1995 – American Airlines Flight 965, a Boeing 757, crashes into a mountain 50 km north of Cali, Colombia killing 159.
1989 – The United States invasion of Panama deposes Manuel Noriega.
1971 – The international aid organization Doctors Without Borders is founded by Bernard Kouchner and a group of journalists in Paris, France.
1957 – The initial production version of the Boeing 707 makes its first flight.
1952 – A United States Air Force C-124 crashes and burns in Moses Lake, Washington killing 87.
1951 – The EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho becomes the first nuclear power plant to generate electricity. The electricity powered four light bulbs.
1946 – The popular Christmas film It's a Wonderful Life is first released in New York City.
1941 – World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" in Kunming, China.
1924 – Adolf Hitler is released from Landsberg Prison
1917 – Cheka, the first Soviet secret police force, is founded.
1860 – South Carolina becomes the first state to attempt to secede from the United States.
1606 – The Virginia Company loads three ships with settlers and sets sail to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
1992 – Ksenia Makarova, Russian-American figure skater. She represented Russia at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where she placed 10th.
1991 – Jillian Rose Reed, American actress. She is best known for playing the role of Tamara Kaplan in MTV's TV series Awkward.
1983 – Jonah Hill, American actor, producer, and screenwriter. Hill is known for his comedic roles in films including Superbad (2007), Knocked Up (2007), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Get Him to the Greek (2010), 21 Jump Street (2012), This Is the End (2013), and 22 Jump Street (2014) as well as his dramatic performances in Moneyball (2011) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), for which he received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
1982 – David Wright, American baseball player. David Allen Wright (born December 20, 1982) is an American former professional baseball third baseman who played his entire 14-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career for the New York Mets.
1981 – Royal Ivey, American basketball player. Royal Terence Ivey (born December 20, 1981) is an American former professional basketball player who is currently an assistant coach for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
1979 – David DeJesus, American baseball player. DeJesus, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is currently an analyst for the Cubs with NBC Sports Chicago.
1976 – Aubrey Huff, American baseball player and radio host. Huff is 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and weighs 225 pounds (102 kg).
1971 – Roger J. Beaujard, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer. Beaujard (December 20, 1971, Bronxville, New York) is an American musician.
1969 – Bobby Phills, American basketball player (d. 2000), was an American professional basketball player. He played shooting guard and small forward for the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets.
1966 – Veronica Pershina, Russian-American figure skater and coach. Veronica Petrovna Pershina or Voyk (Russian: Вероника Петровна Першина, born December 20, 1966) is a former competitive pair skater who competed for the Soviet Union.
1965 – Rich Gannon, American football player and sportscaster. Richard Joseph Gannon (born December 20, 1965) is a former American football quarterback who played eighteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL).
1964 – Mark Coleman, American mixed martial artist and wrestler. Mark Daniel Coleman (born December 20, 1964) is a retired American mixed martial artist, professional wrestler, former NCAA collegiate wrestler and former Olympic amateur wrestler.
1961 – Freddie Spencer, American motorcycle racer. Frederick Burdette Spencer (born December 20, 1961), sometimes known by the nickname Fast Freddie, is an American former world champion motorcycle racer.
1961 – Mike Keneally, American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Michael Joseph Keneally (born December 20, 1961) is an American session guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and composer.
1959 – Trent Tucker, American basketball player and sportscaster. Kelvin Trent Tucker (born December 20, 1959) is an American retired professional basketball player who played 11 seasons in the American National Basketball Association.
1958 – Doug Nordquist, American high jumper. Douglas ("Doug") Nordquist (born December 20, 1958 in San Gabriel, California) is a retired male high jumper from the United States, who competed at the 1984 Summer Olympics where he ended up in fifth place with a jump of 2.29 metres.
1957 – Mike Watt, American singer-songwriter and bass player. Michael David Watt (born December 20, 1957) is an American bassist, vocalist and songwriter.
1956 – Anita Ward, American disco/R&B singer. She is best known for her 1979 million selling chart-topper "Ring My Bell".
1956 – Blanche Baker, American actress and screenwriter. Baker is known for her role as Ginny Baker in Sixteen Candles; she also starred in the title role of Lolita on Broadway.
1956 – Guy Babylon, American keyboard player and songwriter (d. 2009), was an American keyboardist/composer, most noted for his work with Elton John.
