► Today is Sunday, March 18, the 78th day of 2012. There are 288 days left in the year.
► Today’s birthdays: Composer John Kander (“Chicago’’) is 85. Nobel peace laureate and former South African president F.W. de Klerk is 76. Country singer Charley Pride is 74. Actor Kevin Dobson is 69. Actor Brad Dourif is 62. Jazz musician Bill Frisell is 61. Singer Irene Cara is 53. Movie writer-director Luc Besson is 53. Actor Thomas Ian Griffith is 50. Singer-songwriter James McMurtry is 50. Singer-actress Vanessa L. Williams is 49. Olympic gold medal speedskater Bonnie Blair is 48. Country musician Scott Saunders (Sons of the Desert) is 48. Rock musician Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) is 46. Rock singer-musician Miki Berenyi is 45. Rapper-actress-talk show host Queen Latifah is 42. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is 40. Actor-comedian Dane Cook is 40. Rock musician Stuart Zender is 38. Singers Evan and Jaron Lowenstein are 38. Singer Devin Lima (LFO) is 35. Rock singer Adam Levine (Maroon 5) is 33. Rock musician Daren Taylor (Airborne Toxic Event) is 32. Actor Adam Pally is 30.
► In 1766, Britain repealed the Stamp Act of 1765.
► In 1837, the 22d and 24th president of the United States, Grover Cleveland, was born in Caldwell, N.J.
► In 1911, Irving Berlin’s first major hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,’’ was first published by Ted Snyder & Co. of New York. The Theodore Roosevelt Dam in Arizona was dedicated by its namesake, the former president.
► In 1922, 12-year-old rabbi’s daughter Judith Kaplan became the first American bat mitzvah in a ceremony at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism in New York City.
► In 1937, some 300 people, mostly children, were killed in a gas explosion at a school in New London, Texas.
► In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order authorizing the War Relocation Authority, which was put in charge of interning Japanese-Americans, with Milton S. Eisenhower (the younger brother of Dwight D. Eisenhower) as its director.
► In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Hawaii statehood bill. (Hawaii became a state on Aug. 21, 1959.)
► In 1962, France and Algerian rebels signed the Evian Accords, a cease-fire agreement that took effect the next day, ending the Algerian War after more than seven years and leading to Algeria’s independence.
► In 1965, the first spacewalk took place as Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov went outside his Voskhod 2 capsule, secured by a tether.
► In 1974, most of the Arab oil-producing nations ended their embargo against the United States.
► In 1980, Frank Gotti, the 12-year-old youngest son of mobster John Gotti, was struck and killed by a car driven by John Favara, a neighbor in Queens, N.Y. (The following July, Favara vanished, the apparent victim of a gang hit.)
► In 1990, thieves made off with 13 works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (the crime remains unsolved).
► In 2002, Brittanie Cecil died two days short of her 14th birthday after being hit in the head by a puck at a game between the host Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames; it was apparently the first such fan fatality in NHL history.
► In 2007, Pakistan’s national cricket team coach, Bob Woolmer, 58, was found dead in his hotel room in Kingston, Jamaica, during cricket’s World Cup tournament. (An inquest into Woolmer’s death ended with the Jamaican jury unable to reach a ruling on the cause.)
► In 2009, Tony-winning actress Natasha Richardson, 45, died at a New York hospital two days after suffering a head injury while skiing in Canada.