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1850–Cesar Ritz was born in Niederwald, Switzerland. He managed the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo and the Grand Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland. In 1898, he opened his first hotel, The Ritz Hotel in Paris, France. His name and his hotels became synonymous with the luxury. Thus, the term “puttin’ on the Ritz.”



303–Roman Emperor Diocletian orders the destruction of the Christian church in Nicomedia, beginning eight years of Diocletianic Persecution.

532–Byzantine Emperor, Justinian I, orders the building of the Hagia Sophia, a new Orthodox Christian basilica in Constantinople.

715–Arab caliph, Al-Walid I, dies in at age 47. His reign saw the greatest expansion of the Caliphate, as successful campaigns were undertaken in Transoxiana, Sind, Hispania, and against the Byzantines.

1100–Emperor Zhezong of the Song dies in Kaifeng, China, at age 24. He was succeeded by his younger brother. He ascended to the throne at age nine, and reigned from 1085 to 1100.

1270–Isabel of France dies in Longchamp, Pays de France, Kingdom of France, at age 45. She is honored as a Saint by the Franciscan Order.

1417–Pope Paul II is born Pietro Barbo in Venice, Republic of Venice.

1443–Hungarian King, Matthias Corvinus, is born in Kolozsvár (present-day Cluj-Napoca in Romania).

1447–Pope Eugene IV dies in Rome, Papal States, Italy, at age 63.

1455–The Gutenberg Bible is published. It is the first book printed in the Western world from movable type.

1464–Zhengtong, Emperor of China, dies from suicide by jumping down a well within the walled compound of his home, at age 36.

1633–Diarist, Samuel Pepys, is born in London, England. He was a prominent man of his day: a member of Parliament, Secretary of the Admiralty, President of the Royal Society, and friend of such notables as Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Isaac Newton. However, he's best remembered for the diaries he kept between the ages of 27 and 36: a personal record of the largest events and the smallest customs of Restoration England, including the Black Plague.

1685–Baroque composer, George Frideric Handel, is born in Halle, Germany. He's best known for his masterpiece of sacred music The Messiah, which premiered in Dublin in 1741.

1739–Richard Palmer is identified at York Castle, by his former schoolteacher, as the outlaw Dick Turpin.

1778–During the American Revolutionary War, Baron von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to help to train the Continental Army.

1820–A plot to murder all British Cabinet Ministers is exposed.

1821–Poet, John Keats, dies of tuberculosis in Rome, Italy, at age 25. Keats' publisher raised the funds to allow the poet to go to the warmer Italian climate. Keats' artistic philosophy was based on the notion that beauty could be found in the melancholy as well as the joyful. But he had said that his philosophy had failed him at the end; he could find no beauty in his deathbed agony.

1822–The city of Boston, Massachusetts, is incorporated.

1836–The battle of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas.

1848–John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States, dies of a stroke in Washington, D.C., at age 80. He was the son of President John Adams and Abigail Adams.

1850–Cesar Ritz is born in Niederwald, Switzerland. He managed the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo and the Grand Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland. In 1898, he opened his first hotel, The Ritz Hotel in Paris, France. His name and his hotels became synonymous with the luxury. Thus, the term “puttin’ on the Ritz.”

1861–President-elect, Abraham Lincoln, arrives secretly in Washington, D.C., after the thwarting of an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland.

1865–Baseball owner, Barney Dreyfuss, is born in Freiburg, Baden, German Confederation. He was an executive in Major League Baseball who owned the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise from 1900 to his death in 1932.

1868–Writer, educator, and activist, W.E.B. Du Bois is born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, was a seminal work in African-American literature, and his opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that blacks were responsible for the failures of that era.

1869–Frederick Walton, of London, England, is granted a patent for linoleum.

1870–Post-U.S. Civil War military control of Mississippi ends, and it is readmitted to the Union.

1883–Existentialist philosopher, Karl (Theodor) Jaspers, is born in Oldenburg, Germany. He had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy. Jaspers studied patients in detail, giving biographical information on the people concerned as well as providing notes on how the patients themselves felt about their symptoms. This has become known as the “biographical method” and now forms the mainstay of modern psychiatric and all psychotherapeutic practice.

1884–Biochemist, Casimir Funk, is born in Warsaw, Russian Empire. He discovered that certain substances in food were essential for good health. He first called them “vitamines,” later changing the name to “vitamins.”

1886–A process for manufacturing aluminum is developed by Charles Martin Hall.

1886–The London Times publishes the world's first “classified ad.”

1887–The French Riviera is hit by a major earthquake, killing around 2,000 people.

1889–Film director, Victor Fleming, is born in Pasadena, California. His films include Captains Courageous, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Tortilla Flat, A Guy Named Joe, and Joan of Arc.

1893–Rudolf Diesel receives a patent for the diesel engine.

