Today in History


By the Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2015.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 31, 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

On this date:

In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.

In 1904, New York’s Times Square saw its first New Year’s Eve celebration, with an estimated 200,000 people in attendance.

In 1909, the Manhattan Bridge, spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, was officially opened to vehicular traffic.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

In 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.

In 1969, Joseph A. Yablonski, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the United Mine Workers of America, was shot to death with his wife and daughter in their Clarksville, Pennsylvania, home by hitmen acting at the orders of UMWA president Tony Boyle.

In 1972, Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, 38, was killed when a plane he’d chartered and was traveling on to bring relief supplies to earthquake-devastated Nicaragua crashed shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.

In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.

In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas.

In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)

In 1995, the syndicated comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” created by Bill Watterson, came to an end after a 10-year run.

In 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation (he was succeeded by Vladimir Putin).

Ten years ago: In central Indonesia, suspected Islamic militants set off a powerful bomb at a busy market frequented by Christians, killing seven people. Dick Clark, in his first television appearance since his stroke in 2004, helped ring in the new year in Times Square.

Five years ago: Tornadoes fueled by unusually warm air pummeled the South and Midwest, killing a total of eight people in Arkansas and Missouri. The body of federal defense consultant John Wheeler III, 66, was found in a Wilmington, Delaware, landfill; his death, ruled a homicide, remains under investigation.

One year ago: In one of his final acts as Maryland governor, Democrat Martin O’Malley announced that he would commute the sentences of four death-row inmates to life in prison without parole. A stampede at Shanghai’s glitzy riverfront during New Year celebrations resulted in 36 deaths. Actor Edward Herrmann, 71, died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York.

Today’s Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 86. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 78. Actor Tim Considine (TV: “My Three Sons”) is 75. Actress Sarah Miles is 74. Rock musician Andy Summers is 73. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 72. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 71. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 69. Actor Tim Matheson is 68. Pop singer Burton Cummings is 68. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 67. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 64. Actor James Remar is 62. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 57. Actor Val Kilmer is 56. Singer Paul Westerberg is 56. Actor Don Diamont is 53. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 53. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 52. Actress Gong Li is 50. Author Nicholas Sparks is 50. Actor Lance Reddick is 46. Pop singer Joe McIntyre is 43. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 40. Rapper PSY (Park Jae-sang) is 38. Rock musician Bob Bryar is 36. Actor/singer Erich Bergen (Film/stage: “Jersey Boys”) is 30. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas is 20.

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