On This Day

What Happened in December 1956

Historical Events

Music Premiere

Dec 1 Leonard Bernstein's musical "Candide" opens at Martin Beck Theater, NYC; runs for 73 performances

  • Dec 1 Algerian-born French long-distance runner Alain Mimoun wins the men's marathon in 2:25:00.0 at the Melbourne Olympics; first time runners follow painted line

Historic Event

Dec 1 Frank Robinson (NL) & Luis Aparicio (AL) voted Rookie of the Year

  • Dec 1 Indonesian VP Mohammed Hatta resigns
  • Dec 1 21st Iron Bowl: Auburn beats Alabama 34-7 in Birmingham
  • Dec 1 In front of 100,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a US Army baseball team beats an Australian all-star team, 11–5 in an Olympic exhibition game; Sergeant Vance Sutton belts a grand slam for Army
  • Dec 1 US men's 4 x 100m relay team of Thane Baker, Leamon King, Bobby Morrow & Ira Murchison sets world record 39.60s to win the gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics; Morrow's 3rd gold medal of the Games
  • Dec 1 Australian women's 4 x 100m relay team of Norma Croker, Betty Cuthbert, Fleur Mellor & Shirley Strickland de la Hunty run world record 44.65 to win the gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics; Cuthbert's 3rd gold of the Games
  • Dec 1 American Mildred McDaniel jumps world record 1.76m to win the women's high jump gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics; Briton Thelma Hopkins and Russian Mariya Pisareva dead-heat for silver (1.67m)
  • Dec 1 Hungarian boxer László Papp wins his 3rd straight Olympic gold medal when he beats future Hall of Famer José Torres representing the US on points in the light-middleweight final at the Melbourne Olympics
  • Dec 1 Legendary Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser sets world record 1:02.0 to win the women's 100m freestyle at the Melbourne Olympics; first of Fraser's 3 consecutive gold medals in the event

Olympic Gold

Dec 1 Led by future Basketball Hall of Famers Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, the US wins it's 4th consecutive Olympic gold medal with an 89-55 victory over the Soviet Union at the Melbourne Games

  • Dec 1 Romanian canoeist Leon Rotman wins the men's C-1,000m gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics; claims the singles double after also winning the C-1 10,000m gold
  • Dec 1 Gert Fredriksson of Sweden wins his 3rd consecutive K-1 1,000m canoeing gold medal by 2.5s from Igor Pissarov of the Soviet Union at the Melbourne Olympics; also wins K-1 10,000m gold

Music History

Dec 1 Musical comedy film "The Girl Can't Help It" starring Jayne Mansfield with cameos by rock 'n' roll stars Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, and Gene Vincent

Historic Event

Dec 2 Fidel Castro lands with "Granma" on coast of Cuba

  • Dec 3 Britain and France pull troops out of Egypt
  • Dec 3 KFSA (now KFSM) TV channel 5 in Ft Smith, AR (CBS) 1st broadcast

Sports History

Dec 3 Basketball icon Wilt Chamberlain makes his much anticipated varsity debut; scores 52 points and grabs 31 rebounds, breaking both all-time Kansas records in an 87–69 win against Northwestern

  • Dec 3 Australian 4 x 200m freestyle relay team of Kevin O'Halloran, John Devitt, Murray Rose & Jon Henricks swim world record 8:23.6 to take the gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics; Rose's 2nd of 3 gold at the Games
  • Dec 4 22nd Heisman Trophy Award: Paul Hornung, Notre Dame (QB)
  • Dec 4 Australian swimmer Murray Rose sets world record 4:27.3 to claim the 400m gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics; Rose later also wins 1,500m gold
  • Dec 4 American diver Pat McCormick wins the 3m springboard gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics with 142.46 points; later wraps up the women's double when she takes the 10m platform gold

Historic Event

Dec 5 Thornton Wilder's "Matchmaker" premieres in NYC

  • Dec 5 17 year old British swimmer Judy Grinham and American Carin Cone both swim world record 1:12.9 in the women's 100m backstroke at the Melbourne Olympics; Grinham is awarded gold medal

Olympic Gold

Dec 5 Soviet artistic gymnast Larisa Latynina wins the women's vault and ties for gold in the floor exercise section at the Melbourne Olympics; later takes gold total to 4 with teams and individual all-round titles

  • Dec 5 Danish yachtsman Paul Elvstrøm wins the Finn class gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics; his 2nd straight Finn gold and 3rd consecutive Olympic gold in sailing
  • Dec 6 "Happy Hunting" opens at Majestic Theater NYC for 413 performances

Historic Event

Dec 6 Nelson Mandela & 156 others arrested for political activities in South Africa

