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October 31st - History On The Way To Today at UselessKnowledge.com

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On The Way To Today...   October 31st

1517 - Martin Luther posted his 95 theses, an attack on various ecclesiastical abuses, on the door of Wittenberg Palace, marking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.

1848 - After the third uprising against the government in Vienna, Field Marshal Alfred Windischgraetz took over the city and forced its surrender.

1864 - Nevada was admitted to the union as the 36th state of the United States.

1868 - Today, Postmaster General Alexander Williams Randall approved a standard uniform for mail carriers.

1888 - John Boyd Dunlop took out a patent for his pneumatic bicycle tire.

1903 - The Cleveland Theatre in Chicago, Illinois welcomed the Barrymore family's youngest member to the acting community when John Barrymore made his stage debut in "Magda".

1914 - Russian troops under General Russki pushed the Germans under Hindenburg back to their original positions, ending the battle of the Vistula River. The Germans lost at least 42,000 men.

1917 - In the third battle of Gaza, Australians and New Zealanders captured Beersheba from the Turks.

1918 - Count Istvan Tisza, Hungarian premier until his resignation in 1917, was assassinated by disaffected soldiers after being held responsible for the country's plight in World War I.

1926 - Escape artist and master magician Harry Houdini died on this date at age 52 from acute appendicitis. Several days earlier, while talking to some students from Montreal after one of his lectures, a student asked Houdini if he really could withstand intense punches to his stomach, which was one of Houdini's standard tricks. Houdini said he could as long as he had enough warning to prepare himself. Without giving any warning, the burly student slugged Houdini hard in the stomach four times, before being pulled away by the other students. While in great pain, the master showman maintained he was all right, and insisted on continuing with his sold-out performances. After a show in Detroit, he had to be carried to his dressing room with a temperature of 104. His appendix was removed, which doctors said ruptured because of the punches. At that point, the poison had been in his bloodstream for three days. Houdini lingered for six more days before dying on Halloween.

1930 - In a rare recording on Victor records, William "Count" Basie sang with Bennie Motenís orchestra in "Somebody Stole My Gal."

1940 - The Battle of Britain, the struggle between Germany and Britain over air control of the English Channel, was officially designated to have ended.

1940 - The Hollywood film industry pledged its entire facilities to the United States Army for the production of movies to be used in training draftees.

1942 - CBS debuted "Thanks to the Yanks", one of the great wartime radio shows, starring Bob Hawk. The show became one of the most popular wartime programs.

1952 - The United States exploded the first hydrogen bomb at the Elugelab Atoll in the Eniwetok Proving Grounds in the Pacific Marshall Islands.

1953 - On "Opera Theatre" NBC televised "Carmen" in color, making it the first major opera televised in anything other than black and white.

1955 - Princess Margaret (Rose) of England, sister to the Queen, announced she would not marry her love, Captain Peter Townsend. The world had been waiting for weeks, to see if she would marry a commoner.

1956 - Part of Admiral Robert Byrdís expedition party, George J. Dufek, became the first American to land at the South Pole by air.

1956 - Britain and France bombed Egyptian airfields during the Suez crisis.

1961 - At the start of the USSR's "destalinization" policy, the body of Joseph Stalin, former dictator of the former Soviet Union, was removed from public display in Stalinís Tomb) to be reburied in a simple grave.

1966 - Mirhir Sen of Calcutta, India swam the length of the Panama Canal after previously swimming the Palk Strait from India to Ceylon, the Straits of Gibraltar, and the Dardanelles.

1968 - President Lyndon Johnson ordered a complete cessation of American bombing of North Vietnam.

1972 - Curtis Mayfield got a gold record for "Freddieís Dead" from the flick, "Superfly".

1974 - Britain, France and the United States vetoed a motion at the United Nations to expel South Africa.

1984 - Indira Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, was assassinated by three Sikh members of her bodyguard while she was walking in the garden of her New Delhi home.

1984 - "Caribbean Queen" earned Billy Ocean a gold record. It was his second hit song and the only of his 11 hits to be a million-seller. He eventually earned two other #1 songs and a pair of #2 hits, but none bigger than "Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)". Billy, from Trinidad, is really named: Leslie Sebastian Charles.

1986 - For the first time Universal Studios in Hollywood was open at night for Halloween Horror Night which included Dracula, the Mummy, King Kong, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolfman, and Rick Dees.

1988 - Paul McCartney made musical history by becoming the first Western recording artist to release an album exclusively in the Soviet Union. Titled CHOBA B CCCP ("Back in the USSR"), it comprised the best tracks from his set of live one-take recordings taped the previous year.

1988 - Actor and producer-director, John Houseman, best-known for his portrayal of the crusty law professor in the movie and television series, The Paper Chase, died at age 86.

1995 - A Nigerian military-appointed court sentenced Ogoni minority rights leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and three others to death for murder.

1997 - British au pair Louise Woodward was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen. She was later released after the charge was reduced to manslaughter.

1998 - Iraq announced it was ending all dealings with United Nations arms inspectors.

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