It happened today – on this day in history – December 15

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37AD: Birth of Nero, fifth emperor of Rome.

1488: Bartolomeu Dias returns to Portugal after becoming the first known European to sail around the Cape of Good Hope.

1664: The English colonise Connecticut.

1675: Death of Dutch painter Jan Vermeer.

1840: Napoleon Bonaparte receives a state funeral in Paris 19 years after his death.

1890: Hunkpapa-Sioux chief Sitting Bull is killed by US Police.

1893: Dvoráks “From the New World” premieres at Carnegie Hall, New York.

1914: British fleet forfeits the chance to destroy the German fleet in the North Sea.

1939: Gone With The Wind premieres in Atlanta.

1943: Death of jazz pianist Fats Waller.

1944: Bandleader Glenn Miller’s plane disappears over the English Channel. His body is never found.

1959: Real Madrid’s Alfredo di Stefano wins the Ballon d’Or.

1961: Adolph Eichmann is sentenced to death in Israel for war crimes.

1962: Death of actor Charles Laughton.

1966: Walt Disney does of lung cancer aged 65.

1973: Kidnap victim John Paul Getty III is freed after a ransom is paid by his oil tycoon grandfather John Paul Getty.

1982: Spain reopens the border with Gibraltar.

1988: James Brown was sentenced to six years in prison for possession of weapons and resisting arrest.

1994: Former 800m Commonwealth gold-medallist, Diane Modahl, is found guilty of taking a performance enhancing drug and banned from competing for four years.

2001: Singer Rufus Thomas died of heart failure aged 84.

2004: Home Secretary, David Blunkett, resigns after an email implicates him in using his position to grant favours to his ex-lover.

2010: Writer/director Blake Edwards dies aged 88.

2011: Former French president Jacques Chirac is convicted of diverting public funds. Receives a two-year suspended prison sentence.

BIRTHDAYS: Dave Clark, drummer/entrepreneur, 77; Carmine Appice, drummer, 73; Don Johnson, actor, 70; Adrian Belew, guitarist (Frank Zappa/King Crimson) 70; Joe Jordan, former footballer, 68; Paul Simonon, artist/bass player (The Clash) 64; Nick Beggs, bassist 58; Helen Slater, actress, 56; Frankie Dettori, jockey, 49; Serge Pizzorno, musician (Kasabian) 39; Michelle Dockery, 38; Charlie Cox, actor, 37; Martin Skrtel, footballer, 35.

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]

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