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December 31

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  • What happened on December 31
  • December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar.
  • December 31 is slightly more likely to fall on a Monday, Thursday or Saturday (58 in 400 years each) than on Tuesday or Wednesday (57), and slightly less likely to occur on a Friday or Sunday (56). It is widely known as New Year’s Eve since the following day is New Year’s Day. It is the last day of the year. The following day is January 1 of the following year.

 

  • Events on December 31
  • 406 – Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, beginning an invasion of Gaul.
  • 535 – Byzantine general Belisarius completes the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Gothic garrison of Palermo (Panormos), and ending his consulship for the year.
  • 870 – Battle of Englefield: The Vikings clash with ealdorman Æthelwulf of Berkshire. The invaders are driven back to Reading(East Anglia), many Danes are killed.
  • 1225 – The Lý dynasty of Vietnam ends after 216 years by the enthronement of the boy emperor Trần Thái Tông, husband of the last Lý monarch, Lý Chiêu Hoàng, starting the Trần dynasty.
  • 1229 – James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma, Spain) thus consummating the Christianreconquest of the island of Majorca.
  • 1501 – The First Battle of Cannanore commences.
  • 1600 – The British East India Company is chartered.
  • 1660 – James II of England is named Duke of Normandy by Louis XIV of France.
  • 1687 – The first Huguenots set sail from France to the Cape of Good Hope.
  • 1757 – Empress Elizabeth I of Russia issues her ukase incorporating Königsberg into Russia.
  • 1759 – Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.
  • 1775 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Quebec: British forces repulse an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery.
  • 1790 – Efimeris, the oldest Greek newspaper of which issues have survived till today, is published for the first time.
  • 1796 – The incorporation of Baltimore as a city.
  • 1831 – Gramercy Park is deeded to New York City.
  • 1853 – A dinner party is held inside a life-size model of an iguanodon created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen in south London, England.
  • 1857 – Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa, then a small logging town, as the capital of Canada.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln signs an act that admits West Virginia to the Union, thus dividing Virginia in two.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: The Battle of Stones River begins near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
  • 1878 – Karl Benz, working in Mannheim, Germany, filed for a patent on his first reliable two-stroke gas engine, and he was granted the patent in 1879.
  • 1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
  • 1906 – Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar signs the Persian Constitution of 1906.
  • 1907 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in Times Square (then known as Longacre Square) in Manhattan.
  • 1944 – World War II: Hungary declares war on Nazi Germany.
  • 1944 – World War II: Operation Nordwind, the last major German offensive on the Western Front begins.
  • 1946 – President Harry S. Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.
  • 1951 – The Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than US$13.3 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.
  • 1955 – General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over US$1 billion in a year.
  • 1961 – RTÉ, Ireland’s state broadcaster, launches its first national television service.
  • 1963 – The Central African Federation officially collapses, subsequently becoming Zambia, Malawi and Rhodesia.
  • 1965 – Jean-Bédel Bokassa, leader of the Central African Republic army, and his military officers begins a coup d’état against the government of President David Dacko.
  • 1968 – The first flight of the Tupolev Tu-144, the first civilian supersonic transport.
  • 1981 – A coup d’état in Ghana removes President Hilla Limann’s PNP government and replaces it with the Provisional National Defence Council led by Flight lieutenant Jerry Rawlings.
  • 1983 – The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government.
  • 1983 – In Nigeria a coup d’état led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari ends the Second Nigerian Republic.
  • 1985 – United Kingdom founds a member state of UNESCO.
  • 1986 – Arson at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico kills 97 people and injures 140.
  • 1991 – All official Soviet Union institutions have ceased operations by this date 5 days after the Soviet Union is officially dissolved.
  • 1992 – Czechoslovakia is peacefully dissolved in what is dubbed by media as the Velvet Divorce, resulting in the creation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
  • 1994 – This date is skipped altogether in Kiribati as the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands change time zones from UTC−11:00 to UTC+13:00 and UTC−10:00 toUTC+14:00, respectively.
  • 1994 – The First Chechen War: Russian army began a New Year’s storming of Grozny.
  • 1998 – The European Exchange Rate Mechanism freezes the values of the legacy currencies in the Eurozone, and establishes the value of the euro currency.
  • 1999 – First President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor.
  • 1999 – The United States Government hands control of the Panama Canal (as well all the adjacent land to the canal known as the Panama Canal Zone) toPanama. This act complied with the signing of the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties.
  • 1999 – Indian Airlines Flight 814 hijacking ended after seven days with the release of 190 survivors at Kandahar Airport, Afghanistan.
  • 2004 – The official opening of Taipei 101, the tallest skyscraper at that time in the world, standing at a height of 509 metres (1,670 ft).
  • 2009 – Both a blue moon and a lunar eclipse occur.
  • 2010 – Tornadoes touch down in midwestern and southern United States, including Washington County, Arkansas; Greater St. Louis, Sunset Hills, Missouri,Illinois, and Oklahoma, with a few tornadoes in the early hours. A total 36 tornadoes touched down, resulting in the deaths of nine people and $113 million in damages.
  • 2011 – NASA succeeds in putting the first of two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory satellites in orbit around the Moon.
  • 2014 – A New Year’s Eve celebration stampede in Shanghai kills at least 36 people and injures 49 others.
  • 2015 – A fire broke out at the Downtown Address Hotel in Downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates located near the Burj Khalifa 2 hours before the fireworks display was due to commence. 16 injuries were reported; one had a heart attack, another suffered a major injury, and fourteen others with minor injuries,

