Today's History Trivia for March 31
2004 Air America Radio The liberal, left-wing radio network begins service. It would go off the air in 2010.
1993 Life imitates Art Actor Brandon Lee is killed while filming his death scene in the movie The Crow, when a prop gun accidentally fires a real bullet.
1980 U.S. President Carter signs a bill deregulating the banking industry.
1968 President Johnson announces he will not seek reelection.
1967 Jimi Hendrix The legendary musician lights his guitar on fire in concert for the first time, during a performance at London's Finsbury Park.
1966 Luna 10 The space probe is launched by the Soviet Union. It would become the first probe to enter the moon's orbit.
1958 Nuclear Weapons The Soviet Union announces it will suspend nuclear weapons testing.
1943 Oklahoma! The Rogers and Hammerstein musical opens in New York.
1933 The Civilian Conservation Corps is established, creating jobs through reforestation projects.
1923 First dance marathon The marathon begins in New York City's Audubon Ballroom. Alma Cummings won after six partners and 27 hours of continuous dancing.
1918 First U.S. Daylight savings time begins. This version of the law was later repealed.
1917 Virgin Islands The U.S. takes possession after purchasing them from Denmark of $25 million. They are the only place in the U.S. where traffic drives on the left.
1912 First person injured during an airplane attack, an Italian bomber shot by Arab ground forces.
1903 Heavier-than-air flight Richard Pearse, a New Zealand farmer, reportedly flies his monoplane craft several hundred feet and lands atop a 12-foot-high hedge - eight months before the Wright Brothers.
1870 First black to vote under the 15th Amendment Thomas Peterson-Mundy in a Perth Amboy, New Jersey special election for a city charter.
1854 Japan It first opens its ports to U.S. trade.
1840 10-hour work day Pres. Van Buren establishes the new work day for federal employees, with no reduction in pay.
Today's Birthdays for March 31
1971 Ewan McGregor Scottish actor. Film: Trainspotting (1996), Moulin Rouge! (2001), and the Star Wars movies as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi
1957 Marc McClure American actor. Film: Superman (1978, Jimmie Olsen) and the Back to the Future movies (1985, Dave McFly).
1955 Angus Young Scottish-born rock guitarist with AC/DC.
1950 Ed Marinaro American actor, football player. While playing for Cornell (1969-1971), he averaged 174.6 rushing yards per game, beating greats like O. J. Simpson, Herschel Walker, and Tony Dorsett. TV: Hill Street Blues (1981-86, Officer Joe Coffey).
1948 Rhea Perlman American Emmy-winning actress. TV: Cheers (Carla Tortelli).
1945 Gabe Kaplan American actor. TV: Welcome Back, Kotter (Mr. Kotter).
1943 Christopher Walken American Oscar-winning actor. Film: The Deer Hunter (1978, Oscar) and A View to a Kill (1985, Max Zorin).
1935 Herb Alpert American musician, with the Tijuana Brass. He also co-founded A&M Records.
1934 Shirley Jones American Oscar-winning actress. Film: Elmer Gantry (1960, Oscar). TV: The Partridge Family (the mom). She was once married to Jack Cassidy, the father of David Cassidy who played Keith in The Partridge Family.
1934 Richard Chamberlain American actor. TV: Dr. Kildare (1961-66, title role), Shōgun (1980), and The Thorn Birds (1983).
1929 Liz Claiborne d. 2007 Belgian-born American fashion designer. Her company, Liz Claiborne Inc., was the first company founded by a woman to make the Fortune 500 (1986).
1928 Gordie Howe d. 2016 (Gordon Howe), Canadian Hall of Fame hockey player, 23-time NHL All-Star, "Mr. Hockey." He is considered one of the all-time greatest players.
1927 William Daniels American Emmy-winning actor. TV: St. Elsewhere (Dr. Mark Craig) and Knight Rider (voice of Kitt).
1927 César Chávez d. 1993 Mexican-American labor leader, activist. Founder of the National Farm Workers Association.
1924 Leo Buscaglia d. 1998 American educator, author, hugger. While teaching at USC, a student's suicide moved him to contemplate human disconnectedness and the meaning of life, leading to his first book, LOVE. At one time he had five books on the New York Times Best Sellers List simultaneously.
1922 Richard Kiley d. 1999 American Emmy-winning actor. TV: The Thorn Birds (Emmy) and A Year in the Life (Emmy).
1915 Henry Morgan d. 1994 (Henry Lerner Van Ost, Jr.), American caustic comedian. Known for his trademark radio sign-on: "Good evening, anybody. Here's Morgan." TV: What's My Line and I've Got a Secret.
