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Today in History

Today is Saturday, June 19, the 170th day of 2021. There are 195 days left in the year.

Birthdays: Actor Gena Rowlands is 91. Hall of Fame race car driver Shirley Muldowney is 81. Singer Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane (Spanky and Our Gang) is 79. Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is 76. Author Sir Salman Rushdie is 74. Actor Phylicia Rashad is 73. Rock singer Ann Wilson (Heart) is 71. Musician Larry Dunn is 68. Actor Kathleen Turner is 67. Country singer Doug Stone is 65. Singer Mark DeBarge is 62. Singer-dancer-choreographer Paula Abdul is 59. Actor Andy Lauer is 58. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is 57. Rock singer-musician Brian Vander Ark (Verve Pipe) is 57. Actor Samuel West is 55. Actor Mia Sara is 54. TV personality Lara Spencer is 52. Rock musician Brian “Head” Welch is 51. Alt-country singer-musician Scott Avett (The Avett Brothers) is 45. Actor Zoe Saldana is 43. Former NBA star Dirk Nowitzki is 43. Rapper Macklemore is 39. New York Mets pitcher Jacob DeGrom is 33.

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In 1775, George Washington was commissioned by the Continental Congress as commander in chief of the Continental Army.

In 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War was over, and that all remaining slaves in Texas were free — an event celebrated to this day as “Juneteenth.”

In 1911, Pennsylvania became the first state to establish a motion picture censorship board.

In 1917, during World War I, King George V ordered the British royal family to dispense with German titles and surnames; the family took the name “Windsor.”

In 1944, during World War II, the two-day Battle of the Philippine Sea began, resulting in a decisive victory for the Americans over the Japanese.

In 1945, millions of New Yorkers turned out to cheer General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was honored with a parade.

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In 1953, Julius Rosenberg, 35, and his wife, Ethel, 37, convicted of conspiring to pass US atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, were executed at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved by the US Senate, 73-27, after surviving a lengthy filibuster.

In 1975, former Chicago organized crime boss Sam Giancana was shot to death in the basement of his home in Oak Park, Ill.; the killing has never been solved.

In 1987, the US Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring any public school teaching the theory of evolution to teach creation science as well.

In 2009, Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford was indicted and jailed on charges his international banking empire was really just a Ponzi scheme built on lies, bluster, and bribery. (Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison after being convicted of bilking investors in a $7.2 billion scheme that involved the sale of fraudulent certificates of deposits.)

In 2011, Libya’s government said NATO warplanes had struck a residential neighborhood in the capital and killed nine civilians, including two children; NATO confirmed hours later that one of its airstrikes had gone astray. Rory McIlroy ran away with the US Open title, winning by eight shots and breaking the tournament scoring record by a whopping four strokes. (McIlroy shot 2-under 69 to close the four days at Congressional in Bethesda, Maryland, at 16-under 268.)

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In 2013, actor James Gandolfini, 51, died while vacationing in Rome.

In 2014, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California won election as House majority leader as Republicans shuffled their leadership in the wake of Representative Eric Cantor’s primary defeat in Virginia.

In 2016, LeBron James and his relentless Cavaliers pulled off an improbable NBA Finals comeback to give the city of Cleveland its first title since 1964 as they became the first team to rally from a 3-1 finals deficit by beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors 93-89. Anton Yelchin, a rising actor best known for playing Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films, was killed by his own car as it rolled down his driveway in Los Angeles; he was 27.

In 2020, Americans marked Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, with new urgency and protests demanding racial justice. Demonstrators across the country defaced and toppled statues and busts of former U.S. presidents, a Spanish missionary and Confederate figures. The mayor of Louisville, Ky., said Brett Hankison, one of the three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, would be fired. A day before President Donald Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the state reported its second-biggest daily increase in its coronavirus case load. The top US Navy officer concluded that the two senior commanders on the USS Theodore Roosevelt didn’t “do enough, soon enough” to stem the coronavirus outbreak on the aircraft carrier; the finding upheld the firing of the ship’s captain, Brett Crozier, over his plea for faster action to protect the crew. British actor Ian Holm, whose career included roles in “Chariots of Fire” and “The Lord of the Rings,” died at 88.

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