|December 20 in recent years
December 20 is the 354th day of the year (355th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 11 days remaining until the end of the year.
- 69 - Vespasian, a former general under Nero, enters Rome to claim the title of emperor.
- 1192 - Richard the Lion-Heart was captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty with Saladin ending the crusade.
- 1522 - Suleiman the Magnificent accepts the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually re-settle on Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta.
- 1606 - The Virginia Company loaded three ships with settlers and set sail to establish Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas
- 1803 - Louisiana Purchase completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.
- 1835 - First signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence at Goliad.
- 1860 - South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the United States.
- 1915 - World War I: Last Australian troops evacuated from Gallipoli.
- 1917 - Cheka, first Soviet secret police, founded.
- 1941 - World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" in Kunming.
- 1942 - World War II: Bombing of Calcutta by the Japanese.
- 1951 - Nuclear power first harvested when EBR-1 powers four light bulbs.
- 1952 - United States Air Force C-124 crashes and burns in Moses Lake, Washington killing 87.
- 1955 - Cardiff was proclaimed as the capital city of Wales,United Kingdom
- 1960 - National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam is formed.
- 1973 - The Spanish Prime Minister, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, is assassinated by a car bomb attack in Madrid
- 1981 - The first ever on-stage performance of the award-winning Broadway musical Dreamgirls at Imperial Theatre on Broadway.
- 1984 - The Summit tunnel fire is the largest underground fire in history, as a freight train carrying over 1 million litres of petrol derails near the town of Todmorden in the Pennines.
- 1988 - The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is signed at Vienna.
- 1989 - United States invasion of Panama: United States sends troops into Panama to overthrow government of Manuel Noriega.
- 1991 - Paul Keating becomes the 24th Prime Minister of Australia.
- 1991 - A Missouri court passes the death sentence on Palestinian militant Zein Isa and his wife Maria for the honor killing of their daughter Palestina.
- 1995 - NATO begins peacekeeping in Bosnia.
- 1995 - An American Airlines Flight 965 Boeing 757 crashes into a mountain 50 km north of Cali, Colombia killing 160.
- 1995 - The Democratic Social Movement is founded in Greece.
- 1996 - American astronomer and Astrophysicist Carl Edward Sagan dies at age 62.
- 1996 - NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.
- 1999 - Macau is handed over to the People's Republic of China by Portugal.
- 2001 - Argentine economic crisis: President of Argentina Fernando de la Rúa is forced out of office.
- 2002 - US Senator Trent Lott resigns as majority leader.
- 2005 - 2005 New York City transit strike: New York City's Transport Workers Union Local 100 goes on strike, shutting down all New York City Subway and Bus services.
- 2005 - US District Court Judge John E. Jones III ruled against mandating teaching "intelligent design" in his ruling of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
- 2006 - A judge rules against the death penalty in the case of Naveed Haq, a man convicted in the shooting death and injuries at the Jewish Federation in Seattle.
- 1494 - Oronce Finé, French mathematician (d. 1555)
- 1537 - King John III of Sweden (d. 1592)
- 1566 - Edward Wightman, English Baptist preacher (d. 1612)
- 1579 - (baptized) John Fletcher, English playwright (d. 1625)
- 1626 - Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff, German statesman (d. 1692)
- 1629 - Pieter de Hooch, Dutch painter (d. 1684)
- 1717 - Charles Gravier, French statesman and diplomat (d. 1787)
- 1786 - Pietro Raimondi, Italian composer (d. 1853)
