On April 12,
1861 - American Civil War: The war begins with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
1954 - Bill Haley and His Comets record "Rock Around the Clock" in New York City. Initially unsuccessful, the recording would help launch the rock and roll revolution a year later.
1961 - Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to fly in space.
1981 - The first launch of a Space Shuttle: Columbia launches on the STS-1 mission.
1994 - Canter & Siegel post the first commercial mass Usenet spam.
1903 - Sally Rand, American dancer and actress (d. 1979)
1916 - Beverly Cleary, American writer
1922 - Tiny Tim, American musician (d. 1996)
1923 - Ann Miller, American actress and dancer (d. 2004)
1928 - Juanita Bane, Erica's grandma
1940 - Herbie Hancock, American pianist and composer
1947 - David Letterman, American talk show host
1950 - David Cassidy, American singer and actor
1962 - Takada Nobuhiko, Japanese professional wrestler
1964 - Amy Ray, American musician (Indigo Girls)
1971 - Shannen Doherty, American actress
1979 - Claire Danes, American actress
1979 - Erica Reid, American choreographer and actress