 

 

 

  • Births on December 31
  • 695 – Muhammad bin Qasim, Syrian general (d. 715)
  • 1378 – Pope Callixtus III (d. 1458)
  • 1491 – Jacques Cartier, French navigator and explorer (d. 1557)
  • 1493 – Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino (d. 1570)
  • 1514 – Andreas Vesalius, Belgian anatomist, physician, and author (d. 1564)
  • 1552 – Simon Forman, English occultist and astrologer (d. 1611)
  • 1572 – Emperor Go-Yōzei of Japan, (d. 1617)
  • 1585 – Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, Spanish general and politician, 24th Governor of the Duchy of Milan (d. 1645)
  • 1668 – Herman Boerhaave, Dutch botanist and physician (d. 1738)
  • 1714 – Arima Yoriyuki, Japanese mathematician and educator (d. 1783)
  • 1720 – Charles Edward Stuart, Italian husband of Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern (d. 1788)
  • 1738 – Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, English general and politician, 3rd Governor-General of India (d. 1805)
  • 1741 – Gottfried August Bürger, German poet and academic (d. 1794)
  • 1763 – Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, French admiral (d. 1806)
  • 1776 – Johann Spurzheim, German-American physician and phrenologist (d. 1832)
  • 1798 – Friedrich Robert Faehlmann, Estonian physician, philologist, and academic (d. 1850)
  • 1805 – Marie d’Agoult, German-French historian and author (d. 1876)
  • 1815 – George Meade, American general and engineer (d. 1872)
  • 1830 – Isma’il Pasha, Egyptian ruler (d. 1895)
  • 1830 – Alexander Smith, Scottish poet and critic (d. 1867)
  • 1838 – Émile Loubet, French lawyer and politician, 7th President of France (d. 1929)
  • 1842 – Giovanni Boldini, Italian painter (d. 1931)
  • 1851 – Henry Carter Adams, American economist and academic (d. 1921)
  • 1855 – Giovanni Pascoli, Italian poet and scholar (d. 1912)
  • 1857 – King Kelly, American baseball player and manager (d. 1894)
  • 1860 – Joseph S. Cullinan, American businessman, co-founded Texaco (d. 1937)
  • 1864 – Robert Grant Aitken, American astronomer and academic (d. 1951)
  • 1869 – Henri Matisse, French painter and sculptor (d. 1954)
  • 1872 – Fred Marriott, American race car driver (d. 1956)
  • 1873 – Konstantin Konik, Estonian surgeon and politician, 19th Estonian Minister of Education (d. 1936)
  • 1874 – Julius Meier, American businessman and politician, 20th Governor of Oregon (d. 1937)
  • 1877 – Lawrence Beesley, English journalist and author (d. 1967)
  • 1878 – Elizabeth Arden, Canadian businesswoman, founded Elizabeth Arden, Inc. (d. 1966)
  • 1878 – Horacio Quiroga, Uruguayan-Argentinian author, poet, and playwright (d. 1937)
  • 1880 – Fred Beebe, American baseball player and coach (d. 1957)
  • 1880 – George Marshall, American general and politician, 50th United States Secretary of State, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1959)
  • 1881 – Max Pechstein, German painter and academic (d. 1955)
  • 1884 – Bobby Byrne, American baseball and soccer player (d. 1964)
  • 1884 – Mihály Fekete, Hungarian actor, screenwriter, and film director (d. 1960)
  • 1885 – Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein (d. 1970)
  • 1899 – Silvestre Revueltas, Mexican violinist, composer, and conductor (d. 1940)
  • 1901 – Nikos Ploumpidis, Greek educator and politician (d. 1954)
