updated 1/19/2005 12:10:11 AM ET 2005-01-19T05:10:11

Today is Wednesday, Jan. 19, the 19th day of 2005. There are 346 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:
Fifty years ago, on Jan. 19, 1955, a presidential news conference was filmed for television for the first time, with the permission of President Eisenhower.

On this date:
In 1736, James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, was born in Scotland.

In 1807, Robert E. Lee, the commander-in-chief of the Confederate armies, was born in Stratford, Va.

In 1809, author Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston.

In 1853, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Il Trovatore” premiered in Rome.

In 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union.

In 1944, the federal government relinquished control of the nation’s railroads following settlement of a wage dispute.

In 1966, Indira Gandhi was elected prime minister of India.

In 1970, President Nixon nominated G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court; however, the nomination was defeated because of controversy over Carswell’s past racial views.

In 1977, in one of his last acts of office, President Ford pardoned Iva Toguri D’Aquino, an American who’d made wartime broadcasts for Japan.

In 1981, the United States and Iran signed an agreement paving the way for the release of 52 Americans held hostage for more than 14 months.

Ten years ago: Russian troops regained control of the presidential palace in Grozny, the capital of the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

Five years ago: Michael Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy, was charged with bludgeoning to death 15-year-old Martha Moxley in Greenwich, Conn., in 1975, when he also was 15. (Skakel was later convicted, and is currently appealing.) A dormitory fire at Seton Hall University in New Jersey killed three people and injured 62. Bettino Craxi, Italy’s longest-serving premier during the postwar years, died in Tunisia at age 65. Actress Hedy Lamarr was found dead in her Orlando, Fla., home; she was 86.

One year ago: John Kerry won Iowa’s Democratic caucuses, while John Edwards placed second; Howard Dean, who finished third, delivered a fist-pumping, bellowing concession speech that was viewed as politically damaging. A freighter capsized near the western Norwegian port of Bergen, killing 18.

Today’s birthdays: Actress Jean Stapleton is 82. Actor Fritz Weaver is 79. Actress Tippi Hedren is 75. Former PBS newsman Robert MacNeil is 74. Movie director Richard Lester is 73. Singer Phil Everly is 66. Actor-singer Michael Crawford is 63. Actress Shelley Fabares is 61. Country singer Dolly Parton is 59. ABC newswoman Ann Compton is 58. Singer Harry McGilberry is 54. Singer Dewey Bunnell (America) is 53. Actor Desi Arnaz Jr. is 52. Comedian Paul Rodriguez is 50. Actress Katey Sagal is 48. Reggae musician Mickey Virtue (UB40) is 48. Actor Paul McCrane is 44. Actor William Ragsdale is 44. Tennis player Stefan Edberg is 39. Rock singer Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe) is 37. Singer Trey Lorenz is 36. Actor Shawn Wayans is 34. Rock singer-musician John Wozniak (Marcy Playground) is 34. Actress Drea de Matteo is 33. Actress Marsha Thomason is 29. Actress Jodie Sweetin is 23. Actor Logan Lerman is 13.

Thought for today: “Love is not consolation, it is light.” — Simone Weil, French philosopher (1909-1943).

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