• On Dec. 30, 1903, a fire in the Iroquois Theater in Chicago kills more than 600 people. The fire inspector had declared the theater “fireproof beyond all doubt,” even though it had no fire alarm and no sprinkler system over the stage. An asbestos curtain turned out to be made of paper, and the exits were locked.
• On Dec. 27, 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, thousands turn out for the opening of Radio City Music Hall, an Art Deco theater in a formerly derelict neighborhood in Manhattan. Since its opening, more than 300 million people have attended events at Radio City.
• On Dec. 29, 1940, London suffers its most devastating air raid when German planes firebomb the city. The next day, a newspaper photo of St. Paul’s Cathedral standing undamaged amid the smoke and flames seemed to symbolize the city’s unconquerable spirit.
• On Jan. 1, 1959, a popular revolution led by Fidel Castro quickly takes over Cuba. After Castro nationalized American-owned property and allied himself with the Soviets, the U.S severed diplomatic and economic ties, and enacted a trade and travel embargo.
• On Dec. 26, 1966, the first day of the first Kwanzaa is celebrated in Los Angeles under the direction of Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach. The seven-day holiday celebrates African- American family, community and culture.
• On Dec. 28, 1973, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “literary investigation” of the police-state system in the Soviet Union, “The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956,” is published in the original Russian in Paris. Soviet officials were livid, and Solzhenitsyn was arrested, stripped of his citizenship and deported.
• On Dec. 31, 1985, former teen idol Rick Nelson dies in plane crash in Texas. Nelson launched his pop career in 1957 by singing in an episode of “The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet.” (c) 2016 King Features