Today in History - Nov. 18

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2009 12:00 AM

Today is Wednesday, Nov. 18, the 322nd day of 2009. There are 43 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Nov. 18, 1959, "Ben-Hur," MGM's Biblical-era spectacle starring Charlton Heston and directed by William Wyler, had its world premiere at Loew's State Theatre in New York.

On this date:

In 1883, the United States and Canada adopted a system of Standard Time zones.

In 1886, the 21st president of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, died in New York.

In 1909, President William Howard Taft ordered two warships to Nicaragua, a day after the government of President Jose Santos Zelaya executed two American mercenaries along with several hundred revolutionaries. Lyricist Johnny Mercer was born in Savannah, Ga.

In 1928, Walt Disney's first sound-synchronized animated cartoon, "Steamboat Willie" starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York.

In 1936, Germany and Italy recognized the Spanish government of Francisco Franco.

In 1958, the cargo freighter SS Carl D. Bradley sank during a storm in Lake Michigan, claiming 33 of the 35 lives on board.

In 1966, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays outside of Lent.

In 1969, financier-diplomat Joseph P. Kennedy died in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 81.

In 1978, U.S. Rep. Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., and four other people were killed in Jonestown, Guyana, by members of the Peoples Temple; the killings were followed by a night of mass murder and suicide by more than 900 cult members.

In 1987, the congressional Iran-Contra committees issued their final report, saying President Ronald Reagan bore "ultimate responsibility" for wrongdoing by his aides.

Ten years ago: Twelve people were killed when a bonfire under construction at Texas A&M University collapsed. A jury in Jasper, Texas, convicted Shawn Allen Berry of murder for his role in the dragging death of James Byrd Jr., but spared him the death penalty. American author and composer Paul Bowles, best known for "The Sheltering Sky" and other novels set in North Africa, died in Morocco at age 88.

Five years ago: Former President Bill Clinton's library opened in Little Rock, Ark.; in attendance were President George W. Bush, former President George H.W. Bush and former President Jimmy Carter. Former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry, convicted of killing four black girls in the racially motivated bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church in 1963, died in prison at age 74. Britain outlawed fox hunting in England and Wales. (Scotland had already outlawed hunting.) Composer Cy Coleman died in New York at age 75.

One year ago: Detroit's Big Three automakers pleaded with Congress for a $25 billion lifeline, warning of a national economic catastrophe should they collapse. Belgium-based InBev SA formed the world's largest brewer with its 41 billion-euro ($52 billion) takeover of U.S.-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. Boston's Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP award, becoming the first second baseman to earn the honor in nearly a half-century.

Today's Birthdays: Former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is 86. Actress Brenda Vaccaro is 70. Author-poet Margaret Atwood is 70. Actress Linda Evans is 67. Actress Susan Sullivan is 67. Former Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller is 64. Country singer Jacky Ward is 63. Actor Jameson Parker is 62. Actress-singer Andrea Marcovicci is 61. College Football Hall of Famer Jack Tatum is 61. Rock musician Herman Rarebell is 60. Singer Graham Parker is 59. Actor Delroy Lindo is 57. Comedian Kevin Nealon is 56. Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon is 53. Actor Oscar Nunez is 51. Actress Elizabeth Perkins is 49. Singer Kim Wilde is 49. Rock musician Kirk Hammett (Metallica) is 47. Rock singer Tim DeLaughter is 44. Actor Romany Malco is 41. Actor Owen Wilson is 41. Singer Duncan Sheik is 40. Actor Mike Epps is 39. Actress Peta Wilson is 39. Actress Chloe Sevigny is 35. Country singer Jessi Alexander is 33. Actor Steven Pasquale is 33. Rapper Fabolous is 30. Actor Nate Parker is 30. Rapper Mike Jones is 29. Actor Nathan Kress is 17.

Thought for Today: "If an historian were to relate truthfully all the crimes, weaknesses and disorders of mankind, his readers would take his work for satire rather than for history." _ Pierre Bayle, French philosopher and critic (born this date in 1647, died 1706).