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Today in History — May 1

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

Today is Tuesday, May 1, the 121st day of 2007. There are 244 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey gave the command, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley,” as an American naval force destroyed a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

On this date:
In 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain was created as a treaty merging England and Scotland took effect.

In 1786, Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” premiered in Vienna, Austria.

In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition opened to the public in Chicago.

In 1907, singer Kate Smith was born in Washington, D.C.

In 1931, New York’s 102-story Empire State Building was dedicated.

In 1945, a day after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, Admiral Karl Doenitz effectively became sole leader of the Third Reich with the suicide of Hitler’s propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels.

In 1960, the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance plane near Sverdlovsk and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers.

In 1967, Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas. (They divorced in 1973.)

In 1967, Anastasio Somoza Debayle became president of Nicaragua.

In 1982, the 1982 World’s Fair opened in Knoxville, Tenn.

Ten years ago: Britons went to the polls in a national election that gave the Labour Party a resounding victory over the ruling Conservatives. John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of slain child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, publicly declared their innocence, and asked for the public’s help in finding the killer of their 6-year-old daughter.

Five years ago: Israeli armored vehicles began leaving Yasser Arafat’s battered West Bank compound, ending his five months of confinement. Well over a million people across France marched against far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, four days before Le Pen was soundly defeated by President Jacques Chirac in a runoff.

One year ago: Hundreds of thousands of mostly Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. skipped work and took to the streets, flexing their economic muscle in a nationwide boycott. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Anna Nicole Smith could pursue part of her late husband’s oil fortune. Bolivian President Evo Morales nationalized the country’s vast natural gas industry.

Today’s Birthdays: Former astronaut Scott Carpenter is 82. Country singer Sonny James is 78. Singer Judy Collins is 68. Actor Stephen Macht is 65. Singer Rita Coolidge is 62. Actor-director Douglas Barr is 58. Actor Dann Florek is 56. Singer-songwriter Ray Parker Jr. is 53. Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen is 47. Actress Maia Morgenstern is 45. Country singer Wayne Hancock is 42. Rock musician Johnny Colt is 41. Actor Charlie Schlatter is 41. Country singer Tim McGraw is 40. Rock musician D’Arcy is 39. Movie director Wes Anderson is 38. Country singer Cory Morrow is 35. Actor Darius McCrary is 31.

Thought for Today: “Any man who has the brains to think and the nerve to act for the benefit of the people of the country is considered a radical by those who are content with stagnation and willing to endure disaster.” — William Randolph Hearst, American newspaper publisher (1863-1951).