1878 Jack Johnson d. 1946 American boxer. He was the first black heavyweight champion (1908-15). He was the first person prosecuted under the Mann Act. He had encouraged Lucille Cameron, a white woman, to leave a brothel and they subsequently crossed state lines. Even though he married her, and took her away from a brothel, he was still prosecuted and sentenced to a year in prison.
1854 Sir Dugald Clerk d. 1932 (aka Clark), Scottish engineer. He built the first two-stroke engine (1878).
1732 Franz Joseph Haydn d. 1809 Austrian composer, "Father of the Symphony." He composed about 120 symphonies.
1675 Benedict XIV d. 1758 Italian religious leader, 247th Pope (1740-58).
1596 Rene Descartes d. 1650 French scientist, philosopher, "Father of Modern Philosophy." He is remembered for his famous proposition "I think, therefore I am."
1499 Pius IV d. 1565 Italian religious leader, 224th Pope (1559-65). He reopened the Council of Trent (1562).
Deaths for March 31
1980 Jesse Owens b. 1913 (James Cleveland Owens), American track star. He won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics. At the 1935 Big Ten meet, he set three world records and tied a fourth - all within a span of 45 minutes. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1976).
1850 John Caldwell Calhoun b. 1782 7th U.S. Vice-President (1824-32). After a disagreement with President Jackson, he became the first U.S. Vice-President to resign. He then went on to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate.
American artist, gay rights activist. He designed the Rainbow Flag (1978), known as the gay pride flag, one of the most recognizable symbols of the LGBT community. The original flag had the colors: Hot Pink (Sex), Red (Life), Orange (Healing), Yellow (Sunlight), Green (Nature), Turquoise (Magic/Art), Indigo (Serenity), Violet (Spirit). The flag has undergone changes since the original, with the most common flag having six stripes, omitting turquoise and hot pink mainly for manufacturing reasons.
2005 Terri Schiavo b. 1963 American medical case. After suffering a cardiac arrest in 1990 that left her brain damaged, a major legal battle ensued over the right of her husband to have her feeding tube removed. It was eventually removed, resulting in her death 13 days later.
1998 Bella Abzug b. 1920 American politician and leader of the women's movement. She was the first Jewish woman elected to the U.S. Congress (House of Representatives, New York 1971-77).
1995 Selena b. 1971 (Selena Quintanilla Pérez), Mexican-American singer. She was murdered by the president of her fan club.
1993 Brandon Lee b. 1965 American actor, son of Bruce Lee. He was killed, while filming the movie The Crow (1994) when the gun being used accidentally fired a real bullet.
1986 O'Kelly Isley b. 1937 American Grammy-winning singer, with the Isley Brothers. Music: Twist and Shout (1962), This Old Heart of Mine (1966), and It's Your Thing (1970, Grammy).
1984 Candy Man b. 1944 (Ronald Clark O'Bryan), American murderer. He was convicted and executed for the 1974 Halloween killing of his 8-year-old son by feeding him poisoned candy. This is often referred to as "The Death of Halloween."
1981 Enid Bagnold b. 1889 English novelist. Writings: National Velvet (1935) and The Chalk Garden (1956).
1979 Ethel Ernestine Harper b. 1903 American singer, advertising performer. She is featured on Aunt Jemima products and worked as a traveling representative in the 1940s and 50s. She graduated from college at seventeen years old, sang with the Ginger Snaps, and sang in the Broadway production of The Hot Mikado with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1939).
1978 Charles Herbert Best b. 1899 Canadian scientist. While working as an undergraduate student, he assisted F.G. Banting in the discovery of insulin (1921). He also introduced the use of heparin to reduce blood clotting during heart surgery.
1956 Ralph De Palma b. 1882 Italian-born American Hall of Fame auto racer. With 2,557 wins out 2,889 races, he was the world's winningest race car driver.
1931 Knute Kenneth Rockne b. 1888 Norwegian-born American football coach. His effective use of the forward pass, while a player at Notre Dame, forever changed college football. His record as Notre Dame coach (1914-31) was 105 wins, 12 losses, and 5 ties.
1917 Emil von Behring b. 1854 German Nobel-winning physiologist, bacteriologist. He discovered tetanus and diphtheria vaccines (1890).
1913 John Pierpont Morgan b. 1837 American financier, co-founder of U.S. Steel (1901).
1911 Otto Ringling b. 1858 American circus operator, with Ringling Brothers Circus.
1903 Ebenezer Butterick b. 1826 American inventor. He and his wife Ellen invented tissue paper clothing patterns (1863).
1855 Charlotte Brontë b. 1816 English novelist. Writings: Jane Eyre (1847).
1631 John Donne b. 1573 English poet. He is best remembered for the lines "No man is an island…" and "…for whom the bell tolls" from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624). Source: An Almanac of the Christian Church
1621 Philip III b. 1578 King of Spain (1598-1621). He was weak ruler who spent enormous sums on court festivities.