Today in History: April 26

Posted at 12:29 PM, Apr 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 13:29:56-04

Today is Sunday, April 26, the 117th day of 2020. There are 249 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On April 26, 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.

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 1785, American naturalist, hunter and artist John James Audubon was born in present-day Haiti.

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was surrounded by federal troops near Port Royal, Virginia, and killed.

In 1933, Nazi Germany's infamous secret police, the Gestapo, was created.

In 1945, Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, the head of France's Vichy government during World War II, was arrested.

In 1961, Roger Maris of the New York Yankees hit the first of his 61 home runs during a 162-game season (compared to Babe Ruth's 60 home runs during a 154-game season) as he hit a roundtripper off Paul Foytack at Tiger Stadium.

In 1968, the United States exploded beneath the Nevada desert a 1.3 megaton nuclear device called "Boxcar."

In 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.)

In 1989, actress-comedian Lucille Ball died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 77.

In 1994, China Airlines Flight 140, a Taiwanese Airbus A-300, crashed while landing in Nagoya, Japan, killing 264 people; there were seven survivors.

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: A Haitian judge dismissed kidnapping and criminal association charges against 10 American missionaries who'd been detained for trying to take a busload of children out of the country after the January 2010 earthquake, but said that Laura Silsby, the last of the 10 still in jail, would face a lesser charge. (Silsby was freed in May 2010 after being convicted of arranging illegal travel and sentenced to time served.)

Five years ago: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 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.

One year ago: A federal judge in Washington sentenced a Russian woman, Maria Butina, to 18 months in prison for being a secret agent for the Russian government, covertly gathering intelligence on the National Rifle Association and other groups. (Butina was deported to Russia six months later.) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un headed home from Russia after his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin; Kim accused the U.S. of negotiating in "bad faith" when he had met two months earlier with President Donald Trump in Hanoi. Catholic churches in Sri Lanka canceled all Sunday Masses until further notice over concerns that they remained a target of extremists linked to the Islamic State group; the move came even as authorities said a suspected local leader blew himself up in the Easter suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people.

Today's Birthdays: Actress-comedian Carol Burnett is 87. Rhythm-and-blues singer Maurice Williams is 82. Songwriter-musician Duane Eddy is 82. Singer Bobby Rydell is 78. Rock musician Gary Wright is 77. Actress Nancy Lenehan is 67. Actor Giancarlo Esposito is 62. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Duran Duran) is 60. Actress Joan Chen is 59. Rock musician Chris Mars is 59. Actor-singer Michael Damian is 58. Actor Jet Li is 57. Rock musician Jimmy Stafford (formerly w/Train) is 56. Actor-comedian Kevin James is 55. Record company executive Jeff Huskins is 54. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey is 54. Actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste is 53. Country musician Joe Caverlee (Yankee Grey) is 52. Rapper T-Boz (TLC) is 50. First lady Melania Trump is 50. Actress Shondrella Avery is 49. Actress Simbi Kali is 49. Country musician Jay DeMarcus (Rascal Flatts) is 49. Country musician Michael Jeffers (Pinmonkey) is 48. Rock musician Jose Pasillas (Incubus) is 44. Actor Jason Earles is 43. Actor Leonard Earl Howze is 43. Actor Amin Joseph is 43. Actor Tom Welling is 43. Actor Pablo Schreiber is 42. Actor Nyambi Nyambi is 41. Actress Jordana Brewster is 40. Actress Stana Katic is 40. Actress Marnette Patterson is 40. Actor Channing Tatum is 40. Americana/roots singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt is 36. Actress Emily Wickersham is 36. Actor Aaron Weeks is 34. Electro pop musician James Sunderland (Frenship) is 33. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is 28.

Thought for Today: "A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem." - Author unknown.

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