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Today in History

Today is Wednesday, Feb. 24, the 55th day of 2021. There are 310 days left in the year.

Birthdays: Actor-singer Dominic Chianese is 90. Opera singer-director Renata Scotto is 87. Singer Joanie Sommers is 80. Actor Jenny O’Hara is 79. Former senator Joseph Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut, is 79. Actor Barry Bostwick is 76. Actor Edward James Olmos is 74. Singer-writer-producer Rupert Holmes is 74. Rock singer-musician George Thorogood is 71. Actor Debra Jo Rupp is 70. Actor Helen Shaver is 70. News anchor Paula Zahn is 65. Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Murray is 65. Country singer Sammy Kershaw is 63. Actor Mark Moses is 63. Actor Beth Broderick is 62. Actor Emilio Rivera is 60. Singer Michelle Shocked is 59. Movie director Todd Field is 57. Actor Billy Zane is 55. Former boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is 44. Rock musician Matt McGinley (Gym Class Heroes) is 38. Actor Daniel Kaluuya is 32.

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In 1803, in its Marbury v. Madison decision, the Supreme Court established judicial review of the constitutionality of statutes.

In 1815, American engineer and inventor Robert Fulton, credited with building the first successful commercial steamboat, died in New York at 49.

In 1868, the US House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson by a vote of 126-47 following his attempted dismissal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton; Johnson was later acquitted by the Senate.

In 1938, the first nylon bristle toothbrush, manufactured by DuPont under the name “Dr. West’s Miracle Toothbrush,” went on sale.

In 1942, the SS Struma, a charter ship attempting to carry nearly 800 Jewish refugees from Romania to British-mandated Palestine, was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea; all but one of the refugees perished.

In 1961, the Federal Communications Commission authorized the nation’s first full-scale trial of pay television in Hartford, Connecticut.

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In 1981, a jury in White Plains, N.Y., found Jean Harris guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of “Scarsdale Diet” author Dr. Herman Tarnower. (Sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, Harris was granted clemency by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in December 1992.)

In 1988, in a ruling that expanded legal protections for parody and satire, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a $150,000 award that the Rev. Jerry Falwell had won against Hustler magazine and its publisher, Larry Flynt.

In 1989, a state funeral was held in Japan for Emperor Hirohito, who had died the month before at age 87.

In 1993, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney resigned after more than eight years in office.

In 1996, Cuba downed two small American planes operated by the group Brothers to the Rescue that it claimed were violating Cuban airspace; all four pilots were killed.

In 2008, Cuba’s parliament named Raul Castro president, ending nearly 50 years of rule by his brother Fidel.

In 2011, Discovery, the world’s most traveled spaceship, thundered into orbit for the final time, heading toward the International Space Station on a journey marking the beginning of the end of the shuttle era.

In 2015, the Justice Department announced that George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin in a 2012 confrontation, would not face federal charges.

In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Carla Hayden, longtime head of Baltimore’s library system, to be the 14th Librarian of Congress; Hayden became the first woman and the first African American to hold the position. An Indianapolis man was convicted of murder, arson, and insurance fraud for his role in a 2012 house explosion that killed two neighbors and devastated a subdivision. (Bob Leonard was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms without parole, plus 70 years.) Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic performed the nation’s first uterus transplant on a 26-year-old woman, using an organ from a deceased donor. (However, the transplant failed.)

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In 2020, the White House sent lawmakers a $2.5 billion plan to respond to the coronavirus; it was immediately slammed by Democrats as insufficient. Wall Street endured its worst session in two years, with the Dow industrials slumping more than 1,000 points on fears that the viral outbreak would weaken the world economy. Police manned checkpoints around sealed-off towns in northern Italy. Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted in New York on charges of rape and sexual assault against two women. Friends and family of Kobe Bryant joined 20,000 fans in mourning the NBA superstar at the Los Angeles arena where he played for 17 seasons. Kobe Bryant’s widow sued the companies that owned and operated the helicopter that crashed and killed Bryant and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter in January. Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions, died at 101; she’d been portrayed in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering Black female aerospace workers. Adventure novelist Clive Cussler died at the age of 88.

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