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1963–Wrestler, Gorgeous George, dies of a heart attack in California, at age 48. During the First Golden Age of Professional Wrestling in the 1940s and 1950s, he gained mainstream popularity and became a household name. Gorgeous George was the industry's first cowardly villain, and he would cheat at every opportunity during a march, which infuriated the crowd. His credo was "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!"

268–Pope Dionysius dies in Rome, Roman Empire. He was elected pope in 259, after the martyrdom of Sixtus II in 258. The Holy See had been vacant for nearly a year due to difficulty in electing a new pope during the violent persecution of Christians.

887–Berengar I is elected as King of Italy by the lords of Lombardy. He is crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy at Pavia, Italy.

1194–Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, is born in Iesi, Marche, Italy. He was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous.

1481–Holland defeats troops of Utrecht in the Battle of Westbroek.

1489–The forces of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, take control of Almería from the Nasrid ruler of Granada, Muhammad XIII.

1530–Mongolian Emperor, Babur, dies in Agra, Mughal Empire (present-day India), at age 47.

1559–Pope Pius IV is elected.

1646–Henri, Prince of Condé, dies at the Hôtel de Condé, France, at age 58. He became Prince of Condé shortly after his birth, following the death of his father, Henri I. As a member of the reigning House of Bourbon, he was a Prince du Sang.

1663–Boxing Day has its origins in England and is always celebrated on this day (except when December 26th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the official holiday is moved to Monday). Traditionally, it was the day when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box," from their bosses or employers. Today, Government offices and many businesses are closed on Boxing Day. Folks throughout Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada celebrate Boxing Day with family, friends, food, fun, and friendship.

1790–Louis XVI of France gives his public assent to Civil Constitution of the Clergy during the French Revolution.

1793–France defeat Austria in the Second Battle of Wissembourg.

1793–Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Prussia marries Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

1799–Four thousand people attend the funeral of George Washington, where Henry Lee III declares him as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

1805–Austria and France sign the Treaty of Pressburg.

1806–Russian forces hold French forces, under Napoleon, in the Battles of Pultusk and Golymin.

1811–A theater fire in Richmond, Virginia, kills the Governor of Virginia, George William Smith, and the president of the First National Bank of Virginia, Abraham B. Venable.

1825–Advocates of liberalism in Russia rise up against Czar Nicholas I and are put down in the Decembrist revolt in Saint Petersburg.

1846–Trapped in snow in the Sierra Nevadas without food, members of the Donner Party resort to cannibalism.

1860–The first ever inter-club English association football match takes place between Hallam and Sheffield football clubs in Sheffield.

1861–Confederate diplomatic envoys, James Murray Mason and John Slidell, are freed by the U.S. government, heading off a possible war between the United States and the United Kingdom.

1862–During the American Civil War, the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou begins.

1862–Four nuns serving as volunteer nurses on board USS Red Rover are the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.

1862–The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history takes place in Mankato, Minnesota, killing 38 Native Americans.

1863–Charles Pathé, pioneer of the film and record industries, is born at Chevry-Cossigny, in the Seine-et-Marne département of France. In 1894, together with his brother Émile, he formed Pathé Records. Two years later, they created the Société Pathé Frères to enter the motion picture production and distribution business. Both companies would become a dominant international force in their respective industries.

1871–Gilbert and Sullivan collaborate for the first time, on their lost opera, Thespis.

1891–Author, Henry (Valentine) Miller, is born in Yorkville, Manhattan, New York. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms, developing a new sort of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, explicit language, sex, surrealist free association, and mysticism. His best known works are Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and The Rosy Crucifixion.

1893–Mao Tse-Tung, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, is born in Shaoshan, Hunan, China. He was a Chinese Communist revolutionary and the founding father of the People's Republic of China. His Marxist-Leninist theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or Mao Zedong Thought. In 1957, he launched a campaign known as the “Great Leap Forward” that aimed to rapidly transform China's economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one, which led to a widespread famine whose death toll is estimated at between 18 and 45 million. In 1966, he initiated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a program to remove "counter-revolutionary" elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and which was marked by violent class struggle, widespread destruction of cultural artifacts, and unprecedented elevation of Mao's personality cult.