1896–The Tootsie Roll is introduced by Leo Hirshfield in New York. It is named after his daughter, whose nickname was “Tootsie.”

1898–French author, Emile Zola, is imprisoned for writing his J'accuse letter, accusing the government of anti-Semitism and wrongly jailing Alfred Dreyfus.

1899–Film director, Norman (Rae) Taurog, is born in Chicago, Illinois. His films include Boys Town, Presenting Lily Mars, Girl Crazy, Room for One More, The Caddy, Living It Up, G.I. Blues, Blue Hawaii, Palm Springs Weekend, and It Happened at the World’s Fair.

1903–Cuba leases Guantanamo Bay to the United States in perpetuity.

1904–For $10 million, the U.S. gains control of the Panama Canal Zone.

1904–Writer, William L. Shirer, is born in Chicago, Illinois. He was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany.

1905–The Rotary Club International is established in Chicago, Illinois.

1919–Benito Mussolini forms the Fascist Party in Italy.

1927–The Federal Radio Commission (later renamed the Federal Communications Commission) begins to regulate the use of radio frequencies in the U.S.

1933–Producer and director, David Horsley, dies in Los Angeles, California, at age 59. He co-founded Universal Studios.

1934–Leopold III becomes King of Belgium.

1938–Actress, Diane Varsi, is born Diane Marie Antonia Varsi in San Mateo, California. She is best known for the role of Alison McKenzie in the original film Peyton Place. She also appeared in the films Ten North Frederick, Compulsion, Wild in the Streets, Killers Three, Bloody Mama, Johnny Got His Gun, and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

1939–The 11th Annual Academy Awards announces its winners. Best Picture: You Can't Take It With You; Best Actor: Spencer Tracy for Boys Town; Best Actress: Bette Davis for Jezebel; Best Director: Frank Capra for You Can't Take It With You. The ceremonies are held at the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California. There is no host.

1939–Actor, Peter (Henry) Fonda, is born in New York, New York. He is best known for the underground film, Easy Rider, in 1969. He appeared in the films Tammy and the Doctor, Lilith, 12 O’Clock High, The Wild Angels, The Trip, The Hired Hand, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Future World, Outlaw Blues, Wanda Nevada, Grace of My Heart, Ulee’s Gold, The Passion of Ayn Rand, The Limey, Wooly Boys, and Wild Hogs. His father is actor, Henry Fonda, his sister is actress, Jane Fonda, and his daughter is actress, Bridget Fonda.

1940–Walt Disney's animated movie, Pinocchio, is released.

1941–Plutonium is produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.

1942–Japanese submarines fire artillery shells at the California coastline near Santa Barbara.

1944–Blues guitarist, Johnny Winter, is born John Dawson Winter III in Beaumont, Texas. Among his hit albums is 1973's Still Alive and Well. His brother is blues rocker, Edgar Winter.

1944–Chemist, Leo Hendrik Baekeland, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in a sanatorium in Beacon, New York, at age 80. He invented Bakelite, the first plastic substance that would not soften when heated.

1945–During the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of U.S. Marines and a commonly forgotten U.S. Navy Corpsman, reach the top of Mount Suribachi on the island and are photographed raising the American flag.

1945–Author, Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, dies in Moscow, Russia, at age 62. His works include The Ordeal, Nikita’s Childhood, Peter the First, Conquest of Peter the Great, and Aelita: Queen of Mars.

1946–Rusty Young, of Poco, is born in Long Beach, California.

1947–The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is founded.

1948–John Robert Gregg, inventor of shorthand, dies in New York, New York, at age 80.

1950–The 7th Annual Golden Globe Awards announces its winners. Best Picture: All the King's Men; Best Actor: Broderick Crawford for All the King's Men; Best Actress: Olivia de Havilland for The Heiress; Best Director: Robert Rossen for All the King's Men; Best Foreign Film: Bicycle Thieves (Italy).

1951–Actress, Patricia (Castle) Richardson, is born in Bethesda, Maryland. She is best known for the role of Jill Taylor on the sitcom Home Improvement. She appeared in the films C.H.U.D., In Country, Ulee’s Gold, Blonde, and California Dreaming.

1952–Brad Whitford, guitarist for Aerosmith, is born Bradford Ernest Whitford in Winchester, Massachusetts.

1954–The first mass vaccination of children against polio begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1955–First meeting is held of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).

1956–The 13th Annual Golden Globe Awards announces its winners. Best Picture: East of Eden; Best Actor: Ernest Borgnine for Marty; Best Actress: Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo; Best Director: Joshua Logan for Picnic; Best Musical: Guys and Dolls; Best International Film: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing; Best Foreign Film: Dangerous Curves (United Kingdom) and Eyes of Children (Japan).

