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1955–Disneyland opens the gates to “The Happiest Place on Earth” in Anaheim, California. Approximately 60,000 people visit the park on opening day and in the famous theme park’s first year of operation, four million people will visit Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Main Street U.S.A. On this opening day, Disneyland holds a gala TV broadcast featuring Walt Disney, Bob Cummings, Art Linkletter, and Ronald Reagan. ABC-TV provided some of the $17 million funding for the park in exchange for a weekly Disney TV show.



180–In Scillium, in North Africa, 12 inhabitants are executed for being Christians. This is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world.

924–English King, Edward the Elder, dies.

1048–Damasus II is elected pope.

1203–The Fourth Crusade captures Constantinople by assault. The Byzantine emperor Alexios III Angelos flees from his capital into exile.

1402–Zhu Di, better known by his era name as the Yongle Emperor, assumes the throne over the Ming dynasty of China.

1429–Charles VII of France is crowned the King of France in the Reims Cathedral after a successful campaign by Joan of Arc.

1453–In the last battle of the Hundred Years' War, the French, under Jean Bureau, defeat the English, under the Earl of Shrewsbury, who is killed in the battle in Gascony.

1487–Ismail I of Iran is born.

1665–Portugal definitively secures independence from Spain in the last battle of the Portuguese Restoration War.

1717–King George I of Great Britain sails down the River Thames with a barge of 50 musicians, where George Frideric Handel's Water Music is premiered.

1762–Peter III of Russia dies by assassination (or suicide) in Ropsha, Russia, at age 34. Catherine II becomes the Tsar.

1763–German-American businessman, John Jacob Astor, is born.

1791–Members of the French National Guard, under the command of General Lafayette, open fire on a crowd of radical Jacobins at the Champ de Mars in Paris, France, during the French Revolution, killing as many as 50 people.

1794–The 16 Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne are executed 10 days prior to the end of the French Revolution's “Reign of Terror.”

1819–The Spanish territory of Florida is acquired by the United States through the Adams-Onís Treaty.

1831–Xianfeng Emperor of China is born.

1845–Charles Grey, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, dies quietly in his bed in Howick, Northumberland, England, at age 81. Earl Grey tea, a blend which uses bergamot oil to flavor the beverage, is named after Grey.

1856–The Great Train Wreck of 1856 in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, kills over 60 people.

1867–The Harvard School of Dental Medicine is established in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the first dental school in the U.S. that is affiliated with a university.

1881–James Bridger, scout, fur trader, and mountain man, dies on his farm near Kansas City, Missouri, at age 77.

1889–Author and lawyer, Erle Stanley Gardner, is born in Malden, Massachusetts. He was the prolific writer of the “Perry Mason” mystery series, which totaled 82 books. The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center houses Gardner's manuscripts, and contains a miniaturized reproduction of his study room. Eventually, Perry Mason became a long-running TV series starring Raymond Burr in the title role. Though Burr originally auditioned for the role of district attorney Hamilton Burger, Gardner reportedly insisted that he be cast as Mason. Gardner made an uncredited appearance as a judge in "The Case of the Final Fade-Out," the last episode of the original series.

1896–At age 16, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, the Indian sage, spontaneously initiates a process of self-enquiry that culminates within a few minutes in his own permanent awakening.

1899–NEC Corporation is organized as the first Japanese joint venture with foreign capital.

1899–Actor, James Cagney, is born James Francis Cagney, Jr. in New York, New York. He is best known for his starring role in the film Yankee Doodle Dandy. He also appeared in the films The Public Enemy, The Crowd Roars, The St. Louis Kid, Frisco Kid, Something to Sing About, Angels with Dirty Faces, Each Dawn I Die, Johnny Come Lately, White Heat, The West Point Story, Mister Roberts, The Seven Little Foys, Love Me or Leave Me, These Wilder Years, Man of a Thousand Faces, Shake Hands with the Devil, and Ragtime.

