Dec 28, 12:00 AM EST

Today in History

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Today is Sunday, Dec. 28, the 362nd day of 2014. There are three days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 28, 1944, the musical "On the Town," with music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, opened on Broadway.

On this date:

In 1612, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei observed the planet Neptune, but mistook it for a star. (Neptune wasn't officially discovered until 1846 by Johann Gottfried Galle.)

In 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down because of differences with President Andrew Jackson.

In 1846, Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union.

In 1856, the 28th president of the United States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was born in Staunton (STAN'-tun), Virginia.

In 1917, the New York Evening Mail published "A Neglected Anniversary," a facetious essay by H.L. Mencken supposedly recounting the history of bathtubs in America.

In 1937, composer Maurice Ravel died in Paris at age 62.

In 1945, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 1961, the Tennessee Williams play "Night of the Iguana" opened on Broadway. Former first lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington at age 89.

In 1973, the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Alexander Solzhenitsyn published "The Gulag Archipelago," an expose (eks-poh-SAY') of the Soviet prison system.

In 1984, the TV soap opera "The Edge of Night," which first aired on CBS, then on ABC, ended a 28-year run with its final episode. Movie director Sam Peckinpah, 59, died in Inglewood, California.

In 1989, Alexander Dubcek (DOOB'-chek), the former Czechoslovak Communist leader who was deposed in a Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, was named president of the country's parliament.

In 1999, Clayton Moore, television's "Lone Ranger, died in West Hills, California, at age 85.

Ten years ago: The U.S. Agency for International Development said it was adding $20 million to an initial $15 million contribution for Asian tsunami relief as Secretary of State Colin Powell bristled at a United Nations official's suggestion the United States was being "stingy." Activist and author Susan Sontag died in New York at age 71. Actor Jerry Orbach died in New York at age 69.

Five years ago: Al-Qaida in Yemen claimed responsibility for a Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner. A bomb blast killed at least 44 people in a Shiite procession in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi. In Argentina, two men turned away from Buenos Aires were wed in Ushuaia (oo-SWY'-ah), the world's southernmost city, in Latin America's first same-sex marriage.

One year ago: Iraqi troops detained a Sunni lawmaker, Ahmed al-Alwani, a prominent organizer of Sunni protests in Anbar, on terrorism charges for inciting violence against Shiites. Film, television and stage actor Joseph Ruskin, 89, died in Los Angeles.

Today's Birthdays: Comic book creator Stan Lee is 92. Former United Auto Workers union president Owen Bieber is 85. Actor Martin Milner is 83. Actress Nichelle Nichols is 82. Actress Dame Maggie Smith is 80. Rock singer-musician Charles Neville is 76. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is 70. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is 68. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 68. Actor Denzel Washington is 60. Country singer Joe Diffie is 56. Country musician Mike McGuire (Shenandoah) is 56. Actor Chad McQueen is 54. Country singer-musician Marty Roe (Diamond Rio) is 54. Actor Malcolm Gets is 50. Actor Mauricio Mendoza is 45. Comedian Seth Meyers is 41. Actor Brendan Hines is 38. Actor Joe Manganiello is 38. Actress Vanessa Ferlito is 37. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Legend is 36. Actress Sienna Miller is 33. Pop singer Kasey Sheridan (Dream) is 28. Actor Thomas Dekker is 27. Actress Mackenzie Rosman is 25. Pop singer David Archuleta is 24. Actor Miles Brown (TV: "black-ish") is 10.

Thought for Today: "Let no one underestimate the need of pity. We live in a stony universe whose hard, brilliant forces rage fiercely." - Theodore Dreiser, American author (born 1871, died this date in 1945).

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Dec. 28)

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