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Today in History — July 26

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

Today is Thursday, July 26, the 207th day of 2007. There are 158 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 26, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act, creating the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On this date:
In 1775, Benjamin Franklin became Postmaster-General.

In 1788, New York became the eleventh state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

In 1856, playwright George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland.

In 1945, Winston Churchill resigned as Britain’s prime minister after his Conservatives were soundly defeated by the Labour Party. (Clement Attlee became the new prime minister.)

In 1952, Argentina’s first lady, Eva Peron, died in Buenos Aires at age 33.

In 1952, King Farouk I of Egypt abdicated in the wake of a coup led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.

In 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.

In 1956, the Italian liner Andrea Doria sank off New England, 11 hours after colliding with the Swedish liner Stockholm; at least 51 people died.

In 1971, Apollo 15 was launched from Cape Kennedy.

In 1986, kidnappers in Lebanon released the Rev. Lawrence Martin Jenco, an American hostage held for nearly 19 months.

Ten years ago: President Clinton visited Lake Tahoe, bringing with him $26 million worth of equipment and materials, including new sewage pipes, as he committed himself to the lake’s preservation.

Five years ago: The Republican-led House voted, 295-132, to create an enormous Homeland Security Department, the biggest government reorganization in decades. Six-year-old Cassandra Williamson vanished from a suburban St. Louis home; her body was found hours later at an abandoned glass factory. (An acquaintance of Cassandra’s father, Johnny Johnson, was later convicted of murder, kidnapping and attempted rape, and was sentenced to death.)

One year ago: In a dramatic turnaround from her first murder trial, a jury in Houston found Andrea Yates not guilty by reason of insanity in the drowning of her children in the bathtub; she was committed to a state mental hospital. A thinner but combative Saddam Hussein returned to his trial for the first time since his hunger strike and hospitalization.

Today’s Birthdays: Movie director Blake Edwards is 85. Actor James Best is 81. Singer Dobie Gray is 67. Actress-singer Darlene Love is 66. Singer Brenton Wood is 66. Rock star Mick Jagger is 64. Movie director Peter Hyams is 64. Actress Helen Mirren is 62. Rock musician Roger Taylor (Queen) is 58. Actress Susan George is 57. Actor Kevin Spacey is 48. Rock singer Gary Cherone is 46. Actress Sandra Bullock is 43. Actor Jeremy Piven is 42. Rapper-reggae singer Wayne Wonder is 41. Actor Cress Williams is 37. Actress Kate Beckinsale is 34. Rock musician Dan Konopka (OK Go) is 33. Gospel/Contemporary Christian singer Rebecca St. James is 30.

Thought for Today: “My friends, there are no friends.” — Coco Chanel, French fashion designer (1883-1971).