1898–Marie and Pierre Curie announce the isolation of radium.

1907–Politician, Albert Gore, Sr., is born Albert Arnold Gore in Granville, Tennessee. He served as a Democrat U.S. Representative and a U.S. Senator from Tennessee. His son is former U.S. Vice President, Al Gore.

1909–Painter, sculptor, and illustrator, Frederic Remington, dies after an emergency appendectomy leads to peritonitis in Ridgefield, Connecticut, at age 48. He specialized in depictions of the Old American West, specifically concentrating on the last quarter of the 19th century American West and images of cowboys, American Indians, and the U.S. Cavalry.

1914–Actor, Richard (Weedt) Widmark, is born in Sunrise Township, Minnesota. He appeared in the films Night in the City, Panic in the Streets, No Way Out, Don’t Bother to Knock, O. Henry’s Full House, Pickup on South Street, The Cobweb, The Tunnel of Love, The Alamo, Two Rode Together, Judgment at Nuremberg, How the West Was Won, Cheyenne Autumn, A Talent for Loving, The Moonshine War, Coma, The Swarm, and Against All Odds.

1919–Babe Ruth, of the Boston Red Sox, is sold to the New York Yankees by owner Harry Frazee, allegedly establishing the “Curse of the Bambino” superstition.

1921–Entertainer and musician, Steve Allen, is born Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen in New York, New York. Although he got his start in radio, Allen is best known for his television career. He became the first host of The Tonight Show, where he was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. Allen was a pianist and a prolific composer, having penned over 14,000 songs, among them Theme from Picnic and This Could Be the Start of Something Big. He also wrote more than 50 books. He appeared in the films College Confidential, The Benny Goodman Story, and Down Memory Lane. He was married to actress, Jane Meadows.

1925–Turkey adopts the Gregorian calendar.

1927–Comedian, Alan King, is born Irwin Alan Kniberg in New York, New York. He appeared in the films Hit the Deck, Miracle in the Rain, The Girl He Left Behind, The Helen Morgan Story, On the Fiddle, Bye Bye Braverman, The Anderson Tapes, Just Tell Me What You Want, Author! Author!, Lovesick, Memories of Me, Night and the City, and Casino.

1931–Librarian and educator, Melvil Dewey, dies in Lake Placid, Florida, at age 80. He created the Dewey Decimal Classification system for categorizing books in libraries.

1933–FM radio is patented.

1939–W.C. Handy, one of the legendary blues composers of all time, records the classic, St. Louis Blues, in New York for Varsity Records. Handy was one of the first to use the flat third and seventh notes in his compositions, known in the music world as “blue” notes.

1939–Record producer, Phil Spector, is born Harvey Phillip Spector in the Bronx, New York. He was the creator of the “Wall of Sound” in the 1960s. From 1960 to 1965, Spector produced more than 25 “Top 40” singles for various artists, but following sporadic work in the 1970s, he remained largely inactive. His hits as a producer include To Know Him is to Love Him, I Love How You Love Me, He’s a Rebel, Da Do Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me, Be My Baby, You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin’, and Instant Karma. In the 2000s, Spector became the subject of two trials for murder with a second-degree conviction. He is serving a prison sentence of 19 years to life and will be 88 years old before becoming eligible for parole. He was married to singer, Veronica Bennett, later known as Ronnie Spector (of The Ronettes).

1941–President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

1943–The German warship, Scharnhorst, is sunk off of Norway's North Cape, after a battle against major Royal Navy forces.

1944–George S. Patton's Third Army breaks the encirclement of surrounded U.S. forces at Bastogne, Belgium.

1946–The Flamingo Hotel opens in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first of what would be many hotels on the “Vegas Strip.”

1948–Cardinal József Mindszenty, accused of treason and conspiracy, is arrested in Hungary.

1953–Henning Schmitz, drummer for Kraftwerk, is born in Düsseldorf, Germany.

