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1931–Guitarist, Scotty Moore, is born in Gadsden, Tennessee. He played guitar with Elvis Presley on the early sessions that helped define the rock ‘n’ roll formula.

537–The Hagia Sophia is completed. It was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and a present-day museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey.

683–Emperor Gaozong of Tang dies in Luoyang, China, at age 55.

1512–The Spanish Crown issues the Laws of Burgos, governing the conduct of settlers with regard to native Indians in the New World.

1521–The Zwickau prophets arrive in Wittenberg, Germany, disturbing the peace and preaching the Apocalypse. Philip Melanchthon cannot silence them, and Martin Luther is being held in protective custody at the Wartburg castle. Luther is later released and is able, by his preaching, to regain the peace.

1571–Johannes Kepler, the founder of “modern optics,” is born in Free Imperial City of Weil der Stadt, Holy Roman Empire. He was a mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his laws of planetary motion, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican Astronomy. These works also provided one of the foundations for Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation. Kepler also formulated eyeglass design for nearsightedness and farsightedness.

1655–Monks at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland, are successful in fending off a month-long siege.

1657–The Flushing Remonstrance is signed. It is a petition to Director-General of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, in which 30 residents of the small settlement at Flushing (present-day Queens, New York), request an exemption to his ban on Quaker worship.

1663–Christine Marie of France dies at Palazzo Madama, Turin, Savoy, at age 57.

1703–Portugal and England sign the Methuen Treaty, which gives preference to Portuguese imported wines into England.

1814–The American schooner, USS Carolina, is destroyed. It was the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson's makeshift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of New Orleans.

1822–Chemist and microbiologist, Louis Pasteur, is born in Dole, France. He is renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization. He created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. Pasteur is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch, and is popularly known as the "father of microbiology."

1831–Charles Darwin embarks on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle, during which he will begin to formulate the theory of evolution.

1836–The worst ever avalanche in England occurs at Lewes, Sussex, killing eight people.

1845–Ether anesthetic is used for childbirth for the first time by Dr. Crawford Long in Jefferson, Georgia.

1845–Journalist, John L. O'Sullivan, writing in his newspaper The New York Morning News, argues that the United States had the right to claim the entire Oregon Country "by the right of our manifest destiny."

1871–The world’s first Cat Show is held at Crystal Palace, London, England.

1894–Francis II of the Two Sicilies dies after spending years in exile at Arco in Trentino, Austria-Hungary, at age 58. He was the last King of the Two Sicilies, as successive invasions by Giuseppe Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia, ultimately brought an end to his rule, and marked the first major event of Italian unification. After he was deposed, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Kingdom of Sardinia were merged into the newly formed Kingdom of Italy.

1901–Actress-singer, Marlene Dietrich, is born Marie Magdalene Dietrich in Schöneberg, Brandenburg, Germany. She appeared in the films The Blue Angel, Morocco, Destry Rides Again, The Lady is Willing, Kismet, Follow the Boys, A Foreign Affair, Stage Fright, Rancho Notorious, Witness for the Prosecution, Touch of Evil, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Paris When It Sizzles.

1906–Pianist, composer, and actor, Oscar Levant, is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1928, Levant traveled to Hollywood, California, and during his stay, he met and befriended composer, George Gershwin. From 1929 to 1948 Levant composed the music for more than 20 movies. During this period, he also wrote or co-wrote numerous popular songs that made the Hit Parade. Open about his neuroses and hypochondria, in later life Levant became addicted to prescription drugs and was frequently committed to mental hospitals by his wife. Despite his afflictions, Levant was considered by some to be a genius in many areas. He appeared in the films Charlie Chan at the Opera, Rhythm on the River, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, Rhapsody in Blue, Humoresque, Romance on the High Seas, You Were Meant for Me, The Barkleys of Broadway, An American in Paris, O. Hentry’s Full House, The I Don’t Care Girl, The Band Wagon, and The Cobweb.

1911–Jana Gana Mana, the national anthem of India, is first sung in the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress.

1918–The Great Poland Uprising against the Germans begins.

1922–The Japanese aircraft carrier, Hosho, becomes the first purpose-built aircraft carrier to be commissioned.

1923–Architect and engineer, Gustave Eiffel, dies while listening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in his mansion on Rue Rabelais in Paris, France, at age 91. He designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

1927–Show Boat, considered to be the first true American musical play, opens at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Broadway.

1929–Soviet General Secretary, Joseph Stalin, orders the "liquidation of the kulaks as a class." This was the Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of the better-off peasants and their families from 1929-1932. The richer peasants were labeled “kulaks” and considered class enemies.

