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Today in History — August 2

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

Today is Thursday, Aug. 2, the 214th day of 2007. There are 151 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Aug. 2, 1776, members of the Continental Congress began attaching their signatures to the Declaration of Independence.

On this date:
In 1790, the enumeration for the first United States census began; the final total was 3,929,214.

In 1873, inventor Andrew S. Hallidie successfully tested a cable car he had designed for the city of San Francisco.

In 1876, frontiersman “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker at a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory.

In 1923, the 29th president of the United States, Warren G. Harding, died in San Francisco.

In 1927, four years after becoming president, Calvin Coolidge issued a statement to reporters: “I do not choose to run for President in nineteen twenty-eight.”

In 1934, German President Paul von Hindenburg died, paving the way for Adolf Hitler’s complete takeover.

In 1939, Albert Einstein signed a letter to President Roosevelt urging creation of an atomic weapons research program.

In 1943, during World War II, Navy boat PT-109, commanded by Lt. John F. Kennedy, sank after being rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri off the Solomon Islands.

In 1967, the crime and race drama “In the Heat of the Night,” starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, opened in New York.

In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, seizing control of the oil-rich emirate. (The Iraqis were later driven out in Operation Desert Storm.)

Ten years ago: “Naked Lunch” author William S. Burroughs, the godfather of the “Beat generation,” died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 83.

Five years ago: A federal judge ruled the U.S. government had to reveal the names of people detained in the investigation of the 9-11 terrorist attacks; an appeals court later sided with federal authorities. Pope John Paul II returned to Rome after ending an 11-day pilgrimage to Canada, Guatemala and Mexico.

One year ago: Five days after being pulled over by police, actor-director Mel Gibson was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving, having an elevated blood-alcohol level and having an open container of liquor in his car. (Gibson later pleaded no contest to drunken driving under a deal in which he received three years’ probation, paid a fine and agreed to attend alcohol rehabilitation classes.)

Today’s Birthdays: Former Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., is 85. Actor Peter O’Toole is 75. Country singer Hank Cochran is 72. Rock musician Garth Hudson (The Band) is 70. Movie director Wes Craven is 68. Singer Kathy Lennon (The Lennon Sisters) is 64. Actor Max Wright is 64. Actress Joanna Cassidy is 62. Actress Kathryn Harrold is 57. Singer Andrew Gold is 56. Actor Butch Patrick (“The Munsters”) is 54. Singer Mojo Nixon is 50. Actress Victoria Jackson is 48. Actress Apollonia is 48. Actress Cynthia Stevenson is 45. Actress Mary-Louise Parker is 43. Rock musician John Stanier is 39. Writer-actor-director Kevin Smith is 37. Actor Edward Furlong is 30. Rock musician Devon Glenn (Buckcherry) is 27. Actress Hallie Eisenberg is 15.

Thought for Today: “Ideas are powerful things, requiring not a studious contemplation but an action, even if it is only an inner action.” — Midge Decter, American writer.