WHEN: March 20,1865
KIDNAPPER: John Wilkes Booth
TARGET: Abraham Lincoln
As the Civil War reached its final stages, Booth and six fellow Confederates plotted to kidnap President Lincoln and use him to bargain the surrender of the Union. On the day of the planned kidnapping, Booth assembled his associates on a road in Washington along Lincoln’s expected route. The president changed his plans at the last minute to attend a reception at the National Hotel where, coincidentally, Booth was then residing.
WHEN: March 20, 1972
KIDNAPPER: Marlon Brando’s ex-wife
TARGET: Marlon Brando’s son
While Brando was abroad in France shooting Last Tango in Paris, his 13-year-old son Christian went missing. Brando hired a private investigator, the legendary Los Angeles P.I. Jay J. Armes, and on March 20, 1972, Armes tracked Christian to a cave in San Felipe, Mexico. After an investigation, Armes concluded that Brando’s ex-wife, Anna Kashfi—with whom Brando had waged a years-long custody battle over Christian—had kidnapped their son from school in the U.S. several days earlier, drove him across the border, and offered a group of cave-dwelling hippies $10,000 to hide the boy from his father. Within days, Brando was granted sole custody of Christian.
WHEN: March 20, 1974
KIDNAPPER: Ian Ball
TARGET: Princess Anne
At 8 p.m. on March 20, 1974, as Princess Anne (the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II) returned to Buckingham Palace following a charity event, her Rolls Royce was cut off by a white Ford Escort. The driver of the car, a man named Ian Ball, came out firing a pistol, hitting both Anne’s bodyguard and chauffeur. Ball then sat down beside the princess and told her his plan to kidnap her. “Not bloody likely!” the redoubtable Anne replied, and she then proceeded to have what she later called “a very irritating conversation” with the assailant. As she and Ball struggled in the backseat of the limousine, Ron Russell, a 6-foot, 4-inch former boxer, happened to be walking past. “He needs sorting,” Russell recalled thinking. So he punched Ball in the back of the head with a solid right hook and led the princess to safety.