August 11th in History

Hedy Lamarr publicity photograph for the 1944 film The Heavenly Body

Today in History

  • The Mesoamerican “Long Count” calendar, used by the Maya and other pre-Columbian civilizations, begins (3114 BCE)
  • Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 500 career home runs (1929)
  • Alcatraz receives its first prisoners (1934)
  • Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil receive a patent for a frequency-hopping spread spectrum communications system that forms part of the basis for modern wireless telephones and wi-fi (1942)
  • The Soviet Vostok 3 launches, and cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev becomes the first person to float in microgravity (1962)
  • The Watts Riots begin in Los Angeles (1965)
  • The Apollo 11 astronauts are released from quarantine (1969)
  • The last US ground combat forces leave Vietnam (1972)
  • A Ronald Reagan joke, “We begin bombing in five minutes,” is accidentally broadcast on NPR radio. Many are not amused (1984)
  • NATO takes command of Afghanistan peacekeeping forces, the first-ever major NATO operation outside Europe (2003)


  • Enid Blyton, poet (1897)
  • Mike Douglas, singer and talk show host (1920)
  • Alex Haley, author of Roots (1921)
  • Arlene Dahl, actress and game show panelist (1925)
  • Jerry Falwell, televangelist (1933)
  • Ian McDiarmid, actor (1944)
  • Marilyn vos Savant, highest recorded IQ; syndicated columnist (1946)
  • Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple (1950)
  • Hulk Hogan, wrestler (1953)
  • Chris Hemsworth, actor (1983)


  • Hamnet Shakespeare, playwright’s son (1596)
  • Andrew Carnegie, steel maker and philanthropist (1919)
  • Edith Wharton, author (1937)
  • Jean Bugatti, car designer (1939)
  • Jackson Pollock, painter (1956)
  • Alfred A. Knopf Sr., publisher (1984)
  • Peter Cushing, actor (1994)
  • Mike Douglas, singer and talk show host (2006)
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the Special Olympics (2009)
  • Robin Williams, actor and comedian (2014)

Holidays and Observances

  • Flag Day (Pakistan)
  • Independence Day (Chad)
  • Mountain Day (Japan)

August 11 is the 223rd day of the year (224th in leap years). There are 142 days remaining until the end of the year.