In 1961, Pope John XXIII formally announced the upcoming convocation of the Second Vatican Council, which opened in Oct. 1962.
In 1977, comedian Sir Charles Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.
In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES’-koo) and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising. Former baseball manager Billy Martin, 61, died in a traffic accident near Binghamton, New York.
In 1990, the World Wide Web, the system providing quick access to websites over the Internet, was born in Geneva, Switzerland, as computer scientists Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau (KAH’-yoh) created the world’s first hyperlinked webpage.
In 1995, singer Dean Martin died at his Beverly Hills home at age 78.
In 2006, James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul,” died in Atlanta at age 73.
In 2009, passengers aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 foiled an attempt to blow up the plane as it was landing in Detroit by seizing Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (OO’-mahr fah-ROOK’ ahb-DOOL’-moo-TAH’-lahb), who tried to set off explosives in his underwear. (Abdulmutallab later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.)
Ten years ago: Pope Benedict XVI urged a world confronting a financial crisis, conflict, and increasing poverty not to lose hope at Christmas, but to join in “authentic solidarity” to prevent global ruin. President-elect Barack Obama spent a private Christmas with family and close friends in Hawaii. Singer, dancer and actress Eartha Kitt died in Weston, Conn. at age 81. Actress Ann Savage died in Los Angeles at age 87.
Five years ago: Pope Francis offered Christmas wishes for a better world, praying for protection for Christians under attack, battered women and trafficked children, peace in the Middle East and Africa, and dignity for refugees fleeing misery and conflict around the globe.
One year ago: In his traditional Christmas message, Pope Francis called for a two-state solution in the Middle East, and prayed that confrontation could be overcome on the Korean Peninsula. Harsh winter weather gripped much of the country on Christmas, with bitter cold in the Midwest and a blizzard moving into New England. Russian election officials formally barred opposition leader Alexei Navalny from running for president, prompting him to call for a boycott of the March, 2018 vote.
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Dick Miller is 90. Author Anne Roiphe is 83. Actress Hanna Schygulla (SHEE’-goo-lah) is 75. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 74. Actor Gary Sandy is 73. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 72. Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 72. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 70. Actress Sissy Spacek is 69. Former White House adviser Karl Rove is 68. Actress CCH Pounder is 66. Singer Annie Lennox is 64. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 64. Country singer Steve Wariner is 64. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 61. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 60. The former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, is 60. Actress Klea Scott is 50. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is 47. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 47. Singer Dido is 47. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 46. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ryan Shaw is 38. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 36. Pop singers Jess and Lisa Origliasso (The Veronicas) are 34. Actress Perdita Weeks is 33. Rock singer-musician Lukas Nelson (Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real) is 30.
Thought for Today: “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” — Roy L. Smith, American clergyman (1887-1963).