2014 – The United States and Cuba re-establish diplomatic relations after severing them in 1960.
2003 – SpaceShipOne, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first powered and first supersonic flight.
1989 – Fernando Collor de Mello defeats Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the second round of the Brazilian presidential election, becoming the first democratically elected President in almost 30 years.
1989 – The Simpsons first premiered on television with the episode, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.
1981 – American Brigadier General James L. Dozier is abducted by the Red Brigades in Verona, Italy.
1969 – Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closes its study of UFOs.
1961 – Niterói circus fire: Fire breaks out during a performance by the Gran Circus Norte-Americano in the city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, killing more than 500.
1957 – The United States successfully launches the first Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
1951 – The American Civil Rights Congress delivers "We Charge Genocide" to the United Nations.
1950 – The F-86 Sabre's first mission over Korea.
1947 – First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber.
1944 – World War II: Battle of the Bulge: Malmedy massacre: American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion POWs are shot by Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Joachim Peiper.
1943 – All Chinese are again permitted to become citizens of the United States upon the repeal of the Act of 1882 and the introduction of the Magnuson Act.
1938 – Otto Hahn discovers the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy.
1935 – First flight of the Douglas DC-3.
1907 – Ugyen Wangchuck is crowned first King of Bhutan
1903 – The Wright brothers make the first controlled powered, heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
1896 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Schenley Park Casino, which was the first multi-purpose arena with the technology to create an artificial ice surface in North America, is destroyed in a fire.
1892 – First issue of Vogue is published
1865 – First performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert.
1862 – American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.
1790 – Discovery of the Aztec calendar stone.
1777 – American Revolution: France formally recognizes the United States.
497 BC – The first Saturnalia festival was celebrated in ancient Rome.
1994 – Nat Wolff, American singer-songwriter, keyboard player and actor. Nathaniel Marvin Wolff (born December 17, 1994) is an American actor, musician, and singer-songwriter.
1987 – Chelsea Manning, American soldier and intelligence analyst. Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is an American activist and whistleblower.
1986 – Emma Bell, American actress. Emma Jean Bell (born December 17, 1986) is an American actress, best known for her roles in films Frozen (2010) and Final Destination 5 (2011), and for playing Amy in the first and third season of The Walking Dead (2010; 2012), and Emma Judith Ryland Brown on the TNT drama series Dallas (2013–2014).
1984 – Mikky Ekko, American singer-songwriter and producer. John Stephen Sudduth (born December 17, 1984), known professionally as Mikky Ekko, is an American recording artist and record producer from Nashville, signed to Interscope Records.
1984 – Shannon Woodward, American actress. Shannon Marie Woodward (born December 17, 1984) is an American actress, best known for her roles as Sabrina Collins on the FOX sitcom Raising Hope (2010–2014) and Elsie Hughes on the HBO science-fiction thriller series Westworld (2016–2018).
1982 – Craig Kielburger, Canadian activist and author, co-founded Free the Children and Me to We. On April 11, 2008, Kielburger was named a Member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada.
1982 – Josh Barfield, American baseball player. Joshua LaRoy Barfield (born December 17, 1982) is a former American professional baseball second baseman.
1982 – Ryan Moats, American football player. He played college football at Louisiana Tech.
1981 – Jerry Hsu, American skateboarder and photographer. He was described by professional skateboarder and longtime friend Marc Johnson as a "cool breeze" in 2013.
1980 – Eli Pariser, American activist and author, co-founded Avaaz.org. Eli Pariser (born December 17, 1980) is an author, activist, and entrepreneur focused on how to make technology and media serve democracy.
1980 – Ryan Hunter-Reay, American race car driver. Ryan Christopher Hunter-Reay (born December 17, 1980) is a professional American racing driver best known as a winner of both the Indianapolis 500 (2014) and the IndyCar Series championship 2012.
1979 – Matt Murley, American ice hockey player. Matt Murley (born December 17, 1979) is an American professional ice hockey forward who currently plays for the South Korean team Daemyung Killer Whales of the Asia League Ice Hockey.
1978 – Alex Cintrón, Puerto Rican-American baseball player and sportscaster. Alexander Cintrón (born December 17, 1978) is a Puerto Rican former professional baseball infielder and current hitting coach for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB).
1978 – Chase Utley, American baseball player. Chase Cameron Utley (born December 17, 1978) is an American former professional baseball second baseman who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 16 seasons, primarily for the Philadelphia Phillies.
1976 – Takeo Spikes, American football player and sportscaster. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals 13th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft.
1975 – Milla Jovovich, Ukrainian-American actress. In 2004, Forbes determined that she was the highest-paid model in the world.
