Today in History

Today is Wednesday, March 18, the 77th day of 2015. There are 288 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On March 18, 1965, the first spacewalk took place as Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov went outside his Voskhod 2 capsule, secured by a tether. Farouk I, the former king of Egypt, died in exile in Rome.

On this date:

In 1766, Britain repealed the Stamp Act of 1765.

In 1837, the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, Grover Cleveland, was born in Caldwell, New Jersey.

In 1913, King George I of Greece was assassinated in Thessaloniki.

In 1925, the Tri-State Tornado struck southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois and southwestern Indiana, resulting in some 700 deaths.

In 1937, some 300 people, mostly children, were killed in a gas explosion at a school in New London, Texas.

In 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met at the Brenner Pass, where the Italian dictator agreed to join Germany’s war against France and Britain.

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Hawaii statehood bill. (Hawaii became a state on Aug. 21, 1959.)

In 1962, France and Algerian rebels signed the Evian Accords, a cease-fire agreement which took effect the next day, ending the Algerian War.

In 1974, most of the Arab oil-producing nations ended their 5-month-old embargo against the United States that had been sparked by American support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

In 1980, Frank Gotti, the 12-year-old youngest son of mobster John Gotti, was struck and killed by a car driven by John Favara, a neighbor in Queens, New York. (The following July, Favara vanished, the apparent victim of a gang hit.)

In 1990, thieves made off with 13 works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (the crime remains unsolved).

In 1995, Spain’s Princess Elena married a banker, Jaime de Marichalar y Saenz de Tejada, in Seville; it was Spain’s first royal wedding in 89 years. (The couple separated in 2007, and later divorced.)

Ten years ago: Doctors in Florida, acting on orders of a state judge, removed Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. (Despite the efforts of congressional Republicans to intervene and repeated court appeals by Schiavo’s parents, the brain-damaged woman died on March 31, 2005, at age 41.) Former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland was sentenced to a year in prison and four months under house arrest for selling his office in a corruption scandal (he served 10 months behind bars).

Five years ago: President Barack Obama signed into law a $38 billion jobs bill containing a modest mix of tax breaks and spending designed to encourage the private sector to start hiring again. Actor Fess Parker, 85, died in Santa Ynez, California. Jerome York, an Apple, Inc. board member and a financial wizard credited with turning around Chrysler and IBM, died in Pontiac, Michigan, at age 71.

One year ago: With a sweep of his pen, President Vladimir Putin added Crimea to the map of Russia, provoking denunciations from the Western leaders who called Putin a threat to the world. Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner won the GOP primary in his bid for Illinois governor (he went on to defeat the Democratic incumbent, Pat Quinn). A KOMO-TV news helicopter crashed and burst into flames near Seattle’s Space Needle, killing both people on board.

Today’s Birthdays: Composer John Kander is 88. Country singer Charley Pride is 81. Nobel peace laureate and former South African president F.W. de Klerk is 79. Country singer Margie Bowes is 74. Actor Kevin Dobson is 72. Actor Brad Dourif is 65. Jazz musician Bill Frisell is 64. Singer Irene Cara is 56. Movie writer-director Luc Besson is 56. Actor Geoffrey Owens is 54. Actor Thomas Ian Griffith is 53. Singer-songwriter James McMurtry is 53. Singer-actress Vanessa L. Williams is 52. Olympic gold medal speedskater Bonnie Blair is 51. Country musician Scott Saunders (Sons of the Desert) is 51. Actor David Cubitt is 50. Rock musician Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) is 49. Rock singer-musician Miki Berenyi is 48. Actor Michael Bergin is 46. Rapper-actress-talk show host Queen Latifah is 45. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is 43. Actor-comedian Dane Cook is 43. Country singer Philip Sweet (Little Big Town) is 41. Rock musician Stuart Zender is 41. Singers Jaron and Evan Lowenstein are 41. Actress-singer-dancer Sutton Foster is 40. Singer Devin Lima (LFO) is 38. Rock singer Adam Levine (Maroon 5) is 36. Rock musician Daren Taylor (Airborne Toxic Event) is 35. Olympic gold medal figure skater Alexei Yagudin is 35. Actor Adam Pally is 33. Actress-dancer Julia Goldani Telles is 20. Actress Ciara Bravo is 18. Actor Blake Garrett Rosenthal is 11.

Thought for Today: “It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing – that’s the Lord’s test.” – Mahalia Jackson, American gospel singer (1911-1972).

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