Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Monday, September 21, the 264th day of 2015. There are 101 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On September 21, 1897, the New York Sun ran its famous editorial, written anonymously by Francis P. Church, which declared, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

On this date:

In 1792, the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.

In 1893, one of America’s first horseless carriages was taken for a short test drive in Springfield, Massachusetts, by Frank Duryea, who had designed the vehicle with his brother, Charles.

In 1912, magician Harry Houdini first publicly performed his “Water Torture Cell” trick at the Circus Busch in Berlin.

In 1925, the Rudolf Friml operetta “The Vagabond King” opened on Broadway.

In 1938, a hurricane struck parts of New York and New England, causing widespread damage and claiming some 700 lives.

In 1948, Milton Berle made his debut as permanent host of “The Texaco Star Theater” on NBC-TV.

In 1957, Norway’s King Haakon VII died in Oslo at age 85. The legal mystery-drama “Perry Mason,” starring Raymond Burr, premiered on CBS-TV.

In 1964, Malta gained independence from Britain.

In 1970, “NFL Monday Night Football” made its debut on ABC-TV as the Cleveland Browns defeated the visiting New York Jets, 31-21.

In 1975, the Warner Bros. motion picture “Dog Day Afternoon,” starring Al Pacino, opened in New York.

In 1989, Hurricane Hugo crashed into Charleston, South Carolina (the storm was blamed for 56 deaths in the Caribbean and 29 in the United States). Twenty-one students in Alton, Texas, died when their school bus, hit by a soft-drink delivery truck, careened into a water-filled pit.

In 1996, John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolyn Bessette in a secret ceremony on Cumberland Island, Georgia.

Ten years ago: Hurricane Rita swirled toward the Gulf Coast as a Category 5, 165-mph monster as more than 1.3 million people in Texas and Louisiana were evacuated. A JetBlue Airbus circled Southern California for hours, crippled by a faulty landing gear, while the passengers were able to watch the drama unfold on live television; the plane landed safely at Los Angeles International Airport. Japan’s Parliament re-elected Junichiro Koizumi (joon-ee-chee-roh koh-ee-zoo-mee) prime minister. Former National Organization for Women president Molly Yard died in Pittsburgh at age 93.

Five years ago: The mayor and ex-city manager of the Los Angeles suburb of Bell were among eight current and former city officials arrested in a corruption scandal that authorities said cost the blue-collar city more than $5.5 million in excessive salaries and illegal personal loans. Two men filed a lawsuit accusing Atlanta megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long of coercing them into sexual relationships when they were teenage members of his congregation. (Long, who denied the allegations, later reached out-of-court settlements with them and two other men.)

One year ago: Thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and cities around the world to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. A SpaceX cargo ship rocketed toward the International Space Station, carrying the first 3-D printer for astronauts in orbit. NASA’s Maven spacecraft arrived at Mars after a 442 million-mile journey that began nearly a year earlier. Pope Francis briefly visited Albania, where he called for Muslims and all religious leaders to condemn Islamic extremists who “perverted” religion to justify violence. Ending months of vote-related tension, Afghanistan’s election commission named Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (ahsh-RAHF’ gah-NEE’ ah-mahd-ZEYE’) the country’s new president.

Today’s Birthdays: Poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen is 81. Author-comedian Fannie Flagg is 74. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is 72. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is 71. Musician Don Felder is 68. Author Stephen King is 68. Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore is 66. Actor-comedian Bill Murray is 65. Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye is 64. Rock musician Philthy Animal is 61. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is 58. Movie producer-writer Ethan Coen is 58. Actor-comedian Dave Coulier is 56. Actor David James Elliott is 55. Actress Serena Scott-Thomas is 54. Actress Nancy Travis is 54. Actor Rob Morrow is 53. Retired MLB All-Star Cecil Fielder is 52. Actress Cheryl Hines is 50. Country singer Faith Hill is 48. Rock musician Tyler Stewart (Barenaked Ladies) is 48. Country singer Ronna Reeves is 47. Actress-talk show host Ricki Lake is 47. Rapper Dave (De La Soul) is 47. Actor Rob Benedict is 45. Actor James Lesure is 44. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro is 44. Actor Luke Wilson is 44. Actor Paulo Costanzo is 37. Actor Bradford Anderson is 36. Actress Autumn Reeser is 35. TV personality Nicole Richie is 34. Actress Maggie Grace is 32. Actor Joseph Mazzello is 32. Actress Ahna O’Reilly is 31. Rapper Wale (WAH’-lay) is 31. Actors Nikolas and Lorenzo Brino are 17.

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