  • 1902 – Lionel Daunais, Canadian singer-songwriter (d. 1982)
  • 1902 – Roy Goodall, English footballer (d. 1982)
  • 1904 – William Heynes, English engineer (d. 1989)
  • 1905 – Helen Dodson Prince, American astronomer and academic (d. 2002)
  • 1905 – Jule Styne, English-American composer (d. 1994)
  • 1908 – Simon Wiesenthal, Ukrainian-Austrian nazi hunter and author (d. 2005)
  • 1909 – Jonah Jones, American trumpet player and saxophonist (d. 2000)
  • 1910 – Carl Dudley, American director, producer, and screenwriter (d. 1973)
  • 1910 – Enrique Maier, Spanish tennis player (d. 1981)
  • 1911 – Dal Stivens, Australian soldier and author (d. 1997)
  • 1912 – John Frost, Indian-English general (d. 1993)
  • 1914 – Mary Logan Reddick, American neuroembryologist (d. 1966)
  • 1915 – Sam Ragan, American journalist, author, and poet (d. 1996)
  • 1917 – Evelyn Knight, American singer (d. 2007)
  • 1917 – Wilfrid Noyce, English mountaineer and author (d. 1962)
  • 1918 – Ray Graves, American football player and coach (d. 2015)
  • 1919 – Tommy Byrne, American baseball player, coach, and politician (d. 2007)
  • 1919 – Carmen Contreras-Bozak, Puerto Rican-American soldier
  • 1920 – Rex Allen, American actor and singer-songwriter (d. 1999)
  • 1922 – Tomás Balduino, Brazilian bishop (d. 2014)
  • 1922 – Halina Czerny-Stefańska, Polish pianist and educator (d. 2001)
  • 1922 – Luis Zuloaga, Venezuelan baseball player (d. 2013)
  • 1923 – Giannis Dalianidis, Greek actor, director, and screenwriter (d. 2010)
  • 1924 – Taylor Mead, American actor and poet (d. 2013)
  • 1925 – Irina Korschunow, German author and screenwriter (d. 2013)
  • 1925 – Sri Lal Sukla, Indian author (d. 2011)
  • 1925 – Daphne Oram, British composer and electronic musician (d. 2003)
  • 1926 – Valerie Pearl, English historian and academic (d. 2016)
  • 1926 – Billy Snedden, Australian lawyer and politician, 17th Attorney-General for Australia (d. 1987)
  • 1928 – Ross Barbour, American pop singer (d. 2011)
  • 1928 – Tatyana Shmyga, Russian actress and singer (d. 2011)
  • 1928 – Siné, French cartoonist (d. 2016)
  • 1928 – Veijo Meri, Finnish author and translator (d. 2015)
  • 1929 – Mies Bouwman, Dutch television host
  • 1929 – Peter May, English cricketer (d. 1994)
  • 1930 – Odetta, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress (d. 2008)
  • 1930 – Jaime Escalante, Bolivian-American educator (d. 2010)
  • 1931 – Bob Shaw, Northern Irish journalist and author (d. 1996)
  • 1932 – Don James, American football player and coach (d. 2013)
  • 1932 – Felix Rexhausen, German journalist and author (d. 1992)
  • 1933 – Edward Bunker, American author, screenwriter, and actor (d. 2005)
  • 1934 – Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan, Indian author, poet, and scholar
  • 1935 – Salman of Saudi Arabia, King of Saudi Arabia
  • 1937 – Avram Hershko, Hungarian-Israeli biochemist and physician, Nobel Prize laureate
  • 1937 – Anthony Hopkins, Welsh actor, director, and composer
  • 1937 – Barry Hughes, Welsh footballer and manager
  • 1937 – Tess Jaray, Austrian-English painter and educator
  • 1938 – Rosalind Cash, American singer and actress (d. 1995)
  • 1938 – Atje Keulen-Deelstra, Dutch speed skater (d. 2013)
  • 1939 – Willye White, American sprinter and long jumper (d. 2007)
  • 1940 – Mani Neumeier, German drummer
  • 1941 – Alex Ferguson, Scottish footballer and manager