1902–Dr. Willis Carrier installs a commercial air conditioning system at a Brooklyn, New York, printing plant. The system is the first to provide man-made control over temperature, humidity, ventilation, and air quality. For the first two decades of the 20th century, Carrier’s invention was used primarily to cool machines, not people. The development of the centrifugal chiller by Carrier in the early 1920s, led to comfort cooling for movie theaters (remember the marquees with “It’s Cool Inside”?) and, before long, air conditioning came to department stores, office buildings, and railroad cars.

1912–Radio and television host, Art Linkletter, is born.

1917–King George V issues a proclamation stating that the male line descendants of the British Royal Family will bear the surname Windsor.

1917–Comedienne, Phyllis Diller, is born.

1917–Fidel Sánchez Hernández, President of El Salvador, is born in El Divisadero, El Salvador.

1918–Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, his immediate family, and retainers are murdered by Bolshevik Chekists at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Those killed are Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna, Alexandra Fyodorovna, Alexei Nikolaevich, and Nicholas II.

1918–The RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic, is sunk off Ireland by the German SM U-55, killing five people.

1918–Singer-songwriter, Red Sovine, is born.

1918–Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia dies during the execution of her family at Ipatiev House, Yekaterinburg, Russian SFSR, at age 19. She was an elder sister of the famous Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia.

1920–Physicist, Gordon Gould, is born in New York, New York. He invented the laser.

1925– Singer, Jimmy Scott, is born.

1928–Jazz pianist, Vince Guaraldi, is born Vincent Anthony Dellaglio in San Francisco, California. He composed the innovative music for the Charlie Brown TV specials. He had a huge hit with Cast Your Fate to the Wind in 1962.

1928–Joe Morello, drummer for The Dave Brubeck Quartet, is born Joseph Albert Morello in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was frequently noted for playing in the unusual time signatures employed by the group in such pieces as Take Five and Blue Rondo à la Turk. Popular for its work on college campuses during the 1950s, Brubeck’s group reached new heights with Morello. During his career, Morello appeared on over 120 albums, 60 of which were with The Dave Brubeck Quartet. He authored several drum books, including Master Studies, published by Modern Drummer Publications, and also made instructional videos. Morello was the recipient of many awards, including Playboy magazine's best drummer award for seven years in a row, and Down Beat magazine's best drummer award five years in a row.

1928–Álvaro Obregón, President of Mexico (1920-1924), dies by assassination in San Ángel, Mexico City, Mexico, at age 48. His killer, José de León Toral, was a Roman Catholic opposed to the government's policies on religious matters.

1933–After successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Lithuanian research aircraft, Lituanica, crashes in Europe under mysterious circumstances.

1935–Actress and singer, Diahann Carroll, is born.

1935–Actor, Donald (McNichol) Sutherland, is born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. He appeared in the films Die! Die! My Darling, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The Bedford Incident, Promise Her Anything, The Dirty Dozen, Sebastian, Joanna, Interlude, M*A*S*H, Alex in Wonderland, Klute, The Day of the Locust, 1900, National Lampoon's Animal House, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ordinary People, Max Dugan Returns, Crackers, A Dry White Season, JFK, Backdraft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Six Degrees of Separation, Disclosure, Outbreak, Space Cowboys, Cold Mountain, Reign Over Me, and The Hunger Games. His son is actor, Keifer Sutherland.

1936–An Armed Forces rebellion against the recently elected leftist Popular Front government of Spain starts the Spanish Civil War.

1938–Douglas Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn, New York, flying the "wrong way" to Ireland; he becomes known as "Wrong Way" Corrigan.

1939–Cab Calloway records the hit Jumpin' Jive, which is considered to be the first million selling R&B record.

1941–Spencer Davis, of the Spencer Davis Group, is born in Swansea, Wales.

1942–Singer, Gale Garnett, is born.

1942–Rocker, Zoot Money, is born in England.

1944–Near the San Francisco Bay, two ships laden with ammunition for the war explode in Port Chicago, California, killing 320.

1944–Napalm incendiary bombs are dropped for the first time by American P-38 pilots on a fuel depot at Coutances, near Saint-Lô, France.

1945–The main three leaders of the Allied nations, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin, meet in Potsdam, Germany, to decide the future of a defeated Germany.

1945–Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, is born.

1947–Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is born.

