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CalendarDecember → 31

Thursday 31 December 2020 Calendar with holidays, observances and special days

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December 31 Events

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Holidays and observances

Events

  • 2011 – NASA succeeds in putting the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellites in orbit around the Moon.
  • 2010 – Tornadoes touch down in midwestern and southern United States, including Washington County, Arkansas; Greater St. Louis, Sunset Hills, Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma, with a few tornadoes in the early hours. A total 36 tornadoes touched down, resulting in the deaths of nine people and $113 million in damages.
  • 1999 – First President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor.
  • 1999 – The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) to Panama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties.
  • 1994 – The First Chechen War: Russian army began a New Year's storming of Grozny.
  • 1983 – The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government.
  • 1968 – The first flight of the Tupolev Tu-144, the first civilian supersonic transport.
  • 1961 – RTÉ, Ireland's state broadcaster, launches its first national television service.
  • 1955 – General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over US$1 billion in a year.
  • 1907 – The first New Year's Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in Manhattan.
  • 1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
  • 1878 – Karl Benz, working in Mannheim, Germany, filed for a patent on his first reliable two-stroke gas engine, and he was granted the patent in 1879.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Stones River begins near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
  • 1790 – Efimeris, the oldest Greek newspaper of which issues have survived till today, is published for the first time.
  • 1775 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Quebec: British forces repulse an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery.
  • 1687 – The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • 1501 – The First Battle of Cannanore commences.

