Today in History — Oct. 15, 2018

Published Oct 15, 2018 at 4:00pm

Today is Monday, Oct. 15, the 288th day of 2018. There are 77 days left in the year.

Today in History

On Oct. 15, 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.

On this date:

In 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.

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 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act, which expanded on the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.

In 1917, Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari (Margaretha ZelleGeertruida MacLeod), 41, convicted by a French military court of spying for the Germans, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris. (Maintaining her innocence to the end, Mata Hari refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to her executioners.)

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 fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.

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 1989, South African officials released eight prominent political prisoners, including Walter Sisulu.

In 1997, British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green twice drove a jet-powered car in the Nevada desert faster than the speed of sound, officially shattering the world’s land-speed record. NASA’s plutonium-powered Cassini spacecraft rocketed flawlessly toward Saturn.

In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In 2003, eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who’d blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.)

Ten years ago

Republican John McCain repeatedly assailed Democrat Barack Obama’s character and campaign positions on taxes, abortion and more in a debate at Hofstra University; Obama parried each accusation, and leveled a few of his own, saying “100 percent” of McCain’s campaign ads were negative. The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 to win the NL championship series 4-1 for its first pennant since 1993. Pop star Madonna and movie director Guy Ritchie announced they were divorcing after nearly eight years of marriage. Actress-singer Edie Adams died in Los Angeles at age 81. Longtime game show host Jack Narz died in Los Angeles at age 85.

Five years ago

Abu Anas al-Libi, an alleged al-Qaida member who was snatched off the streets in Libya, pleaded not guilty in New York to bombing-related charges. President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor to William D. Swenson, a former Army captain whose heroic actions in a deadly Afghan battle were captured on video. The Boston Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the AL championship series as they defeated the Detroit Tigers 1-0. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 for a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship series. Hans Riegel, 90, who turned little gold bears into a global candy juggernaut — Haribo’s gummi bears — over a career than spanned seven decades, died in Bonn, Germany.

One year ago

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write “Me too” as a status; within hours, tens of thousands had taken up the #MeToo hashtag (using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke.) Police in London investigated three new allegations of sexual assault against producer Harvey Weinstein, all made by the same woman.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging that he was still unsigned because of collusion by owners resulting from his protests during the national anthem.

Today’s Birthdays

Former auto executive Lee Iacocca is 94. Jazz musician Freddy Cole is 87. Singer Barry McGuire is 83. Actress Linda Lavin is 81. Rock musician Don Stevenson (Moby Grape) is 76. Actress-director Penny Marshall is 75. Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer is 73. Singer-musician Richard Carpenter is 72. Actor Victor Banerjee is 72. Former tennis player Roscoe Tanner is 67. Singer Tito Jackson is 65. Actor-comedian Larry Miller is 65. Actor Jere Burns is 64. Movie director Mira Nair is 61.

Britain’s Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is 59. Chef Emeril Lagasse is 59. Actress Tanya Roberts is 59. Rock musician Mark Reznicek (REHZ’-nih-chehk) is 56. Singer Eric Benet is 52. Actress Vanessa Marcil is 50. Singer-actress-TV host Paige Davis is 49. Country singer Kimberly Schlapman (Little Big Town) is 49. Actor Dominic West is 49. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ginuwine is 48. Actor Devon Gummersall is 40. Actor Chris Olivero is 39.

Christian singer-actress Jaci (JAK’-ee) Velasquez is 39. Actor Brandon Jay McLaren is 38. Rhythm-and-blues singer Keyshia Cole is 37. Actor Vincent Martella is 26. Actress Bailee Madison is 19.

Thought for Today

“The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” — John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-born American economist (born this date in 1908, died in 2006).