Published On: Dec 24 2012 08:00:54 PM ESTUpdated On: Dec 26 2014 02:00:00 AM EST
2010: Singer-songwriter Teena Marie, whose success in R&B and soul earned her the nickname "Ivory Queen of Soul," dies of natural causes at the age of 54 in Pasadena, California. She was best known for such funk-infused 1980s hits as "I Need Your Lovin'" and "Lovergirl."
2006: Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States, dies of arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease and diffuse arteriosclerosis at the age of 93 in Rancho Mirage, California.
2004: A 9.3 magnitude 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 more than 230,000 people in one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.
2004: Hall of Fame football player Reggie White, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 13-time Pro Bowl selection who won a Super Bowl title with the Green Bay Packers in 1997, dies of cardiac arrhythmia at the age of 43 in Cornelius, North Carolina.
2003: A magnitude 6.6 earthquake devastates the southeast Iranian city of Bam, killing 26,271 people and leaving another 30,000 injured. The quake destroyed 85 to 90 percent of the infrastructure and buildings in the Bam area, including the 2,500-year-old citadel of Arg-é Bam.
2001: Actor Nigel Hawthorne, who earned an Academy Award nomination for 1994's "The Madness of King George" (pictured), dies of a heart attack at age 72 in Radwell, Hertfordshire, England. Hawthorne was also well known for his BAFTA-winning role in the 1980s British sitcom "Yes Minister" and its sequel, "Yes, Prime Minister."
2000: Actor Jason Robards, best known for his Oscar-winning roles in "All the President's Men" (pictured) and "Julia" and his Oscar-nominated role in "Melvin and Howard," dies of lung cancer at the age of 78 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
1999: Musician Curtis Mayfield, a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music best known for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film "Super Fly," dies of diabetes at the age of 57 in Roswell, Georgia.
1996: Child beauty pageant queen JonBenét Ramsey, 6, is found murdered in her basement in Boulder, Colorado, eight hours after being reported missing. The case, which after several grand jury hearings remains unsolved, continues to generate public and media interest.
1991: The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union meets and formally dissolves the Soviet Union.
1986: The first long-running American television soap opera, "Search for Tomorrow," airs its final episode after 35 years on the air. At the time of its final broadcast, it was the longest-running non-news program on television.
1982: Time magazine's Man of the Year is for the first time a non-human: the personal computer.
1979: Singer Chris Daughtry, best known as the lead singer of the rock band Daughtry and as the fourth-place contestant on the fifth season of "American Idol," is born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.
1977: Film director and writer Howard Hawks, best known for films such as "Bringing Up Baby," "His Girl Friday," "Sergeant York," "To Have and Have Not," "The Big Sleep," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Rio Bravo," dies at the age of 81 in Palm Springs, California, from complications of a fall several weeks earlier. He's seen here with Lauren Bacall in 1943.
1974: Comedian Jack Benny, best known for his show, "The Jack Benny Program," which ran on radio and TV for more than three decades and was a major influence on the sitcom genre, dies of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80 in Beverly Hills, California. He's seen here in 1960 with his wife, Mary Livingstone.
1973: The horror movie "The Exorcist," starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller and Linda Blair, and directed by William Friedkin, opens in theaters. The movie would earn $66.3 million during its first theatrical release, making it the second most popular film of 1974, trailing only "The Sting." It would also become the first horror movie to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, one of 11 Oscar nominations it received. However, it won only two Oscars, for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound.
1972: Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, dies of multiple organ failure at the age of 88 in Kansas City, Missouri.
1971: Singer-songwriter and actor Jared Leto, the lead singer of the band Thirty Seconds to Mars also known for roles in movies such as "Fight Club," "Requiem for a Dream," "American Psycho" and "Dallas Buyers Club," is born in Bossier City, Louisiana. His performance in "Dallas Buyers Club" earned him an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
1966: The first Kwanzaa is celebrated by Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach.
1963: Capitol Records releases the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" backed with "I Saw Her Standing There." It would eventually become the group's first American No. 1 single.
1963: Rock musician Lars Ulrich, best known as the drummer for the hard rock band Metallica, is born in Gentofte, Denmark.
