Today is Thursday, March 19, the 79th day of 2020. There are 287 days left in the year. Spring arrives at 11:50 p.m. EDT, the earliest the vernal equinox has occurred in 124 years.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 19, 1966, the Texas Western Miners defeated the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats, 72-65, to win the NCAA Championship played in College Park, Maryland; making the contest especially noteworthy was that Texas Western became the first basketball team to start five black players in a national title game as it faced an all-white Kentucky squad.

On this date:

In 1931, Nevada Gov. Fred B. Balzar signed a measure legalizing casino gambling.

In 1945, during World War II, 724 people were killed when a Japanese dive bomber attacked the carrier USS Franklin off Japan (the ship was saved). Adolf Hitler ordered the destruction of German facilities that could fall into Allied hands in his so-called “Nero Decree,” which was largely disregarded.

In 1953, the Academy Awards ceremony was televised for the first time; “The Greatest Show on Earth” was named best picture of 1952.

In 1977, the series finale of “Mary Tyler Moore” aired on CBS-TV, ending the situation comedy’s seven-season run.

In 1987, televangelist Jim Bakker resigned as chairman of his PTL ministry organization amid a sex and money scandal involving Jessica Hahn, a former church secretary.

In 1993, Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White announced plans to retire. (White’s departure paved the way for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to become the court’s second female justice.)

In 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the start of war against Iraq. (Because of the time difference, it was early March 20 in Iraq.)

In 2013, Pope Francis officially began his ministry as the 266th pope, receiving the ring symbolizing the papacy and a wool stole exemplifying his role as shepherd of his 1.2-billion strong flock during a Mass at the Vatican.

In 2014, Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle an investigation by the U.S. government, admitting that it had hidden information about defects that caused Toyota and Lexus vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly, resulting in injuries and deaths.

Today’s Birthdays: Former White House national security adviser Brent Scowcroft is 95. Actress Renee Taylor is 87. Actress Ursula Andress is 84. Singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry is 83. Singer Ruth Pointer (The Pointer Sisters) is 74. Actress Glenn Close is 73. Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is 68. Actor Bruce Willis is 65. Actress-comedian Mary Scheer is 57. Playwright Neil LaBute is 57. Actor Connor Trinneer is 51. Rock musician Gert Bettens (K’s Choice) is 50. Rapper Bun B is 47. Rock musician Zach Lind (Jimmy Eat World) is 44. Actress Virginia Williams is 42. Actress Abby Brammell is 41. MLB pitcher Clayton Kershaw is 32. Actor Craig Lamar Traylor is 31. Actor Philip Bolden is 25.

Thought for Today: “The heaviest baggage for a traveler is an empty purse.” — German proverb.

By The Associated Press

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