Today in History: March 27

Today is Easter Sunday. Above, part of “The Ascension of Christ” by Salvador Dalí (1958. Oil on canvas. Pérez Simón Collection).

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“The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash” aired on British television on this date in 1978. A parody of the history of The Beatles created by Eric Idle (Monty Python) and Neil Innes (Bonzo Dog Band), the film performed better in the ratings than it had a week earlier on American television, where it finished last for the night. Innes composed the songs with an intention to make them sound more Beatles-esque than Beatles … um, -ish … and was sued for copyright infringement by representatives of The Beatles. The film (below the fold):

 
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The Tenerife airport disaster took place on this date in 1977. It remains the worst aviation disaster in history. Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife, Canary Islands, did not have ground radar at the time, so the only way traffic controllers knew where planes were was via radio contact with crew cockpits and what they could see with their own eyes. It was a foggy day. A KLM 747 was attempting to take off, and a Pan Am 747 was sitting on the runway, awaiting instructions to proceed. Neither was aware of the other until the KLM crew noticed that they were about to strike the Pan Am plane, whose crew took evasive action and tried to drive the plane off the runway and into the grass. The KLM attempted a too-steep takeoff over the Pan AM 747, but it struck the Pan Am plane, lost its left engine in the crash, tumbled for about 500 feet, and then came down, at which point its full load of fuel exploded on impact. All 248 died in the KLM plane and 335 died on the Pan Am plane, but 61 survived in that plane.

Aviation rules were changed globally as a result of the disaster. Crews no longer say “Okay” or “Roger” in reply to statements or instructions from traffic controllers; they must repeat parts of the instructions, is one example.

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Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) was put into quarantine for the second and final time in her life on this date in 1915. She herself was never sick and never developed symptoms of typhoid fever, but she was a carrier, and she did not keep a clean kitchen, even though she was a professional cook who prepared meals for families in their homes. For five years after her first quarantine, she had kept one step ahead of the authorities, taking jobs under assumed names and often leaving illness in her wake. She spent the remaining twenty-three years of her life in quarantine.

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Stanisław Lem died 10 years ago today.

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Mstislav Rostropovich was born on this date in 1927.

 
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Jerry Lacy is 80 today. Lacy as “Bogie” in “Play It Again, Sam” by Woody Allen:

 
Cale Yarborough is 77. Austin Pendleton is 76. Michael York is 74 today. Tony Banks is 66. Quentin Tarantino is 53 today. Mariah Carey is 46 today. Nathan Fillion is 45. Fergie is 41.

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