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• On Sept. 5, 1666, firefighters in London begin blowing up homes in a desperate attempt to halt the spread of a great fire through the city. By the time the fire was finally extinguished the following day, more than 100,000 people had been left homeless.
• On Sept. 1, 1864, Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman lays siege to Atlanta, a critical Confederate hub, shelling civilians and cutting off supply lines. On Nov. 15, Sherman ordered that Atlanta’s military resources, including munitions factories, clothing mills and railway yards, be burned. The fire got out of control and left Atlanta in ruins.
• On Sept. 9, 1893, President Grover Cleveland’s wife, Frances, gives birth in the White House to the couple’s daughter Esther. She remains the only child of a president to be born in the White House.
• On Sept. 6, 1915, a prototype tank nicknamed Little Willie rolls off the assembly line in England. Little Willie was far from a success. It weighed 14 tons, overheated, got stuck in trenches and crawled over rough terrain at only 2 mph.
• On Sept. 3, 1935, Britain’s Sir Malcolm Campbell sets a new land-speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah. With its low-slung, aerodynamic body and 2,500-horsepower engine, the Bluebird averaged 301 mph in two runs over a 1-mile course. Today, the land-speed record stands at 763 mph.
• On Sept. 10, 1940, in light of the destruction and terror inflicted on Londoners by German bombing raids, called “the Blitz,” the British War Cabinet instructs British bombers over Germany to drop their bombs “anywhere” if unable to reach their targets. One of them even landed in the garden of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Party’s minister of propaganda.
• On Sept. 7, 1950, Julie Kavner, perhaps best known as the voice of Marge Simpson on “The Simpsons,” is born in Los Angeles. Before taking on the role of the famously blue-haired housewife, Kavner played Brenda Morgenstern on “Rhoda.”
• On Sept. 4, 1972, U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz wins his record seventh gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The record would stand until Michael Phelps took home eight gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2012.
• On Sept. 2, 1973, J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the best-selling fantasy novels “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” — the source of the award-winning blockbuster movie trilogy — dies at the age of 81 in England.
• On Sept. 8, 1986, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” is broadcast nationally for the first time. Her daytime television talk show turned Winfrey into one of the most powerful, wealthiest people in show business.
© 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.