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On this day: December 19

Today’s birthdays

Syd Little, comedian (Little and Large), 76

Limahl (aka Christopher Hamill), Kajagoogoo singer, 60

Jennifer Beals, actress, 55

Beatrice Dalle, actress, 54

Richard Hammond, TV presenter, 49

Ricky Ponting, cricketer, 44

Jake Gyllenhaal (pictured), actor, 38

Gary Cahill, footballer, 33

Alexis Sanchez, footballer, 30

Cicely Tyson, actress, 94

Lady Sovereign (aka Louise Harman), rapper, 33

It happened today…

1154:Henry IIbecame King of England.

1848:Emily Bronte, English novelist who wrote Wuthering Heights, died aged 30 from tuberculosis.

1851: Painter Joseph Turner died in his Chelsea house under the assumed name of Admiral Booth, where his demand for privacy was strictly enforced by his housekeeper.

1863: Frederick Walton of London applied for a patent for Linoleum.

1905: London County Council set up the first motorised ambulance service for traffic accident victims.

1906:Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet president 1977-1982, was born in the Ukraine.

1915: Legendary singer Edith Piaf (pictured above), ‘the little sparrow who began singing in the streets when she was a teenager and lived a life of lovers, alcohol and drugs’, was born in Paris. Her song Je Ne Regrette Rien summed up her outlook on life.

1981: The Penlee lifeboat, Solomon Browne, was lost with her crew of eight, attempting to rescue the crew of the coaster Union Star, wrecked in violent seas off the Cornish coast.

1984:Britain and China signed an agreement for the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

1984:Ted Hughes was named Poet Laureate in succession to Sir John Betjeman.

Quote of the day

‘It is really just a high-altitude aeroplane flight — and a dangerous one at that. As a technology to get humans out into space, it’s a go-nowhere, dead-end technology’ — Nasa astronaut Andy Thomas derides Sir Richard Branson’s ‘pointless’ Virgin Galactic flight to the edge of space (pictured)

Thought for the day

‘The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat’ — Actress Lily Tomlin