This Day in History: March 27

On this day, March 27 …

1995: “Forrest Gump” wins six Academy Awards, including best picture and a second consecutive best actor Oscar for Tom Hanks; Jessica Lange wins best actress for “Blue Sky.”

Also on this day:

  • 1513: Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon puts his sights on present-day Florida.
  • 1933: Japan officially withdraws from the League of Nations.
  • 1942: During World War II, Congress grants American servicemen free first-class mailing privileges.
  • 1958: Nikita Khrushchev becomes Soviet premier in addition to First Secretary of the Communist Party.
  • 1964: Alaska is hit by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake (the strongest on record in North America) and tsunamis that together claim about 130 lives.
  • 1968: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the Earth in 1961, dies at age 34 when his MiG-15 jet crashes during a routine training flight near Moscow.
  • 1975: Construction begins on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which would be completed two years later.
  • 1977: In aviation’s worst disaster, 583 people are killed when a KLM Boeing 747, attempting to take off in heavy fog, crashes into a Pan Am 747 on an airport runway on the Canary Island of Tenerife.
  • 2006: Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui testifies at his federal trial that he was supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.
  • 2009: The rising Red River breaks a 112-year record and threatens the dikes fortifying Fargo, N.D. 
  • 2009: The main suspect in the Phoenix serial shooter attacks, Dale Hausner, is sentenced to death for six murders that had put the city on edge for nearly two years. (Hausner would commit suicide in an isolation cell in June 2013.)
  • 2014: The U.S. Air Force, in response to an exam-cheating scandal, takes the extraordinary step of firing nine midlevel nuclear commanders and announcing it would discipline dozens of junior officers at a nuclear missile base.
  • 2014: James Schlesinger, 85, who’d held a long string of Cabinet and other high-level positions in three U.S. administrations, dies in Baltimore.
  • 2018: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in an essay on The New York Times' website, calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment to allow for significant gun control legislation.
  • 2018: The co-owner of a Kansas water park and a ride designer are charged with reckless second-degree murder in the decapitation of a 10-year-old boy on the ride in 2016. (A judge would dismiss the charges in 2019.)