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What Happened on March 27?

  • Marlon Brando refused the Best Actor Oscar. (1973) Brando had won the Oscar for his performance in The Godfather, but declined to take it as a protest for the way Hollywood portrayed Native Americans in film. Brando was the second actor to ever turn down the Oscar, the first being George C. Scott, who declined his Best Actor Oscar for his role in Patton.

  • The FDA approved Viagra®. (1998) It was the first erectile dysfunction drug to be approved for use in the US, and was immediately wildly popular — within a year over a billion US Dollars (USD) worth of pills had been sold.

  • The city of Venice was excommunicated. (1309) Pope Clement V excommunicated the city of Venice and its entire population when they failed to submit to the rule of the papacy. It wasn't the first time the city had come under excommunication — at least two other instances are recorded in the 1500s as well.

  • Cherry trees were planted in Washington D.C. (1912) Helen Taft, wife of President William Taft, and the Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two of about 3,000 cherry trees beside the Potomac river. The trees were a gift from the Japanese government, and became so popular that the Washington began holding an annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

  • President Jackson appointed a controversial Secretary of War. (1829) When Jackson appointed John Eaton as his Secretary of War, the matrons of Washington D.C. went crazy gossiping, since Eaton was married to a former tavern maid with a disreputable past. The gossip and backbiting got so bad that Eaton eventually resigned to allow Jackson to protect his presidency.

  • Nikita Khrushchev became the Premier of the Soviet Union. (1958) Khrushchev was the first person to simultaneously hold the posts of First Secretary Khrushchev and Soviet Premier since Joseph Stalin.

  • March Madness started. (1939) The first NCAA basketball tournament came to an end on this day with the University of Oregon beating Ohio State. The buildup to the tournament became known as March Madness, and remains a major event in US sports.

  • The US established a permanent navy. (1794) Though the revolutionary colonies had had a Continental Navy, it produced such mixed results that it was phased out. The navy was re-established in 1794 to deal with the increasing threat from pirates.

  • Yosemite Valley was first seen by Europeans. (1851) Now one of the most popular natural tourist sites in the US, Yosemite stunned the members of the Mariposa Battalion, a California militia who were the first non-Native Americans to see it. Eyewitness accounts state that members of the party were awed, and even wept at the beauty of the valley.

  • Eisaku Satō was born. (1901) Satō was an extremely influential Japanese Prime Minister in the 1960s and 70s, and was also the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister. He was also the first Asian to take the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in creating the "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" which would later become the basis for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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