Today in History


Today is Sunday, March 19, the 78th day of 2023. There are 287 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 19, 1945, during World War II, 724 people were killed when a Japanese dive bomber attacked the carrier USS Franklin off Japan (the ship was saved). Adolf Hitler ordered the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands in his so-called “Nero Decree,” which was largely disregarded.

On this date:

In 1859, the opera “Faust” by Charles Gounod premiered in Paris.

In 1931, Nevada Gov. Fred B. Balzar signed a measure legalizing casino gambling.

In 1942, during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered men between the ages of 45 and 64, inclusive, to register for non-military duty.

In 1977, the series finale of “Mary Tyler Moore” aired on CBS-TV, ending the situation comedy’s seven-season run.

In 1987, televangelist Jim Bakker resigned as chairman of his PTL ministry organization amid a sex and money scandal involving Jessica Hahn, a former church secretary.

In 1991, Polish President Lech Walesa arrived in Washington for his first state visit to the United States.

In 1995, after a 21-month hiatus, Michael Jordan returned to professional basketball with his former team, the Chicago Bulls.

In 1997, artist Willem de Kooning, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest painters, died in East Hampton, New York, at age 92.

In 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the start of war against Iraq. (Because of the time difference, it was early March 20 in Iraq.)

In 2007, a methane gas explosion in a Siberian coal mine killed 110 workers.

In 2020, President Donald Trump focused attention on a malaria drug, chloroquine, as a possible coronavirus treatment; the FDA issued a statement saying that there were “no FDA-approved therapeutics” to treat COVID-19.

Ten years ago: Pope Francis officially began his ministry as the 266th pope, receiving the ring symbolizing the papacy and a wool stole exemplifying his role as shepherd of his 1.2-billion strong flock during a Mass at the Vatican. Insurgents carried out a wave of bombings across Iraq that killed at least 65 people. Harry Reems, 65, co-star of the 1972 adult-film classic “Deep Throat,” died in Salt Lake City.

Five years ago: Speaking in New Hampshire, a state ravaged by opioids, President Donald Trump called for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty. Former tennis star Martina Navratilova said she was “extremely angry” to learn that the BBC paid John McEnroe at least 10 times more than her for their broadcasting roles at Wimbledon. Former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon announced that she would challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary in September. (Cuomo easily beat back the challenge.)

One year ago: Russian forces pushed deeper into Ukraine’s besieged and battered port city of Mariupol, where heavy fighting shut down a major steel plant and local authorities pleaded for more Western help. Four U.S. Marines were killed when their Osprey aircraft crashed in a Norwegian town in the Arctic Circle during a NATO exercise unrelated to the Ukraine war. A former Apple employee was charged with defrauding the tech giant out of more than $10 million by taking kickbacks, stealing equipment and laundering money, federal prosecutors said.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Renee Taylor is 90. Actor Ursula Andress is 87. Singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry is 86. Singer Ruth Pointer (The Pointer Sisters) is 77. Actor Glenn Close is 76. Actor Bruce Willis is 68. Actor-comedian Mary Scheer is 60. Playwright Neil LaBute is 60. Actor Connor Trinneer is 54. Rock musician Gert Bettens (K’s Choice) is 53. Rapper Bun B is 50. Rock musician Zach Lind (Jimmy Eat World) is 47. Actor Virginia Williams is 45. Actor Abby Brammell is 44. MLB pitcher Clayton Kershaw is 35. Actor Craig Lamar Traylor is 34. Actor Philip Bolden is 28.

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