1975 – Nick Dinsmore, American wrestler and trainer. Nicholas David Dinsmore (born December 17, 1975), also known by his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) ring name Eugene, is an American professional wrestler.
1974 – Giovanni Ribisi, American actor. Antonino Giovanni Ribisi (Italian pronunciation: ; born December 17, 1974) is an American film and television actor known for his roles in the TV series Sneaky Pete, and the films Saving Private Ryan, Avatar, A Million Ways to Die in the West and Ted.
1974 – Sarah Paulson, American actress. In 2017, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
1973 – Rian Johnson, American director, producer, and screenwriter. Rian Craig Johnson (born December 17, 1973) is an American filmmaker.
1969 – Chuck Liddell, American mixed martial artist and kick-boxer. Liddell had 23 fights in the UFC; along with Randy Couture, he is widely credited with bringing MMA into the mainstream of American sports and entertainment.
1969 – Laurie Holden, American actress and model. She is known for her roles as Marita Covarrubias in The X-Files (1996–2002), Adele Stanton in The Majestic (2001), Cybil Bennett in Silent Hill (2006), Amanda Dumfries in The Mist (2007), Olivia Murray in The Shield (2008), Andrea in The Walking Dead (2010–2013) and Renee in The Americans (2017–2018).
1966 – Tracy Byrd, American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Tracy Lynn Byrd (born December 17, 1966) is an American country music artist.
1964 – Joe Wolf, American basketball player and coach. Joseph James Wolf (born December 17, 1964) is an American professional basketball coach and former player who is the head coach of the Greensboro Swarm of the NBA G League.
1962 – Rocco Mediate, American golfer and journalist. Rocco Anthony Mediate (born December 17, 1962) is an American professional golfer who has won six times on the PGA Tour and three times on the Champions Tour.
1959 – Bob Stinson, American songwriter and guitarist (d. 1995), was a founding member and lead guitarist of the American rock band The Replacements.
1958 – Mike Mills, American bass player, songwriter, and producer, was a founding member of the alternative rock band R.E.M. Though known primarily as a bass guitarist, backing vocalist, and pianist, his musical repertoire also includes keyboards, guitar, percussion instruments and occasional lead vocals.
1957 – Bob Ojeda, American baseball player and coach. Robert Michael Ojeda (born December 17, 1957) is an American former professional baseball player, coach and television sports color commentator.
1956 – Peter Farrelly, American director, producer, and screenwriter. On his own in 2018 Farrelly co-wrote and directed the comedy-drama Green Book, which won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2018.
1953 – Bill Pullman, American actor. William James Pullman (born December 17, 1953) is an American film, stage, and television actor.
1951 – Pat Hill, American football player and coach. In 15 seasons as head coach as Fresno State, he led the Bulldogs to a record of 112–80, 11 bowl game appearances, and a share of the 1999 Western Athletic Conference title.
1950 – Laurence F. Johnson, American educator and author. Larry Johnson (born December 17, 1950, in Corpus Christi, Texas) is an American futurist, author, and educator.
1950 – Maurice Peoples, American sprinter and coach. Maurice Peoples (born December 17, 1950) is an American former sprinter.
1948 – Jim Bonfanti, American rock drummer. James Alexander Bonfanti (born December 17, 1948 in Windber, Pennsylvania) is a rock drummer, best known as a member of the band Raspberries.
1947 – Wes Studi, American actor and producer. Wesley Studi (Cherokee: ᏪᏌ ᏍᏚᏗ; born December 17, 1947) is a Cherokee American actor and film producer who has won critical acclaim and awards, particularly for his portrayal of Native Americans in film.
1945 – Chris Matthews, American journalist and author. Matthews is known for his nightly hour-long talk show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, on MSNBC.
1945 – Ernie Hudson, American actor. Hudson has also acted in the films Leviathan (1989), The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), Airheads (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Congo (1995), and Miss Congeniality (2000).
1944 – Carlo M. Croce, Italian-American oncologist and academic. Carlo Maria Croce (born December 17, 1944) is an Italian-American professor of medicine at Ohio State University, specializing in oncology and noted for research into the genetic mechanisms of cancer.
1944 – Jack L. Chalker, American author and educator (d. 2005), was an American science fiction author. Chalker was also a Baltimore City Schools history teacher in Maryland for 12 years, retiring during 1978 to write full-time.
1942 – Paul Butterfield, American singer and harmonica player (d. 1987), was an American blues harmonica player, singer and band leader. After early training as a classical flautist, he developed an interest in blues harmonica.
1939 – Eddie Kendricks, American R&B singer-songwriter (d. 1992). Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations, and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971.
