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Today in history: March 12

Celebrity birthdays, highlights in history, plus more facts about this day
/ Source: The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, March 12th, the 71st day of 2006. There are 294 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On March 12th, 1933, President Roosevelt delivered the first of his radio “fireside chats,” telling Americans what was being done to deal with the nation’s economic crisis.

On this date:
In 1664, New Jersey became a British colony as King Charles the Second granted land in the New World to his brother James, the Duke of York.

In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides, which later became the Girl Scouts of America.

In 1925, Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen died.

In 1930, Indian political and spiritual leader Mohandas K. Gandhi began a 200-mile march to protest a British tax on salt.

In 1938, the Anschluss took place as German troops entered Austria.

In 1939, Pope Pius the 12th was formally crowned in ceremonies at the Vatican.

In 1947, President Truman established what became known as the “Truman Doctrine” to help Greece and Turkey resist Communism.

In 1951, “Dennis the Menace,” created by cartoonist Hank Ketcham, made its syndicated debut in 16 newspapers.

In 1980, a Chicago jury found John Wayne Gacy Junior guilty of the murders of 33 men and boys. (The next day, Gacy was sentenced to death; after years on death row, he was finally executed in May 1994.)

In 2004, Marcus Wesson, the domineering patriarch of a cultlike clan he’d bred through incest, killed nine of his offspring, all but one minors, at their home in Fresno, California. (Wesson was later convicted of murder and sentenced to death.)

Ten years ago: Republican Bob Dole swept the seven “Super Tuesday” primaries, gaining a virtual lock on the G.O.P. presidential nomination.

Five years ago: A U.S. Navy jet mistakenly dropped a bomb on a group of military personnel at a bombing range in Kuwait, killing five Americans and one New Zealander. Abrasive, chain-smoking talk show host Morton Downey Junior died at age 68. Spy adventure novelist Robert Ludlum died in Naples, Florida, at age 73.

One year ago: Brian Nichols, suspected in the slayings of a judge and three other people, surrendered to authorities in suburban Atlanta after allegedly holding Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment. A gunman opened fire at a church service being held at a suburban Milwaukee hotel, killing seven people before taking his own life. Bode Miller became the first American in 22 years to win skiing’s overall World Cup title, in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

Today’s Birthdays: Former astronaut Wally Schirra is 83. Playwright Edward Albee is 78. Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young is 74. Broadcast journalist Lloyd Dobyns is 70. Singer Al Jarreau is 66. Actress-singer Liza Minnelli is 60. Singer-songwriter James Taylor is 58. Rock singer-musician Bill Payne (Little Feat) is 57. Actor Jon Provost (“Lassie”) is 56. Author Carl Hiaasen is 53. Rock musician Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) is 50. Actor Jerry Levine is 49. Singer Marlon Jackson (The Jackson Five) is 49. Actor Courtney B. Vance is 46. Actor Titus Welliver is 45. Former baseball player Darryl Strawberry is 44. Actress Julia Campbell is 43. Actor Aaron Eckhart is 38. Rock musician Graham Coxon is 37. Actor Samm Levine is 24.

Thought for Today: “I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it, and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: hard work — and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.” — Lucille Ball, American actress-comedian (1911-1989).