On This Day March 31
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1927 – Labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (d. 1993)
1934 – Oscar-winning actress and singer Shirley Jones (“The Music Man,” “The Partridge Family”)
1935 – Grammy-winning trumpeter and the “A” in A&M Records, Herb Alpert
1943 – Oscar and Golden Globe-winning actor and frequent “Saturday Night Live” host Christopher Walken (“Annie Hall,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Catch Me If You Can”)
1948 – Environmental activist and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore
1971 – Actor Ewan McGregor (“Trainspotting,” “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, “Moulin Rouge!” “Big Fish,” “Robots,” “The Island,” “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “T2 Trainspotting”,”Christopher Robin”,”Birds of Prey”)
1492 – Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issue the Alhambra Decree, also known as the The Edict of Expulsion, mandating that all Jews be expelled from the country by the end of that July.
1889 – The iconic Eiffel Tower, built for the Paris International Exhibition, is formally dedicated. Engineer Gustave Eiffel, who designed the massive structure, presides at the ceremony with French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, other dignitaries and 200 construction workers.
1959 – The Dalai Lama flees Chinese suppression in Tibet, and after an epic 15-day journey on foot over the Himalayan mountains, is granted political asylum in India.
1968 – During a national address to provide an update on the status of the Vietnam War, President Lyndon B. Johnson stuns Americans by announcing that he will not seek a second term in office.
1981 – Robert De Niro wins the Best Actor Oscar for his role in “Raging Bull,” in which he portrays former World Middleweight Champion Jake LaMotta. De Niro gained more than 60 pounds to portray LaMotta’s retirement years. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the movie also features performances by Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty.
1995 – Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known as the “Mexican Madonna,” is shot and killed by Yolanda Saldívar, the president of her fan club. Selena was the first female Tejano artist to win a Grammy, in the Best Mexican-American album category, for her 1993 album “Selena Live!” At the time of her murder, at age 23, Selena was on the brink of international fame, recording her first English language album.
1999 – The sci-fi thriller “The Matrix,” starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, opens in movie theaters and goes on to become a cult classic followed, in 2003, by sequels “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions.”
1943 – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” premieres on Broadway. In 1955, the musical is produced as a motion picture starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones (in her film debut).
1958 – Chess Records releases “Johnny B. Goode,” by Chuck Berry. The song climbs as high as No. 8 on the pop chart and goes on to become a rock and roll classic.
1962 – Connie Francis claims the top spot on the pop chart for a week with “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You”
1967 – Jimi Hendrix suffers minor burns to his hands when he sets his guitar on fire during a performance at Finsbury Park in London. Nevertheless, he goes on to torch guitars several times during his short career.
1973 – Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song” returns to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for a fifth week after The O’Jays interrupted her for a week with their hit, “Love Train.”
1979 – “Tragedy,” by the Bee Gees, dominates the singles chart for a second and final week.
1984 – Kenny Loggins kicks off a three-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Footloose,” from the movie of the same name.
1987 – Prince releases his ninth studio album, “Sign o’ the Times,” which spawns three Top 10 hit singles: “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” “U Got the Look,” (with Sheena Easton) and the title track.
2007 – “Glamorous,” by Fergie featuring Ludacris, enters its second and final week as the No. 1 single.