by Bob Fields
On August 31:
12 – Caligula*, Roman emperor, son of Germanicus Caesar (d. 41).
161 – Commodus, Roman emperor (d. 192).
1870 – Maria Montessori*, Italian physician and educator (d. 1952) (Montessori School).
1897 – Fredric March*, American actor (d. 1975) (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Best Years of Our Lives).
1924 – Buddy Hackett*, American actor and comedian (d. 2003) (The Love Bug).
1928 – James Coburn*, American actor (d. 2002) (Affliction, The Magnificent Seven, Our Man Flint).
1945 – Van Morrison*, Irish singer-songwriter (“Brown Eyed Girl“, “Domino“).
1945 – Itzhak Perlman*, Israeli-American violinist and conductor.
1949 – Richard Gere*, American actor and producer (American Gigolo, Pretty Woman, Chicago).
1970 – Debbie Gibson*, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress. The youngest artist to write, produce, and perform a No. 1 single.
1056 -Byzantine Empress Theodora* (b. 980) dies childless, thus ending the Macedonian dynasty which ruled for 200 years.
1422 – King Henry V [Lancaster] of England (b. 1387) dies of dysentery in France. His son, Henry VI becomes King of England at the age of 9 months.
1886 – An earthquake kills 100 in Charleston, South Carolina.
1888 – Mary Ann Nichols* (b. 1845), first English victim of Jack the Ripper (b. 1845).
1969 – Rocky Marciano*, American heavyweight boxing champion (b. 1923).
1973 – John Ford*, won four Academy Awards for Best Director (b. 1894) (The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley).
1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales* (b. 1961), her companion Dodi Fayed* and driver Henri Paul* die in a car crash in Paris.
2005 – A stampede on Al-Aaimmah bridge in Baghdad kills 1,199 people.
1795 – War of the First Coalition: The British capture Trincomalee (Sri Lanka) from the Dutch in order to keep it out of French hands.
1803 – Lewis and Clark start their expedition to the west, leaving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Jonesborough: Union General William T. Sherman launches an assault which leads to the fall of Atlanta, Georgia.
1895 – German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin* (1838-1917) patents his Navigable Balloon (Zeppelin).
1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.
1935 – In an attempt to stay out of the growing turmoil in Europe, the US passes the first Neutrality Act.
1994 – Russia officially ends its military presence in the former East Germany and the Baltics after half a century.
2009 – Walt Disney Co. announced it was acquiring comic book giant Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion.
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