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Today in history: July 29

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

Today is Friday, July 29, the 210th day of 2005. There are 155 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created NASA.

On this date:
In 1588, the English soundly defeated the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines.

In 1890, artist Vincent van Gogh died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Auvers, France.

In 1900, Italian King Humbert I was assassinated by an anarchist; he was succeeded by his son, Victor Emmanuel III.

In 1914, transcontinental telephone service began with the first phone conversation between New York and San Francisco.

In 1948, Britain’s King George VI opened the Olympic Games in London.

In 1967, fire swept the USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin, killing 134 servicemen.

In 1975, President Ford became the first U.S. president to visit the site of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland as he paid tribute to the victims.

In 1980, a state funeral was held in Cairo, Egypt, for the deposed Shah of Iran, who had died two days earlier at age 60.

In 1981, Britain’s Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. (The couple divorced in 1996.)

In 1985, the space shuttle Challenger began an eight-day mission that got off to a shaky start — the spacecraft achieved a safe orbit even though one of its main engines shut down prematurely after lift-off.

Ten years ago: President Clinton and Republicans marked the 30th anniversary of Medicare by accusing one another of putting the program’s future at risk.

Five years ago: Yasser Arafat set off on a multi-country tour to drum up support for the Palestinians in the Middle East peace process.

One year ago: Sen. John Kerry accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the party’s convention in Boston with a military salute and the declaration: “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.”

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Professor Irwin Corey is 91. Actor Lloyd Bochner is 81. Actor Robert Horton is 81. Former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum-Baker (R-Kan.) is 73. Sen. Elizabeth H. Dole (R-N.C.) is 69. ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings is 67. Actor David Warner is 64. Rock musician Neal Doughty (REO Speedwagon) is 59. Marilyn Tucker Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, is 56. Actor Mike Starr is 55. Documentary maker Ken Burns is 52. Rock singer-musician Geddy Lee (Rush) is 52. Rock singer Patti Scialfa (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band) is 52. Actress Alexandra Paul is 42. Country singer Martina McBride is 39. Rock musician Chris Gorman is 38. Actor Rodney Allen Rippy is 37. Actor Wil Wheaton is 33. Rhythm-and-blues singer Wanya Morris (Boyz II Men) is 32. Actor Stephen Dorff is 32. Actress Allison Mack (“Smallville”) is 23.

Thought for Today: “When I rest, I rust.” — Fritz Thyssen, German industrialist (1873-1951).