Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, April 26, the 117th day of 2016. There are 249 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 26, 1986, a major accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) as an explosion and fire caused radioactive fallout to begin spewing into the atmosphere over much of Europe, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes in the most heavily hit areas.

On this date:

In 1777, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington, sometimes referred to as “the female Paul Revere,” rode her horse into the night through Putnam and Dutchess counties in New York to alert militiamen that British troops were sacking Danbury, Connecticut.

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 1923, Britain’s Prince Albert, Duke of York (the future King George VI), married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Westminster Abbey.

In 1937, German and Italian warplanes raided the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War; estimates of the number of people killed vary from the hundreds to the thousands.

In 1945, Marshal Henri Philippe Petain (an-REE’ fee-LEEP’ pay-TAN’), the head of France’s Vichy government during World War II, was arrested.

In 1952, the destroyer-minesweeper USS Hobson sank in the central Atlantic after colliding with the aircraft carrier USS Wasp with the loss of 176 crew members.

In 1964, the African nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.

In 1972, the first Lockheed L-1011 TriStar went into commercial service with Eastern Airlines.

In 1986, TV journalist Maria Shriver and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger were married at a church in Hyannis, Massachusetts, with members of the Kennedy family present. (The marriage broke up in 2011 with the revelation that Schwarzenegger had fathered a son with a family housekeeper.)

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. China Airlines Flight 140, a Taiwanese Airbus A-300, crashed while landing in Nagoya, Japan, killing 264 people (there were seven survivors).

In 2000, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.

Ten years ago: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld paid a surprise visit to Iraq, where they embraced the country’s fledgling leaders as independent and focused on the future. Whitney Cerak and Laura Van Ryn, two students at Indiana’s Taylor University, were involved in a van-truck collision that killed five people; in a tragic mix-up that took five weeks to resolve, a seriously injured and comatose Cerak was mistakenly identified as Van Ryn, who had actually died in the crash and was buried by Cerak’s family.

Five years ago: An 84-year-old naturalized American from Burundi accused of participating in the 1994 Rwandan genocide went on trial in Wichita, Kansas. (While Lazare Kobagaya (luh-ZAR’ koh-bah-GY’-ah) was convicted of making false statements on immigration forms, the jury deadlocked on whether he’d played a role in the genocide. Federal prosecutors later moved to dismiss all the charges because they’d failed to disclose information about a witness who could have benefited the defense.) Phoebe Snow, a singer, guitarist and songwriter whose song “Poetry Man” was a defining hit of the 1970s, died in Edison, New Jersey.

One year ago: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) arrived in Boston for a stop at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and a dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry as he began a weeklong U.S. visit. “General Hospital” and “The Young and the Restless” were the top winners of the Daytime Emmys with three trophies each, while the latter shared the best drama series award with “Days of Our Lives.” Actress and TV personality Jayne Meadows, who’d often teamed with her husband Steve Allen, died in Los Angeles at age 95.

Today’s Birthdays: Architect I.M. Pei is 99. Movie composer Francis Lai is 84. Actress-comedian Carol Burnett is 83. Rhythm-and-blues singer Maurice Williams is 78. Songwriter-musician Duane Eddy is 78. Singer Bobby Rydell is 74. Rock musician Gary Wright is 73. Actress Nancy Lenehan is 63. Actor Giancarlo Esposito is 58. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) is 56. Actress Joan Chen is 55. Rock musician Chris Mars is 55. Actor-singer Michael Damian is 54. Actor Jet Li (lee) is 53. Rock musician Jimmy Stafford (Train) is 52. Actor-comedian Kevin James is 51. Record company executive Jeff Huskins is 50. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey (TREHTH’-eh-way) is 50. Actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste is 49. Country musician Joe Caverlee (Yankee Grey) is 48. Rapper T-Boz (TLC) is 46. Melania Trump is 46. Actress Shondrella Avery is 45. Country musician Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) is 45. Country musician Michael Jeffers (Pinmonkey) is 44. Rock musician Jose Pasillas (Incubus) is 40. Actor Jason Earles is 39. Actor Leonard Earl Howze is 39. Actor Tom Welling is 39. Actor Pablo Schreiber is 38. Actor Nyambi Nyambi is 37. Actress Jordana Brewster is 36. Actress Stana Katic is 36. Actress Marnette Patterson is 36. Actor Channing Tatum is 36. Actress Emily Wickersham (TV: “NCIS”) is 32. Actor Aaron Weeks is 30.

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