  • Dec 6 Australian swimmer David Theile sets world record 1:02.2 to win the 100m backstroke gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics
  • Dec 6 Australian women's 4 × 100m freestyle relay team of Dawn Fraser, Faith Leech, Sandra Morgan & Lorraine Crapp swim world record 4:17.1 and beat powerful US team to win the gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics
  • Dec 6 Against the background of the Soviet invasion of Hungary the nations square off at the Melbourne Olympics in a famous water polo match; game called off with Hungary leading 4-0 and near riot halted by police; Hungary goes on to win gold medal
  • Dec 6 Randhir Singh Gentle scores the winner as India beats Pakistan, 1-0 in the Melbourne Olympics field hockey final to win it's 6th consecutive gold medal in the sport
  • Dec 6 German WWII prisoner of war Helmut Bantz and Soviet gymnast Valentin Muratov tie for the vault gold medal with 18.85 points at the Melbourne Olympics
  • Dec 6 Soviet gymnast Viktor Chukarin follows his parallel bars gold medal with the individual all-round title and teams gold at the Melbourne Olympics
  • Dec 7 Helen O'Connell joins Today Show panel (NBC)
  • Dec 7 Australian swimmer Murray Rose claims his 3rd gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics when he wins the 1,500m in 17:58.9; also wins 400m & 4 x 200m relay
  • Dec 7 American diver Pat McCormick wraps up the women's double when she wins the 10m platform gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics with 84.85 points; also won the 3m springboard gold
  • Dec 7 Soviet artistic gymnast Larisa Latynina takes her gold medal tally to 4 at the Melbourne Olympics; wins teams and individual all-round titles having earlier won vault and floor exercise sections
  • Dec 8 1st test firing of Vanguard satellite program, TV-0
  • Dec 8 Guy Mitchell's "Singing the Blues" single goes #1 for 10 weeks
  • Dec 8 XVI Summer Olympic Games close in Melbourne, Australia; start of an Olympic tradition - amidst international tensions, athletes mingle together, parade into and around MCG arena for final appearance to close the Games
  • Dec 10 Establishment of The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA (from Portuguese: Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola), left-wing party that has ruled since independence from Portugal
  • Dec 11 Anti-Russian demonstrations in Stettin & Wroclaw, Poland
  • Dec 12 Commencement of the Irish Republican Army's Border Campaign.

Sports History

Dec 13 Dodgers trade Jackie Robinson to Giants for pitcher Dick Littlefield & $35,000. Robinson will retire rather than be traded.

Film Release

Dec 13 "Anastasia" comeback film for Ingrid Bergman is released in the US, role wins Bergman Academy Award for Best Actress.

  • Dec 14 Paul-Henri Spaak appointed secretary-general of NATO
  • Dec 15 Emergency crisis in North Ireland proclaimed after IRA strikes
  • Dec 15 KGW TV channel 8 in Portland, OR (NBC) begins broadcasting
  • Dec 15 WRAL TV channel 5 in Raleigh-Durham, NC (CBS) begins broadcasting
  • Dec 16 "Fanny" closes at Majestic Theater NYC after 888 performances
  • Dec 18 "To Tell the Truth" debuts on CBS-TV
  • Dec 18 Israeli flag hoisted on Mount Sinai
  • Dec 18 Japan admitted to UN

Radio History

Dec 18 Phil Rizzuto signs as NY Yankees radio-TV announcer

Football Awards

Dec 18 Ballon d'Or: Blackpool & England winger Stanley Matthews wins inaugural award for best football player in Europe; beats Real Madrid pair Alfredo Di Stéfano & Raymond Kopa

  • Dec 20 Military coup under colonel Simbolon in Sumatra
  • Dec 20 Montgomery, Alabama removes race-based seat assignments on its buses

Historic Event

Dec 21 Martin Luther King Jr. and others sit in the new integrated bus

  • Dec 22 "New Faces of 1956" closes at Barrymore Theater NYC after 221 performances
  • Dec 22 Last British & French troops leave Egypt
  • Dec 22 Colo is born, the first gorilla to be bred in captivity at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Columbus, Ohio
  • Dec 24 "I Love Lucy" Christmas show airs, never put in syndication
  • Dec 24 Ferdinand de Lesseps statue blown up in Port Said Egypt

Sports History

Dec 25 Detroit's future Hockey Hall of Fame right wing Gordie Howe picks up a Xmas hat-trick & 3 assists in Red Wings' 8-1 win over NY Rangers; most points he scores in a single game in entire 26-year NHL career

  • Dec 27 45th Davis Cup: Australia beats USA in Adelaide (5-0)

