposure. It was later believed that the ruggedly handsome actor, who had an affinity for fast cars and motorcycles, might have been exposed to asbestos by wearing racing suits. Terrence Steven McQueen was born on March 24, 1930, in Beech Grove, Indiana. After a troubled youth that included time in reform school, McQueen served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1940s. He then studied acting and began competing in motorcycle races. He made his big-screen debut with a tiny role in 1956’s Somebody Up There Likes Me, starring Paul Newman. McQueen went on to appear in the camp classic The Blob (1958) and gained fame playing a bounty hunter in the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive, which originally aired on CBS from 1958 to 1961. During the 1960s, McQueen built a reputation for playing cool, loner heroes in a list of films that included the Western The Magnificent Seven (1960), which was directed by John Sturges and also featured Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson; The Great Escape (1963), in which McQueen played a U.S. solider in World War II who makes a daring motorcycle escape from a German prison camp; and The Sand Pebbles (1966), a war epic for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination. McQueen played a detective in one of his most popular movies, 1968’s Bullitt, which featured a spectacular car chase through the streets of San Francisco. That same year, the actor portrayed an elegant thief in The Thomas Crown Affair. In the 1970s, McQueen was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors and starred in hit films such as director Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway (1972) with Ali MacGraw, to whom McQueen was married from 1973 to 1978; Papillon (1973), with Dustin Hoffman; and The Towering Inferno (1974), with Paul Newman, William Holden and Faye Dunaway. In the summer of 1980, McQueen traveled to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, where he underwent an unorthodox cancer treatment that involved, among other things, coffee enemas and a therapy derived from apricot pits. On November 6, 1980, he had surgery to remove cancerous masses from his body; he died the following day. His final films were Tom Horn and The Hunter, both of which were released in 1980. 1944 FDR wins unprecedented fourth term On this day in 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected to an unprecedented fourth term in office. FDR remains the only president to have served more than two terms. Roosevelt rose above personal and political challenges to emerge as one of the nation’s most revered and influential presidents. In 1921, at the age of 29, he contracted polio and thereafter was burdened with leg braces; eventually, he was confined to a wheelchair. From the time he was first elected to the presidency in 1932 to mid-1945, when he died while in office, Roosevelt presided over two of the biggest crises in U.S. history: the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II. FDR implemented drastic and oft-criticized legislation to help boost America out of the Great Depression. Although he initially tried to avoid direct U.S. involvement in World War II, which began in 1939, the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 thrust American headlong into the conflict. By the time Roosevelt was elected to his fourth term, the war had taken a turn in favor of the Allies, but FDR’s health was already on the decline. His arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) had been worsened by the stress of serving as a war-time president. In April 1945, seven months before the war finally ended in an Allied victory, FDR died of a stroke at his vacation home in Warm Springs, Georgia. In 1947, with President Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s vice president, in office, Congress proposed a law that would limit presidents to two consecutive terms. Up to that time, presidents had either voluntarily followed George Washington’s example of serving a maximum of two terms, or were unsuccessful in winning a third. (In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt ran for a third non-consecutive term, but lost.) In 1951, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was passed, officially limiting a president’s tenure in office to two terms of four years each. 1916 Jeannette Rankin becomes first U.S. congresswoman On this day in 1916, Montana suffragist Jeannette Rankin is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the first woman in the history of the nation to win a seat in the federal Congress. Born and raised on a ranch near Missoula, Montana, Rankin was the daughter of progressive parents who encouraged her to think beyond the narrow sphere of opportunities generally permitted to women of the early 20th century. After graduating from the University of Montana and the New YorkSchool of Philanthropy, Rankin worked briefly as a social worker before becoming active in the national effort to win women the vote. In 1914, her efforts brought her back to Montana, where she believed pioneer conditions had created greater respect for women’s work and abilities, making it somewhat easier to convince men to grant them the right to vote. Indeed, other western states like Wyoming and Colorado had already approved women’s suffrage years before, and Rankin’s leadership helped Montana join them in 1914. With the vote for women secured, Rankin put Montana’s new political dynamics to the test. She ran for one of Montana’s two seats in Congress as a Progressive Republican in 1916. With strong support from women and men alike, Rankin became the first woman in history elected to that body. When she traveled to Washington, D.C., the next year, the eyes of the nation watched to see if a woman could handle the responsibilities of high office. Rankin soon proved she could, but she also demonstrated that she would not betray her own strongly held convictions for political expediency. A dedicated pacifist, Rankin’s first vote as a U.S. congresswoman was against U.S. entry into World War I. Many supported her courageous stand, though others claimed her vote showed that women were incapable of shouldering the difficult burdens of national leadership—despite the fact that 55 men had also voted against the war. Rankin’s vote against WWI contributed to her defeat in her 1918 reelection bid. For the next 20 years, she continued to work for the cause of peace. Ironically, she again won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1940, just as the nation was about to enter World War II. Following the bombing of Pearl Harborin December of 1941, Rankin became the only person in the history of Congress to vote against U.S. entry into both world wars. This time, though, the principled pacifist from Montana cast the sole dissenting vote.