On This Day December 25

History Highlights

1776 – General George Washington and 2,400 of his Continental Army troops cross the icy waters of the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.

1914 – Gunfire is replaced with the sounds of Christmas carols as German troops serving in World War I lay down their weapons and break into song on Christmas morning. Russian, French and British troops do the same and even shake hands and exchange cigarettes with enemy soldiers along the eastern and western fronts during the Christmas Truce of 1914. 

1962 – “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a film based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee, opens in theaters, starring Gregory Peck, who wins a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as attorney Atticus Finch.

1973 – “The Sting,” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as a pair of 1930s grifters, premieres.

1977 – British director, producer and comedic actor Charlie Chaplin, an icon of the silent film era, dies at the age of 88.

1989 – Ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, are executed following a popular uprising.

1989 – Former New York Yankees manager Billy Martin dies in a traffic accident at the age of 61.

1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union just days after 11 of the former Soviet republics establish the Commonwealth of Independent States.

1996 – Six-year-old JonBenét Ramsey is killed in her Boulder, Colorado, home. Her parents call police the following morning to report their daughter missing and discover a ransom note demanding $118,000. The girl’s body is found in the basement that afternoon. The crime becomes a national sensation that remains unsolved today.

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White Christmas

Bing Crosby

Dino The Essential Dean Martin

Dean Martin

Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life

Peter Ackroyd

Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius

Bill Pennington

The Twilight Zone (Season 1)

Created by Rod Serling

Coal Miner's Daughter

Starring Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones and Levon Helm, and directed by Michael Apted

On this Day May 4

Musical Milestones

1959 – The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presents the first Grammy Awards with ceremonies held simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles. Among the awards handed out, “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu” (better known as “Volare”) wins both song and record of the year for composer Domenico Modugno.

1968 – Bobby Goldsboro is in the middle of a five-week run on top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Honey.”

1973 – Led Zeppelin opens its 1973 North American tour in Atlanta. Billed as “the biggest and most profitable rock & roll tour in the history of the United States,” the group would gross more than $4 million from it.

1974 – The soundtrack to the motion picture “The Sting,” featuring Marvin Hamlisch’s interpretation of ragtime music by Scott Joplin, begins a five-week run at No. 1 on the album chart.

1974 – Grand Funk Railroad chugs its way to the top of the Billboard singles chart with “The Loco-Motion.”

1985 – “We Are The World,” the musical collaboration produced under the baton of Quincy Jones as a fundraiser for African famine relief, begins its fourth and final week as a chart-topper.

1990 – Madonna kicks off the North American leg of her 57-date Blond Ambition World Tour with a performance in Houston, Texas at The Summit (now Lakewood Church). Years later, Rolling Stone magazine would call the tour “the Greatest Concert of the 1990s.”

2002 – Ashanti has the No. 1 single in the U.S. with “Foolish.” The single remains on top of the pop chart for 10 weeks.

History Highlights

1932 – Mobster Al Capone begins serving an 11-year sentence for income tax evasion in a federal prison in Atlanta.

1961 – Civil rights activists calling themselves the “Freedom Riders” decide to test a recent Supreme Court decision prohibiting racial segregation in interstate travel. They set out on a dangerous journey aboard buses from Washington, D.C. through the Deep South to New Orleans, defying segregated restrooms, restaurants and bus station waiting areas along the way.

1970 – Four students are killed, nine others wounded when National Guard troops open fire during a Vietnam War protest at Kent State University in Ohio. Guardsmen fire 67 rounds in 13 seconds. The tragedy sends shockwaves across the U.S. and around the world.

1977 – British journalist David Frost sits down with former President Richard Nixon for the first of four revealing television interviews. Nixon apologizes for putting “the American people through two years of needless agony” during the Watergate scandal.

1979 – Britain’s Conservative Party leader, Margaret Thatcher, becomes that nation’s first female prime minister.

2008 – The term “May the 4th be with you,” a tribute to the popular Star Wars phrase, “May the force be with you,” becomes a part of pop culture as it begins to be used among members of Star Wars-related Facebook groups that turn it into a celebration of the beloved sci-fi franchise. In 2011 and 2012, Star Wars Day is observed by fans in Toronto during a festival that draws significant media coverage. In 2013, just months after purchasing Lucasfilm, Disney officially recognizes May 4 as Star Wars Day, and its marketing of new movies, TV shows and merchandise continues to explode today.

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Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same

Starring Led Zeppelin, and directed by Peter Clifton and Joe Massot

Madonna

Madonna

American Gangsters: The Life and Legacy of Al Capone

Charles River Editors

67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence

Howard Means

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard and Patricia Neal and directed by Blake Edwards

The Shape of Water

Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins, and directed by Guillermo Del Toro