This Day in Pop Culture for August 11

"American Graffiti premiered on August 11, 1973.

 'American Graffiti' Premieres

On this day in 1973, George Lucas premiered his second full-length movie, American Graffiti (THX 1138 was his first). The coming of age movie set in 1962, is not what Lucas is usually known for. The movie followed a group of teenagers on their last night before they go to college. The film was partially an inspiration for the TV show Happy Days. Coincidentally, Ron Howard starred in the film and Happy Days. Co-star Cindy Williams later became Shirley in the Happy Days spinoff, Laverne and Shirley. Other stars included “no names” like Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford and Kathleen Quinlan.

Alcatraz Island took in its first inmates on August 11, 1934.

The First Civilian Prisoners Come To Alcatraz

It was on this day in 1934 that the very first civilian prisoners were sent to the federal prison on Alcatraz Island. Now considered a tourist attraction near San Francisco, Alcatraz was designed to hold the worst of the worst bank robbers, murderers and other offenders including Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman) and George “Machine Gun” Kelly to name a few. The first group of 137 prisoners arrived on the island at 9:40 a.m. The staff were highly trained in security but lack rehabilitation skills. During its 29 years of operation, 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts but no prisoner successfully made it off the island (however there are five listed as “missing and presumed drowned” but no one know for sure).

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