Births

  • 1995 – Gabby Douglas, American gymnast. Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas (born December 31, 1995) is an American artistic gymnast.
  • 1993 – Ryan Blaney, American race car driver. He is the son of NASCAR driver Dave Blaney and the grandson of modified dirt track legend Lou Blaney.
  • 1987 – Javaris Crittenton, American basketball player. He was previously the starting point guard for the Georgia Tech men's basketball team.
  • 1986 – Nate Freiman, American baseball player. Nathan Samuel Freiman (born December 31, 1986) is an American former professional baseball first baseman who played for the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball in 2013 and 2014.
  • 1985 – Jonathan Horton, American gymnast. National All-Around Champion, and a 17-time medalist at the U.S.
  • 1982 – The Rocket Summer, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer. The Rocket Summer is the solo-project of Bryce Avary who is based in Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas.
  • 1981 – Jason Campbell, American football player. Campbell (born December 31, 1981) is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL).
  • 1980 – Jesse Carlson, American baseball player. Carlson was a member of the team that defeated Seymour Connecticut High School to win the state championship in 1999.
  • 1980 – Matt Cross, American wrestler. Matthew Cross can refer to:
  • 1979 – Jeff Waldstreicher, American lawyer and politician. Waldstreicher (born December 31, 1979 in Silver Spring, Maryland) is an American politician from Maryland and a member of the Democratic Party.
  • 1974 – Ryan Sakoda, Japanese-American wrestler and trainer. He is best known for his appearances in World Wrestling Entertainment and current work for Ultimate Pro Wrestling as a part-time trainer for the wrestlers, as well as working in the independents as Ryan Sakoda.
  • 1973 – Shandon Anderson, American basketball player. Shandon Rodriguez Anderson (born December 31, 1973) is an American retired professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1996 to 2006.
  • 1972 – Joey McIntyre, American singer-songwriter and actor. He has sold over 1 million records worldwide as a solo artist.
  • 1971 – Brent Barry, American basketball player and sportscaster. Brent Robert Barry (born December 31, 1971), commonly known by the nickname Bones, is an American basketball executive, broadcaster and former player.
  • 1970 – Bryon Russell, American basketball player. Bryon Demetrise Russell (born December 31, 1970) is an American former professional basketball player from San Bernardino, California.
  • 1968 – Junot Diaz, Dominican-born American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Junot Díaz (born December 31, 1968) is a Dominican-American writer, creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and fiction editor at Boston Review.
  • 1965 – Nicholas Sparks, American author, screenwriter, and producer. Several of his novels have become international bestsellers, and eleven of his romantic-drama novels have been adapted to film all with multimillion-dollar box office grosses.
  • 1963 – Scott Ian, American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Scott Ian (born Scott Ian Rosenfeld; December 31, 1963) is an American musician, best known as the rhythm guitarist, backing and additional lead vocalist, and the only original remaining member of the thrash metal band Anthrax.
  • 1962 – Tyrone Corbin, American basketball player and coach. Tyrone Kennedy Corbin (born December 31, 1962) is an American retired basketball player, and current assistant coach of the Orlando Magic in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
  • 1961 – Rick Aguilera, American baseball player and coach. Aguilera won a world championship as a member of the New York Mets in 1986 then, won a second world championship as a member of the Minnesota Twins in 1991.
  • 1959 – Paul Westerberg, American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Paul Harold Westerberg (born December 31, 1959) is an American musician, best known as the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter in The Replacements, one of the seminal alternative rock bands of the 1980s.
  • 1959 – Phill Kline, American lawyer and politician, Kansas Attorney General. Kline (born December 31, 1959) is a former attorney who served as a Kansas state legislator, district attorney of Johnson County, and Kansas Attorney General.
  • 1959 – Val Kilmer, American actor. Originally a stage actor, Kilmer became popular in the mid-1980s after a string of appearances in comedy films, starting with Top Secret! (1984) and Real Genius (1985), as well as the military action film Top Gun (1986), the fantasy film Willow (1988), and the western Tombstone (1993).
  • 1958 – Bebe Neuwirth, American actress and dancer. The role won her two Emmy Awards.
  • 1956 – Steve Rude, American author and illustrator. He is best known as the co-creator of Nexus.
  • 1954 – Alex Salmond, Scottish economist and politician, 4th First Minister of Scotland. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Banff and Buchan between 1987 and 2010, when he stood down to focus on his other roles, and then for Gordon from 2015 to 2017, when he lost his seat to Scottish Conservative candidate Colin Clark.
  • 1953 – Jane Badler, American actress. Badler also appeared in ABC's "reimagined" version of V in 2011, again playing an alien named Diana, who this time is the mother of the series' chief antagonist, Anna.
  • 1951 – Kenny Roberts, American motorcycle racer. Kenneth Leroy Roberts (born December 31, 1951 in Modesto, California) is an American former professional motorcycle racer and racing team owner.
  • 1950 – Bob Gilder, American golfer. He won six tournaments on the PGA Tour and currently plays on the Champions Tour, where he has ten wins since joining in 2001.
  • 1950 – Cheryl Womack, American businesswoman. Verna Cheryl Womack (born December 31, 1950) is an entrepreneur who founded Kansas City, Missouri-based VCW and National Association of Independent Truckers, Inc. which became a $100 million a year business selling insurance to independent truckers before selling the companies to private equity investors Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
  • 1949 – Ellen Datlow, American anthologist and author. Ellen Datlow (born December 31, 1949) is an American science fiction, fantasy, and horror editor and anthologist.
  • 1949 – Susan Shwartz, American author. Susan Shwartz (born December 31, 1949) is an American author.
  • 1948 – Donna Summer, American singer-songwriter (d. 2012), was an American singer, songwriter and actress. She gained prominence during the disco era of the late 1970s and became known as the "Queen of Disco", while her music gained a global following.
  • 1948 – Joe Dallesandro, American actor. Having also crossed over into mainstream roles like mobster Lucky Luciano in The Cotton Club, Dallesandro is generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century, as well as a sex symbol of gay subculture.
  • 1947 – Tim Matheson, American actor, director, and producer. He is perhaps best known for his portrayals of the smooth-talking Eric "Otter" Stratton in the comedy film National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) and of Vice President John Hoynes in the NBC drama The West Wing.
  • 1946 – Cliff Richey, American tennis player, was active during the 1960s and 1970s. Richey achieved a highest singles ranking of World No. 6 and reached at least the quarterfinal stage of the singles event at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
