Category: Today in history

UNITED NATIONS

April 27th in history:

The 1967 World’s Fair, the “International and Universal Exposition,” opened in Montreal on this date. It was better known as Expo ’67, marking Canada’s 100th birthday. The fair site remained open as a theme park until 1981.

The British East India Company was granted a monopoly on the tea trade in North America on April 27th, 1773, when the British Parliament passed the Tea Act. That decision led to the original Boston Tea Party later that year.

Born on April 27th: U.S. Grant (1822), Union Army commander in the Civil War and 18th president of the United States, and Cuba Gooding Sr. (1944), lead singer of the ’70s group The Main Ingredient.

WAR AND DISASTERS

April 26th in history:

On April 26th, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union exploded during a test. Until an earthquake triggered an accident at a Japanese nuclear plant in 2011, the Chernobyl blast generally was considered the worst accident ever at a nuclear power plant.

A wartime bombing raid occurred on this date in 1937, when German planes attacked the Spanish town of Guernica, killing about one thousand people. The attack was immortalized in a mural by Pablo Picasso.

The German secret police force called the “Gestapo” was founded on April 26th, 1933. April 26th was also the birthday of Hitler aide Rudolf Hess (1894).

LEAVE THE GUN, TAKE THE BATMOBILE

April 25th in history:

Two members of the Corleone family from the “Godfather” movies have real-life birthdays on April 25th: Al Pacino (1940) and Talia Shire (1946).

In 2003, Pacino’s portrayal of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather Part II” was chosen as one of the 50 greatest movie villains of all time by the American Film Institute. The same AFI survey listed Batman as one of the 50 greatest movie heroes. The character of Batman was introduced in Detective Comics #27, published on April 25th, 1939.

On the “Batman” TV series of the 1960s, the Batmobile displayed four different license plates issued by Gotham City, including “BAT-1.” On this date in 1901, New York became the first state in the U.S. to require cars to carry license plates.

Actor Hank Azaria, born on this date in 1964, has never played a Batman villain, but the Spiderman villain Venom is one of many voices he has done for animated TV series.  Among Azaria’s regular character voices on “The Simpsons” are Comic Book Guy, and Moe the bartender, said to be based on Al Pacino.

ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER

April 24th in history:

Shirley and BabsThe first fatal accident during a space mission happened on this date in 1967.  Soyuz 1, the Soviet Union’s first manned space flight in two years, crashed upon landing after two days in orbit. The crash killed the lone crew member, Vladimir Komarov, who was on his second space mission. The capsule’s parachute apparently failed to open properly.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched successfully on this date in 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

New Yorkers could get high in the sky without leaving the ground on April 24th, 1913, on the day that the Woolworth Building opened in Manhattan.  You could see a long distance from the top of the skyscraper, which was 792 feet tall…the tallest building in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, until the Empire State Building was constructed.

The movie musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” starred Oscar-winner Barbra Streisand, who was born on April 24th, 1942.  Streisand’s character in the movie believes she has been reincarnated.  Another winner of the Best Actress Oscar, Shirley MacLaine, is a real-life believer in reincarnation.  MacLaine, also a star of screen musicals such as “Can-Can” and “Sweet Charity,” came into the world as Shirley Beaty on this date in 1934.

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.