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

37: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus is born in Antium.

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

1664: The English colonise Connecticut.

1675: Dutch painter Jan Vermeer dies aged 43.

1815: Gioachino Rossini get an assignment to compose The Barber of Seville.

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

1890: Hunkpapa-Sioux chief Sitting Bull who led his people to victory in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, is killed by US Police.

1893: Antonin Dvorák’s “From the New World” premieres at Carnegie Hall in New York.

1907: The Shah of Persia leads a coup against liberal Prime Minister Nasir ul-Mulk and imprisons him, but a popular uprising forces the Shah to restore Nasir ul-Mulk soon after.

1916: The French launch a major offensive against German lines after a six-day artillery bombardment during the Battle of Verdun.

1917: An armistice is reached between the new Russian Bolshevik government and the Central Powers.

1939: Gone With The Wind, starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh premieres in Atlanta.

1941: The USS Swordfish becomes the first American submarine to sink a Japanese ship.

1943: Pianist/composer Fats Waller dies aged 39 of pneumonia on the LA – Chicago Super Chief train near Kansas City.

1944: Country legend Hank Williams marries bassist Audrey Sheppard at a justice of the peace’s filling station in Alabama. On the same day, bandleader Glenn Miller’s aircraft disappears in bad weather over the English Channel. He is never found.

1952: Christine Jorgenson becomes the first known American to undergo a sex-change operation.

1959: Real Madrid forward Alfredo di Stefano wins his second Ballon d’Or.

1961: Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death in Israel.

1962: Actor Charles Laughton dies aged 63.

1965: Launch of Gemini 6.

1966: Walt Disney dies from lung cancer aged 65.

1969: John Lennon plays what will be his final ever gig in the UK when he appears at The Lyceum Ballroom, London, with the Plastic Ono Band in a UNICEF ‘Peace For Christmas’ benefit.

1970: The Soviet Venera 7 becomes the fist spacecraft to land on another planet when it touches down on Venus.

1973: The American Psychiatric Association declares homosexuality is not a mental illness. On the same day, kidnap victim John Paul Getty III is freed after a ransom is paid by his oil tycoon grandfather.

1974: Speed limits on British roads are reduced from midnight as the government tries to save fuel.


1976: Samoa becomes a member of the UN.

1979: The deposed Shah of Iran leaves the US for Panama. On the same day, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott develop the board game Trivial Pursuit.

1982: The gates isolating the people of Gibraltar from Spain are opened for the first time in 13 years.

1984: The USSR launches Vega 1 for a rendezvous with Halley’s Comet.

1985: Sylvester Stallone marries actress Brigitte Nielsen in Beverly Hills.

Singles chart:

  1. Saving All My Love For You – Whitney Houston
  2. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin Stevens
  3. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
  4. I’m Your Man – Wham!
  5. West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys
  6. See The Day – Dee C Lee
  7. Separate Lives – Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin
  8. Dress You Up – Madonna
  9. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Bruce Springsteen
  10. Last Christmas – Wham!
1985: Sade – Promise

Album chart:

  1. Now The Christmas Album – Various Artists
  2. Now That’s What I Call Music 6 – Various Artists
  3. Hits 3 – Various Artists
  4. Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits
  5. Promise – Sade
  6. The Singles Collection – Spandau Ballet
  7. Love Songs – George Benson
  8. Like A Virgin – Madonna
  9. The Greatest Hits Of 1985 – Various Artists
  10. The Love Album – Various Artists

1988: Singer James Brown is sentenced to six years in prison for various offences including possession of weapons and resisting arrest.

1993: British and Irish prime ministers John Major and Albert Reynolds sign the historic Joint Declaration for Peace on the steps of Downing street.

1994: Former 800m Commonwealth gold-medallist Diane Modahl is found guilty of taking a banned drug – but is cleared a year later on appeal.

1995: The European Communities Court of Justice hands down the “Bosman ruling”, giving EU footballers the right to a free transfer at the end of their contracts if they are transferring from one UEFA Federation to another.

1998: FA chief executive Graham Kelly resigns after allegations of financial irregularity concerning a loan to the Welsh FA.

1999: Boy George is knocked unconscious when a mirror ball falls on his head during a show in Dorset.

2001: Funk and soul singer Rufus Thomas dies of heart failure aged 84.

2004: Home Secretary, David Blunkett, resigns after an email implicates him in using his position to fast-track a visa application for a former lover’s nanny.

2006: B B King is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W Bush.

2008: Madonna paid former husband Guy Ritchie around £50m as part of their divorce settlement.

2010: Screenwriter and director Blake Edwards, dies aged 88.

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

2012: 18 Asylum seekers drown in the Aegean Sea en route to Greece from Turkey.

2013: Film star Joan Fontaine (de Beauvoir de Havilland) dies aged 96.

2015: The Mayor of Flint, Michigan, declares state of emergency over contaminated water supplies.

2016: A ceasefire is declared in Aleppo, Syria, to allow hundreds to be evacuated from the last rebel-held area.

BIRTHDAYS: Cindy (Cynthia) Birdsong, singer (The Supremes), 81; Dave Clark, drummer/producer 81; Carmine Appice, drummer (Vanilla Fudge) 74; Don Johnson, actor, 71; Joe Jordan, footballer, 69; Alex Cox, film director, 66; Paul Simonon, bassist (The Clash) 65; Nick Beggs, bassist (Kajagoogoo/The Mute Gods/Steven Wilson) 59; Helen Slater, actress, 57; Frankie Dettori, jockey, 50; Adam Brody, actor, 41; Serge Pizzorno, guitarist/songwriter (Kasabian) 40; Michelle Dockery, actress, 39; Charlie Cox, actor, 38; Camilla Luddington, actress, 37; Martin Škrtel, foootballer, 36; Rachel Brosnaham, actress, 30; Jesse Lingard, footballer, 28; Maud Apatow, actress, 23.