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Today in history: May 21

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

Today is Saturday, May 21, the 141st day of 2005. There are 224 days left in the year. This is Armed Forces Day.

Today's Highlight in History:
On May 21, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh landed his "Spirit of St. Louis" near Paris, completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

On this date:
In 1542, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto died while searching for gold along the Mississippi River.

In 1832, the first Democratic National Convention got under way, in Baltimore.

In 1840, New Zealand was declared a British colony.

In 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.

In 1892, the opera "I Pagliacci," by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, was first performed, in Milan, Italy.

In 1924, 14-year-old Bobby Franks was murdered in a "thrill killing" committed by Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb, two students at the University of Chicago.

In 1956, the United States exploded the first airborne hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

In 1968, the nuclear-powered U.S. submarine Scorpion, with 99 men aboard, was last heard from. (The remains of the sub were later found on the ocean floor 400 miles southwest of the Azores.)

In 1985, Patti Frustaci of Riverside, Calif., who was expecting septuplets, gave birth to six live babies, three of whom died in the following weeks.

In 1991, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated during national elections by a suicide bomber.

Ten years ago: Former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin died at a Washington, D.C., hospital after suffering a massive stroke; he was 56.

Five years ago: Nineteen people were killed when a charter plane crashed in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. "Dancer in the Dark" won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival; the Grand Prize went to "Devils on the Doorstep." Death claimed actor Sir John Gielgud at age 96 and author Dame Barbara Cartland at age 98.

One year ago: The U.N. Security Council approved a peacekeeping force of 5,600 troops for Burundi to help the African nation finally end a 10-year civil war. Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp., struggling to survive, announced it would cut 11,000 jobs.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Jeanne Bates ("Ben Casey") is 87. Actor David Groh is 66. R&B singer Ron Isley (The Isley Brothers) is 64. Actor Richard Hatch is 60. Musician Bill Champlin (Chicago) is 58. Singer Leo Sayer is 57. Actress Carol Potter is 57. Comedian/radio talk show host Al Franken is 54. Actor Mr. T is 53. Music producer Stan Lynch is 50. Actor Judge Reinhold is 48. Actor-director Nick Cassavetes is 46. Actor Brent Briscoe is 44. Actress Lisa Edelstein is 37. Jazz musician Christian McBride is 33. Actress Fairuza Balk is 31. Rapper Havoc (Mobb Deep) is 31. Actress Ashlie Brillault is 18. Actor Scott Leavenworth is 15. Actress Sarah Ramos is 14.

Thought for Today: "Our present addiction to pollsters and forecasters is a symptom of our chronic uncertainty about the future. ... We watch our experts read the entrails of statistical tables and graphs the way the ancients watched their soothsayers read the entrails of a chicken." — Eric Hoffer, American philosopher (1902-1983).