1955 – David Breashears, American mountaineer, director, and producer. He is perhaps best known as the director and cinematographer of Everest (1998) — which became the highest-grossing IMAX documentary — and for his assistance in the rescue efforts during the 1996 Everest disaster, which occurred during the film's production.
1954 – Michael Badalucco, American actor. Michael Badalucco (born December 20, 1954) is an American actor, best known for his role as lawyer Jimmy Berlutti on the ABC legal drama television series The Practice.
1954 – Sandra Cisneros, American author and poet. Her work experiments with literary forms and investigates emerging subject positions, which Cisneros herself attributes to growing up in a context of cultural hybridity and economic inequality that endowed her with unique stories to tell.
1951 – Marta Russell, American author and activist (d. 2013), was an American writer and disability rights activist. Her book, Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract published in 1998 by Common Courage Press analyzes the relationship between disability, social Darwinism, and economic austerity under capitalism.
1950 – Arturo Márquez, Mexican-American composer. Arturo Márquez (born 20 December 1950) is a Mexican composer of orchestral music who uses musical forms and styles of his native Mexico and incorporates them into his compositions.
1949 – Cecil Cooper, American baseball player and manager. He batted and threw left-handed, and attended Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.
1949 – Oscar Gamble, American baseball player, was an American professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 17 seasons, from 1969 to 1985, for seven different teams: the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees (on two separate occasions, each); as well as the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, and Texas Rangers.
1947 – Bo Ryan, American basketball player and coach. William Francis "Bo" Ryan Jr. (born December 20, 1947) is an American former college basketball coach and player.
1946 – Dick Wolf, American director, producer, and screenwriter. Richard Anthony Wolf (born December 20, 1946) is an American television producer, best known as the creator and executive producer of the Law & Order franchise.
1946 – Lloyd Mumphord, American football player. Mumphord (born December 20, 1946) is a former defensive Back who played collegiately for Texas Southern University and ten seasons in American Pro Football.
1946 – Sonny Perdue, American captain and politician, 81st Governor of Georgia. George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III (born December 20, 1946) is an American veterinarian, businessman, and politician currently serving as the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture since 2017.
1945 – Peter Criss, American singer-songwriter, drummer, and producer. George Peter John Criscuola (born December 20, 1945), better known by his stage name Peter Criss, is a retired American musician and actor, best known as a co-founder, original drummer, and occasional vocalist of the hard rock band Kiss.
1944 – Bobby Colomby, American drummer and producer. Robert Wayne Colomby (born 20 December 1944, in Manhattan, New York City) is a jazz-rock fusion drummer, record producer and television presenter.
1942 – Bob Hayes, American sprinter and football player (d. 2002). 70 yd: 6.9h WR 100 yd: 9.1h (St.
1942 – Michael P. Johnson, American sociologist. Michael Paul Johnson (born December 20, 1942) is emeritus professor of sociology, women's studies, and African and African American studies at Pennsylvania State University, having taught there for over thirty years.
1940 – Pat Chapman, English chef and author, founded The Curry Club. Patrick Lawrence Chapman (born 20 December 1940) is an English food writer, broadcaster and author, best known for founding The Curry Club.
1939 – Kathryn Joosten, American actress (d. 2012), was an American television actress. Her best known roles include Dolores Landingham on NBC's The West Wing from 1999 to 2002 and Karen McCluskey on ABC's Desperate Housewives from 2005 to 2012, for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2005 and 2008.
1939 – Kim Weston, American soul singer. In the 1960s, Weston scored hits with the songs "Love Me All the Way" and "Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)", and with her duet with Marvin Gaye, "It Takes Two".
1933 – Jean Carnahan, American author and politician, was the First Lady of Missouri from 1993 to 2000, and served as the state's junior United States Senator from 2001 to 2002. A Democrat, she was appointed to fill the Senate seat of her husband Mel Carnahan, who had been posthumously elected, becoming the first woman to represent Missouri in the U.S.
1932 – John Hillerman, American actor, was an American actor best known for his starring role as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III on the television show Magnum, P.I. that aired from 1980 to 1988. For his role as Higgins, Hillerman earned five Golden Globe nominations, winning in 1981, and four Emmy nominations, winning in 1987.
1931 – Mala Powers, American actress (d. 2007), was an American film and television actress.
1927 – Charlie Callas, American actor and comedian (d. 2011), was an American comedian and actor most commonly known for his work with Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, and Dean Martin, and his many stand-up appearances on television talk shows in the 1970s. He was also known for his role as Malcolm Argos, the restaurant owner and former con man, on the Eddie Albert and Robert Wagner television series Switch (1975–1978).