1939 – James Booker, American pianist (d. 1983), was a New Orleans rhythm and blues keyboardist born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Booker's unique style combined rhythm and blues with jazz standards.
1937 – Art Neville, American singer and keyboard player, was an American singer, songwriter and keyboardist from New Orleans.
1937 – Calvin Waller, American general (d. 1996), was a United States Army lieutenant general.
1937 – John Kennedy Toole, American novelist (d. 1969), was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, whose posthumously published novel A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He also wrote The Neon Bible.
1937 – Kerry Packer, Australian businessman, founded World Series Cricket (d. 2005), was an Australian media tycoon, and was considered one of Australia's most powerful media proprietors of the twentieth century. The Packer family company owned a controlling interest in both the Nine television network and leading Australian publishing company Australian Consolidated Press, which were later merged to form Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL).
1934 – Irving Petlin, American painter and academic, was an American artist and painter renowned for his mastery of the pastel medium and collaborations with other artists (including Mark di Suvero and Leon Golub) and for his work in the "series form" in which he employed the raw materials of pastel, oil paint and unprimed linen, and found inspiration in the work of writers and poets including Primo Levi, Bruno Schulz, Paul Celan, Michael Palmer and Edmond Jabès.
1931 – Dave Madden, Canadian-American actor (d. 2014), was a Canadian-born American actor. His most famous role came on the 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family, in which he played the group's manager, Reuben Kincaid, opposite Shirley Jones's character.
1931 – Gerald Finnerman, American director and cinematographer (d. 2011), was an American cinematographer who worked on TV series such as Moonlighting and the original Star Trek. He served as vice president of the American Society of Cinematographers, and won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Special.
1931 – James McGaugh, American neurobiologist and psychologist. He is currently a Research Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine.
1930 – Bob Guccione, American photographer and publisher, founded Penthouse (d. 2010), was an American photographer and the founder of the adult magazine Penthouse in 1965. This was aimed at competing with Hugh Hefner's Playboy, but with more extreme erotic content, a special style of soft-focus photography, and in-depth reporting of government corruption scandals.
1929 – William Safire, American journalist and author (d. 2009), was an American author, columnist, journalist, and presidential speechwriter.
1928 – Doyle Conner, American farmer and politician, 7th Florida Commissioner of Agriculture (d. 2012), was an American politician. He served as Florida Commissioner of Agriculture for 30 years, and also served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
1928 – Eli Beeding, American captain and pilot (d. 2013), was a U.S. Air Force captain and rocket test subject.
1928 – Marilyn Beck, American journalist (d. 2014), was a syndicated Hollywood columnist and author.
1927 – Edward Meneeley, American painter and sculptor (d. 2012). Edward Meneeley (born December 17, 1927 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States - d.
1926 – John Hans Krebs, American lawyer and politician (d. 2014), was a U.S. Representative from California.
1926 – Ray Jablonski, American baseball player (d. 1985), was an American third baseman in Major League Baseball who played for all or parts of eight MLB seasons between 1953 and 1960. A 1954 National League All-Star, Jablonski appeared in 812 games for the St.
1923 – Jaroslav Pelikan, American historian and scholar (d. 2006), was an American scholar of the history of Christianity, Christian theology, and medieval intellectual history at Yale University.
1922 – Alan Voorhees, American engineer and academic (d. 2005), was an American transportation engineer and urban planner who designed many large public works in the United States. Voorhees was born in Highland Park, New Jersey.
1914 – Fernando Alonso, Cuban ballet dancer, co-founded the Cuban National Ballet (d. 2013). Fernando Alonso Díaz (Spanish pronunciation: (listen); born 29 July 1981) is a Spanish racing driver who won the Formula One World Championship in 2005 and 2006 for the Renault team.
1913 – Burt Baskin, American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins (d. 1967), was an American businessman who co-founded the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor chain in 1946 with business partner and brother-in-law Irv Robbins.
1910 – Eknath Easwaran, Indian-American educator and author (d. 1999), was an Indian-born spiritual teacher, author, as well as a translator and interpreter of Indian religious texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.
1910 – Sy Oliver, American singer-songwriter and trumpet player (d. 1988), was an American jazz arranger, trumpeter, composer, singer and bandleader.
1908 – Willard Libby, American chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1980), was an American physical chemist noted for his role in the 1949 development of radiocarbon dating, a process which revolutionized archaeology and palaeontology. For his contributions to the team that developed this process, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960.
1906 – Russell C. Newhouse, American pilot and engineer (d. 1998). Russell Conwell Newhouse (1906–1998) made many contributions to the advancement of aviation in a distinguished career running from the late 1920s into the 1970s.