- 1792 - Nicolas Charlet, French painter (d. 1845)
- 1833 - Samuel Mudd, American physician (d. 1883)
- 1838 - Edwin Abbott Abbott, English schoolmaster, theologian, and author (d. 1926)
- 1841 - Ferdinand Buisson, French pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d. 1932)
- 1860 - Dan Leno, English entertainer (d. 1904)
- 1861 - Ivana Kobilca, Slovenian painter (d. 1926)
- 1865 - Elsie De Wolfe, American socialite and interior decorator (d. 1950)
- 1868 - Harvey Firestone, American automobile pioneer (d. 1938)
- 1881 - Branch Rickey, baseball executive (d. 1965)
- 1886 - Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, American tennis player (d. 1974)
- 1888 - Fred Merkle, American baseball figure (d. 1958)
- 1890 - Yvonne Arnaud, French-born actress (d. 1958)
- 1890 - Jaroslav Heyrovský, Czech chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1967)
- 1894 - Sir Robert Menzies, twelfth Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1978)
- 1898 - Irene Dunne, American actress (d. 1990)
- 1901 - Robert Van de Graaff, American physicist and inventor (d. 1967)
- 1902 - Sidney Hook, American philosopher (d. 1989)
- 1902 - George Edward Alexander Windsor, Duke of Kent (d. 1942)
- 1904 - Spud Davis, baseball player (d. 1984)
- 1907 - Paul Francis Webster, musician (d. 1984)
- 1909 - Vakkom Majeed, Indian politician (d. 2000)
- 1911 - Hortense Calisher, American author
- 1916 - Michel Chartrand, Quebec union leader
- 1917 - David Bohm, American-born physicist, philosopher, and neuropsychologist (d. 1992)
- 1918 - Jean Marchand, French Canadian trade unionist and politician (d. 1988)
- 1918 - Audrey Totter, American actress
- 1922 - George Roy Hill, American film director (d. 2002)
- 1922 - Beverly Pepper, American sculptor and painter
- 1924 - Judy LaMarsh, Canadian politician and broadcaster (d. 1980)
- 1925 - Benito Lorenzi, Italian footballer (d. 2007)
- 1925 - Mahathir bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia
- 1926 - Sir Geoffrey Howe, British politician
- 1926 - Otto Graf Lambsdorff, German politician
- 1927 - Kim Young-sam, President of South Korea
- 1931 - Mala Powers, American film actress (d. 2007)
- 1933 - Jean Carnahan, U.S. Senator
- 1933 - Rik Van Looy, Belgian cyclist
- 1938 - John Harbison, American composer
- 1944 - Bobby Colomby, American musician (Blood)
- 1945 - Peter George Criscoula, American drummer and singer (Kiss)
- 1946 - Uri Geller, Israeli psychic
- 1946 - John Spencer, American actor (d. 2005)
- 1946 - Dick Wolf, American television series creator
- 1947 - Gigliola Cinquetti, Italian singer
- 1948 - Alan Parsons, British music producer and artist
- 1949 - Soumaïla Cissé, Malian politician
- 1949 - Cecil Cooper, Major League baseball player
- 1951 - Gilbert Montagné, French musician
- 1951 - Peter May, Scottish novelist and scriptwriter
- 1952 - Jenny Agutter, English actress
- 1954 - Michael Badalucco, American actor
- 1954 - Sandra Cisneros, American writer
- 1955 - Ed Kuepper, German-born Australian musician (The Saints, Laughing Clowns)
- 1956 - Junji Hirata, Japanese professional wrestler
- 1957 - Billy Bragg, English singer and songwriter
- 1957 - Mike Watt, American bassist
- 1957 - Stephen Bicknell, leading British organ expert (d. 2007)
- 1957 - Joyce Hyser, American actress
- 1957 - Anna Vissi, Greek-Cypriot singer
- 1958 - Steve Sailer, American political commentator
- 1960 - Nalo Hopkinson, Canadian writer
- 1963 - Infanta Elena of Spain, Duchess of Lugo
- 1965 - Rich Gannon, American football player
- 1966 - Matt Neal , British Race Driver
- 1966 - Chris Robinson, American singer (Black Crowes)
- 1966 - Myrra Malmberg, Swedish singer
- 1968 - Karl Wendlinger, Austrian racing driver
- 1968 - Joe Cornish, British comedian
- 1968 - Phil Andrews, British racing driver
- 1970 - Nicole DeBoer, Canadian actress
- 1972 - Raymond I. Herrera, Mexican/American drummer for Fear Factory, producer, entrepreneur
- 1973 - Cory Stillman, National Hockey League forward
- 1974 - Die, Japanese musician (Dir en grey)
