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Today in history: October 31

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

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace church, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.

On this date:

In 1795, English poet John Keats was born in London.

In 1864, Nevada became the 36th state.

In 1926, magician Harry Houdini died in Detroit of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.

In 1941, the U.S. Navy destroyer Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Iceland with the loss of some 100 lives, even though the United States had not yet entered World War II.

In 1956, Navy Rear Adm. George J. Dufek became the first person to land an airplane at the South Pole.

In 1968, President Johnson ordered a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hoped for fruitful peace negotiations.

In 1980, Reza Pahlavi, eldest son of the late shah, proclaimed himself the rightful successor to the Peacock Throne.

In 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh security guards.

In 1994, a Chicago-bound American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in northern Indiana, killing all 68 people aboard.

In 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990, bound from New York to Cairo, crashed off the Massachusetts coast, killing all 217 people aboard.

Ten years ago: In Pontiac, Mich., Dr. Jack Kevorkian was charged with assisting three suicides since June 1996 (he was later acquitted). Also in Pontiac, Jenny Jones testified at the trial of one of her talk show guests, Jonathan Schmitz, who was accused of killing another guest, Scott Amedure. A Brazilian Fokker-100 jetliner crashed in Sao Paulo, killing all 96 people on board and three on the ground.

Five years ago: New York hospital worker Kathy T. Nguyen died of inhalation anthrax, the fourth person to perish in a spreading wave of bioterrorism. Former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Sara Jane Olson pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to the attempted murder of police officers (she’s currently serving a 13-year prison sentence). Microsoft and the Justice Department reached a tentative agreement to settle the historic antitrust case against the software giant. Cold War arms negotiator Paul C. Warnke died at age

81. The New York Yankees played the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 4 of the World Series; the game ended a few minutes after midnight with the Yankees winning 4-3 and tying the Series at two games each.

One year ago: President Bush nominated Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks was honored during a memorial service in Washington, D.C. The U.N. Security Council demanded Syria’s full cooperation with a U.N. investigation into the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafik Hariri; Syria angrily rejected the resolution.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Attorney General Griffin Bell is 88. Author Dick Francis is 86. Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk is 84. Movie critic Andrew Sarris is 78. Former astronaut Michael Collins is 76. Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather is 75. Actor Ron Rifkin is 67. Actor David Ogden Stiers is 64. Actress Sally Kirkland is 62. Country singer and Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman is 62. Actress Deidre Hall is 58. Talk show host Jane Pauley is 56. Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell is 48. Movie director Peter Jackson is 45. Rock musician Larry Mullen is 45. Actor Dermot Mulroney is 43. Rock musician Mikkey Dee (Motorhead) is 43. Rock singer-musician Johnny Marr is 43. Actor Rob Schneider is 42. Country singer Darryl Worley is 42. Actor-comedian Mike O’Malley is 41. Rap musician Adrock is 40. Songwriter Adam Schlesinger is 39. Rap performer Vanilla Ice (Rob Van Winkle) is

38. Rock singer Linn Berggren (Ace of Base) is 36. TV host Troy Hartman is 32. Actress Piper Perabo is 30. Actor Eddie Kaye Thomas is 26.

Thought for Today: “The older one grows the more one likes indecency.” — Virginia Woolf, English author and critic (1882-1941).