1954: Hall of Fame baseball player Ozzie Smith, a 13-time Gold Glove winner who set major league records for career assists (8,375) and double plays (1,590) by a shortstop, is born in Mobile, Alabama. Smith played 19 seasons in the MLB, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals, winning a World Series in 1982.
1951: The Japanese crime drama "Rashomon," starring Toshiro Mifune and directed by Akira Kurosawa, makes its U.S. debut. The movie, which depicts a crime through the widely differing accounts of four witnesses, introduced Kurosawa and the cinema of Japan to Western audiences and earned the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1952.
1947: Hall of Fame baseball player Carlton Fisk, who played 24 years for the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, is born in Bellows Falls, Vermont. Fisk, best known for "waving fair" his game-winning home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, retired in 1993 holding the records for most home runs all-time by a catcher and most games played at the position of catcher.
1941: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States.
1940: The screwball comedy "The Philadelphia Story," starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey and directed by George Cukor, premieres in New York City. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning two: Stewart for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart for Best Adapted Screenplay. It would also prove a success at the box office, finishing as the fifth highest-earning movie of 1941.
1939: Music producer Phil Spector, the originator of the "Wall of Sound" production technique and a pioneer of the 1960s girl-group sound, is born in The Bronx, New York. Spector, who produced more than 25 Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1965, was convicted in 2009 of second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California, home. He is serving a prison sentence of 19 years to life.
1933: Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, most famous for playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street," is born in Waltham, Massachusetts.
1931: Melvil Dewey, the American librarian famous for creating the Dewey Decimal Classification system, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 80 in Lake Placid, Florida.
1921: Comedian, author and composer Steve Allen, best known as the first host of "The Tonight Show," is born in New York City. Allen, who hosted "The Tonight Show" from 1954 to 1957 and went on to host the prime-time variety show "The Steve Allen Show," died of a massive heart attack at age 78 on Oct. 30, 2000.
1919: Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox is sold to the New York Yankees by owner Harry Frazee.
1914: Actor Richard Widmark, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his debut movie role in 1947's "Kiss of Death," is born in Sunrise Township, Minnesota. He's also known for his roles in movies such as "Panic in the Streets," "Night and the City," "No Way Out," "The Alamo," "Judgment at Nuremberg" and "How the West Was Won." He died at age 93 on March 24, 2008.
1908: Jack Johnson becomes the first black world heavyweight boxing champion, defeating the reigning world champion, Canadian Tommy Burns, in Sydney, Australia. The fight lasted 14 rounds before being stopped by the police in front of more than 20,000 spectators. The title was awarded to Johnson on a referee's decision as a knockout.
1893: Military leader and politician Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People's Republic of China, is born in Shaoshan, Hunan.
1891: Author Henry Miller, best known for the novels "Tropic of Cancer," "Black Spring" and "Tropic of Capricorn," is born in Manhattan, New York City. He died of circulatory complications at age 88 on June 7, 1980.
1871: Gilbert and Sullivan collaborate for the first time, on their lost opera "Thespis." It did modestly well, but the two would not collaborate again for four years. The pair would end up collaborating on 13 more comic operas, of which "H.M.S. Pinafore," "The Pirates of Penzance" and "The Mikado" are among the best known.
1862: After trials and sentencing following the Dakota War of 1862, 38 Dakota are hanged in Mankato, Minnesota, in the largest one-day execution in American history.
1862: Four nuns serving as volunteer nurses on board the USS Red Rover become the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.
1860: The first ever inter-club soccer match takes place between Hallam F.C. and Sheffield F.C. at the Sandygate Road ground in Sheffield, England.
1846: Trapped in snow in the Sierra Nevadas and without food, members of the Donner Party resort to cannibalism. The pass, now renamed Donner Pass, is seen here in the 1870s.
1825: Advocates of liberalism in Russia rise up against Tsar Nicholas I and are put down in the Decembrist Revolt in St. Petersburg.
1799: Congress holds a memorial service for President George Washington, with 4,000 people hearing Maj. Gen. Henry Lee, Washington's military protégé and a Virginia congressman, declare him as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."