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22nd December

1858 * Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer of the opera Madame Butterfly (1904).

1877 Liquid oxygen was formulated by Raoul Pictet in Geneva.

1895 Wilhelm Rontgen made the first radiograph (X-ray) of his wife's hand.

1907 * Dame Peggy Ashcroft, English stage and film actress.

1943 The famous children's writer, Beatrix Potter, died.

1948 * Noel Edmonds, British disc jockey and television presenter.

1949 * Maurice and Robin Gibb, members of the pop group The Bee Gees.

1972 The Chilean Air Force found 14 survivors two months after their plane crashed in the Andes.

1974 Terrorists bombed the home of the Conservative leader and former Prime Minister Edward Heath.

1975 Pro-Palestinian terrorists seized 70 hostages at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna.

1989 Berlin's most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, opened for the first time in nearly 30 years.

1989 Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown in a bloody coup.

1997 Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham announced an independent inquiry into the BSE "disaster" and the devastation it wreaked on British farming.

2000 American superstar Madonna married British film maker Guy Ritchie at an exclusive ceremony in Skibo Castle near Dornoch in Sutherland.

2003 Guerrillas in Colombia released the Briton Mark Henderson and four Israelis who were kidnapped in September.

xxxx * = Date of birth

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