TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1865, slavery formally ended in the United States with the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
In 1892, Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 1957, the first civilian electricity-generating nuclear facility in America opened in Pennsylvania.
In 1958, a U.S. rocket launched SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment), the world's first communications satellite, into space.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: H.H. Munro aka Saki (1870-1916), author; Ty Cobb (1886-1961), baseball player; Robert Moses (1888-1981), urban planner; Betty Grable (1916-1973), actress; Ossie Davis (1917-2005), actor; Keith Richards (1943- ), musician; Steven Spielberg (1946- ), director; Ray Liotta (1954- ), actor; Brad Pitt (1963- ), actor; Steve Austin (1964- ), wrestler/actor; DMX (1970- ), rapper/actor; Katie Holmes (1978- ), actress; Christina Aguilera (1980- ), singer.
TODAY'S FACT: The SCORE satellite launched in 1958 used a tape recorder to save and relay voice messages. It communicated a Christmas message from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the world via shortwave frequency on Dec. 19.
TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1932, a blizzard forced the National Football League to hold its championship game inside Chicago Stadium on an 80-yard field. The Chicago Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans, 9-0.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Think how many blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretions of other people." -- Saki, "Reginald"
TODAY'S NUMBER: $10.5 billion -- lifetime domestic box office gross (adjusted for inflation) of Steven Spielberg's feature films, making him the highest-grossing director of all time.
TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter moon (Dec. 15) and full moon (Dec. 22).