On This Day

What Happened in December 1981

Historical Events

  • Dec 1 Yugoslavian charter flight crashes into Mont San-Pietro in Corsica, 180 killed

Sports History

Dec 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar passes Oscar Robertson (26,710) to become the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer behind Wilt Chamberlain; scores 14 points in 117-86 Lakers' win over Utah Jazz in Los Angeles

Sports History

Dec 2 Pitcher Fernando Valenzuela becomes 3rd consecutive LA Dodgers player to be named National League Rookie of the Year; Rick Sutcliffe 1979, Steve Howe 1980

  • Dec 2 Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, opens at 11:30 AM
  • Dec 2 Spanish government requests membership of NATO
  • Dec 3 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • Dec 4 "Falcon Crest" premieres on CBS-TV

Historic Event

Dec 4 Reagan Executive Order on Intelligence (No 12333) that allows CIA to engage in domestic counter-intelligence

  • Dec 4 According to South Africa, Ciskei gains independence. Not recognized as an independent country outside South Africa.
  • Dec 5 47th Heisman Trophy Award: Marcus Allen, Southern Cal (RB)
  • Dec 5 France performs nuclear test
  • Dec 6 Rob de Castella of Australia sets Marathon record at 2:08:18

Sports History

Dec 6 PGA Seniors' Championship Men's Golf, Turnberry Isle CC: Miller Barber wins his first of 5 Champions Tour major titles by 2 strokes from Arnold Palmer

  • Dec 7 Spain becomes a member of the NATO
  • Dec 8 France performs nuclear test
  • Dec 9 Porn star John Holmes charged with Laurel Canyon murders
  • Dec 10 -13] El Salvador army kills 900
  • Dec 10 Jules Feiffer's "Grownups" premieres in NYC
  • Dec 10 The United Nations General Assembly approves Pakistan's proposal for establishing nuclear free-zone in South Asia.
  • Dec 11 Argentine President General Roberto Viola flees

Boxing Title Fight

Dec 11 Former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali's 61st and last fight; loses to Trevor Berbick by unanimous decision in 10 rounds at Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, Nassau, Bahamas

  • Dec 11 Spacelab I arrives at Kennedy Space Center
  • Dec 11 UN Security Council chooses Javier Pérez de Cuélla of Peru as the 5th Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Dec 11 Wash Capitals biggest margin of victory (9) beating Toronto 11-2
  • Dec 11 El Mozote massacre: Salvadoran armed forces kill an estimated 900 civilians in an anti-guerrilla campaign during the country's civil war.
  • Dec 12 "1st" closes at Martin Beck Theater NYC after 37 performances
  • Dec 12 Gambia & Senegal sign agreement to be known as Senegambia in Feb 1982
  • Dec 13 70th Davis Cup: USA beats Argentina in Cincinnati (3-1)
  • Dec 13 Poland's authoritarian communist government declares martial law and arrests Solidarity activists in a failed attempt to crush the opposition
  • Dec 14 Israel annexes Golan Heights (seized from Syria in war of 1967)
  • Dec 15 NASA launches Intelsat V satellite, no. 503
  • Dec 16 Dutch Van Agt's 2nd government falls
  • Dec 17 Members of Red Brigades kidnap Brigadier General James L Dozier
  • Dec 19 Sixteen lives are lost when the Penlee, Cornwall, lifeboat goes to the aid of the stricken coaster Union Star in heavy seas.
  • Dec 19 Romuald Spasowski, Polish ambassador to the United States defects to show support for the Solidarity movement amid a crackdown
  • Dec 20 Harry Krieger and Tom Eyen's musical "Dreamgirls" opens at Imperial Theater, NYC; runs for 1522 performances, wins 6 Tony, 5 Drama Desk, and 2 Grammy Awards
  • Dec 20 Browns set team records for most fumbles (9) & most turnovers (10)
  • Dec 20 Winnipeg left wing Doug Smail sets NHL record by scoring just 4 seconds into Jets' 5-4 win over the St Louis Blues; fastest goal from opening face-off to back of net in history; later tied by Bryan Trottier and Alex Mogilny
  • Dec 21 Cincinnati beats Bradley 75-73 in 7 OTs (NCAA record)

