updated 1/20/2006 12:01:39 AM ET 2006-01-20T05:01:39

Today is Friday, Jan. 20, the 20th day of 2006. There are 345 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
Twenty-five years ago, on Jan. 20, 1981, Iran released 52 Americans it had held hostage for 444 days, minutes after the presidency had passed from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan.

On this date:
In 1801, John Marshall was appointed chief justice of the United States.

In 1841, the island of Hong Kong was ceded to Great Britain. (It returned to Chinese control in July 1997.)

In 1887, the U.S. Senate approved an agreement to lease Pearl Harbor in Hawaii as a naval base.

In 1896, comedian George Burns was born Nathan Birnbaum in New York City.

In 1936, Britain’s King George V died; he was succeeded by Edward VIII.

In 1942, Nazi officials held the notorious Wannsee conference, during which they arrived at their “final solution” that called for exterminating Jews.

In 1945, President Roosevelt was sworn into office for an unprecedented fourth term.

In 1954, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” a play by Herman Wouk based on part of his novel “The Caine Mutiny,” opened on Broadway.

In 1986, the United States observed the first federal holiday in honor of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1986, Britain and France announced plans to build the Channel Tunnel.

Ten years ago: Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians turned out to vote in a festive first election, solidly endorsing Yasser Arafat and his peace policies. The space shuttle Endeavour landed after a nine-day mission that included snaring a Japanese satellite.

Five years ago: George Walker Bush became America’s 43rd president after one of the most turbulent elections in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of protesting Filipinos forced President Joseph Estrada to step down; Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as the new president. Michelle Kwan won her fourth straight U.S. Figure Skating Championship title while Timothy Goebel won his first men’s title.

One year ago: President Bush was inaugurated for a second term; Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, ill with thyroid cancer, delivered the oath of office. Anti-Bush demonstrators jeered the president’s motorcade during the inaugural parade.

Today’s Birthdays: Country singer Slim Whitman is 82. Actress Patricia Neal is 80. Comedian Arte Johnson is 77. Former astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin is 76. Actress Dorothy Provine is 69. Singer Eric Stewart is 61. Movie director David Lynch is 60. Actor Daniel Benzali is 56. Rock musician Paul Stanley (KISS) is 54. Rock musician Ian Hill (Judas Priest) is 54. Comedian Bill Maher (MAR) is 50. Actor Lorenzo Lamas is 48. Actor James Denton (“Desperate Housewives”) is 43. Country singer John Michael Montgomery is 41. Actress Stacey Dash is 39. TV personality Melissa Rivers is 38. Singer Xavier is 38. Singer Edwin McCain is 36. Actor Skeet Ulrich is 36. Rap musician ?uestlove (The Roots) is 35. Rock musician Rob Bourdon (Linkin Park) is 27. Actor Evan Peters is 19.

Thought for Today: “By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.”— George Burns (1896-1996).

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