Today in History: March 5, Stalin dies after long USSR reign


Today is Sunday, March 5, the 64th day of 2023. There are 301 days left in the year.

Today’s highlight in history:

On March 5, 1770, the Boston Massacre took place as British soldiers who’d been taunted by a crowd of colonists opened fire, killing five people.

On this date:

In 1849, Zachary Taylor was inaugurated as the 12th president of the United States. (The swearing-in was delayed by a day because March 4 fell on a Sunday.)

In 1868, the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson began in the U.S. Senate, with Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presiding. Johnson, the first U.S. president to be impeached, was accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” stemming from his attempt to fire Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton; the trial ended on May 26 with Johnson’s acquittal.

In 1933, in German parliamentary elections, the Nazi Party won 44 percent of the vote; the Nazis joined with a conservative nationalist party to gain a slender majority in the Reichstag.

In 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, in which he said: “From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an ‘iron curtain’ has descended across the continent, allowing police governments to rule Eastern Europe.”

In 1953, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin died after three decades in power.

In 1963, country music performers Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins died in the crash of their plane, a Piper Comanche, near Camden, Tennessee, along with pilot Randy Hughes (Cline’s manager).

In 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons went into effect after 43 nations ratified it.

In 1979, NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe flew past Jupiter, sending back photographs of the planet and its moons.

In 1982, comedian John Belushi was found dead of a drug overdose in a rented bungalow in Hollywood; he was 33.

In 1998, NASA scientists said enough water was frozen in the loose soil of the moon to support a lunar base and perhaps, one day, a human colony.

In 2004, Martha Stewart was convicted in New York of obstructing justice and lying to the government about why she’d unloaded her Imclone stock just before the price plummeted; her ex-stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, also was found guilty in the stock scandal. (Each later received a five-month prison sentence.)

In 2020, Palestinian officials closed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem over fears of the coronavirus. Officials ordered a cruise ship with 3,500 people aboard to stay back from the California coast until passengers and crew could be tested; a traveler from its previous voyage died of the coronavirus.

Ten years ago: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Latin America’s most vocal and controversial leader, died in Caracas at age 58 after a struggle with cancer. Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole announced that airline passengers would be able to carry small knives, souvenir baseball bats, golf clubs and other sports equipment onto planes (the plan was dropped three months later amid fierce congressional and industry opposition).

Five years ago: House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican allies of President Donald Trump pleaded with him to back away from his threatened tariffs, but Trump responded, “We’re not backing down.” Los Angeles police arrested Terry Bryant, 47, on charges that he stole Frances McDormand’s Oscar trophy after the Academy Awards a night earlier; the award was returned to the actress. (Charges against Bryant would later be dismissed.) The Nielsen company announced that the Academy Awards viewership had plunged to a record low of 26.5 million, down 20 percent from a year earlier.

One year ago: A promised cease-fire in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol collapsed amid scenes of terror in the besieged town. The number of people fleeing the country reached 1.4 million just 10 days after Russian forces invaded. Officials in Russia revealed that WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner had been arrested at a Moscow airport weeks earlier when a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. (Nine months later, Griner would be released in a prisoner swap with the U.S.)

Today’s birthdays: Actor Paul Sand is 91. Actor James B. Sikking is 89. Actor Fred Williamson is 85. Actor Samantha Eggar is 84. Actor Michael Warren is 77. Singer Eddy Grant is 75. Rock musician Alan Clark (Dire Straits) is 71. Actor-comedian Marsha Warfield is 69. Magician Penn Jillette is 68. Actor Adriana Barraza is 67. Actor Talia Balsam is 64. Rock singers Charlie and Craig Reid (The Proclaimers) are 61. Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin is 57. Actor Paul Blackthorne is 54. Rock musician John Frusciante is 53. Singer Rome is 53. Actor Kevin Connolly is 49. Actor Eva Mendes is 49. Actor Jill Ritchie is 49. Actor Jolene Blalock is 48. Model Niki Taylor is 48. Actor Kimberly McCullough is 45. Actor Karolina Wydra is 42. Singer-songwriter Amanda Shires is 41. Actor Dominique McElligott is 37. Actor Sterling Knight is 34. Actor Jake Lloyd is 34. Actor Micah Fowler is 25.

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