  • 1946 – Diane von Fürstenberg, Belgian-American fashion designer. Diane von Fürstenberg, formerly Princess Diane of Fürstenberg (German: Diane Prinzessin zu Fürstenberg; born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin; December 31, 1946), is a Belgian fashion designer best known for her wrap dress.
  • 1946 – Nigel Rudd, English businessman, founded Williams Holdings. Sir Nigel Rudd, FCA, DL (born 31 December 1946 in Derby, England) is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
  • 1945 – Connie Willis, American author. Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis (born December 31, 1945), commonly known as Connie Willis, is an American science fiction and fantasy writer.
  • 1944 – Taylor Hackford, American director, producer, and screenwriter. Hackford went on to direct a number of highly regarded feature films, most notably An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Ray (2004), the latter of which saw him nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • 1943 – John Denver, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 1997), was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, activist, and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer. After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career with folk music groups during the late 1960s.
  • 1939 – Willye White, American sprinter and long jumper (d. 2007), was an American track and field athlete who took part in five Olympics from 1956 to 1972. She was America's best female long jumper of the time and also competed in the 100 meters sprint.
  • 1938 – Rosalind Cash, American singer and actress (d. 1995), was an American actress, voice artist and singer. Her best known film role is in the 1971 science fiction film, The Omega Man.
  • 1933 – Edward Bunker, American author, screenwriter, and actor (d. 2005), was an American author of crime fiction, a screenwriter, convicted felon and an actor. He wrote numerous books, some of which have been adapted into films.
  • 1930 – Jaime Escalante, Bolivian-American educator (d. 2010), was a Bolivian-American educator known for teaching students calculus from 1974 to 1991 at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. Escalante was the subject of the 1988 film, Stand and Deliver, in which he is portrayed by Edward James Olmos.
  • 1930 – Odetta, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress (d. 2008), was an American singer, actress, guitarist, lyricist, and a civil and human rights activist, often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement". Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals.
  • 1924 – Taylor Mead, American actor and poet (d. 2013), was an American writer, actor and performer. Mead appeared in several of Andy Warhol's underground films filmed at Warhol's Factory, including Tarzan and Jane Regained...
  • 1920 – Rex Allen, American actor and singer-songwriter (d. 1999), was an American film and television actor, singer and songwriter, known as "the Arizona Cowboy" and as the narrator of many Disney nature and Western productions. For his contributions to the film industry, Allen received a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1975, located at 6821 Hollywood Boulevard.
  • 1919 – Carmen Contreras-Bozak, Puerto Rican-American soldier (d. 2017), was the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Women's Army Corps (WAC) where she served as an interpreter and in numerous administrative positions.
  • 1918 – Ray Graves, American football player and coach (d. 2015), was an American college and professional football player and college football coach. He was a native of Tennessee and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he was the starting center and team captain for the Volunteers under head coach Robert Neyland.
  • 1917 – Evelyn Knight, American singer (d. 2007). Evelyn Dawn Knight (born November 5, 1942) is an English woman known for her involvement in the Abscam sting operation of the 1970s, with her ex-husband Mel Weinberg.
  • 1915 – Sam Ragan, American journalist, author, and poet (d. 1996), was an American journalist, author, poet, and arts advocate from North Carolina.
  • 1914 – Mary Logan Reddick, American neuroembryologist (d. 1966), was a neuroembryologist who earned her PhD from Radcliffe College, Harvard University in 1944. She was a full professor, first at Morehouse College, and then at the University of Atlanta from 1953 to her death.
  • 1910 – Carl Dudley, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1973), was an American film director and producer. He was best known for directing and producing short travelogues.
  • 1909 – Jonah Jones, American trumpet player and saxophonist (d. 2000), was a jazz trumpeter who created concise versions of jazz and swing and jazz standards that appealed to a mass audience. In the jazz community, he is known for his work with Stuff Smith.
  • 1905 – Helen Dodson Prince, American astronomer and academic (d. 2002), was an American astronomer who pioneered work in solar flares at the University of Michigan.
  • 1905 – Jule Styne, English-American composer (d. 1994), was a British-American song writer and composer known for a series of Broadway musicals, which include several famous and frequently revived shows which also became successful films, including Gypsy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Funny Girl.
  • 1880 – Fred Beebe, American baseball player and coach (d. 1957), was a professional baseball player. He played for the Chicago Cubs, St.
  • 1880 – George Marshall, American general and politician, 50th United States Secretary of State, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1959). World War IIChinese Civil War
  • 1878 – Elizabeth Arden, Canadian businesswoman, founded Elizabeth Arden, Inc. (d. 1966), was a Canadian US businesswoman who founded what is now Elizabeth Arden, Inc., and built a cosmetics empire in the United States. By 1929 she owned 150 salons in Europe and the United States.
  • 1874 – Julius Meier, American businessman and politician, 20th Governor of Oregon (d. 1937). The son of the Meier & Frank department store founder, he would become a lawyer before entering the family business in Portland.
  • 1872 – Fred Marriott, American race car driver (d. 1956). In 1906, he set the world land speed record at 127.659 mph (205.5 km/h) at the Daytona Beach Road Course, while driving the Stanley Land Speed Record Car.
  • 1864 – Robert Grant Aitken, American astronomer and academic (d. 1951). Born in Jackson, California, Aitken attended Williams College in Massachusetts and graduated with an undergraduate degree in 1887.
  • 1860 – Joseph S. Cullinan, American businessman, co-founded Texaco (d. 1937), was a U.S. oil industrialist. Although he was a native of Pennsylvania, his lifetime business endeavors would help shape the early phase of the oil industry in Texas.
  • 1857 – King Kelly, American baseball player and manager (d. 1894). Michael Joseph "King" Kelly (December 31, 1857 – November 8, 1894), also commonly known as "$10,000 Kelly", was an American outfielder, catcher, and manager in various professional American baseball leagues including the National League, International Association, Players' League, and the American Association.
  • 1851 – Henry Carter Adams, American economist and academic (d. 1921), was a U.S. economist and Professor of Political Economy and finance at the University of Michigan.
  • 1815 – George Meade, American general and engineer (d. 1872), was a career United States Army officer and civil engineer best known for defeating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.
  • 1776 – Johann Spurzheim, German-American physician and phrenologist (d. 1832), was a German physician who became one of the chief proponents of phrenology, which was developed c. 1800 by Franz Joseph Gall (1758–1828).

