Today in 1877, using the stage name Zazel, 14-year-old Rossa Matilda Richter became the first "Human Cannonball"at a circus in London.
Today in 1902, the first motion picture theater opened Los Angeles. The Electric Theater charged a dime to see an hour's entertainment, including the films "The Capture of the Biddle Brothers" and "New York a Blizzard."
Today in 1917,President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany, saying, "The world must be made safe for democracy."
Today in 1932, Charles Lindbergh paid a $50-thousand ransom to a stranger in a Bronx, New York cemetery for the release of his kidnapped son. The stranger was later identified as Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was eventually executed for the infant's murder.
Today in 1974, one of the best-remembered Academy Award surprises took place. As actor David Niven was finishing his presentation, he heard the audience laughing. Not because he flubbed a line, but because a man named Robert Opel hadjust streaked across the stage. David’s response? He remarked, quote, "Isn’t it fascinating that probably the only laugh this man will ever get in life is by stripping off his clothes and showing his shortcomings?"
Today in 1984, John Thompson became the first black coach to lead his team to the NCAA college basketball championship.
Today in 1989, an editorial in the "New York Times"declared that the Cold War was over.
Today in 1992, after years of misses, famed mob boss John Gotti – aka the “Teflon Don” –was convicted in New York of murder and racketeering. He was later sentenced to life in prison. And that’s precisely what happened. In 1998 Gotti was diagnosed with throat cancer and sent to the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. It was treated and excised – his cancer returned. Then, on June 10th, 2002, he died at the age of 61.
Today in 2000, more than 600 people set out on a five-day, 120-mile protest march to Columbia, South Carolina. Their mission? To urge state lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome.
Today in 2005, James Stewart Jr. became first African American to win a major motor sports event in Supercross.
Today in 2005, Pope John Paul II died in his Vatican apartment at age 84.
Today in 2009, a 19-count federal racketeering indictment was returned against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He denied everything, and was ultimately convicted in 2010 and given a 14-year sentence. He may be eligible for early release in May 2024, based on good behavior. He is the fourth Illinois governor to serve time in federal prison, after Otto Kerner Jr., Dan Walker, and George Ryan.
Today in 2014, three soldiers were killed and 16 others were wounded in a shooting rampage by another soldier at Fort Hood in Texas. He then killed himself.
Today in 2019,NASA unveiled a plan to send astronauts to Mars by 2033, and land on the Moon again in 2024.
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