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Today in history: October 4

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

Today is Tuesday, Oct. 4, the 277th day of 2005. There are 88 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Oct. 4, 1957, the Space Age began as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, into orbit.

On this date:
In 1777, George Washington’s troops launched an assault on the British at Germantown, Pa., resulting in heavy American casualties.

In 1822, the 19th president of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, was born in Delaware, Ohio.

In 1931, the comic strip “Dick Tracy,” created by Chester Gould, made its debut.

In 1940, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini conferred at Brenner Pass in the Alps, where the Nazi leader sought Italy’s help in fighting the British.

In 1957, the television series “Leave It to Beaver” premiered on CBS.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI became the first reigning pontiff to visit the Western Hemisphere as he addressed the U.N. General Assembly.

In 1970, rock singer Janis Joplin, 27, was found dead in her Hollywood hotel room.

In 1978, funeral services were held at the Vatican for Pope John Paul I.

In 1980, some 520 people were forced to abandon the cruise ship Prisendam in the Gulf of Alaska after the Dutch luxury liner caught fire — no deaths or serious injury resulted.

In 1985, Islamic Jihad issued a statement saying it had killed American hostage William Buckley. (Fellow hostage David Jacobsen, however, later said he believed Buckley had died of torture injuries four months earlier.)

Ten years ago: Pope John Paul II arrived in the United States for a five-day visit. Hurricane Opal battered the Florida panhandle.

Five years ago: Amid fresh bloodshed in the West Bank and Gaza, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat together for talks in Paris. In an apparent attempt to buy time for Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslavia’s highest court invalidated parts of the presidential election after thousands of opposition supporters forced police to back off from seizing a strikebound mine.

One year ago: The SpaceShipOne rocket plane broke through Earth’s atmosphere to the edge of space for the second time in five days, capturing the $10 million Ansari X prize aimed at opening the final frontier to tourists. Pioneering astronaut Gordon Cooper died in Ventura, Calif., at age 77. American researchers Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their studies on humans’ sense of smell.

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Jan Murray is 88. Actor Charlton Heston is 82. Country singer Leroy Van Dyke is 76. Actress Felicia Farr is 73. Actor Eddie Applegate is 70. Author Anne Rice is 64. Actress Lori Saunders (“Petticoat Junction”) is 64. Actor Clifton Davis is 60. Actress Susan Sarandon is 59. Playwright Lee Blessing is 56. Actor Armand Assante is 56. Actor Alan Rosenberg is 55. Producer Russell Simmons is 48. Musician Chris Lowe (The Pet Shop Boys) is 46. Country musician Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard (Sawyer Brown) is 45. Actor David W. Harper is 44. Singer Jon Secada is 44. TV personality John Melendez (“The Tonight Show”) is 40. Actor Liev Schreiber is 38. Actor Abraham Benrubi is 36. Country singer-musician Heidi Newfield (Trick Pony) is 35. Rock musician Andy Parle is 35. Actress Alicia Silverstone is 29. Actor Phillip Glasser is 27. Actress Rachael Leigh Cook is 26. Actor Jimmy Workman is 25. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jessica Benson (3lw) is 18. Actor Michael Charles Roman is 18.

Thought for Today: “Knowledge is like a garden: if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.” — Guinean saying.