Today in History

Today is Good Friday, April 3, the 93rd day of 2015. There are 272 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Passover begins at sunset.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On April 3, 1865, Union forces occupied the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

On this date:

In 1860, the legendary Pony Express began carrying mail between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. (The delivery system lasted only 18 months before giving way to the transcontinental telegraph.)

In 1882, outlaw Jesse James was shot to death in St. Joseph, Missouri, by Robert Ford, a member of James’ gang.

In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was electrocuted in Trenton, New Jersey, for the kidnap-murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr.

In 1946, Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, the Japanese commander held responsible for the Bataan Death March, was executed by firing squad outside Manila.

In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Marshall Plan, designed to help European allies rebuild after World War II and resist communism.

In 1965, the United States launched the SNAP-10A nuclear power system into Earth orbit; it was the first nuclear reactor sent into space.

In 1968, the day before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “mountaintop” speech to a rally of striking sanitation workers.

In 1974, deadly tornadoes began hitting wide parts of the South and Midwest before jumping across the border into Canada; more than 300 fatalities resulted from what became known as the Super Outbreak.

In 1985, the landmark Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant closed after 56 years in business.

In 1990, jazz singer Sarah Vaughan died in suburban Los Angeles at age 66.

In 1995, former United Way of America President William Aramony was convicted in Alexandria, Virginia, of 25 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering for stealing nearly $600,000 from the charity. (Aramony ended up serving six years of a seven-year prison sentence.)

In 1996, an Air Force jetliner carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and American business executives crashed in Croatia, killing all 35 people aboard.

Ten years ago: A day after the death of Pope John Paul II, the body of the pontiff lay in state. Millions prayed and wept at services across the globe, as the Vatican prepared for the ritual-filled funeral and conclave that would choose a successor.

Five years ago: The leader of the Anglican church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, said in remarks released by the BBC that the Roman Catholic church in Ireland had lost all credibility because of its mishandling of abuse by priests. White supremacist Eugene TerreBlanche, 68, was bludgeoned to death on his South African farm in a dispute with black farm workers over wages. Connecticut senior Tina Charles was the runaway choice as The Associated Press’ women’s college basketball player of the year. Nebraska’s Connie Yori was named The Associated Press’ women’s college basketball coach of the year.

One year ago: The Associated Press reported that the U.S. government had masterminded the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” designed to undermine the communist government in Havana. Serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells was put to death in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his lawyers’ demand that the state release information about where it had gotten its lethal injection drug. David Letterman announced during a taping of the “Late Show” on CBS that he was retiring as host in 2015 (Stephen Colbert was named as his replacement a week later). Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was named the runaway winner of the AP coach of the year award. Creighton star Doug McDermott was a near-unanimous pick as the AP player of the year.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress-singer Doris Day is 92. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is 85. Conservationist Dame Jane Goodall is 81. Actor William Gaunt is 78. Songwriter Jeff Barry is 77. Actor Eric Braeden is 74. Actress Marsha Mason is 73. Singer Wayne Newton is 73. Singer Billy Joe Royal is 73. Singer Tony Orlando is 71. Comedy writer Pat Proft is 68. Folk-rock singer Richard Thompson is 66. Country musician Curtis Stone (Highway 101) is 65. Blues singer-guitarist John Mooney is 60. Rock musician Mick Mars (Motley Crue) is 59. Actor Alec Baldwin is 57. Actor David Hyde Pierce is 56. Rock singer John Thomas Griffith (Cowboy Mouth) is 55. Comedian-actor Eddie Murphy is 54. Rock singer-musician Mike Ness (Social Distortion) is 53. Rock singer Sebastian Bach is 47. Rock musician James MacDonough is 45. Olympic gold medal ski racer Picabo Street is 44. Actress Jennie Garth is 43. Actor Jamie Bamber is 42. Actor Adam Scott is 42. Christian rock musician Drew Shirley (Switchfoot) is 41. Comedian Aries Spears is 40. Actor Matthew Goode (TV: “The Good Wife”; Film: “The Imitation Game”) is 37. Actress Cobie Smulders is 33. Rock-pop singer Leona Lewis is 30. Actress Amanda Bynes is 29.

Thought for Today: “The world is not black and white. More like black and grey.” – Graham Greene, English author (born 1904, died this date in 1991).

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