Sports History

Dec 27 Bill Sharman (Boston) ends NBA free throw streak of 55 games

  • Dec 28 Miss Frances [Horwich], last Ding Dong School on NBC-TV
  • Dec 30 National Football League Championship, Yankee Stadium, NYC: New York Giants beat Chicago Bears, 47-7; Giants' 4th NFL title

Famous Birthdays

  • Dec 1 Julee Cruise, American singer and actress
  • Dec 2 Steven Bauer, Cuban-American actor (Scarface, Thief of Hearts), born in Havana, Cuba
  • Dec 3 Hart Bochner, actor and director (Rich & Famous), born in Los Angeles, California
  • Dec 4 Bernard King, American Basketball Hall of Fame small forward (NBA All-Star 1982, 84-85, 91; NY Knicks, Washington Bullets), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Dec 4 Blagoi Blagoyev, Bulgarian weightlifter (World C'ship gold - 90kg 1991, 92, 93; Olympic silver - 82.5kg 1976), born in Veliki Preslav, Bulgaria
  • Dec 4 Costantino Rocca, Italian golfer (British Open 1995 runner-up; hole in one 1995 Ryder Cup), born in Bergamo, Italy
  • Dec 5 Klaus Allofs, German footballer (1. FC Köln), born in Düsseldorf, West Germany
  • Dec 5 Brian Backer, American actor (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Dec 5 Krystian Zimerman, Polish pianist and conductor, born in Zabrze, Poland
  • Dec 6 Peter Buck, American rock guitarist (R.E.M. - Murmur), born in Berkeley, California
  • Dec 6 Randy Rhoads, American heavy metal guitarist (Quiet Riot), born in Santa Monica, California (d. 1982)

Larry Bird

Dec 7 Larry Bird, American Basketball Hall of Fame forward, coach, executive (Boston Celtics 3-time NBA champion, 12-time NBA All Star), born in West Baden, Indiana

  • Dec 8 Warren Cuccurullo, rock guitarist (Missing Persons)
  • Dec 8 Pierre Pincemaille, French organist, composer, and pedagogue, born in Paris (d. 2018)
  • Dec 9 Sylvia, American country singer (Nobody), born in Kokoma, Indiana
  • Dec 10 Michael VerMeulen, American journalist and magazine editor (British GQ), born in Lake Forest, Illinois (d. 1995)
  • Dec 10 Rod Blagojevich, American politician (Governor of Illinois, 2003-09 - impeached and removed), and convicted felon (corruption and solicitation of bribes), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • Dec 11 Lani Brockman, American actress and theatre director, born in Seattle, Washington
  • Dec 12 Ana Alicia Ortiz, Mexican-American actress (Melissa-Falcon Crest), born in Mexico City
  • Dec 12 Johan van der Velde, Dutch cyclist (won Young Rider Classification of Tour de France 1980), born in Rijbergen, Netherlands
  • Dec 13 Dale Berra, American baseball infielder (Pittsburgh Pirates, NY Yankees), born in Ridgewood, New Jersey
  • Dec 13 Phil Hubbard, American basketball player (Olympic gold 1976), born in Canton, Ohio
  • Dec 13 Majida El Roumi, Lebanese singer, born in Kfarshima, Lebanon
  • Dec 14 Hanni Wenzel, German alpine ski racer (Olympic-2 gold-1980), born in Straubing, Bavaria, West Germany
  • Dec 16 Tommy Burns, Scottish soccer midfielder (8 caps; Celtic, Kilmarnock) and manager (Scotland, Celtic, Kilmarnock, Reading), born in Glasgow, Scotland (d. 2008)
  • Dec 16 Mike Gregory, English darts player (BDO World C'ship 1992 runner-up), born in Bath, England (d. 2022)
  • Dec 17 Peter Farrelly, American film director
  • Dec 17 Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Mexican drug lord (Juárez Cartel), born in Guamuchilito, Mexico (d. 1997)
  • Dec 18 T. K. Carter, American actor (Mike-Punky Brewster, Just our Luck), born in Los Angeles, California
  • Dec 18 Reinhold Ewald, German physicist and cosmonaut (Soyuz TM-25), born in Mönchengladbach, West Germany
  • Dec 18 Ron White, American comedian, born in Fritch, Texas
  • Dec 19 Alice Barrett, American actress (Frankie Frame-Another World), born in NYC, New York
  • Dec 19 Tom Lawless, American baseball player
  • Dec 20 Guy Babylon, American keyboard player (Elton John) and arranger, born in New Windsor, Maryland (d. 2009|)
  • Dec 20 Blanche Baker, American actress, Carroll Baker's Daughter (French Postcard), born in NYC, New York
  • Dec 20 Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Mauritanian 8th President of Mauritania (2009-present), born in Akjoujt, French West Africa
  • Dec 21 Stuart Kimball, American session and touring rock guitarist (Bob Dylan, 2004-18; Face To Face 1979-88), born in New Hampshire
  • Dec 21 Kevin Burnham, American sailor (Olympic gold 470 class 2004; silver 470 1992), born in Hollis, New York City (d. 2020)
  • Dec 21 Lee Roy Parnell, American country singer ("Oughta Be A Law"), born in Abilene, Texas
  • Dec 23 Michele Alboretto, Italian racing driver (Ferrari), born in Milan, Italy
  • Dec 23 Dave Murray, English heavy metal guitarist and songwriter (Iron Maiden), born in London, England
  • Dec 24 Stephanie Hodge, American actress & comedian (I Madman, Happily Ever After), born in Wilmington, Ohio
  • Dec 25 Mansoor Akhtar, Pakistani cricket batsman (19 Tests, 1 x 100, 3 x 50s; 41 ODIs; UBL, Sind, Karachi), born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
  • Dec 26 Gail Tatterson, WBL center (NY Stars)
  • Dec 26 Karen Smith, WBL forward (NY Stars)
  • Dec 26 David Sedaris, American essayist, born in Binghamton, New York
  • Dec 27 Doina Melinte, Romanian running star (world record 1500 m/mile indoor)
  • Dec 27 Karl Denson, American funk and jazz saxophonist, flutist and vocalist (Lenny Kravitz; Tiny Universe), born in Santa Ana, California
  • Dec 28 Kenneth Grant, American funk bassist andvocalist (Midnight Star - "No Parking On The Dance Floor"; "Operator")
  • Dec 28 Nigel Kennedy, British classical, jazz and klezmer violinist, born in Brighton, England
  • Dec 29 Fred MacAulay, Scottish comedian, born in Perth, United Kingdom
  • Dec 30 Chéri Samba (Mbimba N'zinga), Congolese contemporary artist, born in Kinto M’Vuila, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Dec 30 Sheryl Lee Ralph, American actress on stage (Dreamgirls - Tony Award, 1981); in film (To Sleep with Anger); and television (Moesha), born in Waterbury, Connecticut
  • Dec 30 Suzy Bogguss, American country singer ("Drive South"; "I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart"), born in Aledo, Illinois
  • Dec 30 Patricia Kalember, American actress (Sisters - "Georgie Whitsig"; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), born in Schnectady, New York
  • Dec 31 Martin Joseph Fettman, American researcher & astronaut (STS 58), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Dec 31 Steve Rude, American comics artist, born in Madison, Wisconsin

