1980 – Witnesses report the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom, an incident called "Britain's Roswell".
1969 – The oil company Phillips Petroleum made the first oil discovery in the Norwegian sector of North Sea.
1968 – Apollo program: The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed ten lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures.
1966 – A Canadair CL-44 chartered by the United States military crashes into a small village in South Vietnam, killing 129.
1964 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong operatives bomb the Brinks Hotel in Saigon, South Vietnam to demonstrate they can strike an American installation in the heavily guarded capital.
1906 – Radio: Reginald Fessenden transmits the first radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.
1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning.
1818 – The first performance of "Silent Night" takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.
1814 – Representatives of Britain and the United States sign the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.
1777 – Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is discovered by James Cook.
1990 – Brigetta Barrett, American high jumper. Brigetta Barrett (born in Westchester, New York on December 24, 1990) is a former high jumper from the United States.
1990 – Marcus Jordan, American basketball player. Marcus James Jordan (born December 24, 1990) is an American former college basketball player who played for the UCF Knights men's basketball team of Conference USA.
1987 – Jane Summersett, American ice dancer. The two won the bronze medal at the 2008 Nebelhorn Trophy and placed seventh at the 2010 Four Continents Championships.
1986 – Tim Elliott, American mixed martial artist. Timothy Samuel Elliott (born December 24, 1986) is an American mixed martial artist who currently competes in the Flyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
1985 – David Ragan, American race car driver. He currently competes part-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 36 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing.
1980 – Tomas Kalnoky, Czech-American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is the former lead singer/guitarist for 3rd-wave ska band Catch 22, but left the band after making only one album (their debut, Keasbey Nights) to attend Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, for visual art.
1979 – Chris Hero, American wrestler and trainer. Chris Spradlin (born December 24, 1979) is an American professional wrestler and trainer, better known by his ring name Chris Hero.
1977 – Michael Raymond-James, American actor. He is best known for playing René Lenier in the first season of the HBO series True Blood, Britt Pollack on the FX series Terriers, Neal Cassidy/Baelfire on the ABC series Once Upon a Time, and Mitch Longo on the CBS All Access series Tell Me a Story.
1974 – Ryan Seacrest, American radio host and television personality, and producer. Seacrest is known for hosting the competition show American Idol, the syndicated countdown program American Top 40, and iHeartMedia's KIIS-FM morning radio show On Air with Ryan Seacrest.
1973 – Stephenie Meyer, American author and film producer. Stephenie Meyer (/ˈmaɪ.ər/; née Morgan; born December 24, 1973) is an American novelist.
1971 – Ricky Martin, Puerto Rican-American singer-songwriter and actor. Enrique Martín Morales (born December 24, 1971), better known as Ricky Martin is a Puerto Rican singer, actor and author who is widely regarded as the "King of Latin Pop".
1970 – Adam Haslett, American author and academic. Adam Haslett (born December 24, 1970) is an American fiction writer and journalist.
1970 – Amaury Nolasco, Puerto Rican-American actor. Amaury Nolasco Garrido (born December 24, 1970) is a Puerto Rican actor and producer, best known for the role of Fernando Sucre on the Fox television series Prison Break, and for his role in Transformers.
1969 – Leavander Johnson, American boxer (d. 2005), was an American lightweight boxer from Atlantic City, New Jersey, who once held the International Boxing Federation version of the world title. He won the title on June 17, 2005, against the Italian fighter Stefano Zoff, winning after the referee stopped the fight in the seventh round.
1969 – Michael Zucchet, American economist and politician. Zucchet (born December 24, 1969) is an American Democratic politician, a former member of the San Diego City Council, and a former Deputy Mayor of San Diego.
1968 – Doyle Bramhall II, American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Doyle Bramhall II (born December 24, 1968) is an American musician, producer, guitarist, and songwriter known for his work with Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, and many others.
1966 – Diedrich Bader, American actor. He is also a voice actor for multiple animated series; some of his roles include Batman on Batman: The Brave and the Bold and JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, android Zeta in The Zeta Project, Warp Darkmatter in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, the Fiskerton Phantom in The Secret Saturdays and his recurring role as Hoss Delgado in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.
