Today in History

October 18, 2021 GMT

Today in History

Today is Monday, Oct. 18, the 291st day of 2021. There are 74 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Oct. 18, 1962, James D. Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were honored with the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for determining the double-helix molecular structure of DNA.

On this date:

In 1767, the Mason-Dixon line, the boundary between colonial Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, was set as astronomers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon completed their survey.

In 1867, the United States took formal possession of Alaska from Russia.

In 1892, the first long-distance telephone line between New York and Chicago was officially opened (it could only handle one call at a time).

In 1898, the American flag was raised in Puerto Rico shortly before Spain formally relinquished control of the island to the U-S.


In 1961, the movie musical “West Side Story,” starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, premiered in New York, the film’s setting.

In 1968, the U.S. Olympic Committee suspended Tommie Smith and John Carlos for giving a “Black power” salute as a protest during a victory ceremony in Mexico City.

In 1969, the federal government banned artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates (SY’-kluh-maytz) because of evidence they caused cancer in laboratory rats.

In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, overriding President Richard Nixon’s veto.

In 1977, West German commandos stormed a hijacked Lufthansa jetliner on the ground in Mogadishu, Somalia, freeing all 86 hostages and killing three of the four hijackers.

In 1997, a monument honoring American servicewomen, past and present, was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 2001, CBS News announced that an employee in anchorman Dan Rather’s office had tested positive for skin anthrax. Four disciples of Osama bin Laden were sentenced in New York to life without parole for their roles in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

In 2010, four men snared in an FBI sting were convicted of plotting to blow up New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes with the help of a paid informant who’d convinced them he was a terror operative. (James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were each sentenced to 25 years in prison.)


Ten years ago: Fifty wild animals were released by the owner of a Zanesville, Ohio, farm, Terry Thompson, who then took his own life; authorities killed 48 of the creatures, while the remaining two were presumed eaten by other animals. Republican presidential candidates laced into each other in a debate in Las Vegas; Mitt Romney emerged as still the person to beat, even as he was called out on the issues of illegal immigration, health care and jobs. Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (gee-LAHD’ shah-LEET’) emerged from five years in captivity as Hamas militants handed him over to Egyptian mediators in an exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama hosted his final state dinner as he welcomed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, to the White House.

One year ago: Leftist Luis Arce easily won Bolivia’s presidential election, avoiding the need for a runoff; the win was a vindication for the Movement Toward Socialism party of ousted President Evo Morales, who was barred from running. Twitter blocked a post from Scott Atlas, an adviser to President Donald Trump, who suggested that masks do not work to stop the spread of the coronavirus; Twitter said he violated a policy against sharing false or misleading information about COVID-19 that could lead to harm. A tiebreaking home run by Cody Bellinger in the seventh inning led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, sending the Dodgers to the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, which the Dodgers would win.

Today’s Birthdays: College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka is 82. Singer-musician Russ Giguere is 78. Actor Joe Morton is 74. Actor Pam Dawber is 71. Author Terry McMillan is 70. Writer-producer Chuck Lorre is 69. Gospel singer Vickie Winans is 68. Director-screenwriter David Twohy (TOO’-ee) is 66. International Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova is 65. Actor Jon Lindstrom is 64. International Hall of Fame boxer Thomas Hearns is 63. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is 61. Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis is 60. Actor Vincent Spano is 59. Rock musician Tim Cross is 55. Singer Nonchalant is 54. Former tennis player Michael Stich (shteek) is 53. Actor Joy Bryant is 47. Rock musician Peter Svensson (The Cardigans) is 47. Actor Wesley Jonathan is 43. R&B singer-actor Ne-Yo is 42. Country singer Josh Gracin is 41. Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn is 37. Jazz singer-musician Esperanza Spalding is 37. Actor-model Freida Pinto is 37. Actor Zac Efron is 34. Actor Joy Lauren is 32. U.S. Olympic and WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner is 31. TV personality Bristol Palin is 31. Actor Tyler Posey is 30. Actor Toby Regbo is 30.