Today in History

Published 12:01 am Saturday, April 21, 2018

Today is Saturday, April 21, the 111th day of 2018. There are 254 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 21, 1918, Manfred von Richthofen, 25, the German ace known as the “Red Baron” who was believed to have downed 80 enemy aircraft during World War I, was himself shot down and killed while in action over France.

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On this date:

In 1509, England’s King Henry VII died; he was succeeded by his 17-year-old son, Henry VIII.

In 1649, the Maryland Toleration Act, providing for freedom of worship for all Christians, was passed by the Maryland assembly.

In 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first vice president of the United States.

In 1836, an army of Texans led by Sam Houston defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto, assuring Texas independence.

In 1910, author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, died in Redding, Connecticut, at age 74.

In 1930, fire broke out inside the overcrowded Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, killing 332 inmates.

In 1942, the first edition of “The Stranger” (L’Etranger), Albert Camus’ (al-BEHR’ kah-MOOZ’) highly influential absurdist novel, was published in Nazi-occupied Paris by Gallimard.

In 1955, the Jerome Lawrence-Robert Lee play “Inherit the Wind,” inspired by the Scopes trial of 1925, opened at the National Theatre in New York.

In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition, also known as the Seattle World’s Fair, began a six-month run.

In 1977, the musical play “Annie,” based on the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip, opened on Broadway, beginning a run of 2,377 performances.

In 1986, a rediscovered vault in Chicago’s Lexington Hotel that was linked to Al Capone was opened during a widely watched live TV special hosted by Geraldo Rivera; aside from a few bottles and a sign, the vault turned out to be empty.

In 1998, astronomers announced in Washington that they had discovered possible signs of a new family of planets orbiting a star 220 light-years away, the clearest evidence to date of worlds forming beyond our solar system.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush opened a two-day summit in New Orleans with Mexican President Felipe Calderon (fay-LEE’-pay kahl-duh-ROHN’) and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Robert Cheruiyot (CHEHR’-ee-aht) of Kenya won the Boston Marathon in 2:07:46 to become the fourth man to win the race four times; Dire Tune of Ethiopia won the women’s race in 2:25:25. 1970s soul singer Al Wilson died in Fontana, California, at age 68.

Five years ago: On the first Sunday since the deadly Boston Marathon bombing, churches paused to mourn the dead and console the survivors while in West, Texas, residents prayed for comfort four days after a fertilizer plant explosion killed 15 people. In Britain, the London Marathon sent out a powerful message of solidarity with Boston and its victims as runners crossed the line in front of Buckingham Palace with black ribbons on their chests (Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia won the men’s race). Joe Scarborough, a 50-year-old self-employed electrical contractor, rolled the first 900 series in Professional Bowlers Association history — three straight perfect games.

One year ago: A San Francisco power outage blamed on the massive failure of a circuit breaker that sparked a fire at a power substation stranded people in elevators and left tens of thousands in the dark. Prince fans marked the first anniversary of his sudden death by gathering at Minnesota sites made famous by the “Purple Rain” superstar.

Today’s Birthdays: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is 92. Actress-comedian-writer Elaine May is 86. Actor Charles Grodin is 83. Actor Reni Santoni (REH’-nee san-TOH’-nee) is 80. Anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean is 79. Singer-musician Iggy Pop is 71. Actress Patti LuPone is 69. Actor Tony Danza is 67. Actor James Morrison is 64. Actress Andie MacDowell is 60. Rock singer Robert Smith (The Cure) is 59. Rock musician Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) is 59. Actor-director John Cameron Mitchell is 55. Rapper Michael Franti (Spearhead) is 52. Actor Toby Stephens is 49. Rock singer-musician Glen Hansard (The Frames) is 48. Actor Rob Riggle is 48. Comedian Nicole Sullivan is 48. Football player-turned-actor Brian White is 45. Olympic gold medal pairs figure skater Jamie Sale (sah-LAY’) is 41. Rock musician David Brenner (Theory of a Deadman) is 40. Actor James McAvoy is 39. Former NFL quarterback Tony Romo is 38. Actor Terrence J is 36. Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is 35. Actor Christoph (cq) Sanders is 30. Actor Frank Dillane is 27. Rock singer Sydney Sierota (Echosmith) is 21.

Thought for Today: “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” — Mark Twain (1835-1910).