TODAY IN HISTORY


Today is Friday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2021.

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 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed an enabling act paving the way for Virginia’s western counties to become the state of West Virginia, which took place in June 1863.

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 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

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 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, 97 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.)

Today’s Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 92. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 84. Actor Tim Considine (TV: “My Three Sons”) is 81. Actor Sarah Miles is 80. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 78. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 77. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 75. Actor Tim Matheson is 74. Pop singer Burton Cummings is 74. Actor Bebe Neuwirth is 63. Actor Val Kilmer is 62. Donald Trump Jr. is 44. U.S. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas is 26.