Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia, at age 63; he was succeeded by Vice President Harry S. Truman.
On this date:
In 1861, the Civil War began as Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
In 1877, the catcher’s mask was first used in a baseball game by James Tyng of Harvard in a game against the Lynn Live Oaks.
In 1955, the Salk vaccine against polio was declared safe and effective.
In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly in space, orbiting the earth once before making a safe landing.
In 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, charged with contempt of court and parading without a permit. (During his time behind bars, King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”)
In 1975, singer, dancer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker, 68, died in Paris.
In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, 66, died in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In 1988, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent to Harvard University for a genetically engineered mouse, the first time a patent was granted for an animal life form.
In 1989, former boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson died in Culver City, Calif., at age 67; radical activist Abbie Hoffman was found dead at his home in New Hope, Pa., at age 52.
In 1990, in its first meeting, East Germany’s first democratically elected parliament acknowledged responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust, and asked the forgiveness of Jews and others who had suffered.
In 2009, American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips was rescued from Somali pirates by U.S. Navy snipers who shot and killed three of the hostage-takers. Angel Cabrera became the first Argentine to win the Masters.
In 2015, Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics, announcing in a video her much-awaited second campaign for the White House. Jordan Spieth romped to his first major championship with a record-tying performance at the Masters, shooting an 18-under 270 to become the first wire-to-wire winner of the green jacket since 1976.
Ten years ago: Japan ranked its nuclear crisis at the highest possible severity on an international scale — the same level as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster — even as it insisted radiation leaks were declining at its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant. The state of Ohio executed two-time murderer Clarence Carter for beating and stomping to death a fellow jail inmate. Booming cannons, plaintive period music and hushed crowds ushered in the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War during morning ceremonies in Charleston, South Carolina.
Five years ago: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus (MAY’-buhs) told 1,500 Marines and sailors at Camp Pendleton, California, that the Pentagon’s decision to let women compete for all military combat positions was as irreversible as earlier edicts to integrate Blacks and allow gays and lesbians to openly serve. Actor Anne Jackson, who often appeared onstage with her husband, Eli Wallach, in comedies and classics, died in New York at age 90. David Gest, a music producer and Liza Minnelli’s former husband, died in London at 62.
One year ago: Christians around the world celebrated Easter Sunday isolated in their homes by the coronavirus. St. Peter’s Square was barricaded to keep out crowds. Pope Francis celebrated Easter Mass inside the largely vacant basilica, calling for global solidarity in the face of the pandemic and urging political leaders to give hope and opportunity to people who had lost jobs. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged from a London hospital after treatment for the coronavirus. Former golfer Doug Sanders died in Houston at 86; he was a four-time runner-up in a major, and was known as the “Peacock of the Fairways” for the bright colors he wore on the golf course.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Jane Withers is 95. Playwright Alan Ayckbourn (AYK’-bohrn) is 82. Jazz musician Herbie Hancock is 81. Rock singer John Kay (Steppenwolf) is 77. Actor Ed O’Neill is 75. Actor Dan Lauria is 74. Talk show host David Letterman is 74. Author Scott Turow is 72. Actor-playwright Tom Noonan is 70. R&B singer JD Nicholas (The Commodores) is 69. Singer Pat Travers is 67. Actor Andy Garcia is 65. Movie director Walter Salles is 65.
Country singer Vince Gill is 64. Actor Suzzanne (cq) Douglas is 64. Model/TV personality J Alexander is 63. Rock musician Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) is 63. Rock singer Art Alexakis (Everclear) is 59. Country singer Deryl Dodd is 57. Folk-pop singer Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) is 57. Actor Alicia Coppola is 53. Rock singer Nicholas Hexum (311) is 51. Actor Retta is 51. Actor Nicholas Brendon is 50. Actor Shannen Doherty is 50. Actor Marley Shelton is 47. Actor Sarah Jane Morris is 44. Actor Jordana Spiro is 44. Rock musician Guy Berryman (Coldplay) is 43. Actor Riley Smith is 43. Actor Claire Danes is 42. Actor Jennifer Morrison is 42. Actor Matt McGorry is 35. Actor Brooklyn Decker is 34. Contemporary Christian musician Joe Rickard (Red) is 34. Rock singer-musician Brendon Urie (Panic! at the Disco) is 34. Actor Saoirse (SUR’-shuh) Ronan is 27.