Today in History

Today is Friday, Feb. 6, the 37th day of 2015. There are 328 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 6, 1952, Britain’s King George VI died at Sandringham House in Norfolk, England; he was succeeded as monarch by his elder daughter, who became Queen Elizabeth II.

On this date:

In 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1815, the state of New Jersey issued the first American railroad charter to John Stevens, who proposed a rail link between Trenton and New Brunswick. (The line, however, was never built.)

In 1899, a peace treaty between the United States and Spain was ratified by the U.S. Senate.

In 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, was born in Tampico, Illinois.

In 1922, Cardinal Archille Ratti was elected pope; he took the name Pius XI.

In 1933, the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the so-called “lame duck” amendment, was proclaimed in effect by Secretary of State Henry Stimson.

In 1943, a Los Angeles jury acquitted actor Errol Flynn of three counts of statutory rape.

In 1958, British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on takeoff from Munich, West Germany, killing 23 of the 44 people on board.

In 1973, Dixy Lee Ray was appointed by President Richard Nixon to be the first woman to head the Atomic Energy Commission.

In 1987, Wall Street Journal reporter Gerald Seib (syb) was released after being detained six days by Iran, accused of being a spy for Israel; Iran said the detention was a result of misunderstandings.

In 1995, the space shuttle Discovery flew to within 37 feet of the Russian space station Mir in the first rendezvous of its kind in two decades.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a bill changing the name of Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Pop music star Falco, who’d had a 1986 hit with “Rock Me Amadeus,” died in a traffic accident in the Dominican Republic; he was 40.

Ten years ago: The New England Patriots won their third NFL championship in four years, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX (39) by a score of 24-21. Fans of the late reggae singer Bob Marley celebrated his 60th birthday in his birthplace of Jamaica as well as the Rastafarian holy land of Ethiopia. Eighteen people were found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in a mountain hostel in eastern Spain. Acclaimed Russian pianist Lazar Berman died in Florence, Italy, at age 74. The animated series “American Dad!” premiered on the Fox Network.

Five years ago: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, delivering the keynote address at the first national convention of the tea party coalition in Nashville, declared, “America is ready for another revolution.” American missionary Robert Park headed home after North Korea released him from six weeks’ detention for crossing its border on Christmas Day to protest religious suppression in the totalitarian regime. Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith led a class of seven new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

One year ago: House Speaker John Boehner all but ruled out passage of immigration legislation before the fall elections. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of a Syrian prison and rebels stormed in behind him, freeing hundreds of inmates. Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, 91, died in Rancho Mirage, California. Former U.S. poet laureate Maxine Kumin died in Warner, New Hampshire, at age 88. Jay Leno said goodbye to NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for the second time, making way for Jimmy Fallon to take over as host.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor is 98. Actor Patrick Macnee is 93. Cinematographer and filmmaker Haskell Wexler (Film: “Medium Cool”) is 93. Actor Rip Torn is 84. Actress Mamie Van Doren is 84. Actor Mike Farrell is 76. Former NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw is 75. Singer Fabian is 72. Actress Gayle Hunnicutt is 72. Producer-director-writer Jim Sheridan is 66. Singer Natalie Cole is 65. Actor Jon Walmsley is 59. Actress Kathy Najimy is 58. Rock musician Simon Phillips (Toto) is 58. Actor-director Robert Townsend is 58. Actor Barry Miller is 57. Actress Megan Gallagher is 55. Rock singer Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses) is 53. Country singer Richie McDonald is 53. Singer Rick Astley is 49. Rock musician Tim Brown (Boo Radleys) is 46. “Good Morning America” co-host Amy Robach is 42. Actor Brandon Hammond is 31. Actress Alice Greczyn (GREH’-chihn) is 29.

Thought for Today: “Cherish your wilderness.” – Maxine Kumin (1925-2014).

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