  • 1941 – Sarah Miles, English actress
  • 1942 – Andy Summers, English guitarist, songwriter, and producer
  • 1943 – John Denver, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (d. 1997)
  • 1943 – Ben Kingsley, English actor
  • 1943 – Pete Quaife, English bass player, author, and artist (d. 2010)
  • 1944 – Taylor Hackford, American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1945 – Connie Willis, American author
  • 1946 – Roy Greenslade, English journalist and academic
  • 1946 – Bryan Hamilton, Northern Irish footballer and coach
  • 1946 – Raphael Kaplinsky, South African international development academic
  • 1946 – Pius Ncube, Zimbabwean archbishop
  • 1946 – Lyudmila Pakhomova, Russian ice dancer (d. 1986)
  • 1946 – Cliff Richey, American tennis player
  • 1946 – Eric Robson, Scottish journalist and author
  • 1946 – Nigel Rudd, English businessman, founded Williams Holdings
  • 1946 – Tim Stevens, English bishop
  • 1946 – Diane von Fürstenberg, Belgian-American fashion designer
  • 1947 – Burton Cummings, Canadian singer-songwriter and keyboard player
  • 1947 – Rita Lee, Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actress
  • 1947 – Tim Matheson, American actor, director, and producer
  • 1948 – Joe Dallesandro, American actor
  • 1948 – Sandy Jardine, Scottish footballer and manager (d. 2014)
  • 1948 – René Robert, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1948 – Donna Summer, American singer-songwriter (d. 2012)
  • 1949 – Ellen Datlow, American anthologist and author
  • 1949 – Susan Shwartz, American author
  • 1950 – Phil Blakeway, Welsh-English rugby player
  • 1950 – Bob Gilder, American golfer
  • 1950 – Inge Helten, German sprinter
  • 1950 – Cheryl Womack, American businesswoman
  • 1951 – Tom Hamilton, American bass player and songwriter
  • 1951 – Kenny Roberts, American motorcycle racer
  • 1952 – Vaughan Jones, New Zealand mathematician and academic
  • 1952 – Jean-Pierre Rives, French rugby player, painter, and sculptor
  • 1953 – Jane Badler, American actress
  • 1954 – Alex Salmond, Scottish economist and politician, 4th First Minister of Scotland
  • 1954 – Hermann Tilke, German race car driver and engineer
  • 1956 – Robert Goodwill, English farmer and politician
  • 1956 – Helma Knorscheidt, German shot putter
  • 1956 – Steve Rude, American author and illustrator
  • 1958 – Geoff Marsh, Australian cricketer and coach
  • 1958 – Bebe Neuwirth, American actress and dancer
  • 1959 – Liveris Andritsos, Greek basketball player
  • 1959 – Val Kilmer, American actor
  • 1959 – Phill Kline, American lawyer and politician, Kansas Attorney General
  • 1959 – Baron Waqa, Nauruan composer and politician, 14th President of Nauru
  • 1959 – Paul Westerberg, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1960 – Steve Bruce, English footballer and manager
  • 1961 – Rick Aguilera, American baseball player and coach
  • 1961 – Jeremy Heywood, English economist and civil servant
  • 1962 – Tyrone Corbin, American basketball player and coach
  • 1962 – Chris Hallam, English-Welsh swimmer and wheelchair racer (d. 2013)
  • 1963 – Scott Ian, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1964 – Winston Benjamin, Antiguan cricketer
  • 1964 – Michael McDonald, American comedian, actor, and director
  • 1965 – Tony Dorigo, Australian-English footballer and sportscaster