1963–The Beatles single, I Want To Hold Your Hand/I Saw Her Standing There, is released in the U.S on Capitol Records. Although the label had been offered Beatles singles beforehand, they had turned down their option to distribute the British hits in America. I Want To Hold Your Hand will go to #1 within five weeks.

1963–Lars Ulrich, drummer for Metallica, is born in Denmark.

1963–The Beatles perform at the Astoria Cinema, Finsbury Park, London, England, in “The Beatles’ Christmas Show.”

1963–Wrestler, Gorgeous George, dies of a heart attack in California, at age 48. During the First Golden Age of Professional Wrestling in the 1940s and 1950s, he gained mainstream popularity and became a household name. Gorgeous George was the industry's first cowardly villain, and he would cheat at every opportunity during a march, which infuriated the crowd. His credo was "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!"

1964–The Beatles perform at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, England, in “Another Beatles’ Christmas Show.”

1965–While vacationing with his dad in the Wirral, England, Paul McCartney falls off a moped and suffers a serious cut on his upper lip. Years later, it will be claimed that Paul was actually killed in the accident and the Beatles replaced him with a reasonable lookalike named “Billy Shears.” Just a part of the “Paul Is Dead” cult, which still exists to this day.

1966–The first Kwanzaa is celebrated by Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, California.

1967–BBC Television broadcasts The Beatles movie Magical Mystery Tour in black and white. The next day, the British press and the viewing public pronounce the film an utter disaster. The negative reaction is so strong that a U.S. television deal for broadcasting the movie is canceled. Despite some fine comedic moments, Magical Mystery Tour is judged to be little more than a self-indulgent home movie. This was one of the biggest failures that The Beatles suffered during their entire professional career.

1967–The Dave Brubeck Quartet formally disbands, when sax player, Paul Desmond, leaves the group.

1970–A chart topper: My Sweet Lord by George Harrison.

1971–Actor, Jared Leto, is born in Bossier City, Louisiana. He appeared in the films How to Make an American Quilt, Urban Legend, Fight Club, American Psycho, Panic Room, Chapter 27, and Dallas Buyers Club.

1972–As part of Operation Linebacker II, 120 American B-52 Stratofortress bombers attacked Hanoi, including 78 launched from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the largest single combat launch in Strategic Air Command history.

1972–Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, dies of pneumonia in Kansas City, Missouri, at age 88. He succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was President during the final months of World War II, making the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman was elected President in his own right in 1948.

1974–Entertainer, Jack Benny, dies of pancreatic cancer in Bel Air, California, at age 80. George Burns, Benny's best friend for more than 50 years, attempted to deliver a eulogy: he broke down shortly after he began and was unable to continue. As a tribute to his skinflint stage persona, visitors often leave pennies on his crypt. He was a comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, and violinist. He is best known for his television variety show, The Jack Benny Program, which ran from 1950 to 1965. The melody Love in Bloom was the theme for the show. He appeared in the films Artists and Models, Charley’s Aunt, The Horn Blows at Midnight, Who Was That Lady?, Gypsy, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

1975–Tu-144, the world's first commercial supersonic aircraft surpassing Mach 2, goes into service.

1976–The Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist) is founded.

1982–Time magazine's “Man of the Year” is for the first time a non-human: the personal computer.

1985–Zoologist, Dian Fossey, is murdered in her cabin at Volcanoes National Park, Virunga Mountains, Rwanda, at age 53. She was a primatologist and anthropologist who undertook an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups over a period of 18 years in the mountain forests of Rwanda. Part of her life story is told in the film Gorillas in the Mist.

1986–Actress, Elsa Lanchester, dies of bronchopneumonia at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, at age 84. She is best known for the role of “the bride” in the film The Bride of Frankenstein. She also appeared in the films Lassie Come Home, The Spiral Staircase, The Razor’s Edge, The Bishop’s Wife, The Secret Garden, 3 Ring Circus, Witness for the Prosecution, Bell, Book and Candle, Mary Poppins, That Darn Cat!, and Willard.

