Category: Today in history

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.

HE’S THE FIRST

April 13th in history:

Firsts for African-Americans on April 13th …

Sidney Poitier became the first black man to win an Oscar for acting on April 13th, 1964. Poitier was named Best Actor for “Lilies of the Field.”

On April 13th, 1983, Harold Washington was elected the first black mayor of Chicago.

And Tiger Woods became the first black champion of the Masters golf tournament (and the youngest winner, at age 21) on this date in 1997.

 

SEEING RED

April 12th in history:

On April 12th, 1633, the Inquisition began its trial of astronomer Galileo for challenging biblical teachings that the Sun moves around the Earth.

A man moved around the Earth in a space capsule for the first time on April 12th, 1961, when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched into orbit.

Two accidents involving Soviet submarines have happened on April 12th.  In 1970, the submarine K-8 sank while being towed in the North Atlantic after a fire.  Fifty-two men died when the sub went down with nuclear torpedoes aboard.  On April 12th of 1963, the nuclear sub K-33 collided with a Finnish merchant ship.  The accident was kept a secret for 44 years.

“The Hunt for Red October,” partly set aboard a Soviet sub, was the first successful novel by author Tom Clancy, born on this date in 1947.

Clancy once appeared as a guest on NBC’s “Late Night” show, but not during David Letterman’s time as the show’s host. Letterman was born the same day and year as Clancy. He was the original host of “Late Night,” from 1982 until 1993, when he moved to CBS and renamed his program “Late Show.” In April 2014, Letterman announced that he will retire from “Late Show” in 2015. He’ll be succeeded by Stephen Colbert.

Yet another man born on April 12th, 1947, is actor Dan Lauria, who played Jack Arnold, Kevin’s dad, on “The Wonder Years.” Letterman left NBC the same year that “The Wonder Years” ended its run on ABC.

YOU’RE FIRED

April 11th in history:

Famous pink slips on April 11th …

In 1951, President Harry Truman relieved Gen. Douglas MacArthur of all his commands in the Far East, after MacArthur objected to policies of the U.S. and the United Nations.

Uganda’s “President for Life,” Idi Amin, fled the country after eight years in power on this date in 1979.

The Treaty of Fountainbleau, Napoleon’s pink slip, was signed on April 11th, 1814. Under the treaty, several European countries required Napoleon to step down as emperor of France, which led to his exile to Elba.

And the last emperor of China, Puyi, was fired by Chinese Communists.  His story was told in the movie called “The Last Emperor,” which won Best Picture at the Oscars on April 11th, 1988.

IN THE BEGINNING … AND IN THE END

April 10th in history:

The worst submarine accident in U.S. history happened 50 years ago today.  The USS Thresher broke apart on April 10th, 1963, during diving tests in the Atlantic, 200 miles from Cape Cod.  One hundred twenty-nine people died aboard the sub.  Faulty welding was blamed for a leak which shut down the nuclear reactor aboard the Thresher.  The sub also was unable to surface.

The ill-fated voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic began on April 10th, 1912. The ocean liner sank five days into the trip.  Titanic was launched was at Southampton, England, even though it was registered to the port of Liverpool.

Actor Gene Hackman has starred in a submarine drama (“Crimson Tide”) and a disaster film about an ocean liner (“The Poseidon Adventure”).  Hackman was a nominee at two Oscar ceremonies held on April 10th.  In 1968, Hackman had his first nomination for “Bonnie and Clyde.”  He scored his first Oscar win on this date in 1972 for “The French Connection.”  

And the Liverpool band that recorded “Yellow Submarine” officially broke up on April 10th, 1970.  That was the day Paul McCartney released his first solo album, and announced that he was leaving the Beatles.   McCartney replaced Stu Sutcliffe as the bass player for the Beatles when Sutcliffe quit the band in 1961.  Sutcliffe was 21 when he died of a brain hemorrhage on this day in 1962.

CIVIL WAR, CIVIL RIGHTS

April 9th in history:

The Civil War ended on this date in 1865, when Confederate commander Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

Seventy-four years after the end of the war, on April 9th, 1939, African-American opera singer Marian Anderson performed an Easter Sunday concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Anderson had been banned from performing at the DAR Constitution Hall and a public high school because of her race.

Singer, actor, and civil rights activist Paul Robeson was born April 9th, 1898. Robeson is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was born on the same day and year as Pro Football Hall of Famer “Curly” Lambeau, the first coach of the Green Bay Packers.

Curly Lambeau’s name lives on in Green Bay, where the Packers stadium is called Lambeau Field. Another famous stadium opened in Houston, Texas, on this day in 1965…the Harris County Domed Stadium, later renamed the Astrodome. The dome hosted NFL games until 1996, and was the home field for the baseball Astros through 1999.

SOMEWHERE, OVER THE OUTFIELD

April 8th in history:

Two songwriters associated with Judy Garland or Liza Minnelli were born on April 8th. Composer Fred Ebb (born April 8th, year disputed) teamed with lyricist John Kander on “Cabaret” and “New York, New York” – both musical movies starring Minnelli. And “Yip” Harburg (1896) wrote the lyrics for “Over the Rainbow” and the other songs in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.”

It was somewhere over the left centerfield fence at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta that Hank Aaron’s 715th home run landed on April 8th, 1974. The Braves slugger broke Babe Ruth’s career record during Atlanta’s home opener of the season. Aaron eventually hit 755 homers…a record that stood until August of 2007, when Barry Bonds surpassed it.

We don’t know whether the Venus de Milo would bat left-handed or right-handed. The famous armless statue of the goddess Venus (or Aphrodite) was discovered on this day in 1820, on the island of Milos.

PRESIDENTS ON TV AND IN THE MOVIES

April 7th in history:

The first publicly-seen television broadcast between two U.S. cities happened on April 7th, 1927. The link between New York and Washington featured President Calvin Coolidge’s Secretary of Commerce, who would be president himself just two years later: Herbert Hoover.

President Richard Nixon announced on April 7th, 1969, that he would increase the U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam.

That announcement came on the 30th birthday of two famous men whose careers would be tied to Vietnam and Nixon. Director Francis Ford Coppola set the novel “Heart of Darkness” in Vietnam for his war epic “Apocalypse Now.” And TV personality David Frost conducted a famous series of 1977 interviews with former President Nixon, which were dramatized in the play and movie “Frost/Nixon.”

Also born on April 7th: Daniel Ellsberg (1931), famous for releasing the Pentagon Papers revealing government decisions about the Vietnam War, and another movie director, Alan Pakula (1928), who made “All the President’s Men,” about the Washington Post reporters who uncovered many details about the Watergate scandal in the Nixon White House.