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Today in history: July 6

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

Today is Thursday, July 6, the 187th day of 2006. There are 178 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 6, 1944, 169 people died in a fire that broke out in the main tent of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum-and-Bailey Circus in Hartford, Conn.

On this date:
In 1535, Sir Thomas More was executed in England for treason.

In 1777, during the American Revolution, British forces captured Fort Ticonderoga.

In 1854, the first official meeting of the Republican Party took place in Jackson, Mich.

In 1917, during World War I, Arab forces led by T.E. Lawrence captured the port of Aqaba from the Turks.

In 1923, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.

In 1945, President Truman signed an executive order establishing the Medal of Freedom.

In 1945, Nicaragua became the first nation to formally accept the United Nations Charter.

In 1957, Althea Gibson became the first black tennis player to win a Wimbledon singles title, defeating fellow American Darlene Hard 6-3, 6-2.

In 1967, the Biafran War erupted. (The war, which lasted 2½ years, claimed some 600,000 lives.)

In 1989, the U.S. Army destroyed its last Pershing 1A missiles at an ammunition plant in Karnack, Texas, under terms of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Ten years ago: A Delta MD-88 jetliner’s left engine blew apart during an aborted takeoff from Pensacola, Fla., sending metal pieces ripping into the cabin, killing a mother and her son. President Clinton announced the biggest changes in the rules governing meat and poultry safety in 90 years. Steffi Graf won her seventh Wimbledon title, defeating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-3, 7-5.

Five years ago: Former FBI agent Robert Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 criminal counts and agreed to give a full accounting of his spying activities for Moscow. The United States turned over to Japanese authorities an American serviceman accused of rape. (Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Woodland was convicted of rape and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.)

One year ago: New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed after refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of an undercover CIA operative’s name (Miller was jailed for 85 days before agreeing to testify). London was selected to host the 2012 Olympics. The Group of Eight summit opened in Gleneagles, Scotland. L. Patrick Gray, the acting FBI director during Watergate, died in Atlantic Beach, Fla., at age 88. Author Evan Hunter died in Weston, Conn., at age 78.

Today’s Birthdays: Former first lady Nancy Reagan is 85. Actor William Schallert is 84. Talk show host Merv Griffin is 81. Actor Donal Donnelly is 75. Singer-actress Della Reese is 75. Actor Ned Beatty is 69. Singer Gene Chandler is 69. Country singer Jeannie Seely is 66. President Bush is 60. Actor-director Sylvester Stallone is 60. Actor Fred Dryer is 60. Actor Burt Ward is 60. Actress Nathalie Baye is 58. Actor Geoffrey Rush is 55. Rock musician John Bazz (The Blasters) is 54. Actress Shelley Hack is 54. Actor Grant Goodeve is 54. Country singer Nanci Griffith is 53. Actress Allyce Beasley is 52. Jazz musician Rick Braun is 51. Country musician John Jorgenson is 50. Hockey player Ron Duguay is 49. Rapper 50 Cent is 30. Actress Tamera Mowry is 28. Actress Tia Mowry is 28. Actress Eva Green is 26. Actor Gregory Smith is 23. Actor Jeremy Suarez (“Bernie Mac”) is 16.

Thought for Today: “Bored people, unless they sleep a lot, are cruel.” — Renata Adler, American writer.