1931–Guitarist, Scotty Moore, is born Winfield Scott Moore III in Gadsden, Tennessee. He played guitar with Elvis Presley on the early sessions that helped define the rock ‘n’ roll formula. Moore played on many of Presley's most famous recordings, including That's All Right Mama, Good Rockin' Tonight, Milk Cow Blues Boogie, Baby Let's Play House, Heartbreak Hotel, Mystery Train, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Too Much, Jailhouse Rock, and Hard Headed Woman. Moore also performed (and had additional small walk-on and speaking roles) with Elvis in four of his movies: Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, and G.I. Blues.

1932–Radio City Music Hall opens in New York City. It is the largest indoor theatre in the world.

1939–A 7.8 earthquake shakes eastern Turkey, killing at least 32,700 people.

1939–In the Winter War, Finland holds off a Soviet attack in the Battle of Kelja.

1939–Actor, John Amos, is born John A. Amos, Jr. in Newark, New Jersey. He is best known for the role of James Evans, Sr. on the 1970s TV series Good Times and his appearance on the mini-series Roots. He appeared in the films The World’s Greatest Athlete, Let’s Do It Again, Touched by Love, The Beastmaster, American Flyers, Coming to America, and Die Hard 2.

1941–Les Maguire, of Gerry & the Pacemakers, is born Leslie Charles Maguire in Wallasey, Cheshire, England.

1941–Mike Pinder, of The Moody Blues, is born Michael Thomas Pinder in Erdington, Birmingham, England.

1942–The Union of Pioneers of Yugoslavia is founded.

1943–Dave Rowberry, of The Animals, is born David Eric Rowberry in Mapperley, Nottinghamshire, England. He replaced the group’s original keyboardist, Alan Price, in 1965. Rowberry played on many of the group's big hits, including We Gotta Get Out of This Place, It's My Life, Don't Bring Me Down, Inside-Looking Out, and See See Rider.

1944–Singer, Tracy Nelson, is born in Madison, Wisconsin. Nelson moved to San Francisco in 1966, where she became part of the music scene. Her band Mother Earth played the Fillmore Auditorium, sharing bills with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.

1945–The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are created with the signing of an agreement by 29 nations.

1947–The Howdy Doody Show is broadcast for the first time on NBC-TV.

1948–Actor, Gérard Depardieu, is born Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu in Châteauroux, Indre, France. He is best known for his performance in the film Green Card. He also appeared in the films Going Places, 1900, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, The Last Metro, The Return of Martin Guerre, Danton, Moon in the Gutter, Camille Claudel, Cyrano de Bergerac, Unhook the Stars, and Last Holiday.

1949–The Netherlands officially recognizes Indonesian independence, marking the end of the Dutch East Indies.

1952–Singer-songwriter, Karla Bonoff, is born in Santa Monica, California. In her early career, Bonoff sang background vocals for Ronstadt and Wendy Waldman before releasing her debut album in 1977, titled Karla Bonoff. As a songwriter, her song include Home, Tell Me Why, Isn't It Always Love, Someone To Lay Down Beside Me, Lose Again, and If He's Ever Near.

1958–Film executive, Harry Warner, dies from a cerebral occlusion in Los Angeles, California, at age 76. He co-founded Warner Bros. with his three brothers (Albert, Sam, and Jack) and was a major contributor to the development of the film industry.

1961–The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, in a night show advertised as “The Beatles’ Christmas Party.”

1963–Music critics from The London Times name John Lennon and Paul McCartney the “Outstanding Composers of 1963,” with Richard Buckle raving that they are “the greatest composers since Beethoven.”

1966–The Cave of Swallows, the largest known cave shaft in the world, is discovered in Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

1968–Apollo 8 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, ending the first orbital manned mission to the Moon.

1971–The Sonny & Cher Show debuts on CBS-TV.

1974–Writer, Amy Vanderbilt, dies from multiple fractures of the skull after falling from a second-floor window in her townhouse in New York, New York, at age 66. It remains unclear whether her fall was accidental or if she committed suicide. Vanderbilt was an American authority on etiquette. In 1952, she published the best-selling book Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette. Later retitled Amy Vanderbilt's Etiquette, the book has been updated and is still in circulation.

1975–Child actress, Heather O'Rourke, is born in San Diego, California. She is best known for her role in the film Poltergeist.

1978–Spain becomes a democracy after 40 years of fascist dictatorship.

1979–The Soviet Union invades the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

1981–Singer-songwriter, Hoagy Carmichael, dies of heart failure in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 82. He is best known for composing the music for Stardust, Georgia on My Mind, The Nearness of You, In the Still of the Night, The Nearness of You, Heart and Soul, Two Sleepy People, I Get Along Without You Very Well, and Skylark. He appeared in the films To Have and Have Not, Johnny Angel, Canyon Passage, The Best Years of Our Lives, Night Song, Young Man with a Horn, The Las Vegas Story, and Belles on Their Toes.