1991–The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union meets and formally dissolves the Soviet Union.

1994–Four Armed Islamic Group hijackers seize control of Air France Flight 8969. When the plane lands at Marseille, a French Gendarmerie assault team boards the aircraft and kills the hijackers.

1996–Six-year-old beauty queen, JonBenét Ramsey, is found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado.

1997–The Soufrière Hills volcano on the island of Montserrat explodes, creating a small tsunami offshore.

1998–Iraq announces its intention to fire upon U.S. and British warplanes that patrol the northern and southern no-fly zones.

1999–A storm sweeps across Central Europe, killing 137 people and causing $1.3 billion in damage.

1999–Singer-songwriter, Curtis Mayfield, dies in Roswell, Georgia, at age 57. He first achieved success and recognition with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s, and later worked as a solo artist. His hits include Move On Up, Freddie’s Dead, and Superfly.

2000–Actor, Jason Robards, dies of lung cancer in Bridgeport, Connecticut, at age 78. He appeared in the films Tender is the Night, Long Day’s Journey into Night, A Thousand Clowns, A Big Hand for the Little Lady, Any Wednesday, The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Once Upon a Time in the West, Fools, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, A Boy and His Dog, All the President’s Men, Julia, Comes a Horseman, Melvin and Howard, Max Dugan Returns, The Day After, Parenthood, Storyville, Philadelphia, A Thousand Acres, and Magnolia.

2001–Actor, Nigel Hawthorne, dies of pancreatic cancer in Radwell, Hertfordshire, England, at age 72. He appeared in the films Carve Her Name with Pride, Young Winston, History of the World: Part 1, Gandhi, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Turtle Diary, The Madness of King George, and Amistad.

2002–Photographer, Herb Ritts, dies of complications from pneumonia in Los Angeles, California, at age 50. He is known for his black-and-white photography and portraits, often in the style of classical Greek sculpture. He photographed fashion models Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford. His work was seen in Interview, Esquire, Mademoiselle, Glamour, GQ, Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Time, Vogue, Allure, Vanity Fair, Details, and Elle magazines.

2003–A 6.6 earthquake devastates the southeast Iranian city of Bam, killing tens of thousands of people and destroying the citadel of Arg-é Bam.

2004–A 9.3 earthquake creates a tsunami causing devastation in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Maldives, and many other areas around the rim of the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people.

2005–Actor, Vincent Schiavelli, dies of lung cancer at his home in Polizzi Generosa, Palermo, Sicily, Italy, at age 57. He appeared in the films The Great Gatsby, For Pete’s Sake, The Happy Hooker, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Next Stop Greenwich Village, An Unmarried Woman, The Frisco Kid, Amadeus, Valmont, and Ghost.

2006–An oil pipeline explodes in Lagos, Nigeria, killing at least 260 people.

2006–Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States, dies of arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93. Ford was the longest-lived U.S. President, his lifespan being 45 days longer than Ronald Reagan's. He claimed the distinction as the first person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected to either office. His 895-day presidency remains the shortest term of all presidents who did not die in office.

2009–China opens the world's longest high-speed rail route, linking Beijing and Guangzhou.

2010–Singer, Teena Marie, dies of natural causes in Pasadena, California, at age 54. Her success in R&B and soul music earned her the title “Ivory Queen of Soul.”

2012–Singer, Fontella Bass, dies from complications of a heart attack in St. Louis, Missouri, at age 72. She had a big hit with Rescue Me in 1965.

2015–Four people die and more than 100 a injured, mostly in Pakistan, after a 6.3 earthquake hits northeast Afghanistan.

2016–China resumes diplomatic ties with Sao Tomé and Principe, two weeks after the African island nation had broken diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: Mongolian Emperor, Babur; George Washington's funeral; Charles Pathé; Richard Widmark; Melvil Dewey; the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada; Gorgeous George; The Beatles in Magical Mystery Tour; Harry S. Truman; Elsa Lanchester; Jason Robards; Herb Ritts; and Fontella Bass.

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