  • 1965 – Julie Doucet, Canadian cartoonist and author
  • 1965 – Gong Li, Chinese actress
  • 1965 – Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Indian cricketer
  • 1965 – Nicholas Sparks, American author, screenwriter, and producer
  • 1967 – Paul McGregor, Australian rugby league player and coach
  • 1968 – Gerry Dee, Canadian comedian, actor, and screenwriter
  • 1968 – Junot Diaz, Dominican-born American novelist, short story writer, and essayist
  • 1970 – Jorge Alberto da Costa Silva, Brazilian footballer
  • 1970 – Danny McNamara, English singer-songwriter
  • 1970 – Carlos Morales Quintana, Spanish-Danish architect and sailor
  • 1970 – Bryon Russell, American basketball player
  • 1971 – Brent Barry, American basketball player and sportscaster
  • 1971 – Esteban Loaiza, Mexican baseball player
  • 1972 – Joey McIntyre, American singer-songwriter and actor
  • 1973 – Shandon Anderson, American basketball player
  • 1973 – Malcolm Middleton, Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1973 – Curtis Myden, Canadian swimmer
  • 1974 – Joe Abercrombie, English author
  • 1974 – Mario Aerts, Belgian cyclist
  • 1974 – Tony Kanaan, Brazilian race car driver
  • 1974 – Ryan Sakoda, Japanese-American wrestler and trainer
  • 1975 – Rami Alanko, Finnish ice hockey player
  • 1975 – Toni Kuivasto, Finnish footballer and coach
  • 1975 – Rob Penders, Dutch footballer
  • 1975 – Sander Schutgens, Dutch runner
  • 1976 – Luís Carreira, Portuguese motorcycle racer (d. 2012)
  • 1976 – Matthew Hoggard, English cricketer
  • 1977 – Wardy Alfaro, Costa Rican footballer and coach
  • 1977 – Psy, South Korean singer-songwriter, producer, and dancer
  • 1977 – Donald Trump, Jr., American businessman and son of billionaire Donald Trump
  • 1979 – Paul O’Neill, English race car driver
  • 1979 – Jeff Waldstreicher, American lawyer and politician
  • 1980 – Jesse Carlson, American baseball player
  • 1980 – Matt Cross, American wrestler
  • 1980 – Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby player
  • 1980 – Carsten Schlangen, German runner
  • 1981 – Jason Campbell, American football player
  • 1981 – Matthew Pavlich, Australian footballer
  • 1981 – Margaret Simpson, Ghanaian heptathlete
  • 1981 – Ricky Whittle, English actor
  • 1982 – Julio DePaula, Dominican baseball player
  • 1982 – Craig Gordon, Scottish footballer
  • 1982 – Luke Schenscher, Australian basketball player
  • 1982 – The Rocket Summer, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
  • 1984 – Ben Hannant, Australian rugby league player
  • 1984 – Édgar Lugo, Mexican footballer
  • 1984 – Calvin Zola, Congolese footballer
  • 1985 – Jonathan Horton, American gymnast
  • 1985 – Jan Smit, Dutch singer and television host
  • 1986 – Nate Freiman, American baseball player
  • 1986 – Kade Snowden, Australian rugby league player
  • 1987 – Javaris Crittenton, American basketball player
  • 1987 – Danny Holla, Dutch footballer
  • 1987 – Émilie Le Pennec, French gymnast
  • 1987 – Nemanja Nikolić, Hungarian footballer
  • 1990 – Patrick Chan, Canadian figure skater
  • 1991 – Camila Giorgi, Italian tennis player
  • 1991 – Bojana Jovanovski, Serbian tennis player
  • 1992 – Karl Kruuda, Estonian race car driver
  • 1993 – Ryan Blaney, American race car driver
  • 1995 – Gabby Douglas, American gymnast

