Today in History

Today is Sunday, Dec. 29, the 363rd day of 2013. There are two days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 29, 1913, the first true "cliffhanger" movie serial, "The Adventures of Kathlyn," starring Kathlyn Williams, premiered.

On this date:

In 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was slain in Canterbury Cathedral by knights loyal to King Henry II.

In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, N.C.

In 1812, during the War of 1812, the American frigate USS Constitution engaged and severely damaged the British frigate HMS Java off Brazil.

In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.

In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them.

In 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the so-called "Mad Monk" who'd wielded great influence with Czar Nicholas II, was killed by a group of Russian noblemen in St. Petersburg.

In 1934, Japan formally renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

In 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as "The Second Great Fire of London."

In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married in Las Vegas.

In 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, crashed into the Florida Everglades near Miami International Airport, killing 101 of the 176 people aboard.

In 1975, a bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York's LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people.

In 1986, former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan died at his home south of London at age 92.

Ten years ago: Monsignor Michael Courtney, Pope John Paul II's ambassador in Burundi (boo-ROON'-dee), was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen. Actor Earl Hindman (HYND'-man), who'd played the mostly unseen neighbor Wilson on "Home Improvement," died in Stamford, Conn., at age 61.

Five years ago: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lawyer responded to impeachment charges, saying a vague array of charges and evidence did not merit removing his client from office. Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf resigned, saying he had lost control of the country to Islamic insurgents. The African Union suspended Guinea after a coup in the West African nation. Grammy-winning jazz musician Freddie Hubbard died in Sherman Oaks, Calif., at age 70. French fashion designer Ted Lapidus died in Cannes at age 79.

One year ago: Maine's same-sex marriage law went into effect. Shocked Indians mourned the death of a woman who'd been gang-raped and beaten on a bus in New Delhi nearly two weeks earlier; six suspects were charged with murder. (Four were later sentenced to death; one died in prison; the sixth, a juvenile at the time of the attack, was sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reform home.)

Today's Birthdays: Actress Inga Swenson is 81. ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 79. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 77. Actress Barbara Steele is 76. Actor Jon Voight is 75. Country singer Ed Bruce is 74. Rock musician Ray Thomas is 72. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 67. Jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. is 67. Actor Ted Danson is 66. Actor Jon Polito is 63. Singer-actress Yvonne Elliman is 62. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 54. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 54. Rock singer-musician Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) is 52. Actor Michael Cudlitz is 49. Rock singer Dexter Holland (The Offspring) is 48. Actor-comedian Mystro Clark is 47. Actor Jason Gould is 47. CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield is 46. Movie director Andy Wachowski is 46. Actress Jennifer Ehle is 44. Actor Patrick Fischler is 44. Rock singer-musician Glen Phillips is 43. Actor Kevin Weisman is 43. Actor Jude Law is 41. Actor Mekhi Phifer (mih-KY' FY'-fuhr) is 39. Actor Shawn Hatosy is 38. Actress Katherine Moennig is 36. Actor Diego Luna is 34. Country singer Jessica Andrews is 30. Actress Jane Levy (TV: "Suburgatory") is 24.

Thought for Today: "The wise man must be wise before, not after." — Epicharmus (eh-pih-KAHR'-muhs), Sicilian Greek comic poet (? - c.450 B.C.)

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Dec. 29)

Copyright 2013, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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