1947–Wolfgang Flür, drummer for Kraftwerk, is born in Germany.

1948–The South Korean constitution is proclaimed.

1948–Ron Asheton, of The Stooges, is born Ronald Franklin Asheton in Washington D.C. He formed the Stooges, along with Iggy Pop, his brother, drummer Scott Asheton, and bassist Dave Alexander.

1949–Geezer Butler, of Black Sabbath, is born in England.

1950–Damon Harris, of The Temptations, is born.

1950–Singer, Phoebe Snow, is born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York, New York. She is best known for the song Poetry Man.

1951–Cajun music fiddler, Harry Henry Choates, dies of complications related to alcoholism at age 28. Choates had been found guilty of failure to pay child support and was sentenced to three days in jail. He began hitting his head against the bars of his cell, eventually falling into a coma and died several days later. He was well known as the “Fiddle King of Cajun Swing.”

1952–Actor, David Hasselhoff, is born.

1952–Singer, Nicolette Larson, is born in Helena, Montana. She had a big hit with the song Lotta Love in 1978. She was married to drummer, Russ Kunkel.

1953–The largest number of United States midshipman casualties in a single event results from an aircraft crash in Florida, killing 44 men.

1954–The first Newport Jazz Festival is held at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island.

1955–Disneyland opens the gates to “The Happiest Place on Earth” in Anaheim, California. Approximately 60,000 people visit the park on opening day and in the famous theme park’s first year of operation, four million people will visit Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Main Street U.S.A. On this opening day, Disneyland holds a gala TV broadcast featuring Walt Disney, Bob Cummings, Art Linkletter, and Ronald Reagan. ABC-TV provided some of the $17 million funding for the park in exchange for a weekly Disney TV show.

1959–Jazz and blues singer, Billie Holiday, dies in New York, New York, at age 44. Her story is told in the film Lady Sings the Blues, starring Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams.

1960–Television producer, Mark Burnett, is born in London, England. His productions include Survivor, The Apprentice, The Contender, The Voice, The Bible, Shark Tank, and 500 Questions. He is married to actress, Roma Downey.

1961–American baseball player, Ty Cobb, dies.

1962–The "Small Boy" test shot, Little Feller I, becomes the last nuclear atmospheric test detonation at the Nevada National Security Site.

1967–The Jimi Hendrix Experience opens for The Monkees at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in New York. Jimi Hendrix quits the tour soon after.

1967–Jazz musician, John Coltrane, dies of liver cancer in New York, New York, at age 40.

1968–A revolution occurs in Iraq, when Abdul Rahman Arif is overthrown and the Ba'ath Party is installed as the governing power in Iraq with Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr as the new Iraqi President.

1968–The movie, Yellow Submarine, premieres at the London Pavillion in London, England. All of The Beatles are in attendance. The animated film will turn out to be very popular and will produce numerous novelties and even a minor resurgence of Beatlemania. Voices for The Beatles' animated counterparts were done by John Clive (John), Geoffrey Hughes (Paul), Peter Battan (George), and Paul Angelus (Ringo). Despite The Beatles' general lack of interest, Yellow Submarine is destined to become a major part of the Fab Four's legend.

1973–King Mohammed Zahir Shah of Afghanistan is deposed by his cousin, Mohammed Daoud Khan, while undergoing eye surgery in Italy.

1974–Baseball player, Dizzy Dean, dies of a heart attack in Reno, Nevada, at age 64. He played in Major League baseball as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs, and the St. Louis Browns. Dean was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953.

1975–American Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft dock with each other in orbit, marking the first such link-up between spacecraft from the two nations.

1975–Ringo Starr's wife, Maureen, is granted a divorce on the grounds of adultery.

1976–East Timor is annexed, becoming the 27th province of Indonesia.

1979–Nicaraguan dictator, General Anastasio Somoza Debayle, resigns and flees to Miami, Florida.

1981–The Humber Bridge is opened by Queen Elizabeth II in England.

1981–A structural failure leads to the collapse of a walkway at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, killing 114 people and injuring over 200 others.

1984–The drinking age in the United States is changed from 18 to 21.

