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Today in history: October 31

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

Today is Monday, Oct. 31, the 304th day of 2005. There are 61 days left in the year. This is Halloween.

Today’s Highlight in History:
On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Palace church, marking the start of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.

On this date:
In 1795, English poet John Keats was born in London.

In 1864, Nevada became the 36th state.

In 1926, magician Harry Houdini died in Detroit of gangrene and peritonitis resulting from a ruptured appendix.

In 1941, the U.S. Navy destroyer Reuben James was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Iceland with the loss of 115 lives, even though the United States had not yet entered World War II.

In 1955, Britain’s Princess Margaret ended weeks of speculation by announcing she would not marry Royal Air Force Captain Peter Townsend.

In 1968, President Johnson ordered a halt to all U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, saying he hoped for fruitful peace negotiations.

In 1980, Reza Pahlavi, eldest son of the late shah of Iran, proclaimed himself the rightful successor to the Peacock Throne.

In 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh security guards.

In 1994, a Chicago-bound American Eagle ATR-72 crashed in northern Indiana, killing all 68 people aboard.

In 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990, bound from New York to Cairo, crashed off the Massachusetts coast, killing all 217 people aboard.

Ten years ago: Stung by defeat in the secession referendum, Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau said he would resign as head of the bitterly divided province at year’s end.

Five years ago: A Los Angeles-bound Singapore Airlines jumbo jet sped down the wrong runway in Taipei, Taiwan, slamming into construction equipment and bursting into flames, killing 83 people. A charter plane in Angola crashed into a remote jungle, killing all 48 aboard. American astronaut Bill Shepherd and two Russian cosmonauts rocketed into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket on a quest to become the first residents of the international space station. Death claimed Oscar-winning screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. at age 85 and former Housing Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. at age 78.

One year ago: In the closing hours of their bitter campaign, President Bush and challenger Sen. John Kerry charged through the critical battlegrounds of Florida and Ohio, going from hushed Sunday church services to raucous campaign rallies with promises to keep America safe.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Attorney General Griffin Bell is 87. Author Dick Francis is 85. Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk is 83. Movie critic Andrew Sarris is 77. Former astronaut Michael Collins is 75. Actress Lee Grant is 74. Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather is 74. Actor Ron Rifkin is 66. Actor David Ogden Stiers is 63. Actress Sally Kirkland is 61. Singer Kinky Friedman is 61. Actress Deidre Hall is 57. Talk show host Jane Pauley is 55. Actor Brian Stokes Mitchell is 47. Movie director Peter Jackson is 44. Rock musician Larry Mullen is 44. Actor Dermot Mulroney is 42. Rock musician Mikkey Dee (Motorhead) is 42. Rock singer-musician Johnny Marr is 42. Actor Rob Schneider is 41. Country singer Darryl Worley is 41. Rap musician Adrock is 39. Songwriter Adam Schlesinger is 38. Rap performer Rob Van Winkle (formerly known as Vanilla Ice) is 37. Rock singer Linn Berggren (Ace of Base) is 35. TV host Troy Hartman is 31. Actor Eddie Kaye Thomas is 25.

Thought for Today: “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” — Andre Gide, French author and critic (1869-1951).