Today In History, 20 December: What Happened On This Day

What happened today in history (20 December): Kylian Mbappe was born, Calcutta was bombed by the Japanese in World War II, US invaded Panama, Zodiac killer claimed his first victims, The Godfather Part II premiered, and more.
This day in history (20 Dec): Birth of Kylian Mbappe and Bombing of Calcutta
This day in history (20 Dec): Birth of Kylian Mbappe and Bombing of Calcutta

Today in History: It’s the festive season again with Christmas around the corner. The world is gearing up to celebrate the winter festival and eagerly awaiting another wonderful year. Today is 20 December. While it appears to be a lazy, winter day on the surface, December 20 holds a major place in world history. Many pivotal events happened on this day (20 Dec).

From the birth of one of the most promising footballers of the century, the demise of a famous science educator, and the invasion of Panama by the US to the bombing of Calcutta in World War II, December 20 is a significant day in history.

Keep reading to learn what happened on this day (Dec. 20) in sports, politics and art, along with famous birthdays and deaths in world history.

Historical Events on This day

  • In 1830, Great Britain, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia officially recognized Belgium as an independent nation.
  • In 1942, the bombers of the Japanese Army Air Force bombed the Indian city of Calcutta (Kolkata) for the first time.
  • In 1960, the National Liberation Front (NLF), aka the Viet Cong, was established by North Vietnam to unite the two factions of Vietnam through military and communist tactics.
  • In 1968, the never-caught Zodiac killer claimed his first victims, a high school couple, Betty Lou Jensen and David Arthur Faraday, in Vallejo, California.
  • In 1973, the Prime Minister of Spain, Luis Carrero Blanco, was assassinated with a car bomb planted by the far-left terrorist group ETA.
  • In 1989, the US army invaded Panama in Operation Just Cause to depose the leader General Manual Noriega to counter drug trafficking and protect US citizens in Panama.
  • In 1999, Macau became an administrative region of China after centuries of Portuguese rule.
  • In 2019, the US Space Force, a military service branch of the US military responsible for peacekeeping and conducting operations in outer space, was founded after President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act.

Sports Events Today

  • In 1905, American boxing icon Jack O’Brien won the World Light Heavyweight boxing title after retiring from defending champion Bob Fitzsimmons of England in round 13 of 20.
  • In 1959, Indian cricket spin bowler Jasubhai Patel took 9-69 in Australia's 1st innings for a score of 219 in the 2nd Test at Kanpur.

Art and Culture Events Today

  • In 1812, the "Grimm's Fairy Tales," an iconic collection of dark fairy tales, was first published by the Brothers Grimm.
  • In 1947, Frank Kapra’s feel-good classic It’s a Wonderful Life premiered.
  • In 1957, American rock and roll legend Elvis Presley was drafted to serve in the US Army.
  • In 1974, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II, one of the greatest films of all time, was released.
  • In 1996, Wes Craven’s slasher horror classic Scream was released. The film introduced the iconic villain Ghostface and mocked the many genre tropes of horror films while subverting expectations.

Notable Deaths On This Day

Sr No

Death Year




Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury, Bengali writer and painter who introduced colour printing in Bengal



Roy O. Disney, American banker and businessman who co-founded The Walt Disney Company with Walt Disney



Bobby Darin, American musician and actor known for his jazz, pop, rock & roll, and folk music like the hit single “Splish Splash”



Carl Sagan, American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science communicator who published hundreds of papers, narrate the TV series Cosmos, and did groundbreaking research on extraterrestrial life



Robert Mulligan, American filmmaker best known for directing the classic films To Kill a Mockingbird and Summer of ‘42



Brittany Murphy, American actress who starred in Girl, Interrupted, died of mysterious causes

Famous Birthdays On This Day

Sr No

Birth Year




Irene Dunne, American actress who was active during the Golden Age of Hollywood and starred in films like Love Affair and The Awful Truth



Robert J. Van de Graaff, American physicist known for  inventing the Van de Graaff generator, an early stage particle accelerator



Motilal Vora, Indian politician affiliated with the Indian National Congress who served as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh from 1985-1988



Billy Bragg, English singer and activist who is known for is iconic rock and folk compositions like “A New England” and “Levi Stubbs’ Tears”



Jonah Hill, American comic actor who starred in iconic films like Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 21 Jump Street and The Wolf of Wall Street



Kylian Mbappe, French footballer and a prolific striker who scored a hat-trick in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar final against Argentina

Also Read | Today in History (19 December)

Also Read | Today in History (18 December)

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