 

 

 

 

 

  • Deaths on December 31
  • 45 BC – Quintus Fabius Maximus, consul suffectus
  • 192 – Commodus, Roman emperor (b. 161)
  • 335 – Pope Sylvester I
  • 669 – Li Shiji, Chinese general (b. 594)
  • 878 – Seiwa, Japanese emperor (b. 850)
  • 1164 – Ottokar III of Styria (b. 1124)
  • 1194 – Leopold V, Duke of Austria (b. 1157)
  • 1298 – Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford, English politician, Lord High Constable of England (b. 1249)
  • 1299 – Margaret, Countess of Anjou (b. 1273)
  • 1302 – Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1238)
  • 1384 – John Wycliffe, English philosopher, theologian, and translator (b. 1331)
  • 1386 – Johanna of Bavaria, Queen of Bohemia (b. c. 1362)
  • 1426 – Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (b. 1377)
  • 1460 – Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, English politician, Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom (b. 1400)
  • 1535 – William Skeffington, English-Irish politician, Lord Deputy of Ireland (b. 1465)
  • 1568 – Shimazu Tadayoshi, Japanese daimyo (b. 1493)
  • 1575 – Pierino Belli, Italian commander and jurist (b. 1502)
  • 1583 – Thomas Erastus, Swiss physician and theologian (b. 1524)
  • 1610 – Ludolph van Ceulen, German-Dutch mathematician and academic (b. 1540)
  • 1650 – Dorgon, Chinese emperor (b. 1612)
  • 1655 – Janusz Radziwiłł, Polish–Lithuanian politician (b. 1612)
  • 1673 – Oliver St John, English judge and politician, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas (b. 1598)
  • 1679 – Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, Italian physiologist and physicist (b. 1608)
  • 1691 – Robert Boyle, Irish chemist and physicist (b. 1627)
  • 1691 – Dudley North, English merchant and economist (b. 1641)
  • 1705 – Catherine of Braganza (b. 1638)
  • 1719 – John Flamsteed, English astronomer and academic (b. 1646)
  • 1730 – Carlo Gimach, Maltese architect, engineer and poet (b. 1651)
  • 1742 – Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine (b. 1661)
  • 1799 – Jean-François Marmontel, French historian and author (b. 1723)
  • 1872 – Aleksis Kivi, Finnish author and playwright (b. 1834)
  • 1876 – Catherine Labouré, French nun and saint (b. 1806)
  • 1877 – Gustave Courbet, French-Swiss painter and sculptor (b. 1819)
  • 1888 – Samson Raphael Hirsch, German rabbi and scholar (b. 1808)
  • 1889 – Ion Creangă, Romanian author and educator (b. 1837)
  • 1890 – Pancha Carrasco, Costa Rican soldier (b. 1826)
  • 1891 – Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Nigerian bishop and linguist (b. 1809)
  • 1894 – Thomas Joannes Stieltjes, Dutch mathematician and academic (b. 1856)
  • 1909 – Spencer Trask, American financier and philanthropist (b. 1844)
  • 1910 – Archibald Hoxsey, American pilot (b. 1884)
  • 1910 – John Moisant, American pilot and engineer (b. 1868)
  • 1921 – Boies Penrose, American lawyer and politician (b. 1860)
  • 1936 – Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish philosopher, author, and poet (b. 1864)
  • 1948 – Malcolm Campbell, English race car driver and journalist (b. 1885)
  • 1949 – Rıza Tevfik Bölükbaşı, Turkish philosopher, poet, and politician (b. 1869)
  • 1949 – Raimond Valgre, Estonian pianist and composer (b. 1913)
  • 1950 – Charles Koechlin, French composer and educator (b. 1867)
  • 1953 – Albert Plesman, Dutch businessman, founded KLM (b. 1889)
  • 1964 – Bobby Byrne, American baseball and soccer player (b. 1884)
  • 1964 – Ólafur Thors, Icelandic lawyer and politician, 8th Prime Minister of Iceland (b. 1892)
  • 1964 – Henry Maitland Wilson, English field marshal (b. 1881)
  • 1968 – George Lewis, American clarinet player and composer (b. 1900)
  • 1972 – Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rican-American baseball player and soldier (b. 1934)
  • 1972 – Henry Gerber, German-American activist, founded the Society for Human Rights (b. 1892)
  • 1978 – Basil Wolverton, American illustrator (b. 1909)
  • 1980 – Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and theorist (b. 1911)
  • 1980 – Raoul Walsh, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1887)
  • 1983 – Sevim Burak, Turkish author and playwright (b. 1931)
  • 1985 – Ricky Nelson, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1940)
  • 1987 – Jerry Turner, American journalist (b. 1929)
  • 1988 – Nicolas Calas, Greek-American poet and critic (b. 1907)
  • 1990 – George Allen, American football player and coach (b. 1918)