1958–The USSR conducts a nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya.

1960–The former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Ebbets Field, is demolished.

1962–The U.S. conducts a nuclear test at Nevada Test Site.

1964–The Beatles appear on American television in a pre-recorded segment for The Ed Sullivan Show. It's the first time Sullivan has had an act on three times in a row.

1965–Michael (Saul) Dell, American computer manufacturer, is born in Houston, Texas. He is the founder and CEO of Dell Inc., one of the world’s leading sellers of personal computers (PCs). He was ranked the 41st richest person in the world on 2012 Forbes list of billionaires, with a net worth of $15.9 billion as of March 2012.

1965–Comedian, Stan Laurel, of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy, dies of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California, at age 74. In 1961, Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy.

1967–U.S. troops begin the largest offensive movement of the Vietnam War.

1968–Author, Fannie Hurst, dies in New York, New York, at age 78. She wrote the novels Back Street and Imitation of Life, both of which were adapted into films in the early 1960s.

1971–U.S. Army Lieutenant, William Calley, confesses to his role in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, also implicating his superior, Captain Medina.

1974–The Symbionese Liberation Army demands $4 million more to release kidnap victim, Patty Hearst.

1978–The 20th Annual Grammy Awards announces its winners. Record of the Year: The Eagles for Hotel California; Album of the Year: Fleetwood Mac for Rumors; Song of the Year: Barbra Streisand and Paul Williams (songwriters) for Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born); Best Vocal Performance, Male: James Taylor for Handy Man; Best Vocal Performance, Female: Barbra Streisand for Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born); Best Performance by a Vocal Group: The Bee Gees for How Deep Is Your Love; Best Country & Western Performance: Crystal Gayle for Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue; Best Rhythm & Blues Performance: Thelma Houston for Don't Leave Me This Way; Best Instrumental Performance: John Williams for Star Wars Soundtrack; Best New Artist: Debby Boone. The ceremonies are held at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California. The host is John Denver.

1979–Journalist, S.E. Cupp, is born Sarah Elizabeth Cupp in Carlsbad, California. Her writings have appeared in The Washington Post, New York Daily News, Foxnews.com, The American Spectator, Townhall, Newsmax, Human Events, Slate, Maxim, The Daily Caller, SI.com, and CNN.com. In 2011, she was hired as a writer and commentator for Mercury Radio Arts, the organization owned and operated by Glenn Beck.

1980–In the Iran hostage crisis, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini states that Iran's parliament will decide the fate of the American Embassy hostages.

1980–France conducts a nuclear test at Muruora Island.

1980–The XIII Winter Olympic Games close at Lake Placid, New York.

1983–The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces its intent to buy out and evacuate the dioxin-contaminated community of Times Beach, Missouri.

1983–The 25th Annual Grammy Awards announces its winners. Record of the Year: Toto for Rosanna; Album of the Year: Toto for Toto IV; Song of the Year: Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson (songwriters) for Always on My Mind; Best Vocal Performance, Male: Lionel Richie for Truly; Best Vocal Performance, Female: Melissa Manchester for You Should Hear How She Talks About You; Best Performance by a Vocal Group: Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes for Up Where We Belong; Best Country & Western Performance: Willie Nelson for Always on My Mind; Best Rhythm & Blues Performance: Jennifer Holliday for And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going); Best Rock Performance: John Cougar Mellencamp for Hurts So Good; Best Instrumental Performance: Ernie Watts for Chariots of Fire Theme (Dance Version); Best New Artist: Men at Work. The ceremonies are held at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California. There is no host.

1983–Actress, Emily Blunt, is born Emily Olivia Leah Blunt in London, England. She has appeared in the films My Summer of Love, The Devil Wears Prada, Charlie Wilson's War, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Young Victoria, Sunshine Cleaning, and Looper.

1985–Stevie Wonder is among the anti-Apartheid protesters arrested in front of the South African Embassy in Washington D.C.

1988–Musician, Leroy "Happy Fats" Leblanc, dies from diabetes in Rayne, Louisiana, at age 73. He was a Cajun swing musician that recorded with RCA Records in the 1930s and 1940s.

1990–A fast moving storm produces blizzard conditions in Michigan. There are several chain-reaction collisions: one near Pontiac involved 100 cars. The Michigan AAA records show more than 5,000 traffic accidents were reported.

1991–Ground troops cross the Saudi Arabian border and enter Iraq, thus beginning the ground phase of the Gulf War.

1991–In Thailand, General Sunthorn Kongsompong leads a bloodless coup d'état, deposing Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan.

1992–The XVI Winter Olympic Games closes in Albertville, France.

1994–Actress, (Hannah) Dakota Fanning, is born in Conyers, Georgia. She has appeared in the films I Am Sam, Sweet Home Alabama, Hansel and Gretel, Man on Fire, War of the Worlds, Dreamer, Hounddog, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and The Runaways.

