On This Day December 31
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1869 – Artist Henri Matisse (d. 1954)
1925 – Actor Peter Sellers, best known for his comedic roles in the “Pink Panther” series and “Dr. Strangelove” (d. 1980)
1932 – Country music singer Patsy Cline (“Crazy,” “Walking After Midnight”) (d. 1963)
1937 – Oscar-winning actor-director-producer Sir Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Mask of Zorro,” “Nixon,” “Thor,” “Westworld”)
1942 – Singer-guitarist and The Police band member Andy Summers
1943 – Country-folk singer-songwriter, actor and environmentalist John Denver (d. 1997)
1943 – Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi,” “Bugsy, “Schindler’s List”)
1948 – Disco superstar Donna Summer (d. 2012)
1959 – Actor Val Kilmer (“Top Gun,” “The Doors,” “Batman Forever,” “Conspiracy,” “Double Identity”)
1977 – Singer-rapper PSY, born Park Jae-sang, best known for his 2012 smash single “Gangnam Style”
1781 – The first bank in the U.S. opens under the name The Bank of North America.
1862 – Nine months after engaging in the most famous naval battles in American history, the ironclad warship USS Monitor sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Sixteen crewmen are killed. The Monitor had dueled to a standstill with another ironclad, the CSS Virginia (originally the CSS Merrimack), off Hampton Roads, Virginia on March 9, 1862.
1879 – Inventor Thomas Edison demonstrates his incandescent light bulb to the public for the first time.
1904 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in New York’s Times Square — known then as Longacre Square — at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan. Three years later, in 1907, the tradition of the dropping ball is introduced.
1946 – President Harry Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.
1984 – Bernhard Goetz, the white man known as the “subway vigilante” after he shot four young black men on a New York City subway train, turns himself in to authorities in New Hampshire.
1999 – Days after Mikhail Gorbachev is re-elected head of the Soviet Communist Party, Boris Yeltsin, president of the Republic of Russia, stuns his country and the world by announcing his resignation six months before the end of his term. He turns control over to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, undercutting Gorbachev’s efforts to keep the struggling Soviet Union together.
1999 – The United States officially turns control of the Panama Canal over to Panamanian authorities for the first time.
1966 – The Monkees swing to the top of the singles chart with “I’m a Believer” and hold on for seven weeks, finally yielding to The Buckinghams’ “Kind of a Drag” in mid-February.
1970 – Eight months after the The Beatles’ breakup and subsequent release of their last album, “Let It Be,” Paul McCartney files suit against bandmates John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to officially dissolve their partnership.
1972 – Dick Clark begins a new holiday tradition as his first “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” concert is broadcast on ABC-TV, featuring performances by Three Dog Night and Al Green. Clark hosts the annual event for the next 32 years before turning the reins over to Ryan Seacrest.
1977 – “How Deep Is Your Love,” by the Bee Gees, is in the middle of three weeks as the No. 1 single. The song is part of the “Saturday Night Fever” movie soundtrack.
1983 – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson are in the middle of a six-week domination of the pop chart with “Say Say Say.”
1985 – Former teen idol Ricky Nelson and six others are killed when their chartered plane crashes in Texas.
1988 – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” by Poison, is in the midst of a three-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard single chart.
2005 – Mariah Carey begins a two-week hold on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Don’t Forget About Us.”
2015 – Grammy-winning R&B singer-songwriter Natalie Cole (“This Will Be,” “I’ve Got Love On My Mind,” “Miss You Like Crazy,” “Unforgettable”), daughter of legendary crooner and jazz pianist Nat King Cole, dies of congestive heart failure at the age of 65.