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Today in History - Feb. 18

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

Today is Sunday, Feb. 18, the 49th day of 2007. There are 316 days left in the year. This is the Chinese New Year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 18, 1885, Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was published in the United States for the first time.

On this date:

In 1546, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, died in Eisleben.

In 1564, artist Michelangelo died in Rome.

In 1861, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Ala.

In 1930, photographic evidence of Pluto (now designated a “dwarf planet”) was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.

In 1960, the VIII Winter Olympic Games were formally opened in Squaw Valley, Calif., by Vice President Richard Nixon.

In 1967, American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer died in Princeton, N.J., at age 62.

In 1970, the “Chicago Seven” defendants were found innocent of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic national convention; five were convicted of violating the Anti-Riot Act of 1968 (those convictions were later reversed).

In 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise, sitting atop a Boeing 747, went on its maiden “flight” above the Mojave Desert.

In 1988, Anthony M. Kennedy was sworn in as the 104th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2001, auto racing star Dale Earnhardt Sr. died from injuries suffered in a crash at the Daytona 500; he was 49.

Ten years ago: Astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery completed their tuneup of the Hubble Space Telescope after 33 hours of spacewalking; the Hubble was then released using the shuttle’s crane. Bill Richardson began work as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Five years ago: Addressing Japan’s national legislature, President George Bush said the country’s recession-ravaged economy was “on the path to reform,” and he urged the Diet to help curb the spread of terrorism in the region. France’s Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat narrowly won the Olympic ice dancing gold medal.

One year ago: American Shani Davis won the men’s 1,000-meter speedskating in Turin, becoming the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history. A Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament was sworn in. Militants in Nigeria seized nine foreign oil workers, including three Americans (all were released unharmed). Eight workers at a meat processing plant in Nebraska won a record $365 million Powerball jackpot. Character actor Richard Bright (“The Godfather”) was struck and killed by a bus in New York; he was 68.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown is 85. Actor George Kennedy is 82. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., is 80. Author Toni Morrison is 76. Movie director Milos Forman is 75. Singer Yoko Ono is 74. Singer/songwriter Bobby Hart is 68. Singer Irma Thomas is 66. Singer Herman Santiago (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) is 66. Singer Dennis DeYoung is 60. Actress Sinead Cusack is 59. Producer-director-writer John Hughes is 57. Actress Cybill Shepherd is 57. Singer Juice Newton is 55. Singer Randy Crawford is 55. Rock musician Robbie Bachman is 54. Rock musician Larry Rust (Iron Butterfly) is 54. Actor John Travolta is 53. Game show host Vanna White is 50. Actress Greta Scacchi is 47. Actor Matt Dillon is 43. Rapper Dr. Dre is 42. Actress Molly Ringwald is

39. Actress Sarah Brown is 32. Singer-musician Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) is 30. Actor Tyrone Burton is 28. Actor Shane Lyons is 19.

Thought for Today: “Temperament is temper that is too old to spank.” — Charlotte Greenwood, American actress-comedian (1893-1978).