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Today in History

December 26, 2020 GMT

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Dec. 26, the 361st day of 2020. There are five days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 26, 2004, more than 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a 100-foot-high tsunami triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.

On this date:

In 1776, British forces suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

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In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia.

In 1910, the London Palladium, Britain’s famous variety theater, first opened.

In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation’s railroads.

In 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.

In 1985, Ford Motor Company began selling its Taurus and Sable sedans and station wagons.

In 1994, French commandos stormed a hijacked Air France jetliner on the ground in Marseille, killing four Algerian hijackers and freeing 170 hostages.

In 1996, six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

In 2003, an earthquake struck the historic Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 26,000 people. Three snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Provo Canyon, Utah.

In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93.

Ten years ago: A powerful East Coast blizzard stranded thousands of travelers and dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas. Salvador Jorge Blanco, 84, a former president of the Dominican Republic, died in Santo Domingo. Soul singer-songwriter Teena Marie, 54, died in Pasadena, California.

Five years ago: A new onslaught of tornadoes began erupting in the South; twisters ended up hitting parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Chicago police killed 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, a college student who an officer said was coming at him with a bat, and 55-year-old Bettie Jones, a neighbor who police said was shot accidentally. Basketball player Stephen Curry was named The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.

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One year ago: Tony Award-winning composer Jerry Herman, who wrote the music and lyrics for such classic shows as “Mame,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “La Cage aux Folles,” died in Miami at the age of 88. A winter storm brought downpours and extensive snowfall to parts of Southern California, triggering a tornado and snarling post-Christmas travel. The pilot and six passengers died when a tour helicopter crashed on the top of a mountain on the island of Kauai. Gymnast Simone Biles was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.

Today’s Birthdays: Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul “Duke” Fakir (The Four Tops) is 85. Record producer (and convicted murderer) Phil Spector is 81. “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh is 75. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 74. Funk musician George Porter Jr. (The Meters) is 73. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 73. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 72. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 66. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 65. Humorist David Sedaris is 64. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 58. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 57. Actor Nadia Dajani is 55. Rock musician J is 53. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 53. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 50. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 49. Actor Kendra C. Johnson is 44. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 41. Actor Beth Behrs is 35. Actor Kit Harington is 34. Actor Eden Sher is 29. Pop singer Jade Thirlwall (Little Mix Actor) is 28. Actor Zach Mills is 25.