Today in history


Today is Friday, March 31, the 90th day of 2017. There are 275 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 31, 1917, the United States took formal possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark.

On this date:

In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain issued an edict expelling Jews from Spanish soil, except those willing to convert to Christianity.

In 1889, French engineer Gustave Eiffel unfurled the French tricolor from atop the Eiffel Tower, officially marking its completion.

In 1923, the first U.S. dance marathon, held in New York City, ended with Alma Cummings, who had danced with six consecutive male partners, setting a world record of 27 hours on her feet.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Emergency Conservation Work Act, which created the Civilian Conservation Corps.

In 1943, “Oklahoma!,” the first musical play by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened on Broadway.

In 1957, the original version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s TV musical “Cinderella,” starring Julie Andrews, aired live in color on CBS.

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned the country by announcing during a televised address that he would not seek re-election.

In 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Karen Ann Quinlan, a young woman in a persistent vegetative state, could be disconnected from her respirator. (Quinlan, who remained unconscious, died in 1985.)

In 1986, 167 people died when a Mexicana Airlines Boeing 727 crashed in a remote mountainous region of Mexico.

In 1993, actor Brandon Lee, 28, was accidentally shot to death during the filming the movie “The Crow” in Wilmington, North Carolina, when he was hit by a bullet fragment that had become lodged inside a prop gun.

In 1995, Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 23, was shot to death in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the founder of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2005, Terri Schiavo (SHY’-voh), 41, died at a hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed in a wrenching right-to-die dispute.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush called for the release of 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, calling their capture by Tehran “inexcusable behavior.” (The 15 were freed four days later.) President Bush again came to the defense of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, under criticism for his role in the firing of federal prosecutors, calling him “honorable and honest.” The first “Earth Hour” took place as Sydney, Australia, plunged itself into near-darkness for an hour to promote awareness of climate change. (The event went global the following year.)

Five years ago: Hundreds of world landmarks from Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to the Great Wall of China went dark as part of Earth Hour, a global effort to highlight climate change. Carolina Kostner of Italy won the ladies’ world figure skating title while Patrick Chan of Canada captured the men’s title in Nice, France. Brittney Griner was named The Associated Press’ women’s college basketball Player of the Year, the first Baylor player to win the award.

One year ago: An overpass collapsed onto a crowded Kolkata, India, neighborhood, killing 26 people. A man who was convicted of fatally beating another man to death after a night of drinking and drug use in 1994 was put to death in Georgia. A 34-year-old Illinois man fatally shot a Virginia state trooper at a busy bus terminal in Richmond before being killed by other troopers. A Maryland man accused of fatally beating his girlfriend’s 9-year-old son over a missing piece of birthday cake pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Denzel Valentine of Michigan State was named The Associated Press Player of the Year. George Washington won its first National Invitation Tournament championship, beating Valparaiso 76-60 at Madison Square Garden.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor William Daniels is 90. Actor Richard Chamberlain is 83. Actress Shirley Jones is 83. Musician Herb Alpert is 82. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is 77. Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is 77. Actor Christopher Walken is 74. Comedian Gabe Kaplan is 73. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, is 73. Rock musician Mick Ralphs (Bad Company; Mott the Hoople) is 73. Former Vice President Al Gore is 69. Author David Eisenhower is 69. Actress Rhea Perlman is 69. Actor Robbie Coltrane (Film: “Harry Potter” films) is 67. Actor Ed Marinaro is 67. Rock musician Angus Young (AC/DC) is 62. Actor Marc McClure is 60. Actor William McNamara is 52. Alt-country musician Bob Crawford (The Avett (AY’-veht) Brothers) is 46. Actor Ewan (YOO’-en) McGregor is 46. Actress Judi Shekoni is 39. Rapper Tony Yayo is 39. Actress Kate Micucci is 37. Actress Melissa Ordway is 34. Jazz musician Christian Scott is 34. Pop musician Jack Antonoff (fun.) is 33. Actress Jessica Szohr is 32.

Thought for Today: “Nowhere are prejudices more mistaken for truth, passion for reason and invective for documentation than in politics.” — John Mason Brown, American critic and lecturer (1900-1969).

By The Associated Press

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