Fun Facts for Today

April 26

It’s National Pretzel Day and Shuffleboard Day and Richter Scale Day and Hug an Australian Day


1514 Copernicus made his first observations of Saturn
1564 William Shakespeare is baptized in the parish church at Stratford-On-Avon
1607 A group of English colonists, including Captain John Smith, land at Cape Henry, VA where they will establish the first permanent English settlement in the New World
1802 Napoleon Bonaparte signs a general amnesty to allow all but about one thousand of the most notorious émigrés of the French Revolution to return to France, as part of a reconciliatory gesture with the factions of the Ancien Regime and to eventually consolidate his own rule
1819 The first Odd Fellows lodge in the US was established in Baltimore, MD
1865 Nearly two weeks after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln, actor John Wilkes Booth is cornered by a posse of US soldiers; he is either shot or commits suicide
1877 Minnesota declares a day of prayer for deliverance from the grasshopper
1906 In Hawaii, motion pictures were shown for the first time
1921 The first US broadcast of the weather was made from St. Louis, MO
1923 Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), marries Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
1925 Paul von Hindenburg defeats Wilhelm Marx in the second round of the German presidential election to become the first directly elected head of state of the Weimar Republic
1928 Madame Tussaud’s waxwork exhibition opens in London
1931 Lou Gehrig hits a HR but is called out for passing a runner, mistake costs him AL home run crown; he and Babe Ruth tie for season
1933 The Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established
1935 Tod Browning’s Mark of the Vampire starring Bela Lugosi is released in the US
1938 Austrian Jews required to register property above 5,000 Reichsmarks
1945 Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, leader of France’s Vichy collaborationist regime during WW II, arrested for treason
1960 Elvis Presley begins filming G.I. Blues
1964 The Beatles attend Roy Orbison’s 28th birthday party
1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to form Tanzania
1977 Studio 54 opened in New York
1983 The Dow Jones Industrial average breaks the 1,200 mark for the first time
1986 Arnold Schwarzenegger marries Maria Shriver
1986 The world’s worst nuclear disaster occurs at the Chernobyl’ plant in the Soviet Union; hundreds of thousands are exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive debris
1993 NBC announces Conan O’Brien to replace David Letterman
1994 The first multi-racial elections were held in South Africa
1999 Sinead O’Connor was ordained as the first woman priest in the Latin Tridentine Church
2000 Vermont Governor Howard Dean signed the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions
2002 The Salton Sea starring Val Kilmer and a noseless Vincent D’Onofrio opens in the US
2005 Under international pressure, Syria withdraws the last of its 14,000 troop military garrison in Lebanon, ending its 29-year military domination of that country

1785 John James Audubon, ornithologist, artist, and naturalist known for his drawings and paintings of North American birds
1829 Theodor Billroth, surgeon, generally considered to be the founder of modern abdominal surgery
1836 Erminnie Adele Platt Smith, anthropologist who was the first woman to specialize in ethnographic field work
1872 William Desmond Taylor, silent film actor-director (Huckleberry Finn, Brass Buttons, The Son of Thomas Gray)
1877 Sir Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe was the first Englishman to construct and fly his own airplane
1890 Edgar Kennedy, comedic character actor and King of the Slow Burn with more than 400 film credits (A Star Is Born, Diplomaniacs, Duck Soup, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock)
1893 Anita Loos, writer and one of Hollywood’s foremost early screenwriters (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, San Francisco, The Women, Red-Headed Woman)
1894 Rudolf Hess, Nazi shithead
1889 Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher who worked primarily in the foundations of logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language
1900 Charles Richter, seismologist and inventor of the Richter Scale that measures earthquake intensity which he developed with his colleague, Beno Gutenberg, in the early 1930’s
1912 A. E. van Vogt, science fiction Grand Master (The World of Null-A, The Anarchistic Colossus, The Man with a Thousand Names)
1933 Carol Burnett, multiple Emmy Award-winning actress and producer (The Carol Burnett Show, Mad About You, Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall)
1938 Duane Eddy, Grammy Award-winning guitarist who is acclaimed as the most successful rock and roll instrumentalist of all time (“Peter Gunn”)
1947 Warren Clarke, actor (Dalziel and Pascoe, Bleak House, A Clockwork Orange, The Jewel in the Crown)
1961 Joan Chen, actress (The Last Emperor, The Blood of Heroes, Twin Peaks, Judge Dredd)
1963 Jet Li, actor (The Forbidden Kingdom, Unleashed, Kiss of the Dragon, Lethal Weapon 4)
1977 Tom Welling, actor (Smallville, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Fog, Judging Amy)

1558 Jean François Fernel, physician who in his historic career in medicine and physiology introduced dissection to clinical practice; he coined the terms “physiology” and “pathology,” and was the first to describe appendicitis, peristalsis., systole and diastole of the heart, endocarditis, and the first description of the spinal canal, dies at 61
1970 Gypsy Rose Lee, actress, burlesque entertainer, and writer whose 1957 memoir, which included a scathing portrait of her domineering mother, was made into the stage musical and film Gypsy, dies at 59
1973 Irene Ryan, actress (The Beverly Hillbillies, O, My Darling Clementine), dies at 70
1976 Sid James, comedic actor (Carry On…, Bless this House, Citizen James, Hancock’s Half Hour), dies at 62
1984 Count Basie, jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer; widely regarded as one of the most important jazz bandleaders of his time, dies at 79
1986 Broderick Crawford, Academy Award-winning actor (All the King’s Men, Born Yesterday, Highway Patrol), dies at 74
1986 Bessie Love, actress who made over 100 films from 1915 to 1983 (The Lost World, Rubber Tires, Edward & Mrs. Simpson, The Hunger), dies at 87
1989 Lucille Ball, 4-time Emmy Award-winning actress and television icon (The Lucy Show, I Love Lucy), dies at 77
2002 Torunn Garin, chemical engineer who helped develop the sweetener aspartame as a sugar substitute while working for General Foods, dies at 54

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