Today's History Trivia for April 21
1986 Al Capone's Vault Geraldo Rivera is broadcast live opening Al Capone's secret underground vault, only to find empty bottles. The show included a medical examiner should bodies be found, and agents from the Internal Revenue Service to collect any of Capone's money that might be discovered. This show received the highest rating in syndicated TV history to that time, with an estimated 30 million viewers.
1836 Texas Independence - Battle of San Jacinto The battle is won when Gen. Sam Houston defeated the much larger Mexican army led by Mexican President Santa Anna. Santa Anna was captured and surrendered the following day, paving the way for Texas' independence. Sam Houston would become the first president of the Republic of Texas.
1649 Denying Jesus Punishable by Death The Maryland Toleration Act is passed by the Maryland Legislature. It provided for toleration of various Christian denominations not previously allowed. However, denying the divinity of Jesus Christ or blaspheming the Holy Trinity could be punished by death or the seizure of lands. The act was repealed in 1654.
1994 First discovery of extra-solar planets Penn State astronomer Alexander Wolszczan announces the confirmation of the discovery of a cluster of three planets orbiting a star in the constellation Virgo. They had been first observed in 1991.
1980 Rosie Ruiz She is the first woman to cross the finish line at the 1980 Boston Marathon. However, no one could remember having seen her during the race nor were there any photographs of her in the race. Later, members of the crowd said they saw her jump into the race near the finish line.
1962 First Revolving Restaurant in the U.S The Top of the Needle, in Seattle, Washington, opens.
1908 Dr. Frederick Cook claims he reached the North Pole on this date, almost a year before Peary.
1898 Spanish-American War The U.S. North Atlantic Squadron is ordered to set sail from Key West, Florida to blockade the northern coast of Cuba.
1879 Louisiana changes its capital from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.
1876 First U.S. Firepole Installed in New York City.
1862 U.S. Mint in Denver is established by Congress.
1855 First train to cross the Mississippi by bridge Travelling from Rock Island, Illinois to Davenport, Iowa.
Today's Birthdays for April 21
1951 Tony Danza American actor. TV: Taxi (Tony Banta) and Who's the Boss? (Tony Micelli).
1947 Iggy Pop (James Newell Osterburg), American singer. Music: Real Wild Child (1986).
1935 Charles Grodin American Emmy-winning actor. Film: Heaven Can Wait (1978). TV: The Young Marrieds (Matt Crane).
1926 Elizabeth II Queen of England (1952‑). Although born in April, she celebrates her birthday in June.
1922 Alistair Maclean d. 1987 Scottish novelist, World War II veteran. Writings: Guns of Navarone (1957) and Ice Station Zebra (1963).
1915 Anthony Quinn d. 2001 (Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn), Irish-Mexican Oscar-winning actor. Film: Lust for Life (1956, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, even though he was only in the film for only eight minutes) and Zorba the Greek (1964).
1882 Percy Williams Bridgman d. 1961 American Nobel prize-winning physicist. He was the first Harvard physicist to win the Nobel Prize for Physics (1946 for his work in high pressure). He was able to reach pressures of 400,000 atmospheres.
1870 Edwin Stanton Porter d. 1941 Italian-born American film director. Film: The Life of an American Fireman (1903, the first American film to use intercutting), The Great Train Robbery (1903, the first motion picture with a plot), and The Eternal City (1915).
1849 Oskar Hertwig d. 1922 German embryologist. He discovered that a single spermatozoon (sperm cell) could fertilize and egg (1875).
1843 Walther Flemming d. 1905 German anatomist. He was the first to systematically observe and describe the behavior of chromosomes in the cell nucleus during normal cell division. He also coined the term mitosis (1882, the process of cell division).
1830 James Starley d. 1881 British inventor, father of the bicycle industry. He also invented the open differential.
1816 Charlotte Brontë d. 1855 English novelist. Writings: Jane Eyre (1847).
1782 Friedrich Froebel d. 1852 German educator. He founded the first kindergarten (1837). Because of his radical teaching beliefs, in 1851 kindergartens were banned by the Prussian minister of education.
1775 Alexander Anderson d. 1870 America's first wood engraver. He illustrated more than 100 volumes of English classics, including Bell's Anatomy and Webster's Spelling Book.
Deaths for April 21
2016 Prince b. 1958 (Prince Rogers Nelson), American Oscar-Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer. Film: Purple Rain (1984, Oscar for Best Song Score). On his 35th birthday he announced that he was changing his name to a combined form of the male and female symbols. Although originally neglecting to specify a pronunciation, two months later he settled on Victor.
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens), American author, steamboat pilot, creator of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1885).
1996 "Jimmy the Greek" Snyder b. 1918 (Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos), American oddsmaker. In 1988 he was fired by CBS for stating that blacks are better athletes due to selective breeding by slave owners.
1985 Rudi Gernreich b. 1922 Austrian-born American fashion designer, introduced topless bathing suits (1964), thong bathing suits, and the first designer jeans.
1977 Gummo Marx b. 1892 (Milton Marx), American comedian, one of the Marx Brothers. He left the team to join the military during World War I before they reached stardom.
1965 Sir Edward Victor Appleton b. 1892 English Nobel-winning physicist, discovered the conductive "Appleton layer" in the ionosphere making long range radar and radio transmission possible.
1924 Eleonora Duse b. 1858 Italian actress. She was the first woman featured on the cover of Time magazine (July 30, 1923). She is considered the greatest tragic actress of modern time.
1918 Red Baron b. 1892 (Baron Manfred Von Richthofen), German World War I ace. He shot down 80 enemy aircraft. He was killed in action by a Canadian pilot.
1509 Henry VII b. 1457 King of England (1485-1509). Henry won the throne by defeating King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. He was the last king of England to win his throne on the battle field.
1073 Alexander II b. ???? Italian religious leader, 156th Pope (1061-73).