Historic Event

Dec 22 Argentine general Leopoldo Galtieri sworn in as military dictator and President of Argentina

  • Dec 22 Belgium's 5th government of Martens forms
  • Dec 23 Geoffrey Boycott becomes leading run-scorer in Test Cricket with 8033
  • Dec 24 USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
  • Dec 26 One of the great day's Test Cricket at the MCG Australia v West Indies
  • Dec 27 Lillee becomes the leading wicket-taker in test cricket with 310

Sports History

Dec 27 Oiler Wayne Gretzky becomes fastest NHLer to get 100 pts (38th game)

  • Dec 27 USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
  • Dec 28 Cleveland Metroparks Administrative offices move from downtown to Zoo (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • Dec 28 Warner-Elektra-Atlantic raises price of 45 records from $1.68 to $1.98
  • Dec 28 1st American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr is born in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Dec 29 Ballon d'Or: German 1-2-3 with Bayern Munich forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge taking title of Europe's best football player for the 2nd straight year; beats teammate Paul Breitner and Barcelona midfielder Bernd Schuster
  • Dec 30 Wayne Gretzky scores 5 goals and an assist in Edmonton's 7-5 win over Philadelphia; gives Gretzky 50 goals in 39 games, the fastest 50 in 50 in NHL history; also sets NHL record with 15-game assist streak

Music Single

Dec 30 "That Girl" single released by Stevie Wonder (Billboard Song of the Year -1982)

  • Dec 31 CNN Headline News debuts
  • Dec 31 Lt Jerry Rawlings becomes head of Ghana, suspends constitution
  • Dec 31 Netherlands unemployment stands at record 475,000

Famous Birthdays

  • Dec 1 Marcus Johnson, American jazz keyboard and piano player, born in Columbus, Ohio

Britney Spears

Dec 2 Britney Spears, American popstar ("Baby One More Time," "Oops! ...I did it again" and "I'm A Slave 4 U"), born in McComb, Mississippi

