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Today in History — March 19

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

Today is Monday, March 19, the 78th day of 2007. There are 287 days left in the year. This is the date the swallows traditionally return to the San Juan Capistrano Mission in California.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 19, 1945, during World War II, 724 people were killed when a Japanese dive bomber attacked the U.S. carrier Franklin off Japan; the ship, however, was saved.

On this date:

In 1859, the opera “Faust” by Charles Gounod premiered in Paris.

In 1917, the Supreme Court, in Wilson v. New, upheld the eight-hour work day for railroad workers.

In 1918, Congress approved Daylight-Saving Time.

In 1931, Nevada Gov. Fred B. Balzar signed a measure legalizing casino gambling.

In 1945, Adolf Hitler issued his so-called “Nero Decree,” ordering the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands.

In 1951, Herman Wouk’s World War II novel “The Caine Mutiny” was first published.

In 1953, the Academy Awards ceremony was televised for the first time; “The Greatest Show on Earth” was named best picture of 1952.

In 1979, the U.S. House of Representatives began televising its day-to-day business.

In 1987, televangelist Jim Bakker resigned as chairman of his PTL ministry organization amid a sex and money scandal involving Jessica Hahn, a former church secretary from Oklahoma.

In 2003, President Bush ordered the start of war against Iraq. (Because of the time difference, it was early March 20 in Iraq.)

Ten years ago: Following the withdrawal of Anthony Lake, President Clinton nominated acting CIA Director George Tenet to head the nation’s spy agency. President Clinton departed Washington for his summit in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Artist Willem de Kooning, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest painters, died in East Hampton, N.Y., at age 92.

Five years ago: U.S. intelligence analyst Ana Belen Montes pleaded guilty in federal court to spying for Cuba; she was later sentenced to 25 years in prison. Hewlett-Packard Co. chief Carly Fiorina claimed victory in the nasty proxy fight over the $20 billion purchase of Compaq Computer Corp.

One year ago: President Bush marked the anniversary of the Iraq war by touting efforts to build democracy there, without ever mentioning the word “war.” Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko won a third term. Tennessee’s Candace Parker became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game, jamming one-handed on a breakaway just 6:12 into the Lady Vols’ 102-54 victory against Army. Boxer Kevin Payne, 34, died one day after winning an eight-round welterweight bout in Evansville, Ind.

Today’s Birthdays: Former White House national security adviser Brent Scowcroft is 82. Actor-director Patrick McGoohan is 79. Theologian Hans Kung is 79. Jazz musician Ornette Coleman is 77. Author Philip Roth is 74. Actress Renee Taylor is 74. Actress-singer Phyllis Newman is 74. Actress Ursula Andress is 71. Singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry is 70. Singer Ruth Pointer (The Pointer Sisters) is 61. Actress Glenn Close is 60. Film producer Harvey Weinstein is 55. Actor Bruce Willis is 52. Rock musician Gert Bettens (K’s Choice) is 37. Rock musician Zach Lind (Jimmy Eat World) is 31. Actor Craig Lamar Traylor (“Malcolm in the Middle”) is 18. Actor Philip Bolden is 12.

Thought for Today: “It is the darling delusion of mankind that the world is progressive in religion, toleration, freedom, as it is progressive in machinery.” — Moncure D. Conway, American clergyman and author (1832-1907).