Published On: Apr 25 2013 11:18:08 AM EDTUpdated On: Apr 26 2015 02:00:00 AM EDT
2013: Country music legend George Jones, best known for hits such as "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "White Lightning," dies at the age of 81 in Nashville, Tennessee, after being hospitalized with high fever and irregular blood pressure.
2007: Political adviser and film executive Jack Valenti, a longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America and the creator of the MPAA film rating system, dies from stroke complications at the age of 85 in Washington, D.C. Seen here in 1991, Valenti became president of the MPAA in 1966 and retired in 2004. He also served as media liaison during the Nov. 22, 1963, visit of President John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson to Dallas, Texas, and was in the presidential motorcade when Kennedy was assassinated. After Kennedy died, Valenti flew to Washington on Air Force One with Johnson and became a special assistant in his White House.
2002: 19-year-old expelled student Robert Steinhäuser shoots and kills 16 at Gutenberg-Gymnasium, a secondary school in Erfurt, Germany. He turned the gun on himself after a teacher shoved him a classroom and locked the door. Steinhäuser's victims included 13 faculty members, two students and a police officer. One other person was wounded by a bullet fragment in the shooting.
2000: Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signs the nation's first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.
1995: The comedy "Friday," starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, premieres in theaters. The hit film spawned two sequels, "Next Friday" and "Friday After Next."
1994: China Airlines Flight 140 crashes just before landing at Nagoya Airport in Japan, killing 264 of the 271 people on board.
1993: NBC announces that Conan O'Brien, a writer and producer for "The Simpsons," would take over for David Letterman as host of "Late Night." Letterman was preparing to leave the network for CBS after being passed over in favor of Jay Leno to replace Johnny Carson as the host of "The Tonight Show."
1989: Actress and comedian Lucille Ball, the sitcom star who was one of Hollywood's biggest stars during her lifetime, dies of a dissecting aortic aneurysm at the age of 77 in Los Angeles, California. Ball became a television star in the 1950s and starred in the sitcoms "I Love Lucy," "The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour," "The Lucy Show," "Here's Lucy" and "Life with Lucy." She was nominated for an Emmy Award 13 times, winning four times in her career. She's seen here at the 61st Academy Awards on March 29, 1989, her final public appearance before her death.
1989: The deadliest tornado in world history strikes Central Bangladesh, killing upward of 1,300, injuring 12,000, and leaving as many as 80,000 homeless.
1986: An explosion and fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Soviet Union releases large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, creating the world's worst nuclear disaster. The nuclear accident is one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Even after the disaster, the plant continued to operate, with the damaged reactor sealed off, until 2000. An area extending 19 miles in all directions from the plant is known as the "zone of alienation" and is largely uninhabited. Ukrainian officials estimate the area will not be safe for human life again for another 20,000 years. Although the official death toll released by the Soviet Union was about 30 people, many more were sickened and died from health issues related to radiation exposure. Between 1992 and 2002, more than 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer cases were diagnosed among Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian children living in the fallout zone, according to Time magazine.
1984: Jazz musician, bandleader and composer Count Basie, who introduced several generations of listeners to the Big Band sound and recorded an influential catalog, dies of pancreatic cancer at the age of 79 in Hollywood, Florida.
1980: Actor Channing Tatum, best known for roles in movies such as "Step Up," "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," "Dear John," "The Vow," "21 Jump Street" and "Magic Mike," is born in Cullman, Alabama.
1980: Actress Jordana Brewster, best known for movies such as "The Faculty," "D.E.B.S.," "Fast & Furious" and "Fast Five," is born in Panama City, Panama.
1977: Actor Tom Welling, best known for playing Clark Kent on the TV show "Smallville," is born in Putnam Valley, New York.
1977: The nightclub Studio 54 opens in New York City. The club would soon become the epicenter of the disco craze and the most famous nightclub in the world.
1973: Actress Irene Ryan, best known for playing Daisy "Granny" Moses on the sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies," dies of a stroke at the age of 70 in Santa Monica, California. Born Irene Noblette in El Paso, Texas, Ryan also one of the few entertainers who found success in vaudeville, radio, film, television and Broadway.
