On This Day

What Happened in December 2003

Historical Events

Film Premiere

Dec 1 "The Return of the King", 3rd and final film in the Lord of the Rings series, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen premieres in Wellington, New Zealand

Film & TV History

Dec 2 US reality show "The Simple Life" with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie premieres on Fox

Music History

Dec 5 Mexican singer Thalia the "Queen of Latin Pop" is awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles

  • Dec 6 12th SEC Championship Game: #3 LSU beats #5 Georgia, 34-13
  • Dec 6 8th Big 12 Championship Game: #13 Kansas State beats #1 Oklahoma, 35-7
  • Dec 7 The Conservative Party of Canada is officially recognized after the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
  • Dec 9 A blast in the center of Moscow kills six people and wounds several more.
  • Dec 9 "Peter Pan" live action adventure film adaptation of the 1904 play and 1911 by J.M. Barrie premieres in London; flops at the box office

Election of Interest

Dec 12 Paul Martin becomes Prime Minister of Canada after resignation of Jean Chretien

Historic Event

Dec 13 Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit, during Operation Red Dawn by US forces

  • Dec 13 69th Heisman Trophy Award: Jason White, Oklahoma (QB)
  • Dec 14 President of Pakistan Pervez Musharaf narrowly escapes an assassination attempt
  • Dec 14 US President George W. Bush announces the capture of Saddam Hussein
  • Dec 17 The Soham murder trial ends at the Old Bailey in London, with Ian Huntley found guilty of two counts of murder. His girlfriend Maxine Carr is found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
  • Dec 17 SpaceShipOne flight 11P, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first supersonic flight
  • Dec 17 "The Return of the King" 3rd Lord of the Ring films is released. Makes US$72 million opening weekend, 2nd film to gross over 1 billion worldwide.
  • Dec 22 A magnitude 6.6 earthquake hits near San Simeon, California.

Sports History

Dec 22 The New York Knicks hire Isiah Thomas as President of Basketball Operations

  • Dec 22 Ballon d'Or: Juventus' Czech midfielder Pavel Nedvěd is named best football player in Europe ahead of Arsenal forward Thierry Henry and Milan defender Paolo Maldini
  • Dec 23 PetroChina Chuandongbei natural gas field explosion, Guoqiao, Kai, Chongqing, China, killing at least 234.
  • Dec 24 Spanish police thwart an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid's busy Chamartín Station.
  • Dec 25 The ill-fated Beagle 2 probe which was released from the Mars Express Spacecraft on December 19, disappears shortly before its scheduled landing.
  • Dec 26 A magnitude 6.6 earthquake devastates southeast Iranian city of Bam, killing tens of thousands and destroying the citadel of Arg-é Bam.
  • Dec 29 50th National Film Awards (India): "Mondo Meyer Upakhyan" wins the Golden Lotus
  • Dec 30 U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft recuses himself and his office from the Plame affair.

Famous Birthdays

  • Dec 1 Robert Irwin, Australian TV personality and photographer, born in Buderim, Australia
  • Dec 7 Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands, eldest child of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, born in HMC Bronovo, The Hague, Netherlands

Famous Weddings

Wedding of Interest

Dec 5 British 'Coldplay' lead vocalist Chris Martin (35) weds American actress and singer Gwyneth Paltrow (39) at the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California; divorce in 2016

  • Dec 6 "The Bachelorette" star Trista Rehn (31) weds Ryan Sutter (29) at The Lodge in Rancho Mirage, California

Mary J. Blige

Dec 7 Queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige (32) weds record producer Kendu Isaacs in Bergen County, New Jersey

Luciano Pavarotti

Dec 13 Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti (68) weds Nicoletta Mantovani at Modena Italy's Teatro Comunale

Larry Ellison

Dec 18 Founder of Oracle Larry Ellison (59) weds romance novelist Melanie Craft in Woodside, California

Daniel Johns

Dec 31 Australian pop diva Natalie Imbruglia (28) weds "Silverchair" frontman Daniel Johns (24) at a beach ceremony in Port Douglas, Australia


Famous Divorces

John Elway

Dec 29 Retired NFL quarterback John Elway (43) divorces first wife Janet Buchan after 18 years of marriage

