2009: Passengers aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam foil an attempt to blow up the plane as it's landing in Detroit by seizing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who was trying to set off explosives sewn into his underwear. Adbulmutallab, who suffered burns to his hands, right inner thigh and genitalia in the foiled attack, would eventually be convicted of eight criminal counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of 289 people. On Feb. 16, 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
2008: Actress and singer Eartha Kitt, best known for playing Catwoman on the final season of the 1960s "Batman" TV series, dies of colon cancer at the age of 81 in Weston, Connecticut. She's also remembered for her 1953 hit recordings of "C'est Si Bon" and the enduring Christmas novelty smash "Santa Baby."
2006: Singer James Brown, one of the founding fathers of funk music with a career that spanned six decades, dies of heart failure at the age 73 in Atlanta, Georgia.
1997: Actor Denver Pyle, best known for playing Briscoe Darling on "The Andy Griffith Show" and Uncle Jesse in "The Dukes of Hazzard," dies of lung cancer at the age of 77 in Burbank, California.
1995: Singer and actor Dean Martin, known for being a member of the "Rat Pack" and for his partnership with Jerry Lewis, dies of acute respiratory failure resulting from emphysema at the age of 78 in Beverly Hills, California. Some of Martin's hit singles included "That's Amore," "Everybody Loves Somebody," "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You," "Volare" and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?"
1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union, a day before the union itself is formally dissolved.
1990: The WorldWideWeb, the first web browser and editor, goes online for the first time. At the time, the WorldWideWeb was the only way to view the Internet.
1989: Nicolae Ceausescu, the former communist president of Romania, and his wife, First Deputy Prime Minister Elena Ceausescu, are found guilty of charges ranging from illegal gathering of wealth to genocide during a hastily organized two-hour show trial and then immediately executed by firing squad.
1989: Former New York Yankees player and manager Billy Martin, 61, is killed when the pickup truck he was riding in crashes during an ice storm at the end of the driveway to his farm in Port Crane, New York. Martin managed the Yankees during five different stints, leading them to a World Series title in 1977, and also managed for four other major-league teams.
1977: Actor and film director Charlie Chaplin, a silent film star who became one of the world's biggest celebrities before World War I, dies in his sleep from the complications of a stroke at the age of 88 in Vevey, Switzerland.
1974: Marshall Fields crashes his Chevrolet Impala through a gate at the White House complex and drives up to the building's North Portico. Dressed in Arab clothing and claiming to be the Messiah and that he was laden with explosives, Fields held off Secret Service agents for four hours before surrendering. The explosives he claimed to be in possession of were discovered to be flares. President Gerald Ford and his family were not home at the time. As a result of this attack, the Secret Service began to review their security measures and would replace the 19th century wrought iron gates in 1976.
1968: Apollo 8 performs the very first successful Trans Earth Injection maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from lunar orbit.
1963: The Walt Disney animated movie "The Sword in the Stone" premieres in New York City. The movie, based on the novel of the same name, was the last Disney animated feature released before Walt Disney's death.
1962: The movie adaptation of the book "To Kill a Mockingbird," starring Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall, premieres in Los Angeles. The film would go on to earn eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography, winning three: Best Actor for Peck, Best Art Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay.
1958: Hall of Fame outfielder Rickey Henderson, widely regarded as the baseball's greatest leadoff hitter and baserunner, is born in Chicago, Illinois. He holds the major-league records for career stolen bases, runs scored, unintentional walks and leadoff home runs.
1954: R&B singer Johnny Ace dies of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound he suffered while playing with a .22 caliber revolver backstage during a concert in Houston, Texas. Ace, whose real name was John Marshall Alexander Jr., scored a string of hit singles in the mid-1950s, including "Pledging My Love," which would become a posthumous R&B No. 1 hit for 10 weeks starting in February 1955.
1954: Singer-songwriter Annie Lennox, best known as the lead singer of the pop duo Eurythmics, is born in Aberdeen, Scotland.
