Today's Holidays for December 21
Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle Patron Saint of India, East Indies, architects, and builders.
Today's History Trivia for December 21
1913 First Crossword Puzzle by Arthur Wynne appearing in the New York World. Can You Solve It?
1891 First basketball game YMCA instructor Dr. James A. Naismith organized a game between his students. The original game used a soccer ball and peach baskets with the bottoms still intact. The players had to use a ladder to retrieve the ball from the basket. Eventually, they poked a small hole in the basket so they could use a stick to retrieve the ball.
2012 End of the World According to some, the ancient Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world on this date. Also, the winter solstice is aligned with the Milky Way on this date. If you're reading this, they were wrong.
1992 Home Alone Two Chicago girls, ages nine and four, call 911 after overfilling a bathtub and setting off a smoke alarm. Police found that they had been left alone, while their parents took a nine-day vacation in Acapulco, Mexico.
1989 Space Cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov return to Earth after spending a record 366 days in orbit.
1989 Dan Quayle The U.S. Vice-President sends out 30,000 misspelled Christmas cards: "May our nation continue to be the beakon of hope."
1988 Flight 103 A Bomb explodes on Pan Am flight over Scotland, killing all 259 persons on board and 11 on the ground.
1988 Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. plead guilty to six violations of federal law and accepts penalties of $650 million.
1941 NFL Dropkick Made by Chicago Bears' Scooter McLean. This would be the last successful NFL dropkick until Doug Flutie completed one in 2006.
1936 First major U.S. ski resort opens, in Sun Valley, Idaho.
1864 Civil War Gen. Sherman (Union) takes Savannah, Georgia.
1790 First U.S. cotton mill begins production, in Rhode Island.
Today's Birthdays for December 21
1985 James "Bubba" Stewart, Jr African-American motocross racer. He was the first African-American to win a major motorsport event (250cc THQ AMA Supercross Series race at Texas Stadium, 2005).
1966 Kiefer Sutherland English-born Canadian Emmy-winning actor. He has worked the rodeo circuit winning rodeos in Albuquerque and Phoenix. Film: Stand By Me (1986), The Lost Boys (1985), Flatliners (1990), and A Few Good Men (1992). TV: 24 (Jack Bauer).
1959 Florence Griffith Joyner d. 1998 (Flo Jo), American athlete, "World's Fastest Woman." She was the first U.S. female athlete to win four medals at a single Olympics (1988, three gold and a silver), and was the co-chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. She died of epilepsy at age 38.
1954 Chris Evert American tennis champion. She is the all-time leader in tournament victories (157) and has been ranked #1 in the world five times.
1946 Carl Wilson d. 1998 American guitarist, with The Beach Boys. Music: Surfin' USA (1963), I Get Around (1964, #1), Help Me Rhonda, (1965, #1), and Good Vibrations (1966, #1).
1940 Frank Zappa d. 1993 (Francis Vincent Zappa Jr.), American Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, leader of The Mothers of Invention. Music: Yellow Snow (1974), Valley Girl (1982), and Jazz From Hell (1987, Grammy).
1938 Larry Bryggman American actor. TV: As the World Turns (Dr. John Dixon).
1937 Jane Fonda American Oscar-winning actress, activist. Film: Coming Home (1978, Oscar).
1935 Phil Donahue American Emmy-winning talk show host.
1922 Paul Winchell d. 2005 American ventriloquist. He worked with a couple of dummies named Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. He was also the voice of Tigger in "Winnie the Pooh" features.
1921 Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Jr d. 1982 American imposter. He lied and forged his way into jobs as a surgeon; professor of applied psychology; Trappist monk; and prison guidance counselor; all of which he performed admirably, although he didn't even possess a high-school diploma. He was the basis for the film The Great Imposter (1961).
1909 George Ball d. 1994 American lawyer, economist, presidential advisor. In 1961, as Pres. Kennedy's undersecretary of state, he advised that if 15,000 troops were sent to Vietnam, it would take another 300,000 to bring them back home.
1829 Laura Dewey Bridgman d. 1889 American blind deaf-mute. She was the first person educated using the techniques that later evolved into the modern methods.
1804 Benjamin Disraeli d. 1881 British prime minister. He once declared "No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition."
1773 Robert Brown d. 1858 British botanist. Known for his description of the Brownian movement (1827), which is the rapid movement of minute particles suspended in liquid.
1401 Masaccio d. circa 1429 (Tomaso Guidi), Italian Renaissance painter, called the father of modern art.
Deaths for December 21
1945 George Smith Patton Jr b. 1885 American four-star general, called "Old Blood and Guts." He led the 3rd Army during World War II. He competed as the Army's entry for the first modern pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games.
1921 P. B. S. Pinchback b. 1837 (Pinckney Benton Stewart), American publisher, politician. He was the first African American to become governor of a U.S. state (1872, Louisiana). Born to a black freed slave and her former master in Georgia. As Senate president pro tempore, Pinchback succeeded to the position of acting lieutenant governor upon the death of Oscar Dunn (1871). In 1872, the governor was impeached. State law required him to step aside until his impeachment case was tried. Pinchback then served in his place for about 6 weeks until his term ended.
2014 Billie Whitelaw b. 1932 English actress. Film: Charlie Bubbles (1968, British Film Academy Award) and The Omen (1976).
2000 Alfred J. Gross b. 1918 Canadian-born inventor. He invented the walkie-talkie (1939) and the pager (1949) and laid the groundwork for cordless and cellular phones. While visiting Gross' workshop, Chester Gould was inspired to give Dick Tracy his 2-way wristwatch.
1993 Zack Mosley b. 1906 American cartoonist, creator of Smilin' Jack (1933-73).
1992 Stella Adler b. 1901 American acting instructor. Her students included Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Martin Sheen, Harvey Keitel, Melanie Griffith, Peter Bogdanovich, and Warren Beatty
1992 Albert King b. 1923 (Albert Nelson), American blues musician. Music: Laundromat Blues (1966) and Born Under a Bad Sign (1967).
1991 Dorothy McElroy Vredenburg b. 1916 American politician. First woman secretary of a national political party (1944, secretary of the Democratic National Committee). This also made her the youngest person elected as an officer of either the Democratic or Republican party.
1988 Bob Steele b. 1907 (Robert North Bradbury Jr.), American actor. TV: F Troop (Trooper Duffy).
1967 Louis Washkansky b. 1914 South African grocer. He received the first successful human heart transplant, surviving for 18 days.
1950 Hattie Wyatt Caraway b. 1878 American politician. She was the first woman: elected to the U.S. Senate (1932, Arkansas); to preside over Senate Sessions (1932); president pro tem of the Senate (1943).
1940 F. Scott Fitzgerald b. 1896 (Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald), American author. Writings: This Side of Paradise (1920) and The Great Gatsby (1925).
1938 James M. Black b. 1856 American Methodist composer. Music: When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder (wrote the tune). Source: An Almanac of the Christian Church
1933 James Forman "Tod" Sloan b. 1874 American jockey. The leading race horse jockey of the late 1800s. He introduced the practices of riding high on the horse and hunching down to reduce wind resistance. He was ridiculed by his detractors, calling his riding style the "monkey crouch."
1824 James Parkinson b. 1755 English surgeon. He described the disease of shaking palsy (1817), which now bears his name. He was also one of the first to give a scientific account of fossils.
English clergyman, hymn writer. Music: Amazing Grace (1779), with lyrics "Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
A.D. 69 Aulus Vitellius b. A.D. 15 Roman Emperor (Apr-Dec 69 A.D.), killed by Vespasian.