On This Day December 26
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1914 – Golden Globe-winning actor Richard Widmark (“Kiss of Death,” “No Way Out,” “Don’t Bother to Knock”) (d. 2008)
1921 – Entertainer Steve Allen, first host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” who was a prolific comedian, composer, actor, author and TV host during a nearly five-decade career (d. 2000)
1927 – Comedian-actor Alan King (d. 2004)
1933 – Puppeteer Caroll Spinney, the talent behind the “Sesame Street” characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch (d. 2019)
1939 – Grammy-winning record producer-songwriter and convicted murderer Phil Spector
1947 – Major League Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk
1956 – Humorist-comedian-author David Sedaris (“SantaLand Diaries,” “Naked,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “When You Are Engulfed in Flames”)
1971 – Oscar and Golden Globe-winning actor and musician Jared Leto (“Girl, Interrupted,” “American Psycho,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “Panic Room,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Suicide Squad”)
1979 – Rock singer-songwriter-guitarist Chris Daughtry, whose music career was launched by a fourth-place finish on “American Idol”
1898 – In a landmark moment for chemistry and physics, French scientists Pierre and Marie Curie publish a paper announcing their discovery of the element of radium (Ra). The groundbreaking discovery later garners the husband and wife team the Nobel Prize.
1946 – Mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel opens the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, aiming to establish a stylish and cosmopolitan gambling destination in the Nevada desert. Siegel closes the resort just two weeks later due to lackluster business, and the following June, he is killed in a mob hit. After undergoing multiple ownership changes through the years, the Flamingo is still in operation as the oldest casino on the Vegas Strip.
1966 – Kwanzaa is observed for the first time. The seven-day holiday with strong African roots was designed by Dr. Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach, as a celebration of African American family, community and culture.
1972 – Harry S. Truman, the 33rd U.S. president, dies in Independence, Missouri at the age of 88.
1973 – “The Exorcist” opens in movie theaters across the U.S., terrifying audiences and establishing a new standard for the horror genre. Based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel of the same name, the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning movie is about a girl, played by Linda Blair, that is possessed by an evil spirit.
1974 – Cancer claims the life of beloved comedian Jack Benny at the age of 80.
1982 – TIME magazine breaks from tradition when the magazine’s editors replace the annual “Man of the Year” cover story with “Machine of the Year” and profile the personal computer.
1996 – Six-year-old beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey is found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s Boulder, Colorado home. Her murder becomes the focus one of most intensive and publicized police investigations in U.S. history and remains unsolved to this day.
1964 – The Beatles score their sixth No. 1 single of the year as “I Feel Fine” kicks off three weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. The song is the Fab Four’s 29th to make the charts in 1964.
1970 – “My Sweet Lord,” by George Harrison, kicks off four weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 and makes Harrison the first ex-Beatle to reach No. 1 as a solo act.
1981 – Olivia Newton-John begins her sixth week reigning over the pop chart with “Physical,” which remains at No. 1 for the first four weeks of 1982.
1987 – The “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack is the middle of a nine-week reign as the No. 1 album. It becomes one of the best-selling albums of all time.
1992 – Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” enters its fifth week on top of the Billboard Hot 100. The track continues to hold the top spot for the first nine weeks of 1993.
1998 – “I’m Your Angel.” by R. Kelly and Céline Dion, is in the middle of a six-week run on top of the singles chart.
1999 – Soul, R&B and funk singer-songwriter Curtis Mayfield, best known for his acclaimed 1972 “Super Fly” soundtrack,” dies at the age of 57. Mayfield — a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee — was a member of The Impressions before embarking on a solo career.
2009 – The Jay-Z/Alicia Keys duet, “Empire State of Mind,” is in its fifth and final week as a No. 1 single.