1965 – Millard Powers, American bass player, songwriter, and producer. Since 2005 he has played bass guitar in the band Counting Crows.
1964 – Mark Valley, American actor. Mark Thomas Valley (born December 24, 1964) is an American film and television actor, best known for his roles as Brad Chase on the TV drama Boston Legal, Oliver Richard on the NBC drama Harry's Law, FBI Special Agent John Scott on Fringe, Christopher Chance in the Fox's action drama Human Target, and Tommy Sullivan in ABC's Body of Proof.
1963 – Jay Bilas, American basketball player and sportscaster. Jay Scot Bilas (born December 24, 1963) is an American college basketball analyst who currently works for ESPN.
1963 – Mary Ramsey, American singer-songwriter and violinist. Mary Ramsey (born December 24, 1963), a resident of Buffalo, New York, is a member of folk rock duo John & Mary and lead singer and violinist for the American alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs.
1963 – Neil Turbin, American singer-songwriter. Neil Turbin (born December 24, 1963) is an American thrash metal vocalist known for being the first full-time vocalist for American band Anthrax.
1962 – Kate Spade, American fashion designer, co-founded Kate Spade New York, was an American fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the founder and former co-owner of the designer brand Kate Spade New York.
1961 – Mary Barra, American businesswoman, current CEO and chairwoman of General Motors. On December 10, 2013, GM named her to succeed Dan Akerson as chief executive officer, and prior to that, Barra served as the executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain at General Motors.
1961 – Wade Williams, American actor. He is known for his various character roles, and for his starring role as Brad Bellick on the Fox television series Prison Break.
1960 – Glenn McQueen, Canadian-American animator (d. 2002), was a Canadian supervisor of digital animation and supervising character animator at Pixar and PDI.
1959 – Lee Daniels, American director and producer. He produced Monster's Ball and directed Precious, which received six Oscar nominations, including Best Director; it won two of the awards.
1958 – Gene Sperling, American economist, was Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
1958 – Paul Pressey, American basketball player and coach. Paul Matthew Pressey (born December 24, 1958) is an American former professional basketball player who previously was an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
1955 – Clarence Gilyard, American actor and educator. Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. (born December 24, 1955) is an American actor, college professor, and author who has been featured in movies, television and regional theatre since 1980.
1955 – Scott Fischer, American mountaineer and guide (d. 1996), was an American mountaineer and mountain guide. He was renowned for his ascents of the world's highest mountains made without the use of supplemental oxygen.
1953 – Timothy Carhart, American actor. He also starred in the 1992 Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire.
1951 – John D'Acquisto, American baseball player. John Francis D'Acquisto (born December 24, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball player who pitched for six teams in his ten-year career that spanned from 1973 to 1982.
1950 – Dana Gioia, American poet and critic. After his 1991 essay "Can Poetry Matter?" in The Atlantic generated international attention, Gioia quit business to pursue writing full-time.
1950 – Libby Larsen, American composer. Elizabeth Brown Larsen (born December 24, 1950) is a contemporary American classical composer.
1949 – Randy Neugebauer, American accountant and politician, was the U.S. Representative for Texas's 19th congressional district, having served from a special election in 2003 to 2017.
1946 – Jeff Sessions, American captain, lawyer, and politician, 44th Attorney General of Alabama. A Republican, Sessions previously served as United States senator from Alabama from 1997 to 2017, resigning from the position in order to serve in the Trump administration.
1944 – Mike Curb, American businessman and politician, 42nd Lieutenant Governor of California. Michael Curb (born December 24, 1944, Savannah, Georgia, United States) is an American musician, record company executive, motorsports car owner, and politician who served as the 42nd Lieutenant Governor of California from 1979 to 1983 under Democratic Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr.
1944 – Woody Shaw, American trumpeter (d. 1989), was an American jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, composer, arranger, band leader, and educator. Born with a photographic memory and perfect pitch, Shaw is credited with advancing the technical and harmonic conventions of modern jazz trumpet playing.
1942 – Jonathan Borofsky, American sculptor and painter. Jonathan Borofsky (born December 24, 1942) is an American sculptor and printmaker who lives and works in Ogunquit, Maine.
1940 – Janet Carroll, American actress and singer (d. 2012), was an American film, stage and television character actress.
