Today is Saturday, Oct. 15, the 288th day of 2011. There are 77 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Oct. 15, 1951, the classic situation comedy "I Love Lucy" premiered on CBS with the episode "The Girls Want to Go to the Nightclub."

On this date:

In 1858, the seventh and final debate between senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place in Alton, Ill.

In 1860, 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.

In 1917, Dutch dancer Mata Hari, convicted of spying for the Germans, was executed by a French firing squad outside Paris.

In 1928, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.

In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed for treason.

In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering (GEH'-reeng) fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.

In 1964, it was announced that Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev (KROOSH'-chef) had been removed from office.

In 1969, peace demonstrators staged activities across the country as part of a "moratorium" against the Vietnam War.

In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.

In 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, 52-48.

Ten years ago: Officials announced that a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle had tested positive for anthrax, and that the infant son of an ABC News producer in New York had developed skin anthrax. Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Five years ago: A strong earthquake struck the Big Island of Hawaii, damaging buildings and roads. Three members of Duke University's lacrosse team appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes" to deny raping a woman who'd been hired to perform as a stripper (Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans were later exonerated). Pope Benedict XVI named four new saints of the Catholic Church.

One year ago: The Obama administration reported that the federal deficit had hit a near-record $1.3 trillion for the just-completed budget year. Workers hugged, cheered and set off fireworks as a huge drill broke through a last stretch of rock deep in the Swiss Alps for construction of the 35.4-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Today's Birthdays: Former auto executive Lee Iacocca is 87. Jazz musician Freddy Cole is 80. Singer Barry McGuire is 76. Actress Linda Lavin is 74. Rock musician Don Stevenson (Moby Grape) is 69. Actress-director Penny Marshall is 68. Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is 66. Singer-musician Richard Carpenter is 65. Actor Victor Banerjee is 65. Tennis player Roscoe Tanner is 60. Singer Tito Jackson is 58. Actor-comedian Larry Miller is 58. Actor Jere Burns is 57. Actress Tanya Roberts is 56. Movie director Mira Nair is 54. Britain's Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is 52. Chef Emeril Lagasse is 52. Rock musician Mark Reznicek (REHZ'-nih-chehk) is 49. Singer Eric Benet is 45. Actress Vanessa Marcil is 43. Singer-actress-TV host Paige Davis is 42. Actor Dominic West is 42. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ginuwine is 41. Actor Chris Olivero is 32. Christian singer-actress Jaci (JAK'-ee) Velasquez is 32. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keyshia Cole is 30. Tennis player Elena Dementieva is 30. Actor Vincent Martella ("Everybody Hates Chris") is 19.

Thought for Today: "A friend to all is a friend to none." _ Aristotle, Greek philosopher (384 B.C.-322 B.C.).

(Above Advance for Use Saturday, Oct. 15)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.