Famous Deaths

  • Dec 1 Clark Kerr, first Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley (b. 1911)
  • Dec 1 Eugenio Monti, Italian bobsledder (2 x Olympic gold 2-man, 4-man 1968; World C'ships 9 x gold), dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 75
  • Dec 2 Alan Davidson, British author (Annabel stories) (b. 1924)
  • Dec 2 Suzanne Cloutier, Canadian film actress (Othello), dies at 80
  • Dec 3 David Hemmings, English actor (b. 1941)
  • Dec 3 Ellen Drew [Esther Loretta Ray], American actress (Isle of Dead, Christmas in July), dies at 88
  • Dec 4 Iggy Katona, American auto racer (ARCA Series 1955-57, 62, 66-67; record 79 wins), dies at 87
  • Dec 6 Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio, President of Guatemala (b. 1918)
  • Dec 6 Jerry Tuite, American professional wrestler (b. 1966)
  • Dec 6 Hans Hotter, German bass-baritone (b. 1909)
  • Dec 7 Carl F. H. Henry American theologian and publisher (b. 1913)
  • Dec 7 Azie Taylor Morton, Treasurer of the United States (b. 1936)
  • Dec 7 Joe Skeen, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Mexico), dies at 76
  • Dec 8 Rubén González, Cuban pianist (Buena Vista Social Club) (b. 1919)
  • Dec 9 Paul Simon, American politician (U. S. House of Representatives, 1975-85; U.S. Senator from Illinois, 1985-97), dies at 75
  • Dec 9 Norm Sloan, American basketball coach (b. 1926)
  • Dec 10 Sean McClory, Irish actor (The Californians, My Chauffeur), dies at 79
  • Dec 10 John Watts, British army and Chief of Defense (Omani Armed Forces), dies at 73
  • Dec 11 Ahmadou Kourouma, Ivorian writer (b. 1927)
  • Dec 12 Heydər Əliyev, President of Azerbaijan (b. 1923)
  • Dec 12 Joseph Anthony Ferrario, American Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu (1982-1993), dies at 77
  • Dec 12 Keiko, orca (killer whale), star of Free Willy (b. 1976)
  • Dec 13 William V. Roth, Jr., U.S. Senator (b. 1921)
  • Dec 14 Blas Ople, Filipino journalist & politician, dies at 76
  • Dec 14 Jeanne Crain, American actress (Man Without a Star, Pinky), dies at 78
  • Dec 15 George Fisher, American political cartoonist (b. 1923)
  • Dec 15 Keith Magnuson, Canadian ice hockey defenseman (NHL All Star 1971, 72; Chicago Black Hawks), dies in a motor vehicle accident at 56
  • Dec 16 Robert Stanfield, Premier of Nova Scotia (b. 1914)
  • Dec 16 Gary Stewart, American country singer (She's Actin' Single), commits suicide by shooting himself in the neck at 59
  • Dec 17 David Smith, English cricket fast-medium bowler (5 Tests), dies at 69
  • Dec 17 Brian Lee, father of Wikipedia user, James Lee (b. 1948)
  • Dec 17 Ed Devereaux, Australian actor (b. 1925)
  • Dec 18 Susan Travers, English-French Foreign Legion soldier, dies at 94
  • Dec 19 Peter Carter-Ruck, English lawyer (b. 1914)
  • Dec 19 Hope Lange, American actress (Peyton Place, The Ghost & Mrs Muir), dies at 70
  • Dec 19 Lester "Les" Tremayne, British radio, film and television actor (Angry Red Planet, War of the Worlds), dies of heart failure at 90
  • Dec 19 Roy Hughes, Baron Islwyn, British politician (L), dies at 78
  • Dec 21 Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Spanish playboy and businessman (b. 1924)
  • Dec 21 M. J. Gopalan, Indian cricketer (1 Test India v England 1933-34), dies at 94
  • Dec 22 Dave Dudley, American country singer (Six Days on the Road), dies at 75
  • Dec 22 Rose Hill, British actress and operatic soprano ('Allo 'Allo!, Nicholas Nickleby, Shot in the Dark), dies at 89
  • Dec 24 David Hobman, English human right activist and director (Age Concern England), dies at 76
  • Dec 24 Herman Keiser, American golfer (US Masters 1946), dies of Alzheimer's disease complications at 89
  • Dec 25 Nicholas Mavroules, American politician (Rep-D-MA, 1979-93), dies at 74
  • Dec 27 Alan Bates, English actor (b. 1934)
  • Dec 27 Ivan Calderón, Puerto Rican baseball outfielder (MLB All Star 1991; Chicago White Sox, Montreal Expos), dies from multiple firearm wounds at 41
  • Dec 28 Benjamin T. Hacker, American naval aviator (first Naval Flight Officer (NFO) to achieve Flag rank), dies at 68
  • Dec 29 Earl Hindman, American actor (b. 1942)
  • Dec 29 Dinsdale Landen, British actor (The Mask of Janus), dies at 71
  • Dec 29 Bob Monkhouse, English comedian and game show host (b. 1928)
  • Dec 30 David Bale, South African-born activist (b. 1941)
  • Dec 30 John Gregory Dunne, American writer, dies of heart attack at 71
  • Dec 30 Anita Mui, Hong Kong Cantopop singer and actress, "Madonna of the East", dies of cancer at 40
  • Dec 31 Arthur R. von Hippel German physicist (pioneer in the study of dielectrics, ferromagnetic and ferroelectric materials, and semiconductors and was a codeveloper of radar during World War II), dies at 105
  • Dec 31 Paula Raymond, American actress and model (The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms), dies at 79