(7PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
On this day in 1954, the Salk polio vaccine field trials, involving 1.8 million children, begin at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia. Children in the United States, Canada and Finland participated in the trials, which used for the first time the now-standard double-blind method, whereby neither the patient nor attending doctor knew if the inoculation was the vaccine or a placebo. On April 12, 1955, researchers announced the vaccine was safe and effective and it quickly became a standard part of childhood immunizations in America. In the ensuing decades, polio vaccines would all but wipe out the highly contagious disease in the Western Hemisphere.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A woman who spent nearly 60 years of her life in an iron lung after being diagnosed with polio as a child died Wednesday after a power failure shut down the machine that kept her breathing, her family said.
Dianne Odell, 61, had been confined to the 7-foot-long machine since she was stricken by polio at 3 years old.
Odell was afflicted with “bulbo-spinal” polio three years before a polio vaccine was discovered and largely stopped the spread of the crippling childhood disease.
She spent her life in the iron lung, cared for by her parents and other family members. Though confined inside the 750-pound apparatus, Odell managed to get a high school diploma, take college courses and write a children’s book.
The iron lung that she used was a cylindrical chamber with a seal at the neck. She lay on her back in the device with only her head exposed, and made eye contact with visitors using an angled mirror above her head. The lung worked by producing positive and negative pressure on the lungs that caused them to expand and contract so that she could breathe.
1607 An expedition of English colonists went ashore at Cape Henry, Va., to establish the first permanent English settlement in the Western Hemisphere. (They later settled at Jamestown.)
1785 Naturalist and artist John James Audubon was born in Haiti.
1812 Alfred Krupp, 4/26/1812 – 7/14/1887, German industrialist; developed and sold armaments
1822 Frederick Law Olmsted, 4/26/1822 – 8/28/1903, American landscape architect; designed Central Park in New York City
1865 Civil War: Johnston surrenders
1865 Civil War: Death of John Wilkes Booth
1886 Ma Rainey, 4/26/1886 – 12/22/1939, American singer; known as “the mother of the blues”
1889 Anita Loos, 4/26/1889 – 8/18/1981, American novelist and Hollywood screenwriter
1894 Rudolf Hess is born
1915 World War 1: Allies sign Treaty of London
1937 Planes from Nazi Germany raided the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
In an effort to resolve several problems in Asia, including the war between the French and Vietnamese nationalists in Indochina, representatives from the world’s powers meet in Geneva. The conference marked a turning point in the United States’ involvement in Vietnam.
1964 The African nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.
1977 Studio 54 opens
1984 Reagan visits China
1986 Nuclear disaster at Chernobyl1945 Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, the head of France’s Vichy government during World War II, was arrested.
1989 Actress-comedian Lucille Ball died at age 77.
1998 Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera, a leading human rights activist 8in Guatemala, was bludgeoned to death two days after a report he’d compiled on atrocities during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war was made public.
2000 Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed the nation’s first bill allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions.
76 Carol Burnett, Actress, comedian
71 Duane Eddy, Rock musician
71 Maurice Williams, R&B singer
67 Bobby Rydell, Singer
66 Gary Wright, Rock singer
51 Giancarlo Esposito, Actor
49 Roger Taylor, Rock musician (Duran Duran)
48 Joan Chen, Actress
48 Chris Mars, Rock musician
47 Michael Damian, Actor, singer
46 Jet Li, Actor
45 Jimmy Stafford, Rock musician (Train)
44 Kevin James, Actor-comedian (“King of Queens”)
42 Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Actress (“Without a Trace”)
41 Joe Caverlee, Country musician (Yankee Grey)
39 T-Boz, Singer (TLC)
38 Jay DeMarcus, Country musician (Rascal Flats)
37 Michael Jeffers, Country musician (Pinmonkey)
33 Jose Pasillas, Rock musician (Incubus)