1900 – The Irish wit and dramatist Oscar Wilde died in poverty in Paris, having earlier served two years in prison in Britain for homosexual offences. His works included the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” and the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.
1936 – The Crystal Palace, a huge glass conservatory designed to house Britain’s Great Exhibition of 1851, was destroyed by fire in south London.
1939 – Twenty Russian divisions — almost half a million men — invaded Finland in the “Winter War”.
1957 – Beniamino Gigli, the leading Italian operatic tenor after Enrico Caruso, died. He had only stopped performing in 1955 after a career lasting 41 years.
1982 – Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album released.
1986 – The British-born U.S. actor Cary Grant died. His films included “The Philadelphia Story” and “Arsenic and Old Lace”.
1995 – Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to visit Northern Ireland. Given a hero’s welcome by Catholics and Protestants alike, he declared: “The time has come for the peacemakers to triumph in Northern Ireland.”
1996 – In Sierra Leone, government and rebels signed a peace accord to end nearly six years of civil war.
2005 – John Sentamu becomes first black archbishop in the Church of England with enthronement as Archbishop of York.
2007 – Torres Vedras city council in Portugal awarded world’s tallest Santa Claus marionette by Guinness World Records.
2012 – A cargo plane crashes into houses near Brazzaville’s Maya-Maya airport, killing at least 32 people.