Today in History: December 31, Clemente dies on aid flight

Dec 30, 2022, 7:00 AM | Updated: 9:02 pm

Today in History

Today is Saturday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2022.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 31, 2019, the health commission in the central Chinese city of Wuhan announced that experts were investigating an outbreak of respiratory illness and that most of the victims had visited a seafood market in the city; the statement said 27 people had become ill with a strain of viral pneumonia and that seven were in serious condition.

On this date:

In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light by illuminating some 40 bulbs at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

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

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

In 1972, Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, 38, was killed when a plane he 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 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, D.C., marking the end of diplomatic relations with the United States.

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, nearly 100 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 1987, Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH’-bay) was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s first executive president.

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).

In 2020, authorities arrested a suburban Milwaukee pharmacist suspected of deliberately ruining hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine by removing them from refrigeration. (Steven Brandenburg, an admitted conspiracy theorist who believed vaccines were the product of the devil, would be sentenced to three years in prison.) Britain completed its economic break from the European Union.

Ten years ago: Racing the clock, the White House reached a New Year’s Eve accord with Senate Republicans to block across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts in government programs due to take effect at midnight. Private recreational marijuana clubs opened in Colorado, less than a month after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a constitutional amendment allowing recreational pot use.

Five years ago: New Yorkers endured the second-coldest New Year’s Eve celebration on record; the temperature in the city was 10 degrees Fahrenheit as a glittering crystal ball dropped with a burst of confetti and dazzling fireworks in Times Square. Bitterly cold temperatures spread across the Deep South; the dangerous temperatures would grip wide areas of the U.S. from Texas to New England for days. The Cleveland Browns joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to go 0-and-16, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-24.

One year ago: Betty White, a television mainstay for more than 60 years who brought a combination of sweetness and edginess to shows including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” died less than three weeks before she would have turned 100. Flight cancellations surged again on the last day of 2021, with airlines blaming it on crew shortages related to the spike in COVID-19 infections. A crowd that was limited to about 15,000 because of the coronavirus pandemic cheered the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City’s Times Square. Although stocks slipped on the last day of the year, they still ended 2021 with some big gains; the S&P 500 was up 26.9% for the year.

Today’s Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 93. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 85. Actor Sarah Miles is 81. Actor Barbara Carrera is 81. Rock musician Andy Summers is 80. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 79. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 78. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 76. Actor Tim Matheson is 75. Pop singer Burton Cummings is 75. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 74. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 71. Actor James Remar is 69. Actor Bebe Neuwirth is 64. Actor Val Kilmer is 63. Singer Paul Westerberg is 63. Actor Don Diamont is 60. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 60. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 59. Actor Gong Li is 57. Author Nicholas Sparks is 57. Actor Lance Reddick is 53. Pop singer Joe McIntyre is 50. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 47. Donald Trump Jr. is 45. Rapper PSY (Park Jae-sang) is 45. Rock musician Bob Bryar is 43. Rock musician Jason Sechrist (Portugal. The Man) is 43. Actor Ricky Whittle is 43. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri is 43. Actor/singer Erich Bergen is 37. DJ/vocalist Drew Taggart (The Chainsmokers) is 33. U.S. Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Alix Klineman is 33. U.S. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas is 27.

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Today in History: December 31, Clemente dies on aid flight