Today in History
Today is Monday, April 26, the 116th day of 2021. There are 249 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 26, 1986, an explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine caused radioactive fallout to begin spewing into the atmosphere. (Dozens of people were killed in the immediate aftermath of the disaster while the long-term death toll from radiation poisoning is believed to number in the thousands.)
On this date:
In 1607, English colonists went ashore at present-day Cape Henry, Virginia, on an expedition to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.
In 1865, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was surrounded by federal troops near Port Royal, Virginia, and killed.
In 1913, Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old worker at a Georgia pencil factory, was strangled; Leo Frank, the factory superintendent, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. (Frank’s death sentence was commuted, but he was lynched by an anti-Semitic mob in 1915.)
In 1933, Nazi Germany’s infamous secret police, the Gestapo, was created.
In 1945, Marshal Henri Philippe Petain (ahn-REE’ fee-LEEP’ pay-TAN’), the head of France’s Vichy government during World War II, was arrested.
In 1968, the United States exploded beneath the Nevada desert a 1.3 megaton nuclear device called “Boxcar.”
In 1977, the legendary nightclub Studio 54 had its opening night in New York.
In 1989, actor-comedian Lucille Ball died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 77.
In 1994, voting began in South Africa’s first all-race elections, resulting in victory for the African National Congress and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president.
In 2000, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.
In 2009, the United States declared a public health emergency as more possible cases of swine flu surfaced from Canada to New Zealand; officials in Mexico City closed everything from concerts to sports matches to churches in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.
In 2018, Bill Cosby was convicted of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004; it was the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era and completed the spectacular downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers on his way to TV superstardom. (Cosby was later sentenced to three to 10 years in prison.)
Ten years ago: Phoebe Snow, a singer, guitarist and songwriter whose song “Poetry Man” was a defining hit of the 1970s, died in Edison, New Jersey.
Five years ago: Republican Donald Trump roared to victory in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island while Democrat Hillary Clinton prevailed in four of those states, ceding Rhode Island to Bernie Sanders.
One year ago: Children in Spain were allowed to go outside and play for the first time in six weeks as European countries moved to ease their coronavirus lockdowns and reopen their economies. Italy recorded its lowest 24-hour death toll from the virus since mid-March. China’s state-run media said hospitals in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the virus, no longer had any COVID-19 patients.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Carol Burnett is 88. R&B singer Maurice Williams is 83. Songwriter-musician Duane Eddy is 83. Singer Bobby Rydell is 79. Rock musician Gary Wright is 78. Actor Nancy Lenehan is 68. Actor Giancarlo Esposito is 63. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) is 61. Actor Joan Chen is 60. Rock musician Chris Mars is 60. Actor-singer Michael Damian is 59. Actor Jet Li (lee) is 58. Actor-comedian Kevin James is 56. Author and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (TREHTH’-eh-way) is 55. Actor Marianne Jean-Baptiste is 54. Rapper T-Boz (TLC) is 51. Former first lady Melania Trump is 51. Actor Shondrella Avery is 50. Actor Simbi Kali is 50. Country musician Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) is 50. Rock musician Jose Pasillas (Incubus) is 45. Actor Jason Earles is 44. Actor Leonard Earl Howze is 44. Actor Amin Joseph is 44. Actor Tom Welling is 44. Actor Pablo Schreiber is 43. Actor Nyambi Nyambi is 42. Actor Jordana Brewster is 41. Actor Stana Katic is 41. Actor Marnette Patterson is 41. Actor Channing Tatum is 41. Americana/roots singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt is 37. Actor Emily Wickersham is 37. Actor Aaron Weeks is 35. Electro pop musician James Sunderland (Frenship) is 34. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is 29.