1983–Pope John Paul II visits Mehmet Ali Agca in Rebibbia's prison and personally forgives him for the 1981 attack on him in St. Peter's Square.

1985–Palestinian guerrillas kill 18 people inside the airports of Rome, Italy, and Vienna, Austria.

1988–Film director, Hal Ashby, dies of pancreatic cancer at his home in Malibu, California, at age 59. His films include The Landlord, Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Bound for Glory, Coming Home, Being There, Let’s Spend the Night Together, The Slugger’s Wife, and 8 Million Ways to Die.

1989–The Romanian Revolution concludes, as the last minor street confrontations and stray shootings abruptly end in the country's capital, Bucharest.

2001–China is granted permanent normal trade relations with the United States.

2002–Two truck bombs kill 72 people and wound 200 others at the pro-Moscow headquarters of the Chechen government in Grozny, Chechnya, Russia.

2002–Film director, George Roy Hill, dies from complications of Parkinson's disease in New York. New York, at age 81. His films include Period of Adjustment, Toys in the Attic, The World of Henry Orient, Hawaii, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Sting, The Great Waldo Pepper, Slap Shot, A Little Romance, The World According to Garp, and The Little Drummer Girl.

2003–Actor, Alan Bates, dies of pancreatic cancer in Westminster, London, England, at age 69. He appeared in the films The Entertainer, Whistle Down the Wind, A Kind of Loving, The Caretaker, Georgy Girl, King of Hearts, Far From the Madding Crowd, Women in Love, The Go-Between, Butley, Royal Flash, An Unmarried Woman, The Rose, and Gosford Park.

2004–Radiation from an explosion on the magnetar SGR 1806-20 reaches Earth. It is the brightest extrasolar event known to have been witnessed on the planet.

2007–Former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, is assassinated in a shooting incident.

2007–Riots erupt in Mombasa, Kenya, after Mwai Kibaki is declared the winner of the presidential election, triggering a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis.

2008–Israel launches a three-week operation on Gaza.

2008–Singer-songwriter, Delaney Bramlett, of Delaney & Bonnie, dies from complications of gall bladder surgery in Los Angeles, California, at age 69. He started out as a member of The Shindogs, the house band for the TV show Shindig! In the 1970s, he would go on to lead the band Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, which featured George Harrison and Eric Clapton among its players.

2009–On the Day of Ashura in Tehran, Iran, government security forces fire upon demonstrators in the Iranian election protests.

2012–Actor, Harry Carey, Jr., dies of natural causes in Santa Barbara, California, at age 91. He appeared in the films Red River, 3 Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, The Searchers, Shenandoah, The Way West, The Moonshine War, Big Jake, Cahill U.S. Marshal, Nickelodeon, The Long Riders, Gremlins, Mask, The Whales of August, and Tombstone.

2015–At least 11 people are killed as tornadoes strike Dallas, Texas, and five people die in a flash flood in Illinois.

2015–Basketball player, Meadowlark Lemon, dies in Scottsdale, Arizona, at age 83. For 22 years, Lemon was known as the "Clown Prince" of the touring Harlem Globetrotters basketball team: he played in more than 16,000 games for the Globetrotters.

2016–Trump Tower, in New York City, is briefly evacuated after the discovery of a suspicious package, which turned out to be a bag of childrens toys. President-elect Donald Trump, who spent the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, was not at home at the time of the bomb scare.

2016–The cheetah faces extinction after it is discovered that only 7,100 specimens are left alive in the wild as a result of a sudden crash in population.

2016–Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power approves a law banning commemorative statues of late President Fidel Castro, and the naming of public places after him, in accordance with his wishes.

2016–At least 27 people are killed after drinking toxic alcohol in Pakistan.

2016–Actress, Carrie Fisher, dies following complications from a massive heart attack in Los Angeles, California, at age 60. She is best known for the role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars movie franchise. She appeared in the films Shampoo, the Blues Brothers, Under the Rainbow, Garbo Talks, The Man with One Red Shoe, Hannah and Her Sisters, Amazon Women on the Moon, The ‘Burbs, When Harry Met Sally, Sibling Rivalry, Drop Dead Fred, Soapdish, This is My Life, Austin Powers: Man of Mystery, Scream 3, and Heartbreakers. She wrote the novels Postcards from the Edge, Surrender the Pink, and Delusions of Grandma; and the non-fiction books Wishful Drinking, Shockaholic, and The Princess Diarist.

PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: Johannes Kepler; Louis Pasteur; Marlene Dietrich; Gustave Eiffel; Gerry & the Pacemakers; Gerard Depardieu; Sonny & Cher; Hoagy Carmichael; George Roy Hill; Delaney Bramlett; and Carrie Fisher.

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