- 1975 - Bartosz Bosacki, Polish footballer
- 1975 - Christian Filippella, Italian film director
- 1975 - Jaydy Michel, Mexican model
- 1976 - Jang Hyuk, Korean actor
- 1976 - Aubrey Huff, American baseball player
- 1976 - Adam Powell, Neopets creator
- 1976 - Ramon Stoppelenburg, world traveler and Dutch author
- 1977 - Saukrates, Canadian rapper
- 1978 - Geremi Njitap, Cameroon footballer
- 1978 - Andrei Markov, Russian hockey player
- 1979 - Michael Rogers, Australian cyclist
- 1980 - Ashley Cole, English footballer
- 1980 - Anthony da Silva, French-Portuguese footballer
- 1981 - Roy Williams, American football player
- 1981 - James Shields, American baseball player
- 1982 - David Wright, baseball player
- 1983 - Jonah Hill, American actor
- 1983 - Lara Stone, Dutch model
- 1983 - Lucy Pinder, British model
- 1987 - Tariel Zintiridis, Greek judoka
- 1990 - Joanna "JoJo" Levesque American pop/R&B Singer
- 217 - Pope Zephyrinus
- 860 - King Ethelbald of Wessex
- 910 - Alfonso III of Leon
- 1022 - Elvira Mendes, wife of Alfonso V of Castile (b. 996)
- 1355 - Stefan Dušan, Serb king and tsar (b. circa 1308)
- 1494 - Matteo Maria Boiardo, Italian poet
- 1524 - Thomas Linacre, English scholar and physician
- 1539 - Johannes Lupi, Flemish composer
- 1590 - Ambroise Paré, French physician (b. 1510)
- 1722 - Kangxi Emperor of China (b. 1654)
- 1723 - Augustus Quirinus Rivinus (b. 1652)
- 1740 - Richard Boyle, English military officer and statesman (b. 1675)
- 1768 - Carlo Innocenzio Maria Frugoni, Italian poet (b. 1692)
- 1783 - Antonio Soler, Spanish composer (b. 1729)
- 1812 - Sacagawea, Shoshone guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition
- 1917 - Lucien Petit-Breton, Argentine-French cyclist (b. 1882)
- 1921 - Hans Hartwig von Beseler, German general (b. 1850)
- 1929 - Émile Loubet, 7th President of France (b.1838)
- 1935 - Martin O'Meara, Australian soldier (b. 1882)
- 1937 - Erich Ludendorff, German general (b. 1865)
- 1941 - Igor Severyanin, Russian poet (b. 1887)
- 1954 - James Hilton, American author (b. 1900)
- 1956 - Ramon Carrillo, Argentine neuroscientist and Public Health minister (b. 1906)
- 1961 - Moss Hart, American dramatist (b. 1904)
- 1961 - Earle Page, eleventh Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1880)
- 1968 - John Steinbeck, American writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1902)
- 1973 - Luis Carrero Blanco, Prime Minister of Spain (assassinated) (b. 1903)
- 1973 - Bobby Darin, American singer (b. 1936)
- 1974 - André Jolivet, French composer (b. 1905)
- 1976 - Richard J. Daley, Mayor of Chicago (b. 1902)
- 1982 - Arthur Rubinstein, Polish-born pianist (b. 1887)
- 1984 - Gonzalo Márquez, Venezuelan Major League Baseball player (b. 1946)
- 1986 - Joe DeSa, baseball player (b. 1959)
- 1988 - Alphonse Ouimet, Canadian television pioneer, president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (b. 1908)
- 1989 - Kurt Böhme, German bass (b. 1908)
- 1991 - Simone Beck, French chef (b. 1904)
- 1994 - Dean Rusk, United States Secretary of State (b. 1909)
- 1996 - Carl Sagan, American astronomer and writer (b. 1934)
- 1997 - Denise Levertov, English-born poet (b. 1923)
- 1997 - Juzo Itami, Japanese actor and director (b. 1933)
- 1997 - Dawn Steel, American film producer (b. 1946)
- 1998 - Irene Hervey, American actress (b. 1910)
- 1998 - Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, British scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1916)
- 1999 - Hank Snow, Canadian singer (b. 1914)
- 1999 - Riccardo Freda, Italian film director (b. 1909)
- 2000 - Mirza Ghulam Hafiz, Bangladesh statesman, politician, and philanthropist (b. 1920)
- 2001 - Foster Brooks, American actor and comedian (b. 1912)
- 2001 - Léopold Sédar Senghor, first President of Senegal (b. 1906)
- 2005 - Maniam Moorthy, member of the first Malaysian team to summit Mount Everest
Holidays and observances
106 Familypedia people were born on December 20
131 Familypedia people died on December 20
88 Familypedia people were first married on December 20