Today in History: Whistle a Happy Tune as this musical opened in 1951

Today in History

Today is Friday, March 29, the 88th day of 2019. There are 277 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 29, 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted in New York of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union. (They were executed in June 1953.)

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On this date:

In 1638, Swedish colonists settled in present-day Delaware.

In 1867, Britain’s Parliament passed, and Queen Victoria signed, the British North America Act creating the Dominion of Canada, which came into being the following July.

In 1912, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, his doomed expedition stranded in an Antarctic blizzard after failing to be the first to reach the South Pole, wrote the last words of his journal: “For Gods sake look after our people.”

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In 1943, World War II rationing of meat, fats and cheese began, limiting consumers to store purchases of an average of about two pounds a week for beef, pork, lamb and mutton using a coupon system. (The Associated Press noted, “From the customer viewpoint, the unrationed oasis of food will be the restaurant or other public eating place.”)

In 1951, The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” opened on Broadway.

In 1962, Jack Paar hosted NBC’s “Tonight” show for the final time. (Johnny Carson debuted as host the following October.)

In 1971, Army Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was convicted of murdering 22 Vietnamese civilians in the 1968 My Lai massacre. (Calley ended up serving three years under house arrest.) A jury in Los Angeles recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three female followers for the 1969 Tate-La Bianca murders. (The sentences were later commuted.)

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In 1973, the last United States combat troops left South Vietnam, ending America’s direct military involvement in the Vietnam War.

In 1974, eight Ohio National Guardsmen were indicted on federal charges stemming from the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University. (The charges were later dismissed.)

In 1989, at the Academy Awards, “Rain Man” won best picture, best director for Barry Levinson and best actor for Dustin Hoffman; Jodie Foster won best actress for “The Accused.” (This was the Oscars ceremony that featured the notorious opening number with Rob Lowe and “Snow White.”)

In 2005, attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. died in Los Angeles at age 67. Former U.S. Senator Howell Heflin died in Sheffield, Alabama, at age 83.

In 2017, Britain filed for divorce from the European Union as Prime Minister Theresa May sent a six-page letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk. Two former aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were sentenced to prison for creating a colossal traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge for political revenge, a scandal that sank Christie’s White House hopes.

Ten years ago: General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner resigned under White House pressure. A gunman killed seven residents of the Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage, N.C., along with a nurse. (Robert Kenneth Stewart was convicted of second-degree murder and other charges and sentenced to more than 140 years in prison.) A stampede at a World Cup qualifying soccer match in the Ivory Coast killed 22 people.

Five years ago: Two Spanish journalists, Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, were freed after being held captive for six months in Syria by a rogue al-Qaida group. Mao Asada of Japan topped the free skate to capture her third world figure skating title.

One year ago: Russia announced the expulsion of more than 150 diplomats, including 60 Americans, and said it was closing a U.S. consulate in retaliation for Western expulsions of Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in Britain. Malala Yousafzai returned home to Pakistan for a four-day visit, the first by the 20-year-old Nobel laureate since she was shot by the Taliban five years earlier for speaking out in support of education of girls. The 2018 baseball season began with a home run from Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs on the season’s first pitch, while Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers in his debut with the New York Yankees. Rusty Staub, whose fiery orange hair and gregarious personality had charmed baseball fans in the United States and Canada during an All-Star career that spanned 23 seasons, died in Florida at the age of 73.

Today’s Birthdays: Author Judith Guest is 83. Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major is 76. Comedian Eric Idle is 76. Composer Vangelis is 76. Basketball Hall of Famer Walt Frazier is 74. Singer Bobby Kimball (Toto) is 72. Actor Bud Cort is 71. Actor Brendan Gleeson is 64. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell is 64. Actress Marina Sirtis is 64. International Gymnastics Hall of Famer Kurt Thomas is 63. Actor Christopher Lambert is 62. Rock singer Perry Farrell (Porno for Pyros; Jane’s Addiction) is 60. Comedian-actress Amy Sedaris is 58. Model Elle Macpherson is 56. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., is 55. Actress Annabella Sciorra  is 55. Movie director Michel Hazanavicius is 52. Rock singer-musician John Popper (Blues Traveler) is 52. Actress Lucy Lawless is 51. Country singer Regina Leigh (Regina Regina) is 51. Country singer Brady Seals is 50. Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is 48. CBS News correspondent Lara Logan is 48. Actor Sam Hazeldine is 47. International Tennis Hall of Famer Jennifer Capriati is 43. Actor Chris D’Elia is 39. Rhythm and blues singer PJ Morton is 38. Actress Megan Hilty is 38. Pop singer Kelly Sweet is 31.

Thought for Today: “If men could foresee the future, they would still behave as they do now.” — Russian proverb.