It happened today – this day in history – December 31

192: Roman Emperor Commodus survives poisoning attempt by his mistress only to be strangled in the bath.

1695: A window tax is imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax.

1869: Birth of French impressionist painter Henri Matisse.

1879: Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera “Pirates of Penzance” premieres in New York.

1911: Marie Curie receives her second Nobel Prize.

1924: Italian fascist Mussolini orders the suppression of opposition newspapers.

1944: Hungary declares war on Germany.

1948: World land and water speed record holder Malcolm Campbell dies after a stroke aged 63.

1958: Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista tells his cabinet he is fleeing the country.

1964: Donald Campbell sets the world water speed record (276.33 mph).

1967: Evel Kneivel fails in his attempt to jump the Caesar’s Palace fountain in Las Vegas, breaking his pelvis, femur, wrist, hip and both ankles.

1970: Paul McCartney filed suit against the other Beatles to dissolve their partnership.

1972: Martin McGuinness is arrested and held under the new Republic of Ireland legislation.

1974: Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks join Fleetwood Mac.

1977: Serial killer Ted Bundy escapes from jail in Colorado.

1983: Brunei gains complete independence from Britain. On the same day, President Shagari of Nigeria is overthrown in a military coup.

1984: Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen crashed his Corvette Stingray just outside Sheffield, severing his left arm.

1985: Ricky Nelson died when his chartered light aircraft crashed in Texas.

1997: Pianist Floyd Cramer (Heartbreak Hotel) dies of cancer aged 64.

1999: Control of the Panama Canal reverts to Panama. On the same day, Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as acting president.

2014: Beji Caid Essebsi is sworn in as Tunisia’s first ever freely elected president.

2015: Singer Natalie Cole died of congestive heart failure aged 65.

BIRTHDAYS: King Saud of Saudi Arabia, 84; Sir Anthony Hopkins, actor, 82; Sir Alex Ferguson, former football manager, 78; Andy Summers, guitarist (The Police) 77; Sir Ben Kingsley, actor, 76; Taylor Hackford, director, 75; Tom Hamilton, bassist (Aerosmith) 68; Alex Salmond, Scottish politician, 65; Bebe Neuwirth, actress, 60; Val Kilmer, actor, 60; Scott Ian, musician (Anthrax) 56; Danny McNamara, singer (Embrace) 49.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]