1922 – Beverly Pepper, American sculptor and painter. She was married to the writer Curtis Bill Pepper for 65 years and has lived in Italy, primarily in Todi, since the 1950s.
1922 – George Roy Hill, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 2002), was an American film director. He is most noted for directing such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), both starring the acting duo Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
1917 – Audrey Totter, American actress (d. 2013), was an American actress and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player.
1917 – David Bohm, American-English physicist, neuropsychologist, and philosopher (d. 1992), was an American scientist who has been described as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century and who contributed unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, neuropsychology and the philosophy of mind.
1914 – Harry F. Byrd, Jr., American lieutenant, publisher, and politician (d. 2013), was an American newspaper publisher, politician, and leader of the Democratic Party in Virginia for four decades as head of a political faction that became known as the Byrd Organization. Byrd served as Virginia's governor from 1926 until 1930, then represented the Commonwealth as a United States Senator from 1933 until 1965.
1911 – Hortense Calisher, American author (d. 2009), was an American writer of fiction and the second female president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
1908 – Dennis Morgan, American actor and singer (d. 1994). He used the acting pseudonym Richard Stanley before adopting the name under which he gained his greatest fame.
1907 – Paul Francis Webster, American soldier and songwriter (d. 1984), was an American lyricist who won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song and was nominated sixteen times for the award.
1904 – Spud Davis, American baseball player, coach, and manager (d. 1984). Virgil Lawrence "Spud" Davis (December 20, 1904 – August 14, 1984) was an American professional baseball player, coach, scout and manager.
1902 – Sidney Hook, American philosopher and author (d. 1989), was an American philosopher of the pragmatist school known for his contributions to the philosophy of history, the philosophy of education, political theory, and ethics. After embracing communism in his youth, Hook was later known for his criticisms of totalitarianism, both fascism and Marxism–Leninism.
1901 – Robert J. Van de Graaff, American physicist and academic, invented the Van de Graaff generator (d. 1967), was an American physicist, noted for his design and construction of high-voltage Van de Graaff generators. He taught at Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
1898 – Irene Dunne, American actress and singer (d. 1990), was an American film actress and singer of the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s. Dunne was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actress – for her performances in Cimarron (1931), Theodora Goes Wild (1936), The Awful Truth (1937), Love Affair (1939), and I Remember Mama (1948).
1888 – Fred Merkle, American baseball player and manager (d. 1958), was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball from 1907 to 1926. Although he had a lengthy career, he is best remembered for a controversial base-running mistake he made while still a teenager.
1886 – Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, American tennis player and businessman (d. 1974), was an American tennis player and founder of the Wightman Cup, an annual team competition for British and American women. She dominated American women's tennis before World War I, and won 45 U.S. titles during her life.
1881 – Branch Rickey, American baseball player and manager (d. 1965). Wesley Branch Rickey (December 20, 1881 – December 9, 1965) was an American baseball player and sports executive.
1869 – Charley Grapewin, American actor (d. 1956), was an American vaudeville and circus performer, a writer, and a stage and film actor. In motion pictures he worked in over 100 films during the silent and sound eras, most notably portraying Uncle Henry in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Wizard of Oz (1939), Grandpa Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Jeeter Lester in Tobacco Road (1941), and California Joe in They Died With Their Boots On (1941).
1868 – Harvey Samuel Firestone, American businessman, founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (d. 1938), was an American businessman, and the founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, one of the first global makers of automobile tires.
1865 – Elsie de Wolfe, American actress and interior decorator (d. 1950). Born in New York City, de Wolfe was acutely sensitive to environment from her earliest years, and became one of the first women interior designers, replacing heavy Victorian styles with light, intimate effects and uncluttered room layouts.
2012 – Eagle Keys, American-Canadian football player and coach (b. 1923)
2010 – James Robert Mann, American colonel, lawyer, and politician (b. 1920)
2009 – Arnold Stang, American actor (b. 1918)
2009 – Brittany Murphy, American actress (b. 1977)
2008 – Robert Mulligan, American director and producer (b. 1925)
2006 – Anne Rogers Clark, American dog breeder and trainer (b. 1929)
2005 – Raoul Bott, Hungarian-American mathematician and academic (b. 1923)
1999 – Hank Snow, Canadian-American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1914)
1997 – Dawn Steel, American film producer (b. 1946)
1997 – Denise Levertov, English-American poet and translator (b. 1923)
1996 – Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist (b. 1934)