by Bob Fields
On April 26:
1575 - Marie de’ Medici, Italian wife of Henry IV of France. Following the assassination of her husband in 1610, the day after her coronation, she acted as regent for her son Louis XIII (d. 1642).
1718 - Esek Hopkins, Commander of the Continental Navy during the American Revolution (d. 1802).
1785 - John James Audubon, French-American ornithologist and painter (d. 1851).
1822 - Frederick Law Olmsted, American journalist and landscape architect, co-designed Central Park, NYC (d. 1903).
1889 - Anita Loos*, American author, playwright, and screenwriter (d. 1981) (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes).
1894 - Rudolf Hess, German Nazi politician, Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler, captured in Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with England (d. 1987).
1900 - Charles Francis Richter*, American seismologist and physicist (d. 1985).
1914 - Bernard Malamud*, American author, won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize (d. 1986) (The Fixer).
1918 - Fanny Blankers-Koen*, Dutch runner, won 4 gold medals in the 1948 Olympics in London as a 30 year old mother of two (d. 2004).
1933 - Carol Burnett*, American actress, comedian, singer and producer.
1943 - Gary Wright*, American singer-songwriter (“Dream Weaver“).
1865 - John Wilkes Booth, American actor, assassin of Abraham Lincoln, shot by a soldier in a burning tobacco barn after refusing to surrender (b. 1838).
1970 - Gypsy Rose Lee*, American burlesque entertainer (b. 1911) (Gypsy).
1973 - Irene Ryan*, American actress (b. 1902) (The Beverly Hillbillies).
1984 - Count Basie*, American jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1904).
1989 - Lucille Ball, American actress and producer (b. 1911) (I Love Lucy).
2013 - George Jones, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1931) (“White Lightning“).
1607 – English colonists go ashore at Cape Henry, Va., to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere. (They later settled at Jamestown).
1865 – American Civil War: Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders 89,270 soldiers to General William Tecumseh Sherman, near Durham, North Carolina, the largest surrender of the war.
1937 - Spanish Civil War: Guernica, Spain is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, one of the first raids on a civilian population by a modern air force.
1954 – The Salk polio vaccine field trials, involving 1.8 million children, begin at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia.
1986 – A nuclear reactor accident occurs at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine), the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
1986 - Television news reporter and Kennedy family member Maria Shriver marries the movie actor and former bodybuilder and future California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
1989 - The deadliest tornado in world history strikes Central Bangladesh, killing upwards of 1,300.