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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 Sunday, May 1, the 121st day of 2005. 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 1786, Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro” premiered in Vienna.

In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition was officially opened in Chicago by President Cleveland.

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

In 1945, a day after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, it was announced that Adm. Karl Doenitz had succeeded Hitler as leader of the Third Reich.

In 1948, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) was proclaimed.

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 1971, Amtrak — which combined and streamlined the operations of 18 intercity passenger railroads — went into service.

In 1978, Ernest Morial was inaugurated as the first black mayor of New Orleans.

In 1999, the “Liberty Bell 7,” the Mercury space capsule flown by Gus Grissom, was found in the Atlantic 300 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral, Fla., 38 years after it sank.

Ten years ago: Charges that Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, had plotted to murder Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan were dropped as jury selection for her trial was about to begin in Minneapolis. President Clinton defended his choice for surgeon general, Henry Foster, as a “pro-life, pro-choice doctor.”

Five years ago: About 3½ million Time Warner cable subscribers temporarily lost access to seven Disney-owned ABC stations in a quarrel over transmission rights. Joerg Haider, leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, stepped down after 14 years as party leader. Actor Steve Reeves died in Escondido, Calif., at age 74.

One year ago: Attackers stormed the offices of Houston-based ABB Lumps Global Inc. in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, killing six Westerners and a Saudi; all four attackers were killed after an hour-long police chase in which they dragged the body of an American from the bumper of their car. Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby, the first unbeaten Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Glenn Ford is 89. Former astronaut Scott Carpenter is 80. Country singer Sonny James is 76. Jazz singer Shirley Horn is 71. Singer Judy Collins is 66. Actor Stephen Macht is 63. Singer Rita Coolidge is 60. Actor-director Douglas Barr is 56. Actor Dann Florek is 54. Singer-songwriter Ray Parker Jr. is 51. Hall of Fame jockey Steve Cauthen is 45. Actress Maia Morgenstern (“The Passion of the Christ”) is 43. Country singer Wayne Hancock is 40. Rock musician Johnny Colt is 39. Actor Charlie Schlatter is 39. Country singer Tim McGraw is 38. Rock musician D’Arcy is 37. Country singer Cory Morrow is 33. Actor Darius McCrary is 29.

Thought for Today: “He who is swift to believe is swift to forget.” — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Polish-born scholar (1907-1972).