• On Dec. 14, 1799, George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States (unanimously elected in 1789), dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Va.
• On Dec. 10, 1901, the first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives.
• On Dec. 13, 1922, eight years after they began offering their removable top on KisselKar and Kissel automobiles, William Kissel and Friedrich Werner received a U.S. patent for their invention. Their “Convertible Automobile Body” had a removable hard top – one of the earliest convertibles.
• On Dec. 11, 1939, actress Marlene Dietrich records her hit song “Falling in Love Again.” Dietrich also became a U.S. citizen in 1939 and allegedly refused several offers to return to Germany to star in Nazi films. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom and named Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.
• On Dec. 9, 1958, in Indianapolis, retired Boston candy manufacturer Robert H.W. Welch Jr. establishes the John Birch Society, a right-wing organization dedicated to fighting what it perceived to be the extensive infiltration of communism into American society.
(c) 2007 King Features Synd., Inc.