Today in History

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 1, 1970

Today is Saturday, Sept. 16, the 259th day of 2017. There are 106 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act. Samuel T. Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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On this date:

In 1498, Tomas de Torquemada, notorious for his role in the Spanish Inquisition, died in Avila, Spain.

In 1857, the song “Jingle Bells” by James Pierpont was copyrighted under its original title, “One Horse Open Sleigh.” (The song, while considered a Christmastime classic, was actually written for Thanksgiving.)

In 1893, more than 100,000 settlers swarmed onto a section of land in Oklahoma known as the “Cherokee Strip.”

In 1908, General Motors was founded in Flint, Michigan, by William C. Durant.

In 1919, the American Legion received a national charter from Congress.

In 1925, the Irving Berlin song “Always” (written for his future wife, Ellin Mackay) was published.

In 1953, “The Robe,” the first movie presented in the widescreen process CinemaScope, had its world premiere at the Roxy Theater in New York.

In 1967, the TV series “Mannix,” starring Mike Connors as a private investigator, premiered on CBS.

In 1977, Maria Callas, the American-born prima donna famed for her lyric soprano and fiery temperament, died in Paris at age 53.

In 1982, the massacre of between 1,200 and 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children at the hands of Israeli-allied Christian Phalange militiamen began in west Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

In 1987, two dozen countries signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty designed to save the Earth’s ozone layer by calling on nations to reduce emissions of harmful chemicals by the year 2000.

In 1994, a federal jury in Anchorage, Alaska, ordered Exxon Corp. to pay $5 billion in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez (val-DEEZ’) oil spill (the U.S Supreme Court later reduced that amount to $507.5 million). Two astronauts from the space shuttle Discovery went on the first untethered spacewalk in ten years.

Ten years ago: Contractors for the U.S. security firm Blackwater USA guarding a U.S. State Department convoy in Baghdad opened fire on civilian vehicles, mistakenly believing they were under attack; 14 Iraqis died. A One-Two-Go Airlines passenger plane crashed on the island of Phuket (poo-KET’), Thailand, killing 90 people. O.J. Simpson was arrested in the alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia collectors in Las Vegas. (Simpson was later convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery and sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison; he’s due to be released on parole in October 2017.) The Phoenix Mercury beat the Detroit Shock 108-92 to win their first WNBA title. “The Sopranos” claimed its final Emmy award as best dramatic series; “30 Rock” won best comedy series.

Five years ago: In appearances on Sunday news shows, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said there was no evidence that the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, was premeditated. But Libya’s interim president, Mohammed el-Megarif, told CBS he had no doubt attackers spent months planning the assault and purposely chose the date, September 11.

One year ago: After five years of promoting a false conspiracy theory about Barack Obama’s birthplace, Republican Donald Trump abruptly reversed course, acknowledging that the president was born in America, but then claiming the “birther movement” was begun by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. (While the question of Obama’s birthplace was raised by some backers of Clinton’s primary campaign against Obama eight years earlier, Clinton had long denounced it as a “racist lie.”) Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, 88, died in Montauk, New York. Author W.P. Kinsella, 81, died in Hope, British Columbia, Canada.

Today’s Birthdays: Actress Janis Paige is 95. Actor George Chakiris is 85. Bluesman Billy Boy Arnold is 82. Movie director Jim McBride is 76. Actress Linda Miller is 75. Rhythm-and-blues singer Betty Kelley (Martha & the Vandellas) is 73. Musician Kenney Jones (Small Faces; Faces; The Who) is 69. Actress Susan Ruttan is 69. Rock musician Ron Blair (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; Mudcrutch) is 69. Actor Ed Begley Jr. is 68. Country singer David Bellamy (The Bellamy Brothers) is 67. Country singer-songwriter Phil Lee is 66. Actor-comedian Lenny Clarke is 64. Actor Kurt Fuller is 64. Jazz musician Earl Klugh is 64. Actor Christopher Rich is 64. Singer Frank Reed (The Chi-Lites) is 63. TV personality Mark McEwen is 63. Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount is 62. Actor Mickey Rourke is 61. Magician David Copperfield is 61. Country singer-songwriter Terry McBride is 59. Actress Jennifer Tilly is 59. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Orel Hershiser is 59. Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines is 58. Actress Jayne Brook is 57. Singer Richard Marx is 54. Comedian Molly Shannon is 53. Singer Marc Anthony is 49. Comedian-actress Amy Poehler is 46. Actress Toks Olagundoye (tohks oh-lah-GOON’-doh-yay) is 42. Country singer Matt Stillwell is 42. Singer Musiq (MYOO’-sihk) is 40. Actor Michael Mosley is 39. Rapper Flo Rida is 38. Actress Alexis Bledel is 36. Actress Sabrina Bryan is 33. Actress Madeline Zima is 32. Actor Ian Harding is 31. Actress Kyla Pratt is 31. Actor Daren Kagasoff is 30. Rock singer Teddy Geiger is 29. Actress-dancer Bailey Buntain is 28. Rock singer-musician Nick Jonas (The Jonas Brothers) is 25. Actress Elena Kampouris is 20.