Today in History


Today is Tuesday, Dec. 22, the 356th day of 2015. There are nine days left in the year. This is the first full day of winter.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 22, 1965, “Doctor Zhivago,” David Lean’s epic film adaptation of the Boris Pasternak novel starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, had its world premiere in New York.

On this date:

In 1775, Esek Hopkins was appointed the commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy.

In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)

In 1910, a fire lasting more than 26 hours broke out at the Chicago Union Stock Yards; 21 firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning building.

In 1937, the first, center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River was opened to traffic. (The second tube opened in 1945, the third in 1957.)

In 1940, author Nathanael West, 37, and his wife, Eileen McKenney, 27, were killed in a car crash in El Centro, California, while en route to the funeral of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had died the day before.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing “Nuts!” in his official reply.

In 1968, Julie Nixon married David Eisenhower in a private ceremony in New York.

In 1977, three dozen people were killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westwego, Louisiana, exploded.

In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last of Eastern Europe’s hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising. Playwright Samuel Beckett died in Paris at age 83.

In 1990, 21 sailors returning from shore leave to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga drowned off Haifa when the Israeli ferry they were traveling on capsized. Lech Walesa took the oath of office as Poland’s first popularly elected president.

In 1995, actress Butterfly McQueen, who’d played the scatterbrained slave Prissy in “Gone with the Wind,” died in Augusta, Georgia, at age 84.

In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)

Ten years ago: Congress completed work on a one-month extension of the Patriot Act and sent it to President George W. Bush. New York transit workers ended their three-day strike without a new contract. Astronomers announced the discovery of two more rings encircling the planet Uranus.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama signed a law allowing gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America’s military, repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The Senate ratified the New START treaty with Russia capping nuclear warheads for both nations and restarting on-site weapons inspections. Auburn’s Cam Newton was named AP Player of the Year. “The Lone Ranger” announcer Fred Foy died in Woburn, Massachusetts, at age 89.

One year ago: North Korea experienced sweeping Internet outages for hours before coming back online; the White House and the State Department refused to say whether the U.S. government was responsible. Singer Joe Cocker, 70, died in Crawford, Colorado. Actress Christine Cavanaugh, the voice of “Babe” the pig, died in Cedar City, Utah, at age 51.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Hector Elizondo is 79. Country singer Red Steagall is 77. Former World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz is 72. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton is 71. Former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 70. Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 67. Rock singer-musician Michael Bacon is 67. Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey is 67. Golfer Jan Stephenson is 64. Actress BernNadette Stanis is 62. Rapper Luther “Luke” Campbell is 55. Country singer-musician Chuck Mead is 55. Actor Ralph Fiennes is 53. Actress Lauralee Bell is 47. Country singer Lori McKenna is 47. Actress Dina Meyer is 47. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is 45. Actress Heather Donahue is 42. Actor Chris Carmack is 35. Actor Logan Huffman is 26. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jordin Sparks is 26. Pop singer Meghan Trainor is 22.

Thought for Today: “Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” — Sinclair Lewis, American author (1885-1951).

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