1904 – Paul Cadmus, American painter and illustrator (d. 1999), was an American artist widely known for his egg tempera paintings of gritty social interactions in urban settings. He also produced many highly finished drawings of single nude male figures.
1903 – Erskine Caldwell, American novelist and short story writer (d. 1987). His writings about poverty, racism and social problems in his native Southern United States, in novels such as Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933) won him critical acclaim, but his advocacy of eugenics and the sterilization of Georgia's poor whites became less popular following World War II.
1900 – Mary Cartwright, English mathematician and academic, one of the first people to analyze a dynamical system with chaos (d. 1998), was a British mathematician.
1898 – Loren Murchison, American sprinter (d. 1979). Murchison (December 17, 1898 – June 11, 1979) was an American athlete, double gold medal winner in 4×100 m relay at the Olympic Games.
1894 – Arthur Fiedler, American conductor (d. 1979), was a long-time conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a symphony orchestra that specializes in popular and light classical music. With a combination of musicianship and showmanship, he made the Boston Pops one of the best-known orchestras in the United States.
1892 – Sam Barry, American basketball player and coach (d. 1950), was an American collegiate coach who achieved significant accomplishments in three major sports. He remains one of only three coaches to lead teams to both the Final Four and the College World Series.
1853 – Pierre Paul Émile Roux, French physician and immunologist, co-founded the Pasteur Institute (d. 1933), was a French physician, bacteriologist and immunologist. Roux was one of the closest collaborators of Louis Pasteur (1822–1895), a co-founder of the Pasteur Institute, and responsible for the Institute's production of the anti-diphtheria serum, the first effective therapy for this disease.
1835 – Alexander Emanuel Agassiz, Swiss-American ichthyologist and engineer (d. 1910), was an American scientist and engineer.
1807 – John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet and activist (d. 1892), was an American Quaker poet and advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. Frequently listed as one of the fireside poets, he was influenced by the Scottish poet Robert Burns.
1797 – Joseph Henry, American physicist and engineer (d. 1878), was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was the secretary for the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution.
2016 – Benjamin A. Gilman, American soldier and politician (b. 1922)
2016 – Gordon Hunt, American voice director (b. 1929)
2016 – Henry Heimlich, American doctor (b. 1920)
2015 – Hal Brown, American baseball player and manager (b. 1924)
2015 – Michael Wyschogrod, German-American philosopher and theologian (b. 1928)
2015 – Osamu Hayaishi, American-Japanese biochemist and academic (b. 1920)
2014 – Dieter Grau, German-American scientist and engineer (b. 1913)
2014 – Lowell Steward, American captain (b. 1919)
2014 – Richard C. Hottelet, American journalist (b. 1917)
2013 – Janet Rowley, American geneticist and biologist (b. 1925)
2013 – Richard Heffner, American historian and television host (b. 1925)
2012 – Daniel Inouye, American captain and politician (b. 1924)
2012 – Frank Pastore, American baseball player and radio host (b. 1957)
2012 – James Gower, American priest and activist, co-founded the College of the Atlantic (b. 1922)
2012 – Richard Adams, Filipino-American activist (b. 1947)
2010 – Captain Beefheart, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941)
2010 – Walt Dropo, American basketball and baseball player (b. 1923)
2009 – Alaina Reed Hall, American actress (b. 1946)
2009 – Jennifer Jones, American actress (b. 1919)
2008 – Dave Smith, American baseball player and coach (b. 1955)
2008 – Sammy Baugh, American football player and coach (b. 1914)
2006 – Larry Sherry, American baseball player and coach (b. 1935)
2004 – Tom Wesselmann, American painter and sculptor (b. 1931)
2003 – Otto Graham, American football player and coach (b. 1921)
1999 – C. Vann Woodward, American historian and academic (b. 1908)
1999 – Grover Washington, Jr., American singer-songwriter and saxophonist (b. 1943)
1999 – Rex Allen, American singer-songwriter and actor (b. 1920)
1992 – Dana Andrews, American actor (b. 1909)
1987 – Marguerite Yourcenar, Belgian-American author and poet (b. 1903)
1982 – Homer S. Ferguson, American lawyer, judge, and politician (b. 1889)
1978 – Don Ellis, American trumpet player, composer, and bandleader (b. 1934)
1970 – Oliver Waterman Larkin, American historian, author, and educator (b. 1896)
1964 – Victor Francis Hess, Austrian-American physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1883)
1956 – Eddie Acuff, American actor (b. 1903)
1928 – Frank Rinehart, American photographer (b. 1861)