. 21, the 356th day of 2012. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 6:12 a.m. Eastern time.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 21, 1937, Walt Disney's first feature-length animated cartoon, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," had its world premiere in Los Angeles.
On this date:
In 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Mass.
In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed a congressional act authorizing the Navy Medal of Honor.
In 1879, the Henrik Ibsen play "A Doll's House" premiered at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen.
In 1910, 344 coal miners were killed in Britain's Pretoria Pit Disaster.
In 1942, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Williams v. North Carolina, ruled 6-2 that all states had to recognize divorces granted in Nevada.
In 1945, Gen. George S. Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a car accident.
In 1948, the state of Eire, or Ireland, passed an act declaring itself a republic.
In 1958, Charles de Gaulle was elected to a seven-year term as the first president of the Fifth Republic of France.
In 1971, the U.N. Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary-General.
In 1976, the Liberian-registered tanker Argo Merchant broke apart near Nantucket Island, off Massachusetts, almost a week after running aground, spilling 7.5 million gallons of oil into the North Atlantic.
In 1988, 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
In 1991, eleven of the 12 former Soviet republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the death of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Ten years ago: A military helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed seven German peacekeepers who were on board and two children on the ground; a U.S. soldier was killed in combat. President George W. Bush received a smallpox vaccination, fulfilling a promise he'd made when he ordered inoculations for about a-half million U.S. troops.
Five years ago: A suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a mosque outside the home of Pakistan's former interior minister, killing at least 50 people.
One year ago: The U.S. Army announced charges against eight soldiers related to the death of a fellow GI, Pvt. Daniel Chen, who apparently shot himself in Afghanistan after being hazed. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was selected the 2011 AP Male Athlete of the Year. Robert Griffin III was selected The Associated Press college football player of the year.
Today's Birthdays: Country singer Freddie Hart is 86. Actor Ed Nelson is 84. Talk show host Phil Donahue is 77. Movie director John Avildsen is 77. Actress Jane Fonda is 75. Actor Larry Bryggman is 74. Singer Carla Thomas is 70. Musician Albert Lee is 69. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is 68. Actor Josh Mostel is 66. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is 64. Movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg is 62. Singer Betty Wright is 59. International Tennis Hall-of-Famer Chris Evert is 58. Actress Jane Kaczmarek is 57. Country singer Lee Roy Parnell is 56. Entertainer Jim Rose is 56. Actor-comedian Ray Romano is 55. Country singer Christy Forester (The Forester Sisters) is 50. Rock musician Murph (The Lemonheads; Dinosaur Jr.) is 48. Actor-comedian Andy Dick is 47. Rock musician Gabrielle Glaser is 47. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 46. Actress Karri Turner is 46. Actress Khrystyne Haje is 44. Country singer Brad Warren (The Warren Brothers) is 44. Actress Julie Delpy is 43. Country singer-musician Rhean (rehn) Boyer (Carolina Rain) is 42. Contemporary Christian singer Natalie Grant is 41. Actor Glenn Fitzgerald is 41. Singer-musician Brett Scallions is 41. Rock singer Lukas Rossi (Rock Star Supernova) is 36. Rock musician Anna Bulbrook (Airborne Toxic Event) is 30. Country singer Luke Stricklin is 30. Actor Steven Yeun (TV: "The Walking Dead") is 29.
Thought for Today: "Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it." — Richard Adams, English author.
(Above Advance for Use Friday, Dec. 21)
Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.