A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  March 19, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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Today is March 19.

On this date in 1916, the first air combat mission in U.S. history got under way. Eight Curtiss "Jenny" planes of the First Aero Squadron took off from Columbus, N.M., in support of the 7,000 troops who invaded Mexico to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Villa had crossed the border with several hundred guerrillas on a raid of Columbus in which 17 Americans died.

South Carolina televangelist Jim Bakker resigned as head of the PTL Club on this date in 1987, saying he had been blackmailed after a sexual encounter with former church secretary Jessica Hahn. Bakker's religious empire fell apart after his admission, he ended up doing time in prison for fleecing his flock, and his wife -- the heavily mascara'd Tammy Faye -- divorced him. Hahn went on to pose for Playboy.

Filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille was a Hollywood pioneer and legend who finally won an Academy Award on this date in 1953 when his "The Greatest Show on Earth" captured the coveted Best Picture prize. DeMille won with a big budget extravaganza about circus life that starred Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde and James Stewart.

According to the Roman historian Ptolemy, it was on this date in 721 B.C. that Babylonian astronomers noted history's first recorded eclipse: an eclipse of the moon.

The U.S. Senate, on this date in 1920, rejected the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations -- a forerunner of the United Nations.

Not long after announcing the separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Buckingham Palace -- on this date in 1992 -- revealed that Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the duchess of York, were also splitting up. Despite their divorce, the couple remained on very cordial terms and very involved in the raising of their two daughters.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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