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Today in history: March 26

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

Today is Sunday, March 26, the 85th day of 2006. There are 280 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On March 26, 1979, the Camp David peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the White House.

On this date: In 1804, the Louisiana Purchase was divided into the Territory of Orleans and the District of Louisiana.

In 1827, composer Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna.

In 1892, poet Walt Whitman died in Camden, N.J.

In 1911, playwright Tennessee Williams was born in Columbus, Miss.

In 1937, a 6-foot-tall concrete statue of the cartoon character Popeye was unveiled during the Second Annual Spinach Festival in Crystal City, Texas.

In 1958, the U.S. Army launched America’s third successful satellite, Explorer III.

In 1964, the musical play “Funny Girl,” starring Barbra Streisand, opened on Broadway.

In 1971, East Pakistan proclaimed its independence, taking the name Bangladesh.

In 1981, a jury in Los Angeles awarded entertainer Carol Burnett $1.6 million from the National Enquirer for an article she’d charged was libelous. (The award was later reduced, and the two parties settled out of court).

In 1982, groundbreaking ceremonies took place in Washington for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Ten years ago: Amid public fears of mad cow disease, British farmers demanded their government order the destruction of old cattle, but Prime Minister John Major refused, and blamed the crisis on his political opponents. Former U.S. secretary of state and Sen. Edmund Muskie died in Washington, two days shy of his 82nd birthday.

Five years ago: Comair pilots walked off the job, beginning a three-month strike after contract talks with the regional airline broke off. A fire in a Kenyan secondary school dormitory killed 67 students.

One year ago: German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stood in for Pope John Paul II during the Easter Vigil Mass at the Vatican (Ratzinger would later succeed John Paul, becoming Pope Benedict XVI). Former British Prime Minister James Callaghan died one day before his 93rd birthday in East Sussex county, England.

Today’s Birthdays: Jazz musician James Moody is 81. Conductor-composer Pierre Boulez is 81. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is 76. Actor-director Leonard Nimoy is 75. Actor Alan Arkin is 72. Actor James Caan is 66. Author Erica Jong is 64. Journalist Bob Woodward is 63. Singer Diana Ross is 62. Actor Johnny Crawford is 60. Rock singer Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) is 58. Singer and TV personality Vicki Lawrence is 57. Actor Ernest Thomas is 57. Singer Teddy Pendergrass is 56. Comedian Martin Short is 56. Country singer Ronnie McDowell is 56. Movie composer Alan Silvestri is 56. Country singer Dean Dillon is 51. Country singer Charly McClain is 50. TV personality Leeza Gibbons is 49. Actress Jennifer Grey is 46. Basketball player John Stockton is 44. Actor Michael Imperioli is 40. Rock musician James Iha is 38. Country singer Kenny Chesney is 38. Actor T.R. Knight is 33. Rapper Juvenile is 31. Actress Amy Smart is 30. Actress Keira Knightley is 21. Rapper J-Kwon is 20.

Thought for Today: “Our whole life is an attempt to discover when our spontaneity is whimsical, sentimental irresponsibility and when it is a valid expression of our deepest desires and values.” — Helen Merrell Lynd, American sociologist and author (1896-1982).