This day in history

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 17, the 351st day of 2019. There are 14 days left in the year.

Birthdays: Actor Armin Mueller-Stahl is 89. Pope Francis is 83. Political commentator Chris Matthews is 74. Comedian-actor Eugene Levy is 73. Actress Marilyn Hassett is 72. Rock singer Paul Rodgers is 70. Actor Bill Pullman is 66. Director-writer Peter Farrelly is 63. R.E.M bassist Mike Mills is 61. Actress Laurie Holden is 50. DJ Homicide (Sugar Ray) is 49. Pop-rock musician Eddie Fisher (OneRepublic) is 46. Actress Sarah Paulson is 45. Actress Marissa Ribisi is 45. Actor Giovanni Ribisi is 45. Singer-songwriter Ben Goldwasser (MGMT) is 37. Rock singer Mikky Ekko is 36. Rock musician Taylor York (Paramore) is 30. Actor-singer Nat Wolff is 25.


In 1777, France recognized American independence.

In 1894, Arthur Fiedler, the iconic conductor of the Boston Pops for half a century, was born in Boston.

In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, conducted the first successful manned powered-airplane flights near Kitty Hawk, N.C., using their experimental craft, the Wright Flyer.

In 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission by splitting the nuclei of uranium into lighter elements.

In 1969, the Air Force closed its Project ‘‘Blue Book’’ by concluding there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.

In 1975, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was sentenced in Sacramento to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Ford. (She was paroled in August 2009.)

In 1992, President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in separate ceremonies. (After President Trump demanded a new deal, the three countries signed a replacement agreement in 2018; it awaits approval by lawmakers.)

In 2007, Iran received its first nuclear fuel from Russia, paving the way for the startup of its reactor.


In 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died after more than a decade of iron rule; he was 69, according to official records, but some reports indicated he was 70.

In 2014, the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations, sweeping away one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

Last year, actress and director Penny Marshall, who starred in the sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” before directing film comedies such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” died in her Los Angeles home at the age of 75 due to complications from diabetes. A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee found that Russia’s political disinformation campaign on US social media was more far-reaching than originally thought, with troll farms working to discourage black voters and “blur the lines between reality and fiction” to help elect Donald Trump.