1938 – Bobby Henrich, American baseball player. Robert Edward Henrich (born December 24, 1938) is a former Major League Baseball shortstop.
1932 – On Kawara, Japanese-American painter (d. 2014), was a Japanese conceptual artist who lived in New York City from 1965. He took part in many solo and group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 1976.
1931 – Ray Bryant, American pianist and composer (d. 2011), was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger.
1930 – John J. Kelley, American runner (d. 2011), was the winner of the 1957 Boston Marathon and the marathon at the 1959 Pan American Games and a member of two United States Olympic Marathon teams. He was often dubbed John "The Younger" to avoid confusion with Johnny "The Elder" Kelley, the winner of the 1935 and 1945 Boston Marathons.
1930 – Robert Joffrey, American dancer and choreographer (d. 1988), was an American dancer, teacher, producer, choreographer, and co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet, known for his highly imaginative modern ballets. He was born Anver Bey Abdullah Jaffa Khan in Seattle, Washington to a Pashtun father from Afghanistan and a mother from Italy.
1927 – Mary Higgins Clark, American author. Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Conheeney (née Higgins; born December 24, 1927), known professionally as Mary Higgins Clark, is an American author of suspense novels.
1924 – Lee Dorsey, American singer-songwriter (d. 1986), was an American pop and R&B singer during the 1960s. His biggest hits were "Ya Ya" (1961) and "Working in the Coal Mine" (1966).
1923 – George Patton IV, American general (d. 2004). George Smith Patton IV (December 24, 1923 – June 27, 2004) was a major general in the United States Army and the son of World War II General George S.
1922 – Ava Gardner, American actress (d. 1990), was an American actress and singer. Gardner was signed to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1941, and appeared mainly in small roles until she drew attention with her performance in The Killers (1946).
1921 – Bill Dudley, American football player (d. 2010), was a professional American football player in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, and Washington Redskins. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1972.
1914 – Ralph Marterie, Italian-American trumpet player and bandleader (d. 1978), was a big-band leader born in Acerra (near Naples), Italy.
1913 – Ad Reinhardt, American painter and academic (d. 1967), was an abstract painter active in New York beginning in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s. He was a member of the American Abstract Artists and was a part of the movement centered on the Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as abstract expressionism.
1910 – Fritz Leiber, American author and poet (d. 1992), was an American writer of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He was also a poet, actor in theater and films, playwright and chess expert.
1907 – I. F. Stone, American journalist and author (d. 1989). He is best remembered for I.
1906 – Franz Waxman, German-American composer and conductor (d. 1967), was a German and American composer of Jewish descent, known primarily for his work in the film music genre. His film scores include Bride of Frankenstein, Rebecca, Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun, Stalag 17, Rear Window, Peyton Place, The Nun's Story, and Taras Bulba.
1905 – Howard Hughes, American businessman, engineer, and pilot (d. 1976), was an American business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director, and philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most financially successful individuals in the world. He first became prominent as a film producer, and then as an influential figure in the aviation industry.
1904 – Joseph M. Juran, Romanian-American engineer and businessman (d. 2008), was a Romanian-born American engineer and management consultant. He was an evangelist for quality and quality management, having written several books on those subjects.
1903 – Ava Helen Pauling, American humanitarian and activist (d. 1981), was an American human rights activist and wife of Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling. Throughout her life, she was involved in various social movements including women's rights, racial equality, and international peace.
1903 – Joseph Cornell, American sculptor and director (d. 1972), was an American artist and film maker, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage. Influenced by the Surrealists, he was also an avant-garde experimental filmmaker.
1898 – Baby Dodds, American drummer (d. 1959), was a jazz drummer born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is regarded as one of the best jazz drummers of the pre-big band era, and one of the most important early jazz drummers.
1895 – E. Roland Harriman, American financier and philanthropist (d. 1978). Harriman was born on December 24, 1895 in New York City.
1895 – Marguerite Williams, American geologist (d. 1991), was an African American geologist. She was the first African American to earn a doctorate in geology in the United States.
1894 – Jack Thayer, American businessman (d. 1945), was a first-class passenger on RMS Titanic who survived after the ship struck an iceberg and sank on April 14, 1912. Aged 17 at the time, he was one of only a handful of passengers to survive jumping into the frigid, cold ocean.