  • Dec 2 Danijel Pranjić, Croatian soccer wingback (58 caps; SC Heerenveen), born in Našice, Croatia
  • Dec 3 Brian Bonsall, actor (Family Ties, Star Trek Next Generation)
  • Dec 3 Ioannis Amanatidis, Greek soccer forward and coach (35 caps; Eintracht Frankfurt), born in Kozani, Greece
  • Dec 3 David Villa, Spanish soccer striker (98 caps; Valencia, Barcelona), born in Langreo, Spain
  • Dec 3 Edwin Valero, Venezuelan boxer (undefeated world champion WBA super featherweight 2006-08; WBC lightweight 2009-10), born in Bolero Alto, Mérida, Venezuela (d. 2010)
  • Dec 4 Andreas Polyzogopoulo, Greek jazz trumpet player (Heart Of The Sun), born in Samiko, Greece
  • Dec 5 Leila Tong, Hong Kong actress (The Last Breakthrough), born in Hong Kong
  • Dec 8 Jeremy Accardo, American baseball player, born in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Dec 8 Philip Rivers, American NFL quarterback (San Diego, LA Chargers), born in Decatur, Alabama
  • Dec 9 Mardy Fish, American tennis player, born in Edina, Minnesota
  • Dec 9 Diya Mirza, Indian actress, born in Hyderabad, India
  • Dec 10 Fábio Rochemback, Brazilian footballer
  • Dec 10 Ryan Pini, Papua New Guinea swimmer
  • Dec 10 Taufik Batisah, Singaporean singer
  • Dec 11 Javier Saviola, Argentine footballer, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Dec 11 Hamish Blake, Australian comedian, born in Melbourne, Australia
  • Dec 11 Paul Medhurst, Australian rules footballer, born in Western Australia, Australia
  • Dec 11 Zacky Vengeance [Baker], American rock guitarist (Avenged Sevenfold), born in Olympia, Washington
  • Dec 12 Pedro Ríos, Spanish footballer, born in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
  • Dec 12 Ronnie Brown, American football player, born in Rome, Georgia
  • Dec 12 Shane Costa, American baseball player, born in Visalia, California
  • Dec 12 Jeret Peterson, American aerial skier (Olympic silver 2010), born in Boise, Idaho
  • Dec 12 Yuvraj Singh, Indian cricket batsman (40 Tests, 3 x 100, HS 169; 304 ODIs, 14 x 100; Tournament Team ICC World Cup 2011), born in Chandigarh, India
  • Dec 12 Stephen Warnock, English footballer, born in Ormskirk, England
  • Dec 13 Chelsea Hertford, American actress (Major Dad)
  • Dec 13 Amy Lee [Hartzler], American singer and songwriter (Evanescence), born in Riverside, California
  • Dec 14 Emilie Heymans, Canadian diver, born in Brussels, Belgium
  • Dec 14 Amber Chia, Malaysian model and actress, born in Teluk Intan, Perak, Malaysia
  • Dec 14 Johnny Jeter, American professional wrestler, born in San Diego, California
  • Dec 14 Shaun Marcum, American baseball player, born in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Dec 14 Liam Lawrence, English footballer, born in Retford, England
  • Dec 15 Roman Pavlyuchenko, Russian soccer striker (51 caps; Spartak Moscow, Tottenham Hotspur, Lokomotiv Moscow), born in Mostovskoy, Russia
  • Dec 15 Najoua Belyzel, French singer, born in Nancy, France
  • Dec 15 Brendan Fletcher, Canadian actor The Law of Enclosures), born in Comox Valley, British Columbia
  • Dec 15 Creighton Lovelace, American Baptist minister, born in Shelby, North Carolina
  • Dec 15 Michelle Dockery, English actress (Downton Abbey), born in London, England
  • Dec 16 Took Leng How, Malaysian criminal (d. 2006)
  • Dec 16 Anna Sedokova, Ukrainian pop singer (Nu Virgos), and actress, born in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, USSR
  • Dec 16 Gareth Williams, Scottish footballer
  • Dec 16 Krysten Ritter, American actress (Jessica Jones), born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Dec 17 Emma Laaksonen, ice hockey defenseman (Finland, Olympics 1998)
  • Dec 17 40 Cal. [Calvin Alan Byrd], American rapper, born in Harlem, New York City
  • Dec 20 Roy Williams, American football player (Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys), born in Odessa, Texas
  • Dec 20 James Shields, American baseball player, born in Santa Clarita, California
  • Dec 20 Chris Edwards, British rock bassist (Kasabian), born in England
  • Dec 21 Cristian Zaccardo, Italian football player, born in Formigine, Italy
  • Dec 21 Frankie Abernathy, American actress (The Real World: San Diego), born in Kansas City, Missouri (d. 2007)
  • Dec 21 Sajid Mahmood, English cricket fast bowler (8 Tests, 20 wickets; Lancashire, WA, Essex), born in Bolton, England
  • Dec 21 Lynda Thomas, Mexican singer, born in Tijuana, Mexico
  • Dec 23 Yuriorkis Gamboa, Cuban boxer, born in Guantánamo, Cuba
  • Dec 23 Beth [Elisabeth Rodergas Cols], Spanish singer and actress, born in Súria, Catalonia
  • Dec 24 Dima Bilan, Russian actor & singer-songwriter, born in Ust-Dzheguta, Russia
  • Dec 24 Justice Christopher, Nigerian soccer midfielder (11 caps; Antwerp FC, Trelleborg FF, Herfølge Boldklub), born in Jos, Nigeria (d. 2022)
  • Dec 25 Katie Wright, American actress, born in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Dec 25 Meena Lee, South Korean golfer (Canadian Open 2005), born in Jeonju, South Korea
  • Dec 27 Emilie de Ravin, Australian actress
  • Dec 27 Javine [Dionne Hylton], British singer (Surrender, Touch My Fire), born in London, England
  • Dec 27 Jay Ellis, American actor (Insecure), born in Sumter, South Carolina
  • Dec 28 Elizabeth Jordan Carr, 1st American test tube baby, born in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Dec 28 Khalid Boulahrouz, Dutch soccer defender (35 caps; RKC Waalwijk, Hamburger SV, Chelsea, VfB Stuttgart), born in Maassluis, Netherlands
  • Dec 28 Mika Väyrynen, Finnish football player, born in Eskilstuna, Sweden
  • Dec 28 Sienna Miller, British actress, born in NYC, New York
  • Dec 30 Ali Al Habsi, Omani footballer
  • Dec 30 Michael Rodríguez, Costa Rican footballer
  • Dec 30 Matt Ulrich, American football player
  • Dec 31 Jason Campbell, American football player, born in Laurel, Mississippi
  • Dec 31 Matthew Pavlich, Australian football player, born in Adelaide, Australia