1952: Actress C. C. H. Pounder, best known for her TV work on "The Shield," "Warehouse 13" and "Sons of Anarchy," is born Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana).
1950: Karl Rove, the political consultant and policy advisor who was senior advisor and deputy chief of staff during the President George W. Bush administration, is born in Denver, Colorado.
1949: Actress Sissy Spacek, an Oscar-winner for 1980's "Coal Miner's Daughter," is born in Quitman, Texas. Spacek has also appeared in movies such as "Badlands," "Carrie," "Missing," "The River" and "In the Bedroom."
1948: Singer-songwriter and actress Barbara Mandrell, known for a series of Top 10 hits and TV shows that made her one of country music's top stars in the 1970s and 1980s, is born in Houston, Texas. Her No. 1 country hits include "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed," "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right," "Years," "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool," "'Till You're Gone" and "One of a Kind, Pair of Fools." She's seen here in 1986.
1946: Comedian and actor W. C. Fields, known for his comic persona as a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist, dies from an alcohol-related stomach hemorrhage at the age of 66 in Pasadena, California.
1946: Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, whose best-known songs include "Margaritaville," "Come Monday" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise," is born in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
1946: Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka, who played most of his career with the Miami Dolphins, is born in Stow, Ohio. Csonka won two championships with the Dolphins, including Super Bowl VII, which completed an undefeated 1972 season for the team, and Super Bowl VIII, in which he was named MVP. He played collegiately at Syracuse University and is also an inductee of the College Football Hall of Fame.
1924: Rod Serling, the creator of "The Twilight Zone," is born in Syracuse, New York. He died at the age of 50 on June 28, 1975, two days after suffering a heart attack on the operating table during open-heart surgery. It was Serling's third heart attack in the span of two months.
1918: Anwar Sadat, who would go on to become the president of Egypt and share a Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978 for the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, is born in El Monufia, Egypt. Sadat, seen here with U.S. President Jimmy Carter, would serve as Egypt's president from Oct. 15, 1970, until his assassination on Oct. 6, 1981.
1907: Jazz singer-songwriter and bandleader Cab Calloway, known as a master of energetic scat singing, is born in Rochester, New York. Calloway led one of America's most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s through to the late 1940s and continued performing nearly up until his death at age 86 in November 1994, including a memorable role performing "Minnie the Moocher" in 1980's "The Blues Brothers."
1899: Humphrey Bogart, often considered one of the greatest actors in the history of American cinema, is born in New York City. Some of Bogart's best known movies include "The Maltese Falcon," "The Big Sleep," "Casablanca," "Sabrina," "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "The Caine Mutiny" and "The African Queen," the last of which won him an Academy Award for Best Actor. He died of cancer of the esophagus at age 57 on Jan. 14, 1957.
1890: Robert Ripley, the cartoonist, publisher and entrepreneur who founded Ripley's Believe It or Not!, is born in Santa Rosa, California.
1887: Conrad Hilton, the businessman who founded the Hilton Hotels & Resorts, is born in San Antonio, Texas. He died at age 91 on Jan. 3, 1979.
1878: Louis Chevrolet, racecar driver and founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in 1911, is born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
1868: In one of his last significant moves as president, U.S. President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional amnesty to all Civil War Confederate soldiers. Earlier amnesties, requiring signed oaths and excluding certain classes of people, had been issued by President Abraham Lincoln and by Johnson.
1821: Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, is born in Oxford, Massachusetts.
1776: George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River at night to attack Hessian forces serving Great Britain at Trenton, New Jersey, the next day.
A.D. 336: The first recorded celebration of Christmas on December 25 takes place in Rome, according to an entry in the Chronograph of A.D. 354, or the Philocalian Calendar. The document reflects the dies natalis Christi, "the birthday of Christ," as the "eighth before the calends of January," or December 25.
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