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Today in history: March 15

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

Today is Wednesday, March 15, the 74th day of 2006. There are 291 days left in the year. This is “Buzzard Day” in Hinckley, Ohio.

Today’s Highlight in History:
Fifty years ago, on March 15th, 1956, the Lerner and Loewe musical play “My Fair Lady,” starring Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins and Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle, opened on Broadway.

On this date:
In 44 B.C., Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of nobles that included Brutus and Cassius.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus returned to Spain, concluding his first voyage to the Western Hemisphere.

In 1767, the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, was born in Waxhaw, South Carolina.

In 1820, Maine became the 23rd state.

In 1913, President Wilson held the first open presidential news conference.

In 1919, the American Legion was founded, in Paris.

In 1944, during World War II, Allied bombers again raided German-held Monte Cassino.

In 1964, actress Elizabeth Taylor married actor Richard Burton in Montreal; it was her fifth marriage, his second.

In 1975, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis died near Paris at age 69.

In 1977, the U.S. House of Representatives began a 90-day test to determine the feasibility of showing its sessions on television.

Ten years ago: The Liggett Group agreed to repay more than $10 million in Medicaid bills for treatment of smokers, settling lawsuits with five states. (The settlement came two days after Liggett, the nation’s fifth-largest tobacco company, made history by settling a private class-action lawsuit alleging cigarette makers manipulated nicotine to hook smokers.)

Five years ago: Federal authorities confirmed that remains found on a Texas ranch were those of missing atheist leader Madalyn Murray O’Hair and two of her relatives. (David Waters, the key suspect in the slayings, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a federal extortion charge in connection with the case.) Chechens hijacked a Russian plane after it left Turkey and forced it to land in Saudi Arabia. (Saudi special forces stormed the plane the following day; a flight attendant, a passenger and a hijacker were killed.) Actress Ann Sothern died in Ketchum, Idaho, at age 92.

One year ago: Former WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers was convicted in New York of engineering the largest corporate fraud in U.S. history. (He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison.) In a symbolic but stunning rebuke, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a motion saying it lacked confidence in President Lawrence Summers — the first such action in the nearly 400-year history of the university.

Today’s Birthdays: Country singer Carl Smith is 79. Former astronaut Alan L. Bean is 74. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 73. Jazz musician Cecil Taylor is 73. Actor Judd Hirsch is 71. Rock musician Phil Lesh is 66. Singer Mike Love (The Beach Boys) is 65. Rock singer-musician Sly Stone is 63. Rock singer-musician Howard Scott (War) is 60. Rock singer Ry Cooder is 59. Actor Craig Wasson is 52. Rock singer Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) is 51. Actress Park Overall is 49. Movie director Renny Harlin is 47. Model Fabio is 45. Singer Sananda Maitreya (formerly Terence Trent D’Arby) is 44. Rock singer Bret Michaels (Poison) is 43. Singer Rockwell is 42. Rock singer Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) is 38. Actress Kim Raver is 37. Rock musician Mark Hoppus (Blink 182) is 34. Actress Eva Longoria is 31. Rapper-musician (Black Eyed Peas) is 31. Rock DJ Joseph Hahn (Linkin Park) is 29. Rapper Young Buck is 25. Actor Sean Biggerstaff is 23. Actress Caitlin Wachs is 17.

Thought for Today: “People are, if anything, more touchy about being thought silly than they are about being thought unjust.” — E.B. White, American author and humorist (1899-1985).