  • 1990 – Vasily Lazarev, Russian physician, colonel, and astronaut (b. 1928)
  • 1990 – Giovanni Michelucci, Italian architect and urban planner, designed the Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station (b. 1891)
  • 1993 – Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgian anthropologist and politician, 1st President of Georgia (b. 1939)
  • 1994 – Woody Strode, American football player, wrestler, and actor (b. 1914)
  • 1996 – Wesley Addy, American actor (b. 1913)
  • 1997 – Floyd Cramer, American singer-songwriter and pianist (b. 1933)
  • 1997 – Billie Dove, American actress (b. 1903)
  • 1998 – Ted Glossop, Australian rugby league player and coach (b. 1934)
  • 1999 – Elliot Richardson, American lawyer and politician, 69th United States Attorney General (b. 1920)
  • 2000 – Alan Cranston, American journalist and politician (b. 1914)
  • 2000 – José Greco, Italian-American dancer and choreographer (b. 1918)
  • 2000 – Binyamin Ze’ev Kahane, American-Israeli rabbi and scholar (b. 1966)
  • 2001 – Eileen Heckart, American actress (b. 1919)
  • 2002 – Kevin MacMichael, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer (b. 1951)
  • 2003 – Arthur R. von Hippel German-American physicist and author (b. 1898)
  • 2004 – Gérard Debreu, French economist and mathematician, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1921)
  • 2005 – Enrico Di Giuseppe, American tenor and educator (b. 1932)
  • 2005 – Phillip Whitehead, English screenwriter, producer, and politician (b. 1937)
  • 2006 – Seymour Martin Lipset, American sociologist, author, and academic (b. 1922)
  • 2006 – George Sisler, Jr., American businessman (b. 1917)
  • 2007 – Roy Amara, American scientific researcher (b. 1925)
  • 2007 – Michael Goldberg, American painter and educator (b. 1924)
  • 2007 – Bill Idelson, American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1919)
  • 2007 – Milton L. Klein, Canadian lawyer and politician (b. 1910)
  • 2007 – Ettore Sottsass, Austrian-Italian architect and designer (b. 1917)
  • 2008 – Donald E. Westlake, American author and screenwriter (b. 1933)
  • 2009 – Cahal Daly, Irish cardinal and philosopher (b. 1917)
  • 2009 – Justin Keating, Irish surgeon, journalist, and politician, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (b. 1930)
  • 2010 – Raymond Impanis, Belgian cyclist (b. 1925)
  • 2010 – Per Oscarsson, Swedish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1927)
  • 2012 – Peter Ebert, English director and producer (b. 1918)
  • 2012 – Tarak Mekki, Tunisian businessman and politician (b. 1958)
  • 2012 – Jovette Marchessault, Canadian author and playwright (b. 1938)
  • 2012 – Günter Rössler, German photographer and journalist (b. 1926)
  • 2013 – James Avery, American actor (b. 1945)
  • 2013 – Roberto Ciotti, Italian guitarist and composer (b. 1953)
  • 2013 – Bob Grant, American radio host (b. 1929)
  • 2013 – Irina Korschunow, German author and screenwriter (b. 1925)
  • 2014 – Edward Herrmann, American actor (b. 1943)
  • 2014 – Abdullah Hussain, Malaysian author (b. 1920)
  • 2014 – Norm Phelps, American author and activist (b. 1939)
  • 2014 – S. Arthur Spiegel, American captain, lawyer, and judge (b. 1920)
  • 2014 – Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington, British soldier and politician (b. 1915)
  • 2015 – Natalie Cole, American singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1950)
  • 2015 – Marvin Panch, American race car driver (b. 1926)
  • 2015 – Wayne Rogers, American actor and investor (b. 1933)
  • 2015 – Beth Howland, American actress (b. 1941)
  • 2016 – William Christopher, American actor (b. 1932)

 

 

 

  • Holidays and observances on December 31
  • Christian feast day:
    • Pope Sylvester I (Catholic Church)
    • December 31 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
  • International Solidarity Day (Azerbaijan)
  • New Year’s Eve (International observance), and its related observances:
    • First Night (United States)
    • Last Day of the Year or Bisperás ng Bagong Taón, special holiday between Rizal Day and New Year’s Day (Philippines)
    • Ōmisoka (Japan)
    • The first day of Hogmanay or “Auld Year’s Night” (Scotland)
    • Novy God Eve (Russia)
  • The seventh of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Western Christianity)
  • The sixth day of Kwanzaa (United States)

 

December 31
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