by Bob Fields
On December 21:
1118 – Thomas Becket, English saint and Archbishop of Canterbury (murdered by Henry II in 1170).
1603 – Roger Williams, English-American theologian, politician, and proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state, who founded the Colony of Rhode Island (d. 1684).
1773 – Robert Brown*, Scottish botanist, who made important contributions to botany largely through his pioneering use of the microscope (d. 1858).
1804 – Benjamin Disraeli, English lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, played a central role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party (d. 1881).
1860 – Henrietta Szold*, US Jewish Zionist leader and founder of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
1868 – George W. Fuller*, designed and built the first modern water filtration plant, and designed and built the first chlorination system that disinfected a U.S. drinking water supply (d. 1934).
1879 – Joseph Stalin‘s “official” birthday after coming to power, however contemporary records show his actual birthdate as 18 December 1878 (d. 1953).
1917 – Heinrich Böll*, one of Germany’s foremost post-World War II writers, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1985).
1935 – Phil Donahue*, American talk show host and producer.
1937 – “Hanoi” Jane Fonda, American actress and activist (Klute, Coming Home, On Golden Pond).
1946 – Carl Wilson*, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (The Beach Boys) (d. 1998).
1948 – Samuel L. Jackson, American actor and producer (Pulp Fiction).
1954 – Chris Evert*, American tennis player and coach.
1955 – Jane Kaczmarek*, American actress (Malcolm in the Middle , Us & Them).
1957 – Ray Romano*, American actor, producer, and screenwriter (Everybody Loves Raymond, Ice Age).
1966 – Kiefer Sutherland, English-Canadian actor, director, and producer (24).
72 – “doubting” Thomas the Apostle*, Christian saint, in Chennai, India (b. 1 AD).
1824 – James Parkinson*, English physician and paleontologist (b. 1755) (Parkinson’s disease ).
1937 – Frank B. Kellogg*, 45th US Secretary of State, Nobel Prize laureate for the Kellogg-Briand Pact (b. 1856).
1940 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American author and poet (b. 1896) (The Great Gatsby).
1945 – George S. Patton, American WW2 general, dies in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a car accident. (b. 1885).
1140 – Siege of Weinsberg: Conrad III* of Germany negotiated a surrender which granted the women the right to leave with whatever they could carry. The women carried their husbands out on their shoulders. Known today as Weibertreu (“wifely loyalty”).
1620 – Plymouth Colony: William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims set foot on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.
1784 – John Jay becomes 1st US Secretary of State.
1898 – Radium is discovered by Marie Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre. Marie later dies from exposure to its dangerous radioactivity.
1913 – Arthur Wynne*’s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, is published in the New York World.
1937 – Disney‘s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature, premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood, CA.
1951 – Libya becomes an independent country.
1958 – Charles de Gaulle is elected the first president of the Fifth Republic, three months after a new French constitution was approved.
1970 – Elvis Presley meets with President Richard M. Nixon in the Oval Office to discuss fighting drugs. He dies of complications from drug abuse 7 years later.
1971 – The U.N. Security Council chooses Kurt Waldheim* to succeed U Thant* as 4th Secretary-General.
1988 – A bomb explodes on board Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259. Arrest warrants were issued for two Libyan nationals in November 1991.
1991 – 11 of the 12 Soviet republics declare that they are forming the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a final step signifying the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev* resigns four days later.
1995 – The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control.
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