1995–Veterinarian and writer, James Herriot, dies of prostate cancer in Thirlby, North Yorkshire, England, at age 78. He wrote All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful.

1997–Scientists in Scotland announce successful cloning of an adult mammal, producing a lamb named "Dolly."

1998–Tornadoes in central Florida destroy or damage 2,600 structures and kill 42 people.

1999–An avalanche destroys the Austrian village of Galtür, killing 31 people.

1999–Hip hop artist, Eminem, releases his first major record album, The Slim Shady.

1999–Jazz critic, Stanley Dance, dies of pneumonia in San Diego, California, at age 88.

2000–The 42nd Annual Grammy Awards announces its winners. Record of the Year: Santana and Rob Thomas for Smooth; Album of the Year: Santana for Supernatural; Song of the Year: Santana and Rob Thomas for Smooth; Best Vocal Performance, Male: Sting for Brand New Day; Best Vocal Performance, Female: Sarah McLachlan for I Will Remember You; Best Performance by a Vocal Group: Santana for Maria Maria; Best Country & Western Performance: George Jones for Choices; Best Rhythm & Blues Performance: Barry White for Staying Power; Best Rock Performance: Lenny Kravitz for American Woman; Best Instrumental Performance: Santana for El Farol; Best Rap Performance: Eminem for My Name Is; Best New Artist: Christina Aguilera. The ceremonies are held at Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. The host is Rosie O'Donnell.

2002–Country singer, LeAnn Rimes, marries backup dancer, Dean Sheremet, at Perkins Chapel in Dallas, Texas.

2003–The British tabloid, News of the World, claims that Michael Jackson has had a number of painful skin operations to peel his skin white.

2003–The 45th Annual Grammy Awards announces its winners. Record of the Year: Norah Jones for Don’t Know Why; Album of the Year: Norah Jones for Come Away with Me; Song of the Year: Jesse Harris (songwriter) for Don’t Know Why; Best Vocal Performance, Male: John Mayer for Your Body is a Wonderland; Best Vocal Performance, Female: Norah Jones for Don’t Know Why; Best Performance by a Vocal Group: No Doubt for Hey Baby; Best Country & Western Performance: Johnny Cash for Give My Love to Rose; Best Rhythm & Blues Performance: Usher for U Don’t Have To Call; Best Rock Performance: Sheryl Crow for Steve McQueen; Best Instrumental Performance: B.B. King for Auld Lang Syne; Best Rap Performance: Missy Elliott for Scream a.k.a. Itchin; Best New Artist: Norah Jones. The ceremonies are held at Madison Square Garden, New York. There is no host.

2003–Historian and author, Christopher Hill, dies of Alzheimer's disease and cerebral atrophy in a nursing home in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England, at age 91. In 1946, Hill and many other Marxist historians formed the Communist Party Historians Group. In 1952, he helped create the journal Past and Present, which focused on social history.

2003–Sociologist, Robert K. Merton, dies. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University. He is best known for having created the terms "role model" and "self-fulfilling prophecy," two important concepts in 20th-century society.

2006–Dubai Ports World agrees to postpone its plans to take over management of six U.S. ports after the proposal ignited harsh bipartisan criticism in Washington, D.C.

2007–A train derails on an evening express service near Grayrigg, Cumbria, England, killing one person and injuring 22 others.

2008–A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber crashes on Guam. It is the first operational loss of a B-2.

2010–Unknown criminals pour more than 2.5 million liters of diesel oil and other hydrocarbons into the river Lambro, in Northern Italy, sparking an environmental disaster.

2010–The British Culture Ministry declares London's EMI Abbey Road Studios an historic site.

2011–Religious leader, Nirmala Srivastava, dies in Genoa, Italy, at age 81. She founded Sahaja Yoga, a meditation technique and new religious movement.

2012–A series of attacks across Iraq kill 83 people and injure more than 250 others.

2014–The XXII Winter Olympic Games close in Sochi, Russia.

2014–Typographer, Mike Parker, dies in Portland, Maine, at age 84. Early in his career, Parker joined Mergenthaler Linotype Company. Under Parker's leadership over 1,000 typefaces, including Helvetica, were added to the library, making them available wherever Linotype equipment was in use.


PHOTOS TOP TO BOTTOM: Isabel of France; Samuel Pepys; The Alamo; W.E.B. Du Bois; Karl Jaspers; vintage Tootsie Roll ad; the Panama Canal; Walt Disney's Pinocchio poster; vintage bakelite radio; All the King's Men poster; Ebbets Field; Stan Laurel; Fleetwood Mac's album Rumors; picture sleeve for Toto's single Rosanna; Dakota Fanning; Eminem; Norah Jones; and Mike Parker.

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