Famous Weddings

Chris Hadfield

Dec 23 Astronaut Chris Hadfield (22) weds high-school girlfriend Helene Walter

  • Dec 24 Guardian Angels Curtis Sliwa & Lisa Evers marry

Jerry Garcia

Dec 31 Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia (38) weds Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams (35); divorce in 1994


Famous Deaths

  • Dec 2 Alexis Kagame, Rwandan philosopher, historian, poet and Tutsi intellectual and cultural leader, dies at 69
  • Dec 2 Hershy Kay, American composer (Olympic Hymn, A Chorus Line), dies at 62
  • Dec 2 Wallace Harrison, American architect (Metropolitan Opera House, United Nations complex), dies at 86
  • Dec 3 (Nicolaas) "Cola" Debrot, Dutch lawyer, doctor.author and politician (Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, 1962-70), dies at 79

Walter Knott

Dec 3 Walter Knott, American farmer who created the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park in California and introduced the boysenberry to America, dies at 91

  • Dec 8 "Big" Walter [Horton], American blues harmonica player (Everybody's Fishin'), dies of heart failure at 60
  • Dec 9 Sonny Til [Earlington Carl Tilghman], American doo-wop singer (The Orioles), dies from heart failure at 56
  • Dec 9 Daniel Faulkner, Philadelphia police officer (b. 1955)
  • Dec 10 John Kieran, American columnist and author (Natural History of NYC), dies at 89
  • Dec 11 I. D. du Plessis, South African writer and director (3rd World), dies at 81
  • Dec 13 Cornelius Cardew, British composer (Scratch Orchestra), dies in a hit and run accident at 45
  • Dec 13 Pigmeat [Dewey] Markham, American comedian (Here Comes da Judge-Laugh In), dies at 75
  • Dec 17 Edwin Erich Dwinger, German writer (General Vlassov), dies at 83
  • Dec 18 Mehmet Shehu, PM Albania (1954-81)/"US-Russ spy", commits suicide
  • Dec 20 Dimitris Rontiris, Greek actor and director (b. 1899)
  • Dec 26 Savithri, Indian actress (b. 1937)
  • Dec 26 Amber Reeves, feminist writer (b. 1887)
  • Dec 27 (Hoagland) "Hoagy" Carmichael, American composer, singer ("In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening"; "Stardust"; "Two Sleepy People"), dies at 82
  • Dec 28 (Joseph Aloysius) "Allan" Dwan, Canadian-American screenwriter and film director (Robin Hood; Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms; Sands Of Iwo Jima), dies at 96
  • Dec 29 Guido Provoost, Belgian historian, dies at 41
  • Dec 29 Miroslav Krleža, Croatian writer (b. 1893)
  • Dec 30 Alfie Anido, Filipino model and actor (Temptation Island), dies under mysterious circumstances on his 22nd birthday
  • Dec 31 Frantisek Chaun, Czech pianist, composer, painter, and actor, dies at 60