Famous Weddings

Bill Russell

Dec 9 NBA player Bill Russell (22) weds college sweetheart Rose Swisher; divorce in 1973

Malcolm Fraser

Dec 9 Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser (26) weds Tamie Beggs (20)

Patti Page

Dec 28 Singer Patti Page (29) weds choreographer Charles O'Curran in Las Vegas, Nevada


Famous Deaths

  • Dec 4 Alexander Rodchenko, Russian painter and photographer, dies at 64

B.R. Ambedkar

Dec 6 B.R. Ambedkar [Baba Saheb], Indian politician, jurist (architect of the Constitution of India) and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist Movement, dies after suffering from diabetes at 65

  • Dec 7 Huntley Gordon, Canadian actor, dies at 77
  • Dec 8 Edgar Bainton, British-Australian composer, dies at 76
  • Dec 9 Hans Barth, German-born American composer, dies at 59
  • Dec 12 Lorenzo Perosi, composer, dies at 83
  • Dec 14 Juho Kusti Paasikivi, Finnish politician (7th President of Finland 1946-56), dies at 86
  • Dec 16 Nina Hamnett, Welsh artist and writer, dies at 66
  • Dec 17 Eddie Acuff, actor (Guns of Pecos), dies at 48
  • Dec 20 Ramon Carrillo, Argentine neuroscientist and Public Health minister (b. 1906)
  • Dec 21 Lewis M Terman, psychologist (Genetic studies of genius), dies at 79
  • Dec 25 Robert Walser, Swiss writer, dies at 78
  • Dec 26 Holmes Herbert, British actor (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Kiss), dies at 74
  • Dec 27 Lambert McKenna, Irish editor and lexicographer, dies at 86
  • Dec 28 Roelof Kranenburg, Dutch social democratic chairman (1st Chamber), dies at 76
  • Dec 29 Martin Albertz, German theologist (Jesus Christ's Church) and resistance fighter against the Nazi regime, dies at 73
  • Dec 30 Ruth Draper, American actress and dramatist (The Italian Lesson), dies at 72