Published On: Dec 09 2013 12:57:10 AM ESTUpdated On: Dec 30 2014 02:00:00 AM EST
2006: Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, is executed by hanging at Camp Justice, an Iraqi army base in Kadhimiya, a neighborhood of northeast Baghdad. He had been convicted on Nov. 5, 2006, for crimes committed against residents of Dujail, Iraq, in 1982, following a failed assassination attempt against him.
1999: Michael Abram breaks into George Harrison's estate near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England, and repeatedly stabs the former Beatle with a kitchen knife, puncturing his lung and narrowly missing his heart. Abram then attacked Harrison's wife, Olivia, who was able to subdue him by striking him with a lamp. Abram was arrested and eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital, where he stayed until mid-2002. Harrison (seen here in 1996) died from lung cancer about two years after the attack.
1984: Basketball player LeBron James, who has won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat, is born in Akron, Ohio. James, who started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, has also won four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, two NBA Finals MVP Awards, two Olympic gold medals, a NBA scoring title, and a NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
1981: In the 39th game of his third NHL season, Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers scores five goals against the Philadelphia Flyers, giving him 50 on the year and setting a new NHL record previously held by Maurice Richard and Mike Bossy, who earlier had each scored 50 goals in 50 games.
1980: Actress Eliza Dushku, best known for her roles in TV series such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," "Tru Calling" and "Dollhouse," is born in Watertown, Massachusetts. She's also starred in movies such as "Bring It On," "The New Guy," "Wrong Turn" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."
1979: American composer Richard Rodgers dies at age 77 in New York City. Rodgers is best known for his collaborations with lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II, including "Oklahoma!," "The King and I," "South Pacific" and "The Sound of Music." Rodgers was the first person to win at least one each of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony, known collectively as an "EGOT." He also won a Pulitzer Prize, making him one of two people (Marvin Hamlisch is the other) to receive each award.
1978: Ohio State University fires head football coach Woody Hayes one day after he punched Clemson University nose guard Charlie Bauman during the Gator Bowl. Bauman had intercepted a pass by Buckeyes quarterback Art Schlichter and was run out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline. After he looked in the direction of the Ohio State bench, Hayes punched him in the throat, setting off a bench-clearing brawl. During his 28 seasons at Ohio State, Hayes' teams won five national championships and 13 Big Ten Conference titles. He also coached at Denison University and Miami University, compiling a career record of 238-72-10, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
1978: Singer-songwriter and actor Tyrese Gibson (right), best known for his roles in the "Fast and Furious" and "Transformers" movie series, is born in Los Angeles.
1977: More than six months after escaping from the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, Colorado, Ted Bundy again escapes, this time from his jail cell in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Bundy, facing murder charges in the state, sawed a hole in the ceiling of his cell and escaped through a crawlspace. He committed further assaults, including three murders, before ultimately being recaptured in Florida in 1978. He received three death sentences in two separate trials for the Florida homicides and was executed via electric chair on Jan. 24, 1989.
1977: Boxer Laila Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, is born in Miami Beach, Florida. Laila Ali retired from boxing in 2007 with a career record of 24-0 with 21 of those wins coming by knockout, winning the WIBA, IWBF and IBA titles during her career.
1975: Professional golfer Tiger Woods, one of the most successful golfers of all time, is born Eldrick Tont Woods in Cypress, California. Woods first reached the No. 1 position in the world rankings in June 1997, and held top spot for most of the 2000s. He is second all time in PGA Tour victories behind only Sam Snead and has won a total of 14 majors, including The Masters and the PGA Championship four times each and the U.S. Open and The Open Championship three times each.
1970: Former world heavyweight champion boxer Charles "Sonny" Liston dies in his Las Vegas home. His body was discovered on Jan. 5, 1971, when his wife Geraldine returned home from a trip. While police initially concluded that Liston had died from a heroin overdose, an autopsy was inconclusive and his death was officially labeled the result of lung congestion and heart failure. Liston won the world heavyweight title by knocking out Floyd Patterson in 1962 and successfully defended his title against Patterson in 1963 before losing two straight matches to Muhammad Ali in 1964-65. His exact age at death is unclear as his birthdate is unknown. He settled on a date of March 8, 1932, for official purposes, which would have made him 38 at the time of his death, but it is believed he could have actually been several years older.
