1620 – The “Mayflower”, and its passengers, pilgrims from England, landed at Plymouth Rock, MA
1849 – The first ice-skating club in America was formed in Philadelphia, PA
1879 – Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” was first performed in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a revised happy ending.
1898 – Scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discovered the radioactive element radium.
1909 – McKinley and Washington schools of Berkeley, CA, became the first authorized, junior-high schools in the U.S.
1913 – The “New York World” Sunday edition included a crossword puzzle as an added feature of the “Fun” supplement. It was the first crossword puzzle to be published.
1914 – Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand and Mack Swain appeared in the first six-reel, feature-length comedy. The film was entitled “Tillie’s Punctured Romance”.
1925 – Eisenstein’s film “Battleship Potemkin” was first shown in Moscow.
1937 – Walt Disney debuted the first, full-length, animated feature in Hollywood, CA. The movie was “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Disney movies, music and books
1944 – Horse racing was banned in the United States until after the end of World War II.
1945 – U.S. Gen. George S. Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a car accident.
1948 – The state of Eire (formerly the Irish Free State) declared its independence.
1951 – Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement from major league baseball.
1958 – Charles de Gaulle was elected to a seven-year term as the first president of the Fifth Republic of France.
1968 – Apollo 8 was launched on a mission to orbit the moon. The craft landed safely in the Pacific Ocean on December 27.
1971 – The U.N. Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as secretary-general.
1978 – Police in Des Plaines, IL arrested John W. Gacy Jr. and began unearthing the remains of 33 men and boys that Gacy was later convicted of killing.
1981 – Cincinnati defeated Bradley 75-73 in seven overtimes. The game was the longest collegiate basketball game in the history of NCAA Division I competition.
1988 – 270 people were killed when Pan Am Boeing 747 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, due to a terrorist attack.
1990 – In a German television interview, Saddam Hussein declared that he would not withdraw from Kuwait by the UN deadline.
1991 – Eleven of the 12 former Soviet republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
1995 – The city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.
1996 – After two years of denials, U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted violating House ethics rules.
1998 – Israel’s parliament voted overwhelmingly for early elections. It was the signal to the demise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government.
1998 – A Chinese court sentenced two dissidents to long prison terms for attempting to organize an opposition party. A third man was sentenced to 12 years in prison on December 22, 1998.
1998 – The first vaccine for Lyme disease was approved.
2001 – The Islamic militant group Hamas released a statement that said it was suspending suicide bombings and mortar attacks in Israel.
2002 – Larry Mayes was released after spending 21 years in prison for a rape that maintained that he never committed. He was the 100th person in the U.S. to be released after DNA tests were performed.