1985–The founding of the EUREKA Network by former head of states François Mitterrand (France) and Helmut Kohl (Germany) takes place.

1989–The first flight of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber occurs.

1991–Soul singer, James Brown, is released after spending two years in prison.

1996–The Community of Portuguese Language Countries is founded.

1996–Off the coast of Long Island, New York, a Paris-bound TWA Boeing 747 explodes, killing all 230 people on board.

1996–Chas Chandler, bass player for The Animals, dies of an aortic aneurysm in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, at age 57. After The Animals underwent personnel changes in 1966, Chandler turned to becoming a talent scout, artist manager, and record producer. During his final tour with The Animals, Chandler saw a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix play in Cafe Wha?, a nightclub in Greenwich Village, New York. Chandler was a key figure in Hendrix's rise to critical and commercial success.

1997–After 117 years, the Woolworth Corporation closes its last 400 stores.

1998–A tsunami triggered by an undersea earthquake destroys 10 villages in Papua, New Guinea, killing an estimated 3,183. Two thousand 2,000 more are unaccounted for and thousands more are left homeless.

1998–A diplomatic conference adopts the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, establishing a permanent international court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

2001–The Concorde is brought back in to service nearly a year after a crash in July 2000.

2001–Newspaper publisher, Katharine Graham, dies from a head injury sustained in a fall in Sun Valley, Idaho, at age 84. She married Philip Graham, who became publisher of The Washington Post in 1946, when her father, Eugene Meyer, handed the newspaper over to his son-in-law. She led her family's newspaper for more than two decades (1963-1991) after her husband’s suicide. Katherine Graham presided over The Washington Post at a crucial time in its history: it played an integral role in unveiling the Watergate conspiracy and ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

2005–Actress, Geraldine Fitzgerald, dies.

2005–Politician, Edward Heath, dies. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

2006–A 7.7 earthquake and tsunami in Pangandaran severely affects the Indonesian island of Java, killing 668 people and injuring more than 9,000 others.

2006–Mystery writer, Mickey Spillane, dies of pancreatic cancer in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, at age 88. He was an American author of crime novels, many featuring his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally.

2007–TAM Airlines Flight 3054, an Airbus A320, crashes into a warehouse after landing too fast and missing the end of the São Paulo-Congonhas Airport runway, killing 199 people.

2009–Two suicide bombers detonate themselves at two separate hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia.

2009–Journalist and news anchorman, Walter Cronkite, dies from cerebrovascular disease in New York, New York, at age 92. He is best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962-1981). During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America," after being so named in an opinion poll. Cronkite is vividly remembered for breaking the news of the death of President John F. Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963: he was the first newsman do so.

2009–Gordon Waller, of Peter and Gordon, dies of cardiac arrest in Norwich, Connecticut, at age 64. He teamed with Peter Asher in 1963, to form one of the most successful duos of the British Invasion. Their first three chart hits were written by Paul McCartney (who was dating Jane Asher, Peter’s sister). Those hits were World Without Love, Nobody I Know, and I Don’t Want to See You Again.

2014–Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, crashes near the border of Ukraine and Russia after being shot down. All 298 people on board are killed.

2014–Actress, Elaine Stritch, dies in her sleep at her home in Birmingham, Michigan, at age 89. She was best known for her work on Broadway, and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995.

2015–Flames from a brush fire near Victorville, California, overtakes a section of Interstate 15, burning dozens of cars, including a big rig that was transporting vehicles. Most of the cars were evacuated before the fire engulfed the freeway, as hundreds of people escaped on foot.

2015–At least 120 people are killed and 130 others are injured by a suicide bombing in Diyala Province, Iraq.

2016–Three police officers are shot dead and three others are wounded by lone gunman, Gavin Long (of Kansas City, Missouri), in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

2016–A helicopter crashes at Breighton Aerodrome in the United Kingdom, killing five people.

2016–Record producer, Gary S. Paxton, dies from complications of heart surgery and liver disease in Branson, Missouri, at age 77. He was a member of Skip & Flip and The Hollywood Argyles, and was the producer of two #1 Billboard “Hot 100” singles, Alley Oop and Monster Mash.


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