On this day: Frank Sinatra junior was kidnapped

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 8 December

1542: Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace. When the news was given to her father, James V, on his deathbed at Falkland Palace, that he had “ane fair douchter”, the king said: “Adew, fair weill, it come with ane lase, it will pas with ane lase.” He died soon afterwards.

1626: Queen Christina of Sweden was born. She had an obsessive horror of fleas and had built a four-inch long cannon with which she shot at the offenders with miniature cannonballs.

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1854: Pope Pius IX promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

1864: Clifton suspension bridge over the Avon, designed by Brunel, was opened.

1925: Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf was published.

1941: Britain and the United States declared war on Japan.

1963: Frank Sinatra, junior, aged 19, was kidnapped from his hotel room in Lake Tahoe, California. He was released three days later after his father paid a ransom of $240,000.

1974: Greece voted decisively to become a republic and eliminate monarchy which dated to 1832.

1981: Arthur Scargill was elected leader of the National Union of Mineworkers in succession to Joe Gormley.

1987: US and Soviet Union signed agreement eliminating ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

1989: At an European Community summit meeting, it was agreed to press ahead with plans for monetary union and the social charter.

1990: Arctic winds with -20ºC temperatures in parts of UK brought heavy snow. The M6 was completely blocked and thousands of motorists stranded.

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1991: Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia replaced Soviet Union with a “commonwealth of independent states” and invited other republics to join. The move undercut Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempts to reshape the union and retain Moscow’s role.

1995: There were calls for a crackdown on knife-carrying after headmaster Philip Lawrence was stabbed to death when he tried to protect a pupil being attacked by a teenage gang outside his school in north London.

2005: Ante Gotovina, a Croatian army general accused of war crimes, was captured in Tenerife by the Spanish police.

2010: With the second launch of the SpaceX Dragon, SpaceX became the first privately held company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.


Kim Basinger, actress, 61; Gregg Allman, guitarist, 67; Louis de Bernières, novelist, 60; Steve Elkington, golfer, 52; Sir James Galway OBE, flautist, 75; Teri Hatcher, actress, 50; Sir Geoff Hurst MBE, footballer, 73; Amir Khan, boxer, 28; Jennie Linden, actress, 75; Brian McClair, footballer, 51; Sinéad O’Connor, singer, 48; Ian Somerhalder, actor, 36; Michael Cole, wrestling commentator and show host, 46; Dominic Monaghan, actor, 38; Raheem Sterling, footballer, 20; Phil Collen, musician (Def Leppard), 57; James Blundell, country music singer, 50; Paul Rutherford, singer and musician (Frankie Goes to Hollywood), 55; Bill Bryson OBE, author, 63; Bobby Elliott, drummer (the Hollies), 73; Peter Parfitt, England Test cricketer, 78.


Births: 65BC Horace, Roman poet; 1542 Mary, Queen of Scots; 1708 Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor; 1765 Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin; 1861 Aristide Maillol, sculptor and painter; 1865 Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer; 1894 James Thurber, American humourist; EC Segar, cartoonist, creator of Popeye; 1906 Richard Llewellyn, novelist; 1910 Jill Summers, actress; 1911 Lee J Cobb, actor; 1922 Lucian Freud, artist; 1925 Sammy Davis, junior, singer and entertainer; 1930 Sir Julian Critchley, Conservative Party politician; 1930 Maximilian Schell, Austrian-born Swiss actor and director; 1936 David Carradine, actor; 1943 Jim Morrison, singer.

Deaths: 1292 John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury; 1859 Thomas de Quincey, essayist and opium addict; William Henry Vanderbilt, American businessman and philanthropist; 1903 Herbert Spencer, philosopher; 1932 Gertrude Jekyll, gardener and landscape designer; 1954 Gladys George, actress; 1964 Simon Marks (of Marks & Spencer); 1978 Golda Meir, Israeli stateswoman; 1980 John Lennon, founder member of The Beatles; 1982 Marty Robbins, singer, multi-instrumentalist and racing car driver; 1983 Slim Pickins, actor and rodeo performer; 2008 Oliver Postgate, creator of Bagpuss and other characters.