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Today in history: August 25

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

Today is Thursday, Aug. 25, the 237th day of 2005. There are 128 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Aug. 25, 1944, during World War II, Paris was liberated by Allied forces after four years of Nazi occupation.

On this date:
In 1825, Uruguay declared independence from Brazil.

In 1875, Capt. Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Channel, getting from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in 22 hours.

In 1916, the National Park Service was established within the Department of the Interior.

In 1921, the United States signed a peace treaty with Germany.

In 1943, U.S. forces overran New Georgia in the Solomon Islands during World War II.

In 1944, Romania declared war on Germany.

In 1950, President Truman ordered the Army to seize control of the nation’s railroads to avert a strike.

In 1980, the Broadway musical “42nd Street” opened. (Producer David Merrick stunned the cast and audience during the curtain call by announcing that the show’s director, Gower Champion, had died earlier that day.)

In 1985, Samantha Smith, the schoolgirl whose letter to Yuri V. Andropov resulted in her famous peace tour of the Soviet Union, died with her father in an airliner crash in Maine.

In 1998, retired Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell died in Richmond, Va., at age 90.

Ten years ago: Chinese-American human rights activist Harry Wu, safely back on U.S. soil after two months in Chinese detention, said the spying case against him was “all lies,” and vowed to seek compensation from China.

Five years ago: A bogus Internet news release picked up by financial news agencies sent the stock of high-tech firm Emulex Corp. plunging more than 60 percent, but the shares recovered after the company refuted the reports. (Mark Jakob, the author of the phony press release, was later sentenced to nearly four years in prison for wire and securities fraud.)

One year ago: An Army investigation found that 27 people attached to an intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad either approved or participated in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. David Hicks, an Australian cowboy who’d converted to Islam and allegedly fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan, pleaded innocent to war crimes charges before a U.S. military commission.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Van Johnson is 89. Actor-producer Mel Ferrer is 88. Game show host Monty Hall is 84. Actor Sean Connery is 75. Actor Page Johnson is 75. Talk show/game show host Regis Philbin is 74. Actor Tom Skerritt is 72. Jazz musician Wayne Shorter is 72. Movie director Hugh Hudson is 69. Actor David Canary is 67. Movie director John Badham is 66. Filmmaker Marshall Brickman is 64. Rhythm-and-blues singer Walter Williams (The O’Jays) is 63. Actor Anthony Heald is 61. Actress Anne Archer is 58. Rock singer-actor Gene Simmons is 56. Actor John Savage is 56. Country singer-musician Henry Paul (Blackhawk) is 56. Rock singer Rob Halford is 54. Rock musician Geoff Downes (Asia) is 53. Rock singer Elvis Costello is 51. Movie director Tim Burton is 47. Actress Ally Walker is 44. Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus is 44. Rock musician Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard) is 43. Actress Joanne Whalley is 41. Actor Blair Underwood is 41. Rap DJ Terminator X (Public Enemy) is 39. Television chef Rachael Ray (”30 Minute Meals”) is 37. Country singer Jo Dee Messina is 35. Model Claudia Schiffer is 35. Actor Kel Mitchell is 27.

Thought for Today: “The chains which cramp us most are those which weigh on us least.” — Anne Sophie Swetchine, Russian-French author (1782-1857).