• On Dec. 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, officially ending the institution of slavery, is ratified, the single greatest change wrought by the Civil War.
• On Dec. 4, 1921, the manslaughter trial for actor and director Fatty Arbuckle ends in a hung jury. Arbuckle – nicknamed “Fatty” for his generous physique – was accused of manslaughter in the death of Virginia Rappe. The starlet died of a ruptured bladder several days after an alleged sexual assault by the 350-pound Arbuckle at a wild drinking party in San Francisco. After two hung juries, he was acquitted in 1922.
• On Dec. 2, 1932, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope appear together for the first time onstage in a show at the Paramount Theater, where “The Mask of Fu Manchu” opens. The duo would become two of Hollywood’s best-paid actors thanks to their comic rapport.
• On Dec. 5, 1952, comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello launch their TV show. They made only 52 episodes, but the show appeared in reruns for decades. Abbott and Costello made their first film in 1940, “One Night in the Tropics,” followed by the hit “Buck Privates” (1941).
• On Dec. 7, 1965, Chevrolet produced its 3,000,000th car for the year. It was the first time Chevrolet had produced an annual total surpassing 3 million vehicles.
• On Dec. 3, 1979, nearly a dozen young people are killed at concert by the rock band The Who in Cincinnati. Eleven victims were trampled to death during a stampede for seats at the Riverfront Coliseum. The band was not told of the deaths until after the show.
• On Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon, a founding member of the Beatles and one of rock’s most influential musicians, is murdered by a deranged fan in front of Lennon’s New York City apartment building. The Beatles scored several U.K. hits in 1963, launching the “Beatlemania” tidal wave that hit the United States in 1964.
(c) 2007 King Features Synd., Inc.