Category: Today in history

AS YOU LIKE IT

April 23rd in history:

April 23rd is believed to be William Shakespeare’s birthday, in 1564. It is also the date when Shakespeare died in 1616 – and the date when his play “The Merry Wives of Windsor” opened in 1597, with Queen Elizabeth in the audience.

Both Shakespeare and Elizabeth are key characters in “Shakespeare in Love,” the movie which won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1998. The Best Picture of 2008, “Slumdog Millionaire,” stars actor Dev Patel, born April 23rd, 1990, as a game-show contestant.

A favorite beverage at movie theaters and elsewhere went through a radical change on April 23rd, 1985. The Coca-Cola Company announced it was changing the formula of Coke, replacing it with “New Coke.” After massive protests, the original formula was re-introduced less than three months later.

GREEN ACRES

April 22nd in history:

The first “Earth Day” was observed on April 22nd, 1970.

Historians say Christopher Columbus wasn’t trying to prove the Earth was round in his voyage to the Americas in 1492, but was trying to find a shorter route to Asia across the ocean. Columbus was sponsored by Queen Isabella of Spain, born on this date in 1451.

Settlers raced to claim their own piece of earth when the Oklahoma Territory was opened at noon on April 22nd, 1889.

Eddie Albert was in “Oklahoma!” (the movie musical, that is), playing the peddler Ali Hakim.  Albert was born on April 22nd, 17 years after the opening of the Oklahoma territory.

Eddie Albert is most famous for playing lawyer-turned-farmer Oliver Wendell Douglas on “Green Acres,” but he also received two Oscar nominations in his long career.  Jack Nicholson has the most Oscar nominations among male actors, with 12 to his credit.  Nicholson, born on April 22nd, 1937, already had been nominated for “Easy Rider” and “Chinatown” before winning the first of his three Oscars, for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

FROM START TO FINISH

April 21st in history:

According to legend, the twins Romulus and Remus founded the city of Rome on April 21st in 753 B.C.

The Seattle World’s Fair opened on this date in 1962. April 21st of 1965 was the opening date of the second year of the New York World’s Fair.

Nobody saw Rosie Ruiz at the starting line of the Boston Marathon on April 21st, 1980, but many people saw her cross the finish line, seemingly setting a women’s record. Ruiz was disqualified after witnesses reported that she wasn’t seen running in the 26-mile race until about the last mile.

GUNSHOTS AND MOVIE SHOTS

April 20th in history:

The mass shootings at Columbine High School near Denver occurred on April 20th, 1999.

The Red Baron shot down his last two targets on April 20th, 1918. Baron von Richthofen was shot down himself the next day, while pursuing a Sopwith Camel flown by a Canadian pilot.

Silent movie star Harold Lloyd, known for performing stunts at dizzying heights, was born on this day in 1893.

And on April 20th, 1926, Warner Brothers and Western Electric announced a method for providing sound to motion pictures. It was called the “Vitaphone.”

YANKEES, BRITS, AND THE POPE

April 19th in history:

The American Revolution began on April 19th, 1775, with fighting between the American colonists and the British at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.

April 19th is the birthday of British actor and comedian Dudley Moore (1935), and American actress Kate Hudson (1979). Hudson was born the year after her mother, Goldie Hawn, co-starred with Moore in “Foul Play,” a comedy thriller about an assassination attempt on the pope.

A new pope was elected on this date in 2005. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took the name Pope Benedict XVI.

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL

April 18th in history:

Paul Revere and other colonists rode through the Boston area during the ‘Midnight Ride’ of April 18th, 1775, to warn of movements by the British army.  The American Revolution began the next morning.

The towns reached by the late-night riders included Brookline, Massachusetts, where late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien was born on this date in 1963.

The old Yankee Stadium opened on this date in 1923, with the Yankees defeating the Boston Red Sox, 4-1.

A group the U.S. never joined, the League of Nations, disbanded on April 18th, 1946.

