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Today in history: September 20

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

Today is Tuesday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2005. There are 102 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Sept. 20, 1519, Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan set out from Spain on a voyage to find a western passage to the Spice Islands in Indonesia. (Magellan was killed enroute, but one of his ships eventually circled the world.)

On this date:
In 1870, Italian troops took control of the Papal States, leading to the unification of Italy.

In 1873, panic swept the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the wake of railroad bond defaults and bank failures.

In 1881, Chester A. Arthur was sworn in as the 21st president of the United States, succeeding the assassinated James A. Garfield.

In 1947, former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia died.

In 1958, civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was seriously wounded during an appearance at a New York City department store when an apparently deranged woman stabbed him in the chest.

In 1962, black student James Meredith was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was later admitted.)

In 1973, in their so-called “battle of the sexes,” tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.

In 1973, singer-songwriter Jim Croce died in a plane crash near Natchitoches, La.; he was 30.

In 1980, “Spectacular Bid,” ridden by Bill Shoemaker, ran as the only entry in the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park in New York after three potential challengers dropped out in horse racing’s first walkover since 1949.

In 1984, a suicide car bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy annex in north Beirut, killing a dozen people.

Ten years ago: In a move that stunned Wall Street, AT&T Corp. announced it was splitting into three companies. The House voted to drop the national speed limit and let states decide how fast people should drive. Bosnian Serb rebels pulled back enough heavy weapons from around Sarajevo to keep NATO airstrikes at bay.

Five years ago: Independent Counsel Robert Ray announced the end of the Whitewater investigation, saying there was insufficient evidence to warrant charges against President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov died at age 65.

One year ago: CBS News apologized for a “mistake in judgment” in its story questioning President Bush’s National Guard service, saying it could not vouch for the authenticity of documents featured in the report. A video posted on a Web site showed the beheading of a man identified as American civil engineer Eugene Armstrong.

Today’s Birthdays: Basketball Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach is 88. Singer Gogi Grant is 81. Actress-comedian Anne Meara is 76. Actress Sophia Loren is 71. Rock musician Chuck Panozzo is 58. Hockey player Guy LaFleur is 54. Jazz musician Peter White is 51. Actress Betsy Brantley is 50. Actor Gary Cole is 49. Actress Kristen Johnston is 38. Rock singers Matthew Nelson and Gunnar Nelson are 38. Rock musician Ben Shepherd is 37. Rock musician Rick Woolstenhulme (Lifehouse) is 26.

Thought for Today: “History must stay open, it is all humanity.” — William Carlos Williams, American author and poet (1883-1963).