Today in History:
April 15, 1792 -
The Guillotine was first tested on human corpses on this date.
April 15, 1865 -
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, died from a bullet wound inflicted the night before by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer.
The president's death came only six days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox, effectively ending the American Civil War.
April 15, 1910 -
In San Francisco detective Tim Riordan arrested Jolly Trixie, aka Miss Kitty Plunkett on this date, for allegedly violating the Penal Code. She was accused of being deformed and exhibiting her deformity in a Fillmore Street show house.
You just know if television was around at the time, this would have been a reality series on Fox TV.
April 15, 1912 -
Unsinkable ship Titanic sank after being torn by iceberg, with a loss of 1493 passengers on this date.
There were 212 staff members of the 712 survivors. Nearly 60% of the first-class passengers survived, except for Isidor and Ida Straus.
Purportedly, Ida refused to board one of the last lifeboats leaving the ill-fated Ocean liner, saying "I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together." The Straus' were last seen on deck sitting in deck chairs holding hands when a huge wave washed them into the sea.
April 15, 1945 -
British and Canadian troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen death camp in northern Germany on this date.
April 15, 1955 -
The first McDonald's franchise opens in Des Plains, a suburb of Chicago. Because it is the first one launched by Ray Kroc, he names it "McDonald's #1" despite the fact that the McDonald brothers had already opened eight of their chain restaurants before they began accepting licensees.
Kroc's unfortunate numbering system guarantees perpetual confusion for amateur fast food historians the world over.
April 15, 1962 -
Actress Clara Blandick, 80, the Auntie Em of the Wizard of Oz, took an overdose of sleeping pills and tied a plastic bag around her head in a Hollywood hotel room on this date.
Prior to this, she had prominently arranged her resume and press clippings so the newspapers would get her obituary right. Police also found her suicide note, which read: “I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”
April 15, 1983 -
Tokyo Disneyland, the first Disney park built outside of the United States, opened on this date.
It is owned by The Oriental Land Company, which licenses the theme from The Walt Disney Company. Tokyo Disneyland and its companion park, Tokyo DisneySea, are the only Disney parks not owned by The Walt Disney Company.
April 15, 1990 -
Greta Garbo finally got her wish,
and died in New York City at age 84, on this date.
And so it goes.