1865: President Abraham Lincoln is Shot
After attending a speech given by President Abraham Lincoln just two days earlier where Lincoln spoke about giving African Americans the right to vote, John Wilkes Booth became so upset that he vowed to assassinate the president. He learned that Lincoln would be attending the play Our American Cousin on Good Friday at the Ford Theatre. Lincoln’s bodyguard, John Parker, left the president’s side during intermission to have a drink at the saloon located next door. It was then that Booth snuck up behind Lincoln and shot him at a very close range mortally wounding him. Major Henry Rathbone was able to apprehend Booth momentarily but was stabbed by Booth who then ran off and escaped on this day in 1865. After being in a coma for nine hours, Lincoln passed away at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865. It was another 12 days later when Booth was found hiding on a farm in Virginia. When he refused to surrender, he was shot by Sergeant Boston Corbett.
1912: The RMS Titanic Hits an Iceberg
The inspiration for James Cameron’s 1997 epic, Titanic began on this day in 1912. The British passenger liner, the RMS Titanic, was only on her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK to New York City when it smacked into an iceberg. Within a few short hours it sank on April 15th causing the death of more than 1,500 people (2,224 passengers were on board). At the time, it was the largest ship afloat with the most advanced safety features but only carried enough lifeboats for 1,178 people. Many of those who survived, lost all of their money and possessions including their primary bread-winners. Men who survived were accused of cowardice and were treated poorly.
1969: Best Actresses Tied During the Oscars
In 1964, Barbara Streisand played Fanny Brice, the leading role in the Broadway musical, Funny Girl and was nominated for a Tony Award. She didn’t win. However, years later she reprised her role for the film adaptation which was also Streisand’s film debut. During the 41st Academy Awards, held on this day in 1969, both 29-year-old Streisand and 61-year-old Katharine Hepburn (who appeared in The Lion in Winter) were nominated for the Best Actress Award. To the shock of many, the two tied when the votes came to an even 3030 for each of them. (However, Hepburn wasn’t able to make the event.) This was the second time an acting award was split at the ceremony. The first occurred in 1932 when actors Fredric March received one vote more than Wallace Beery but because the count was so close, the Academy decided to honor them both for their achievements.
1987: National Ex-Spouse Day
It was on this day in 1987 that Reverend Ronald Coleman of Kansas City, Missouri handed out buttons that said, “I’m OK – You’re History” as a way to help lighten the load of bitterness people tend to carry after a divorce. The goal since that day is that more people would be able to forgive their spouses and then be able to move on with their lives.
1894: The First Commercial Motion Picture House
It was on this day that Thomas Edison opened the first commercial motion picture house in New York City providing ten Kinetoscopes to view films.
1939: The Grapes of Wrath is Published
The first edition of John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was published on this day in 1939 by the Viking Press. With a story set during the Great Depression, Steinbeck’s book won the National Book Award as well as a Pulitzer Prize. Henry Fonda starred in John Ford’s film version of the story in 1940.
- 1866: Anne Sullivan (teacher of Helen Keller)
- 1932: Loretta Lynn (singer)
- 1940: Julie Christie (actress)
- 1941: Pete Rose (baseball player)
- 1960: Brad Garrett (actor)
- 1973: Adrien Brody (actor)
- 1996: Abigail Breslin (actress)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.