TODAY IN HISTORY
Today is Tuesday, Oct. 15, the 288th day of 2019. There are 77 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Oct. 15, 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.
On this date:
In 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.
In 1917, Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari (Margaretha ZelleGeertruida MacLeod), 41, convicted by a French military court of spying for the Germans, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris. (Maintaining her innocence to the end, Mata Hari refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to her executioners.)
In 1940, Charles Chaplin’s first all-talking comedy, “The Great Dictator,” a lampoon of Adolf Hitler, opened in New York.
In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.
In 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the Carolina coast as a Category 4 storm; Hazel was blamed for some 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean, 95 in the U.S. and 81 in Canada.
In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In 2003, eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who’d blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.)
In 2006, three members of Duke University’s lacrosse team appeared on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to deny raping a woman who’d been hired to perform as a stripper (Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans were later exonerated).
In 2017, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write “Me too” as a status; within hours, tens of thousands had taken up the #MeToo hashtag (using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke.)
Ten years ago: A report of a 6-year-old Colorado boy trapped inside a runaway helium balloon engrossed the nation before the boy, Falcon Heene, was found safe at home in what turned out to be a hoax. (Falcon’s parents served up to a month in jail.)
Five years ago: The Kansas City Royals advanced to their first World Series since 1985 after finishing a four-game sweep in the AL Championship Series with a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
One year ago: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died in Seattle at the age of 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a DNA analysis that she said indicated that she has some Native American heritage; the move was intended as a rebuttal to President Donald Trump, who had mocked those claims. (A Stanford University expert concluded that Warren had a Native American ancestor who probably lived six to 10 generations ago.) Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with plans to shutter 142 unprofitable stores.
Today’s Birthdays: Jazz musician Freddy Cole is 88. Singer Barry McGuire is 84. Actress Linda Lavin is 82. Rock musician Don Stevenson (Moby Grape) is 77. Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is 74. Singer-musician Richard Carpenter is 73. Actor Victor Banerjee is 73. Former tennis player Roscoe Tanner is 68. Singer Tito Jackson is 66. Actor-comedian Larry Miller is 66. Actor Jere Burns is 65. Movie director Mira Nair is 62. Britain’s Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is 60. Chef Emeril Lagasse is 60. Actress Tanya Roberts is 60. Rock musician Mark Reznicek is 57. Singer Eric Benet is 53. Actress Vanessa Marcil is 51. Singer-actress-TV host Paige Davis is 50. Country singer Kimberly Schlapman (Little Big Town) is 50. Actor Dominic West is 50. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ginuwine is 49. Actor Devon Gummersall is 41. Actor Chris Olivero is 40. Christian singer-actress Jaci Velasquez is 40. Actor Brandon Jay McLaren is 39. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keyshia Cole is 38. Actor Vincent Martella is 27.
Thought for Today: “A friend to all is a friend to none.” — Aristotle, Greek philosopher (384 B.C.-322 B.C.).