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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 Friday, July 6, the 187th day of 2007. There are 178 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

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

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 1907, 100 years ago, artist Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacan, Mexico.

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 came into existence as its constitution took effect.

In 1944, 168 people died in a fire that broke out in the main tent of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in Hartford, Conn.

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

In 1967, war erupted as Nigeria sent troops into the secessionist state of Biafra. (The Biafran War, which lasted 2½ years and resulted in a Nigerian victory, claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.)

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

In 1996, a Delta MD88 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.

Ten years ago: The rover Sojourner rolled down a ramp from the Mars Pathfinder lander onto the Martian landscape to begin inspecting the soil and rocks of the Red Planet. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas captured Mexico City’s mayoral race while Mexico’s ruling party suffered devastating losses in congressional elections. Pete Sampras won his fourth Wimbledon title as he defeated Cedric Pioline of France 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Five years ago: Gunmen assassinated Afghan Vice President Abdul Qadir, who was considered key to U.S.-backed efforts to stabilize the war-fractured nation. Serena Williams beat older sister Venus 7-6 (4), 6-3 to win her first Wimbledon title and second straight Grand Slam tournament. Movie director John Frankenheimer died in Los Angeles; he was 72.

One year ago: The space shuttle Discovery docked with the international space station, bringing with it European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter, who began a six-month stay aboard the station. Election officials declared Felipe Calderon winner of the official count in Mexico’s disputed presidential race over Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who blamed fraud for his narrow loss. Magazine publisher Ralph Ginzburg, who was at the center of two First Amendment battles in the 1960s and served eight months in federal prison for obscenity, died in New York at age 76.

Today’s Birthdays: Former first lady Nancy Reagan is 86. Actor William Schallert is 85. Talk show host Merv Griffin is 82. Actor Donal Donnelly is 76. Singer-actress Della Reese is 76. Actor Ned Beatty is 70. Singer Gene Chandler is 70. Country singer Jeannie Seely is 67. President Bush is 61. Actor-director Sylvester Stallone is 61. Actor Fred Dryer is 61. Actor Burt Ward is 61. Actress Nathalie Baye is 59. Actor Geoffrey Rush is 56. Rock musician John Bazz (The Blasters) is 55. Actress Shelley Hack is

55. Actor Grant Goodeve is 55. Country singer Nanci Griffith is 54. Actress Allyce Beasley is 53. Jazz musician Rick Braun is 52. Country musician John Jorgenson is 51. Former first daughter Susan Ford Bales is 50. Hockey player Ron Duguay is 50. Rapper Inspectah Deck (Wu-Tang Clan) is 37. Rapper 50 Cent is 31. Actress Tia Mowry is 29. Actress Tamera Mowry is 29. Actress Eva Green is 27. Actor Gregory Smith is 24. Actor Jeremy Suarez (“Bernie Mac”) is 17.

Thought for Today: “Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.” — Rosa Luxemburg, Polish-German revolutionary (1871-1919).