Deaths

  • 2016 – William Christopher, American actor (b. 1932)
  • 2015 – Beth Howland, American actress (b. 1941)
  • 2015 – Marvin Panch, American race car driver (b. 1926)
  • 2015 – Natalie Cole, American singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1950)
  • 2015 – Wayne Rogers, American actor and investor (b. 1933)
  • 2014 – Edward Herrmann, American actor (b. 1943)
  • 2014 – Norm Phelps, American author and activist (b. 1939)
  • 2014 – S. Arthur Spiegel, American captain, lawyer, and judge (b. 1920)
  • 2013 – Bob Grant, American radio host (b. 1929)
  • 2008 – Donald E. Westlake, American author and screenwriter (b. 1933)
  • 2007 – Bill Idelson, American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1919)
  • 2007 – Michael Goldberg, American painter and educator (b. 1924)
  • 2007 – Roy Amara, American scientific researcher (b. 1925)
  • 2006 – George Sisler, Jr., American businessman (b. 1917)
  • 2006 – Seymour Martin Lipset, American sociologist, author, and academic (b. 1922)
  • 2005 – Enrico Di Giuseppe, American tenor and educator (b. 1932)
  • 2003 – Arthur R. von Hippel German-American physicist and author (b. 1898)
  • 2002 – Kevin MacMichael, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer (b. 1951)
  • 2001 – Eileen Heckart, American actress (b. 1919)
  • 2000 – Alan Cranston, American journalist and politician (b. 1914)
  • 2000 – Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane, American-Israeli rabbi and scholar (b. 1966)
  • 2000 – José Greco, Italian-American dancer and choreographer (b. 1918)
  • 1999 – Elliot Richardson, American lawyer and politician, 69th United States Attorney General (b. 1920)
  • 1997 – Billie Dove, American actress (b. 1903)
  • 1997 – Floyd Cramer, American singer-songwriter and pianist (b. 1933)
  • 1996 – Wesley Addy, American actor (b. 1913)
  • 1994 – Woody Strode, American football player, wrestler, and actor (b. 1914)
  • 1993 – Brandon Teena, American murder victim (b. 1972)
  • 1990 – Giovanni Michelucci, Italian architect and urban planner, designed the Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station (b. 1891)
  • 1988 – Nicolas Calas, Greek-American poet and critic (b. 1907)
  • 1987 – Jerry Turner, American journalist (b. 1929)
  • 1985 – Ricky Nelson, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1940)
  • 1980 – Raoul Walsh, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1887)
  • 1978 – Basil Wolverton, American illustrator (b. 1909)
  • 1972 – Henry Gerber, German-American activist, founded the Society for Human Rights (b. 1892)
  • 1972 – Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rican-American baseball player and soldier (b. 1934)
  • 1953 – Albert Plesman, Dutch businessman, founded KLM (b. 1889)
  • 1921 – Boies Penrose, American lawyer and politician (b. 1860)
  • 1910 – Archibald Hoxsey, American pilot (b. 1884)
  • 1910 – John Moisant, American pilot and engineer (b. 1868)
  • 1909 – Spencer Trask, American financier and philanthropist (b. 1844)
  • 1775 – Richard Montgomery, American general (b. 1738)
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