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26th December

1792 * Charles Babbage, English inventor of a calculating machine in 1823.

1893 * Mao Tse Tung, Chinese Communist leader and founder of the party in 1921.

1898 Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium.

1906 The world's first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang was shown in Australia.

1908 'Galveston Jack' Johnson became the first black boxer to win the world heavyweight title.

1914 * Richard Widmark, US actor who starred in the film The Alamo (1960).

1932 Dick Whittington became the first pantomime seen on television.

1940 * Phil Spector, US songwriter and record producer.

1943 The last major German battleship, the Scharnhorst was sunk by the Royal Navy.

1961 The author Frank Richards, of the Billy Bunter stories, died.

1970 British Olympic medallist Lillian Board MBE died after losing her battle against a virulent form of cancer.

1972 The man who authorised the use of nuclear weapons on Japan, US President Harry S. Trueman, died.

1990 Desert Orchid won the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park for a record fourth time.

1990 Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, upheld the Rushdie fatwa.

2004 An earthquake under the Indian Ocean generated the biggest tsunami the world has seen for at least 40 years. The tsunami killed more than 250,000 people in 13 countries. At least 128,000 people died in Indonesia alone.

xxxx * = Date of birth

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