This Day in History: April 26


On this day, April 26 …

2018: Bill Cosby is convicted of drugging and molesting Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004; it is the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era and completes the downfall of the legendary comedian.

Also on this day:

  • 1607: English colonists go ashore at present-day Cape Henry, Va., on an expedition to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.
  • 1865: John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, is surrounded by federal troops near Port Royal, Va., and killed.
  • 1933: Nazi Germany’s infamous secret police, the Gestapo, is created.
  • 1968: The United States detonates a 1.3 megaton nuclear device called “Boxcar” beneath the Nevada desert.

  • 1977: The legendary nightclub Studio 54 has its opening night in New York City.
  • 1986: An explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine cause radioactive fallout to begin spewing into the atmosphere. (Dozens of people were killed in the immediate aftermath of the disaster; the long-term death toll from radiation poisoning is believed to have been in the thousands.)
Actress and comic legend Lucille Ball  (AP Photo, File)

Actress and comic legend Lucille Ball  (AP Photo, File)

  • 1989:  Actress-comedian Lucille Ball dies at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 77.
  • 1994: Voting begins in South Africa’s first all-race elections, resulting in victory for the African National Congress and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as president.
  • 2006: Whitney Cerak and Laura Van Ryn, two students at Indiana’s Taylor University, are involved in a van-truck collision that kills five people; in a tragic mix-up that takes five weeks to resolve, a seriously injured and comatose Cerak is mistakenly identified as Van Ryn, who had actually died in the crash and was buried by Cerak’s family.
  • 2008: Police in Amstetten, Austria, arrest Josef Fritzl, freeing his daughter Elisabeth and her six surviving children, who he had fathered while holding her captive in a basement cell for 24 years. 
  • 2009: The United States declares a public health emergency as more possible cases of swine flu surface from Canada to New Zealand; officials in Mexico City close everything from concerts to sports matches to churches in an effort to stem the spread of the virus

  • 2018: Mike Pompeo is confirmed as secretary of state by the Senate.
  • 2018: President Trump’s White House doctor, Ronny Jackson, withdraws his nomination to be Veterans Affairs secretary in the face of accusations of misconduct.  

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