Today in History
Today is Tuesday, Dec. 20, the 355th day of 2016. There are 11 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 20, 1946, the Frank Capra film "It's A Wonderful Life," starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, had a preview showing for charity at New York's Globe Theatre, a day before its official world premiere.
On this date:
In 1790, the first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was completed as ownership of the territory was formally transferred from France to the United States.
In 1812, German authors Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of the first edition of their collection of folk stories, "Children's and Household Tales."
In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union as all 169 delegates to a special convention in Charleston voted in favor of separation.
In 1864, Confederate forces evacuated Savannah, Georgia, as Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman nearly completed his "March to the Sea."
In 1924, Adolf Hitler was released from prison after serving nine months for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch; during his time behind bars, he'd written his autobiographical screed, "Mein Kampf."
In 1945, the Office of Price Administration announced the end of tire rationing, effective Jan. 1, 1946.
In 1963, the Berlin Wall was opened for the first time to West Berliners, who were allowed one-day visits to relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays.
In 1976, Richard J. Daley, the mayor of Chicago since 1955, died in office at age 74.
In 1987, more than 4,300 people were killed when the Dona Paz, a Philippine passenger ship, collided with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island.
In 1989, the United States launched Operation Just Cause, sending troops into Panama to topple the government of Gen. Manuel Noriega.
In 1995, an American Airlines Boeing 757 en route to Cali, Colombia, slammed into a mountain, killing all but four of the 163 people aboard. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO began its peacekeeping mission, taking over from the United Nations.
Ten years ago: Acknowledging deepening frustration over Iraq, President George W. Bush told a news conference he was considering an increase in American forces and warned that the next year would bring more painful U.S. losses. Recently sworn-in Defense Secretary Robert Gates made an unannounced visit to Iraq.
Five years ago: Lori Berenson, an American paroled after 15 years behind bars in Peru for aiding leftist guerrillas, arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport for her first visit home since her arrest in 1995. (After a 17-day visit, Berenson returned to Peru to serve out the rest of her parole; she was expelled from Peru on Dec. 2, 2015 and returned to the U.S.) LSU's Les Miles was selected The Associated Press college football coach of the year. Soccer player Abby Wambach was voted the AP Female Athlete of the Year.
One year ago: A strong showing by a pair of upstart parties in Spain's general election upended the country's traditional two-party system, with the ruling center-right Popular Party winning the most votes but falling far short of a parliamentary majority. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines was crowned Miss Universe at the pageant in Las Vegas (in a bizarre finale, first-time host Steve Harvey mistakenly identified first-runner up Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo of Colombia as the winner before correcting himself and apologizing for the error). Tony Award-winning actress Patricia Elliott, 77, died in New York.
Today's Birthdays: Actor John Hillerman is 84. Original Mouseketeer Tommy Cole (TV: "The Mickey Mouse Club") is 75. Rock musician-music producer Bobby Colomby is 72. Rock musician Peter Criss is 71. Psychic/illusionist Uri Geller is 70. Producer Dick Wolf ("Law & Order") is 70. Rock musician Alan Parsons is 68. Actress Jenny Agutter is 64. Actor Michael Badalucco is 62. Actress Blanche Baker is 60. Rock singer Billy Bragg is 59. Rock singer-musician Mike Watt (The Secondmen, Minutemen, fIREHOSE) is 59. Actor Joel Gretsch is 53. Country singer Kris Tyler is 52. Rock singer Chris Robinson is 50. Actress Nicole deBoer is 46. Movie director Todd Phillips is 46. Singer David Cook ("American Idol") is 34. Actor Jonah Hill is 33. Actor Bob Morley is 32. Singer JoJo is 26.
Thought for Today: "Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." — G.K. Chesterton, English poet-essayist (1874-1936).