Today in History

May 8, 2021

Today in HistoryBy The Associated Press undefined Today is Saturday, May 8, the 128th day of 2021. There are 237 days left in the year. 

  • Today's Highlight in History: 

On May 8, 1984, the Soviet Union announced it would boycott the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. On this date: 

  • In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River. 
  • In 1660, the British Parliament moved to restore the monarchy by declaring that Charles II had been the country's lawful king since the execution of his father, Charles I, in 1649.
  • In 1846, the first major battle of the Mexican-American War was fought at Palo Alto, Texas; U.S. forces led by Gen. Zachary Taylor were able to beat back Mexican forces. 
  • In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton began selling the original version of Coca-Cola, which he'd invented.
  • In 1915, Regret became the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby.
  • In 1945, President Harry S. Truman announced on radio that Nazi Germany's forces had surrendered, and that "the flags of freedom fly all over Europe." 
  • In 1958, Vice President Richard Nixon was shoved, stoned, booed and spat upon by anti-American protesters in Lima, Peru. 
  • In 1973, militant American Indians who had held the South Dakota hamlet of Wounded Knee for 10 weeks surrendered. 
  • In 1978, David R. Berkowitz pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn courtroom to murder, attempted murder and assault in connection with the "Son of Sam" shootings that claimed six lives and terrified New Yorkers. (Berkowitz was sentenced to six consecutive life prison terms.) 
  • In 1987, Gary Hart, dogged by questions about his personal life, including his relationship with Miami model Donna Rice, withdrew from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. 
  • In 1993, the Muslim-led government of Bosnia-Herzegovina and rebel Bosnian Serbs signed an agreement for a nationwide cease-fire. 
  • In 1996, South Africa took another step from apartheid to democracy by adopting a constitution that guaranteed equal rights for Blacks and whites. 
  • Ten years ago: Relations between Egypt's Muslims and Christians reached a new low after overnight riots left 12 people dead and a church burned. Fox television announced that Paula Abdul would be one of the judges on "The X Factor," reuniting her with former "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell (however, Abdul's stint did not last beyond the premiere season of the new talent show).
  • Five years ago: London's newly elected Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, paid respect to the millions of Jews slain in the Holocaust as his first public engagement in office, and received a hero's welcome from London's Jewish community at the end. William Schallert, a veteran TV performer and Hollywood union leader who played Patty Duke's father — and uncle — on television, died in Pacific Palisades, California at age 93.
  • One year ago: The White House said Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary and the wife of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, had tested positive for the coronavirus. The unemployment level surged to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Great Depression; the government reported that 20 million Americans had lost their jobs in April amid the economic fallout from the pandemic. A federal judge in Kentucky said the governor's temporary ban on mass gatherings could not apply to in-person religious services. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state would send every voter a mail-in ballot for the November election. Magician Roy Horn of the famed Las Vegas act Siegfried & Roy died in a Las Vegas hospital at the age of 75 as a result of complications from the coronavirus.
  • Today's Birthdays: Naturalist Sir David Attenborough is 95. Singer Toni Tennille is 81. Actor James Mitchum is 80. Country singer Jack Blanchard is 79. Jazz musician Keith Jarrett is 76. Actor Mark Blankfield is 73. Singer Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind and Fire) is 70. Rock musician Chris Frantz (Talking Heads) is 70. Rockabilly singer Billy Burnette is 68. Rock musician Alex Van Halen is 68. Actor David Keith is 67. Actor Raoul Max Trujillo is 66. Sports commentator/former NFL coach Bill Cowher is 64. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is 60. Actor Melissa Gilbert is 57. Rock musician Dave Rowntree (Blur) is 57. Country musician Del Gray is 53. Rock singer Darren Hayes is 49. Singer Enrique Iglesias is 46. Blues singer-musician Joe Bonamassa is 44. Actor Matt Davis is 43. Singer Ana Maria Lombo (Eden's Crush) is 43. Actor Elyes Gabel is 38. Actor Domhnall Gleeson is 38. Actor Julia Whelan (WAY'-lan) is 37. Actor Nora Anezeder is 32.