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Today in history: May 21

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

Today is Sunday, May 21, the 141st day of 2006. There are 224 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 21, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh landed his Spirit of St. Louis near Paris, completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

On this date:
In 1542, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto died while searching for gold along the Mississippi River.

In 1832, the first Democratic National Convention got under way, in Baltimore.

In 1840, New Zealand was declared a British colony.

In 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.

In 1892, the opera “I Pagliacci,” by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, was first performed, in Milan, Italy.

In 1924, 14-year-old Bobby Franks was murdered in a “thrill killing” committed by Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb, two students at the University of Chicago.

In 1956, the United States exploded the first airborne hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

In 1968, the nuclear-powered U.S. submarine Scorpion, with 99 men aboard, was last heard from. (The remains of the sub were later found on the ocean floor 400 miles southwest of the Azores.)

In 1979, former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the slayings of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

In 1991, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated during national elections by a suicide bomber.

Ten years ago: At least 615 people, many of them teenagers, drowned when an overloaded Tanzanian ferry capsized in Lake Victoria.

Five years ago: The Mitchell Report on Mideast violence called on Palestinians to jail terrorists and Israel to freeze settlement activity. Cardinals from around the world gathered at the Vatican for a three-day meeting to ponder the challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church and who might lead it after Pope John Paul II. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that a radio host cannot be sued for airing a phone conversation taped illegally by a third party.

One year ago: Afleet Alex regained his footing and his drive after being cut off by Scrappy T in a frightening collision and breezed home to win the Preakness Stakes; Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo finished third. The Belgian film “The Child” won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Comedic actor Howard Morris died in Hollywood at age 85.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Jeanne Bates (“Ben Casey”) is 88. Actor David Groh is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ron Isley (The Isley Brothers) is 65. Actor Richard Hatch is 61. Musician Bill Champlin (Chicago) is 59. Singer Leo Sayer is 58. Actress Carol Potter is 58. Comedian/radio talk show host Al Franken is 55. Actor Mr. T is 54. Music producer Stan Lynch is 51. Actor Judge Reinhold is 49. Actor-director Nick Cassavetes is 47. Actor Brent Briscoe is 45. Actress Lisa Edelstein is 38. Jazz musician Christian McBride is 34. Actress Fairuza Balk is 32. Rapper Havoc (Mobb Deep) is 32. Actress Ashlie Brillault is 19. Actor Scott Leavenworth is 16. Actress Sarah Ramos is 15.

Thought for Today: “Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.” — Carl Schurz, American politician (1829-1906).