1970: Gypsy Rose Lee, the burlesque entertainer, dancer, actress and author whose 1957 memoir was made into the stage musical and film "Gypsy," dies of lung cancer at the age of 59 in Los Angeles, California.
1966: Much of the old city of Tashkent in the Soviet Union is destroyed by a huge earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. The quake left more than 300,000 homeless and destroyed some 78,000 poorly built homes, mainly in densely packed areas where traditional adobe housing was prominent. Pictured is a memorial to the earthquake in Tashkent, which today is the capital of Uzbekistan.
1965: Actor and comedian Kevin James, best known for the sitcom "The King of Queens" and for movies such as "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," "Hitch" and "Grown Ups," is born Kevin George Knipfing in Mineola, New York.
1963: Actor and martial artist Jet Li, best known for movies such as "Romeo Must Die," "Kiss of the Dragon," "The Expendables," "Unleashed" and "The Forbidden Kingdom," is born Li Lianjie in Beijing, China.
1962: The Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the moon after an onboard computer failure. The spacecraft was designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface and collect other scientific data during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to crashing, but was unsuccessful. Despite the failure, Ranger 4 became the first U.S. spacecraft to reach another celestial body.
1942: Singer and actor Bobby Rydell, a 1960s teen idol best known for the songs "Wild One" and "Volare," is born Robert Louis Ridarelli in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He's also known for playing the role of Hugo Peabody in the 1963 movie version of "Bye Bye Birdie."
1938: Rock guitarist Duane Eddy, best known for his string of hit records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Rebel Rouser," "Peter Gunn" and "Because They're Young," is born in Corning, New York. Eddy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
1937: Guernica, Spain, is bombed by German Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War. The bombing, which caused widespread destruction and civilian deaths, inspired the famous painting "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso.
1933: Comedian and actress Carol Burnett, best known for the TV variety show "The Carol Burnett Show,", is born in San Antonio, Texas. Burnett won three Emmys and five Golden Globes for the show and went on to appear in movies such as "The Four Seasons," "Annie" and "Noises Off."
1933: The Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established. The name is an abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei, German for Secret State Police. Its first commander was Rudolf Diels (pictured), a protégé of Hermann Göring.
1900: Seismologist and physicist Charles Francis Richter, most famous as the creator of the Richter magnitude scale, which, until the development of the moment magnitude scale in 1979, measured the size of earthquakes, is born in Overpeck, Ohio.
1886: Singer Ma Rainey, one of the earliest known American professional blues singers, is born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia. Billed as "The Mother of the Blues," she was among the first generation of blues singers to record. From the time of her first recording in 1923 to five years later, Rainey made more than 100 recordings, including such blues standards as "Bo-weevil Blues," "Moonshine Blues," "See See Rider," "Black Bottom" and "Soon This Morning."
1865: Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrenders the Army of Tennessee and all remaining Confederate forces still active in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida to Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman at the Bennett Place near Durham, North Carolina. It was the largest surrender of the American Civil War, totaling 89,270 soldiers.
1865: After being cornered by Union cavalry troops in a tobacco barn just south of Port Royal, Virginia, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, is shot and killed.
1803: Thousands of meteor fragments fall from the skies of L'Aigle, France. The event and the field work by Jean-Baptiste Biot of the French Academy of Sciences would help convince European science that meteors exist.
1785: Naturalist and artist John James Audubon, known for his efforts to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats, is born in Les Cayes in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which is now Haiti. In 1905, the National Audubon Society was incorporated and named in his honor.
1721: A massive earthquake devastates the Iranian city of Tabriz. The estimates of death tolls from the quake vary from 8,000 to 250,000, but the total is most likely around 80,000.
1607: The first permanent English settlers in North America land in what today is Virginia, coming ashore at what they name Cape Henry. They explored the area and set up a cross before proceeding up the James River, where they later settled what would become Jamestown, Virginia.