July 21, 1960. Sirimavo Bandaranaike enters office as the prime minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), becoming the world’s first elected female head of government. Bandaranaike’s husband Solomon had been in the post but was assassinated by a Buddhist monk. Bandaranaike promised to continue her husband’s socialist policies and is remembered for public displays of emotion, including bursting into tears, which earned her the nickname “weeping widow” among her detractors. She served three periods in office, the last of which ended in August 2000. Her daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga went on to become Sri Lankan president between 1994 and 2005. Her son Anura Bandaranaike also served as the country’s foreign minister. (pictured with Soviet prime minister Alexei Kosygin. Picture by Anuradha Dullewe Wijeyeratne)
Also on July 21: Ancient Greece’s Temple of Artemis is destroyed by fire (356 BC); Leopold I becomes the first king of the Belgians (1831); work is completed on the Aswan Dam in Egypt (1970).
Born on July 21: Ernest Hemingway (1899), Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam (1948), Robin Williams (1951)