1959: Actress, singer, screenwriter and director Tracey Ullman, best known for the Emmy-award winning late-1980s sketch comedy show "The Tracey Ullman Show," is born in Slough, Buckinghamshire, England.
1957: Broadcast journalist Matt Lauer, who has hosted NBC's "The Today Show" since 1996, is born in New York City.
1956: Country music singer-songwriter Suzy Bogguss, best known for songs such as "Outbound Plane," "Drive South" and "Hey Cinderella," is born in Aledo, Illinois.
1953: Journalist and game show host Meredith Vieira (left), best known as the original moderator on "The View" and for co-hosting "Today" from 2006 to 2011, is born in East Providence, Rhode Island. Vieira is also known as the original host of the syndicated version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
1948: The Cole Porter musical "Kiss Me, Kate" opens on Broadway at the New Century Theatre. It would become Porter's biggest hit and his only show to run for more than 1,000 performances. In 1949, it became the first show to win the Best Musical Tony Award.
1947: Rock musician, singer-songwriter and producer Jeff Lynne, best known as a member of the Electric Light Orchestra and the Traveling Wilburys, is born in Shard End, Birmingham, England.
1946: Singer-songwriter Patti Smith, part of the 1970s New York City punk scene known as the "Godmother of Punk," is born in Chicago, Illinois. Smith's best known song is "Because the Night," which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen and reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978.
1945: Davy Jones, the actor-turned-singer who helped propel the TV rock band The Monkees to the top of the pop charts and into rock 'n' roll history, is born in Openshaw, Manchester, England. Jones, who sang lead vocals on The Monkees' hits "Daydream Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You," died of a massive heart attack at age 66 on Feb. 29, 2012.
1942: Singer-songwriter, guitarist and actor Michael Nesmith (right), best known as a member of the rock band The Monkees and a co-star of "The Monkees" TV show, is born in Houston, Texas.
1940: California's first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, officially opens.
1935: Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, the first three-time Cy Young winner and the first major leaguer to pitch four no-hitters, is born in Brooklyn, New York. Koufax pitched 12 seasons for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, leading the team to World Series titles in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965, earning World Series MVP honors in 1963 and 1965. His career was cut short at age 30 due to arthritis in his elbow, with his last game coming Oct. 2, 1966, in the World Series. He compiled a career record of 165-87 with a 2.76 and, despite his relatively short career, his 2,396 career strikeouts ranked seventh all-time as of his retirement.
1934: Rock 'n' roll singer-songwriter Del Shannon, best known for his 1961 No. 1 hit song "Runaway" and other songs such as "Hats Off to Larry," "So Long, Baby" and "Little Town Flirt," is born Charles Weedon Westover in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Shannon, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 55 on Feb. 8, 1990.
1928: R&B singer-songwriter and guitarist Bo Diddley, who would become a founding member of the rock 'n' roll sound, is born Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, Mississippi. Diddley, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, died of heart failure at age 79 on June 2, 2008.
1922: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as the Soviet Union, is formed. The Communist Party remained in control of the socialist state until the Soviet Union was dissolved on Dec. 26, 1991, and became the Russian Federation.
1920: Actor Jack Lord, best known for starring in the TV series "Hawaii Five-0" from 1968 to 1980, is born John Joseph Patrick Ryan in Brooklyn, New York. Lord died of congestive heart failure at the age of 77 on Jan. 21, 1998.
1916: Grigori Rasputin, the peasant and mystic who wielded powerful influence over the Russian court, is murdered by a group of noblemen. Although the exact details of the murder are murky, Rasputin was most likely poisoned and then shot and clubbed to death when the poison didn't kill him. His attackers then dumped his body into a ice hole on the Malaya Nevka River, where the body was recovered two days later.
1903: A fire at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago kills at least 605. The blaze, which started when an arc light shorted out and sparks ignited a curtain, is the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history.
1865: Author and poet Rudyard Kipling, best known for works of fiction such as "The Jungle Book," "Just So Stories" and "Kim" as well as poems such as "Mandalay," "Gunga Din" and "The White Man's Burden," is born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient.