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Today in history: March 31

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

Today is Thursday, March 31, the 90th day of 2005. There are 275 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
One hundred and twenty-five years ago, on March 31, 1880, Wabash, Ind., became the first town in the world to be illuminated by electrical lighting.

On this date:
In 1889, French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel unfurled the French tricolor from atop the Eiffel Tower, officially marking its completion.

In 1917, the United States took possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark.

In 1933, Congress authorized the Civilian Conservation Corps.

In 1943, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” opened on Broadway.

In 1945, the Tennessee Williams play “The Glass Menagerie” opened on Broadway.

In 1949, Newfoundland entered confederation as Canada’s 10th province.

In 1968, President Johnson stunned the country by announcing he would not seek another term in office.

In 1986, 167 people died when a Mexicana Airlines Boeing 727 crashed in a remote mountainous region of Mexico.

In 1991, the Warsaw Pact spent the last day of its existence as a military alliance.

In 1993, actor Brandon Lee, 28, was accidentally killed by a prop gun during the filming of a movie in Wilmington, N.C.

Ten years ago: Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 23, was shot to death in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the founder of her fan club. (Yolanda Saldivar was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.) Baseball players agreed to end their 232-day strike after a judge granted a preliminary injunction against club owners. President Clinton briefly visited Haiti, where he declared the U.S. mission to restore democracy there a “remarkable success.”

Five years ago: The U.N. Security Council decided to let Iraq spend more money to repair its oil industry — an investment intended to boost the amount of food and medicine Baghdad could buy through the U.N. humanitarian program.

One year ago: Four American civilian contractors were killed in Fallujah, Iraq; frenzied crowds dragged the burned, mutilated bodies and strung two of them from a bridge. Air America, intended as a liberal voice in network talk radio, made its debut on five stations.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor William Daniels is 78. Hockey Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe is 77. Actor Richard Chamberlain is 71. Actress Shirley Jones is 71. Country singer-songwriter John D. Loudermilk is 71. Musician Herb Alpert is 70. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is 65. Actor Christopher Walken is 62. Comedian Gabe Kaplan is 60. Former Vice President Al Gore is 57. David Eisenhower is 57. Actress Rhea Perlman is 57. Rock musician Angus Young (AC/DC) is 50. Actor Marc McClure is 48. Actor William McNamara is 40. Actor Ewan McGregor is 34.

Thought for Today: “So often we rob tomorrow’s memories by today’s economies.” — John Mason Brown, American critic and lecturer (1900-1969).