1893 – Harry Warren, American pianist and composer (d. 1981), was an American composer and lyricist. Warren was the first major American songwriter to write primarily for film.
1892 – Ruth Chatterton, American actress (d. 1961), was an American stage, film, and television actress. She was at her most popular in the early to mid-1930s, and in the same era gained prominence as an aviator, one of the few female pilots in the United States at the time.
1888 – Michael Curtiz, Hungarian-American actor, director, and producer (d. 1962), was a Hungarian-born American film director, recognized as one of the most prolific directors in history.:67 He directed classic films from the silent era and numerous others during Hollywood's Golden Age, when the studio system was prevalent.
1885 – Paul Manship, American sculptor (d. 1966). He consistently created mythological pieces in a classical style, and was a major force in the Art Deco movement.
1881 – Charles Wakefield Cadman, American composer and critic (d. 1946). For 40 years he worked closely with Nelle Richmond Eberhart, who wrote most of the texts to his songs, including Four American Indian Songs, as well as the librettos for his five operas, two of which were based on Indian themes.
1880 – Johnny Gruelle, American author and illustrator (d. 1939), was an American artist, political cartoonist, children's book and comics authors, illustrator, and storyteller. He is best known as the creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls and as the author/illustrator of dozens of books.
1872 – Frederick Semple, American golfer and tennis player (d. 1927), was an American golfer and tennis player who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
1865 – Szymon Askenazy, Polish historian, educator, and diplomat, founded the Askenazy school (d. 1935), was a Jewish-Polish historian, educator, statesman and diplomat, founder of the Askenazy school.
1809 – Kit Carson, American general (d. 1868). Christopher Houston Carson (December 24, 1809 – May 23, 1868), better known as Kit Carson, was an American frontiersman.
2014 – Buddy DeFranco, American clarinet player (b. 1923)
2014 – Herbert Harris, American lawyer and politician (b. 1926)
2013 – Allan McKeown, English-American screenwriter and producer (b. 1946)
2013 – Ian Barbour, Chinese-American author and scholar (b. 1923)
2012 – Charles Durning, American soldier and actor (b. 1923)
2012 – Jack Klugman, American actor (b. 1922)
2012 – Richard Rodney Bennett, English-American composer and academic (b. 1936)
2009 – George Michael, American sportscaster (b. 1939)
2007 – George Warrington, American businessman (b. 1952)
2006 – Frank Stanton, American businessman (b. 1908)
2004 – Johnny Oates, American baseball player, coach, and manager (b. 1946)
1999 – Bill Bowerman, American runner, coach, and businessman, co-founded Nike, Inc. (b. 1911)
1997 – James Komack, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1930)
1997 – Pierre Péladeau, Canadian businessman, founded Quebecor (b. 1925)
1994 – John Boswell, American historian, author, and academic (b. 1947)
1993 – Norman Vincent Peale, American minister and author (b. 1898)
1992 – Bobby LaKind, American singer-songwriter and conga player (b. 1945)
1991 – Virginia Sorensen, American author (b. 1912)
1986 – Gardner Fox, American author (b. 1911)
1985 – Camille Tourville, Canadian-American wrestler and manager (b. 1927)
1985 – Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, American lawyer (b. 1904)
1984 – Peter Lawford, English-American actor (b. 1923)
1975 – Bernard Herrmann, American composer and conductor (b. 1911)
1972 – Gisela Richter, English-American archaeologist and historian (b. 1882)
1969 – Cortelia Clark, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1907)
1967 – Burt Baskin, American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins (b. 1913)
1965 – William M. Branham, American minister and theologian (b. 1906)
1961 – Robert Hillyer, American poet and academic (b. 1895)
1957 – Norma Talmadge, American actress and producer (b. 1893)
1931 – Flying Hawk, American warrior, educator and historian (b. 1854)
1926 – Wesley Coe, American shot putter, hammer thrower, and discus thrower (b. 1879)
1920 – Stephen Mosher Wood, American lieutenant and politician (b. 1832)
1914 – John Muir, Scottish-American geologist, botanist, and author, founded Sierra Club (b. 1838)
1873 – Johns Hopkins, American businessman and philanthropist (b. 1795)