On This Day January 16
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1908 – Theater actress and singer Ethel Merman, best remembered for her rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (d. 1984)
1935 – Indianapolis 500 champion A.J. Foyt
1943 – Grammy and Country Music Award-winning singer Ronnie Milsap (“Pure Love,” “There’s No Getting Over Me,” “Smoky Mountain Rain”)
1948 – Director-screenwriter-producer and composer John Carpenter, best known for the classic horror film “Halloween”
1950 – Actress-dancer Debbie Allen (“Fame,” “West Side Story,” “Sweet Charity”)
1959 – Grammy-winning musician Sade, born Helen Folasade Adu (“Smooth Operator,” “The Sweetest Taboo”)
1979 – R&B singer and actress Aaliyah, born Aaliyah Dana Haughton, whose career was cut short by a plane crash in The Bahamas (d. 2001)
1919 – The 18th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes.” Known as Prohibition, the alcohol ban takes effect one year and one day later — on January 17, 1920 — and remains the law of the land until 1933 when it is repealed.
1942 – Actress Carole Lombard, famous for her roles in such screwball comedies as “My Man Godfrey” and “To Be or Not to Be,” and for her marriage to actor Clark Gable, is killed in a plane crash outside Las Vegas at the age of 33.
1979 – The Shah of Iran is forced to flee his country amid violent protests against his regime. Later that year, he settles in the U.S.
1991 – The Persian Gulf War begins as the United Nations deadline for the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait expires at midnight. The Pentagon prepares to launch offensive operations to forcibly eject Iraq from its five-month occupation of its oil-rich neighbor.
1997 – Comedian and TV star Bill Cosby’s 27-year-old son Ennis is murdered while fixing a flat tire along a Los Angeles freeway.
1938 – Acclaimed clarinetist and band leader Benny Goodman (a.k.a. “The King of Swing”) makes history when he takes the stage at New York’s Carnegie Hall. It not only marks the first time jazz is played in the hallowed music venue, but the first time a racially integrated ensemble performs.
1965 – The Supremes have a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Come See About Me.”
1971 – George Harrison marks his fourth and final week at No. 1 on the pop chart with “My Sweet Lord.”
1979 – Cher’s divorce from Gregg Allman is finalized.
1988 – Twenty-four years after The Beatles first rule the singles chart, “Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison is No. 1. The track was originally recorded by R&B singer James Ray in 1962.
1988 – After huge success as half of the pop duo Wham! during the early to mid-80s, George Michael claims the top spot on the Billboard album chart with his debut solo album, “Faith.” The production packs several major hits, including the title track, “Father Figure,” “One More Try” and “Monkey.”
1993 – “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston, is in the middle of a 14-week domination of the Billboard singles chart.
1999 – Brandy’s “Have You Ever?” tops the Billboard Hot 100 and remains there for two weeks.
2004 – King of Pop, Michael Jackson, pleads not guilty to child molestation charges, as fans, reporters and TV crews from around the world swarm outside the California courthouse. The judge admonishes Jackson for arriving late.