Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 20 December
1560: First General Assembly of the Kirk met in Edinburgh.
1910: Tied result at general election – Liberals and Tories each with 272 seats. Herbert Asquith continued as prime minister.
1915: Ill-fated Gallipoli expedition was abandoned after ten months.
1922: Fourteen republics of Russia formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
1933: Fred Astaire’s first film with Ginger Rogers, Flying Down To Rio, was premiered in New York.
1952: USAF transport crashed in Washington state, killing 84. It was the world’s worst air disaster to that date.
1954: France sent 20,000 troops to Algeria.
1963: The Berlin Wall was opened for the first time since August, 1961, to allow West Berliners to visit relatives in the eastern sector for a day over Christmas.
1973: Spain’s prime minister, Luis Carrero Blanco, killed by car bomb in Madrid.
1986: Up to 30,000 students marched for democracy through streets of Shanghai in China’s largest demonstration since era of Cultural Revolution.
1989: Another 12,000 American troops deployed to Panama joined same number already in place to confront the government of General Manuel Antonio Noriega.
1990: The last remaining pit in the Rhondda Valley in Wales closed.
1991: Robert Hawke, Australia’s prime minister for nearly nine years, was ousted from office by his former protege Paul Keating.
1994: The Law Lords forced the government to make a policy about-turn and give part-time workers the same rights as full-time workers.
1996: NeXT merged with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.
1999: Macau was handed over to the People’s Republic of China by Portugal.
2004: A gang of thieves stole £26.5 million worth of currency from the Donegall Square West headquarters of Northern Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
2007: Queen Elizabeth II became the oldest ever monarch of the UK, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, seven months and 29 days.
2010: Media watchdog Ofcom announced that product placement on British television would be allowed for the first time from the start of 2011.
Jenny Agutter actress, 61; Billy Bragg, rock singer and actor, 56; Ashley Cole, footballer, 33; Charles Denton, television and film producer, 76; Bo Derek, actress, 57; Uri Geller, spoon bender and psychic, 67; Hunter Gomez, actor, 22; Lord (Geoffrey) Howe of Aberavon, politician, 87; Simon Hughes, cricketer and commentator, 54; JoJo, American singer, 23; Lesley Judd, television presenter, 67; Lucy Pinder, model, 30.
Births: 1639 Jean Racine, dramatist; 1860 George Galvin (Dan Leno), music hall artist; 1894 Sir Robert Menzies, Australian Liberal prime minister; 1898 Irene Dunne, actress; 1905 Bill (Tiger) O’Reilly, Australian cricketer; 1916 Paul Brickhill, author.
Deaths: 1939 Captain Hans Langsdorff, captain of the Graf Spee; 1954 James Hilton, novelist; 1961 Moss Hart, director and screenwriter; 1968 John Steinbeck, author; 1973 Bobby Darin, singer, songwriter and actor; 1982 Artur Rubinstein, pianist; 1996 Carl Sagan, American physicist and astronomer; 2006 Mick Mulligan, jazz trumpeter; 2010 Brian Hanrahan, broadcaster; 2010 John Alldis, choral conductor.