And it’s the birthday of “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera (1984).

SPORTS IN NEW YORK

April 17th in history:

April 17th was a big day in Mickey Mantle’s baseball career.  Mantle made his major league debut with the New York Yankees on April 17th, 1951, at Yankee Stadium, and even scored a run against the Red Sox.  Two years later, on April 17th, 1953, Mantle swatted a 565-foot home run for the Yankees in a game against the Senators at Washington.

Two reasons why April 17th, 1964, was a notable day in New York: At the World’s Fair, Ford introduced the Mustang; In Flushing Meadows, Shea Stadium opened. It was the home field of the New York Mets for 45 years, and of the New York Jets football team for 20 years.

Norman “Boomer” Esiason was a quarterback for the Jets, the Bengals, and other teams before becoming a sports broadcaster. He was born in the state of New York on this date in 1961.

TAKING A TRIP

April 16th in history:

On April 16th, 2004, the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 began its first trans-Atlantic crossing from England to New York.

The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 overshadowed the trip made by Harriet Quimby on April 16th of that year. Quimby became the first woman to fly over the English Channel on that day, making the trip in just under an hour.

The next-to-last manned flight to the moon, Apollo 16, was launched on this date in 1972.

And April 16th is the birthday of the composer of “Moon River,” Henry Mancini (1924).

THE BOMBS AND THE BERG

April 15th in history:

Emma Watson Seth Rogen

The ocean liner Titanic hit an iceberg during its maiden voyage, and sank in the North Atlantic on April 15th, 1912. More than 1,500 of the 2,200 people aboard the ship died in the disaster. The wreckage remained undiscovered until 1985, when undersea explorer Robert Ballard and others came upon the remains of Titanic, more than two miles below the ocean surface. Ballard was working for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution based in Massachusetts.

April 15th of 2013 was Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, the day of the annual Boston Marathon. Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Marathon, killing three persons and injuring more than 200 others. The attack led to a week-long manhunt, as police closed in on two brothers suspected of planting the bombs. One was killed by officers, while the other was discovered hiding inside a boat kept outside a house.

When Patriots’ Day falls on April 15th, Massachusetts residents do not have to file their federal income tax returns on that day. This is the tax deadline day for most Americans, and has been since 1955. Before that year, taxes were due in March.

Actress Elizabeth Montgomery made her movie debut in 1955, in “The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell.” Montgomery was born on this date in 1933, and is best known for her TV role as suburban witch Samantha Stephens on “Bewitched.”

This is also the birthday of another actress known for playing a character with special powers…Emma Watson (born 1990), who portrayed Hermione in the “Harry Potter” movies. Watson played herself in the apocalyptic comedy “This Is the End,” written and directed by actor Seth Rogen, born April 15th, 1982. Rogen is also known for the movies “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” and the TV series “Freaks and Geeks.”

 

SEEING A SHOW

April 14th in history:

President Abraham Lincoln was seeing the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington when he was shot on April 14th, 1865.

On this date in 1894, Thomas Edison demonstrated a form of moving-picture show called a “kinetoscope,” consisting of still images viewed in quick succession (better known as a “peep show”).

Two-inch videotape was demonstrated in public for the first time on April 14th, 1956, at a broadcasters’ convention in Chicago.

A rare moment at the Academy Awards show on April 14th, 1969 – a tie for Best Actress. Katharine Hepburn wins her third Oscar, for “The Lion in Winter,” and Barbra Streisand gets her first, for “Funny Girl.”

Several Oscar winners share an April 14th birthday: John Gielgud (1904), Rod Steiger (1925), Julie Christie (1941) and Adrien Brody (1973).

Philip Seymour Hoffman was an Oscar winner for the title role in the 2005 movie “Capote.” The climax of that film shows Truman Capote attending the execution of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock for the Clutter family murders detailed in Capote’s novel “In Cold Blood.” The double execution took place in Lansing, Kansas, on this date in 1965.