Today is December 18, 2009 and the 352nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 13 days left in the year 2009. Tonight is the seventh day of Hanukkah. According the Mayan calendar, there are 1098 days till the end of the current cycle. Today, in 218 BC, Hannibal’s forces defeated the Romans at the Battle of Trebia during the second Punic War. Here are five people that share a birthday on this day:
Joseph Stalin (1878-1953)
Born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili in Gori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire. He was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. In the years following Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin rose to power to become the leader of the Soviet Union. He did this by assassinating his competition. He launched a Command Economy based in Five Year Plans which resulted in rapid industrialization and economic collectivism. The result caused a nationwide famine which the people of the Ukraine – the Soviet Union’s breadbasket – called the Holodomor. Following this famine, Stalin launched the Great Terror in which he eliminated anyone who opposed the Communist Party. This sent enemies of the state to prison camps or Gulags. Millions died. In 1939, Russia signed a non-aggression pact with Adolph Hitler and Germany and invaded Poland on the same day that Germany started World War 2. They also invaded Finland, the Baltics, Bessarabia, and Northern Bukovina. Germany violated the pact in 1941 and Russia joined the allies sustaining more casualties than any other country in WW2. After the war, Stalin turned each of the countries he had taken in the war into a Communist Bloc and kept them all behind what he called “The Iron Curtain”. This started the Cold War.
Ty Cobb (1886-1973)
American baseball player was born Tyrus Raymond Cobb in Royston, Georgia. He was nicknamed, “The Georgia Peach”. This outfielder is generally considered one of the greatest ballplayers that ever played. While Cobb held almost a dozen records in baseball for over half a century, he is also known for his very aggressive style of play. Cobb was not hesitant to attack players and fans alike. He was known to try and intimidate other players by sharpening his cleats in front of the opposite team, then use them to strike the basemen as he stole bases. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame the inaugural year with the most votes of any other player.
Keith Richards (Born 1943)
British guitar player born in Dartford, Kent, England is a founding member of the rock group, The Rolling Stones. For the past four decades he has inspired audiences with his lyrics, vocals, and innovative rhythm guitar playing. He and song writing partner, Mick Jagger, have written and recorded hundreds of songs together – fourteen of which are included in Rolling Stone magazines, “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Beyond playing music, Richards has also tried his hand at acting, performing in Walt Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, where he played Captain Jack Sparrow’s father – a part Johnny Depp fashioned after Richards.
Betty Grable (1916-1973)
American singer, dancer, and actress, Betty Grable was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable in St. Louis, Missouri. She is most famous for her bathing suit pinup picture given to thousands of troops during World War II. It is an image that has been considered by Life Magazine as one of “100 Photos That Changed the World.” At one time, her legs were insured by Lloyds of London for one million dollars. She started her acting career at the age of 12, which, at the time, was illegal to do. She went on to star in over 50 films. She died of lung cancer at the age of 56.
Steven Spielberg (Born 1946)
American film director born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he is certainly one of the top directors ever to grace Hollywood. Spielberg’s career has spanned over four decades with popular films such as: Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (all of which broke box office records). He has won the Academy Award for Best Director for his 1993 Schindler’s List and in 1998 for Saving Private Ryan. His films are some of the best beloved films of our generation.