December 19 is the 353rd day of the year (354th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 12 days remaining.
- 1912 - William H. Van Schaick, captain of the steamship General Slocum, that killed over 1,000 people on June 15, 1904, the worst disaster in New York City before 9/11, was pardoned after 3 1/2 years in Sing Sing prison by President Taft.
- 1928 - First autogiro flight in the United States
- 1945 - Austria becomes a republic for the second time, the first having been interupted by the Nazi invasion of Austria in the mid 1930s.
- 1946 - Ho Chi Minh attacks French in Hanoi
- 1962 - Nyasaland secedes from Rhodesia and Nyasaland
- 1963 - Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom to become a constitutional monarchy under the sultan.
- 1972 - Apollo 17, the last manned lunar flight, returns to Earth.
- 1974 - The Altair 8800, the first personal computer, goes on sale
- 1978 - John Wayne Gacy is arrested for the killings of 33 boys and young men
- 1979 - Kramer vs. Kramer opens in theaters, starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.
- 1980 - Anguilla is made a dependency of the United Kingdom separate from St. Kitt's
- 1984 - The United Kingdom and People's Republic of China sign the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which handed Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
- 1997 - A Silkair Boeing 737-300 crashes into the Musi River, in Sumatra, Indonesia killing 104
- 1900 - Géza von Cziffra, film director (d. 1989)
- 1901 - Rudolf Hell, inventor (d. 2002)
- 1906 - Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet politician (d. 1982)
- 1910 - Jean Genet, novelist (d. 1986)
- 1915 - Edith Piaf, singer, actress (d. 1963)
- 1916 - Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, publicist
- 1918 - Professor Longhair, musician (d. 1980)
- 1920 - David Susskind, movie, stage and television producer (d. 1987)
- 1923 - Gordon Jackson, film, stage & tv actor best known as 'Hudson' on Upstairs Downstairs (d. 1990)
- 1925 - Tankred Dorst, dramatist
- 1933 - Cicely Tyson, actress
- 1934 - Al Kaline, Baseball Hall of Famer
- 1935 - Bobby Timmons, jazz pianist (d. 1974)
- 1939 - Gwynn Dowell, teacher
- 1940 - Phil Ochs, singer, songwriter (d. 1976)
- 1941 - Maurice White, musician
- 1944 - Richard Leakey, anthropologist
- 1944 - Alvin Lee, musician
- 1946 - Robert Urich, actor (d. 2002)
- 1946 - Stan Smith, tennis player
- 1949 - Claudia Kolb, swimming star
- 1960 - Mike Lookinland, actor (The Brady Bunch)
- 1961 - Reggie White, football player
- 1964 - Arvydas Sabonis, Lithuanian basketball star
- 1972 - Alyssa Milano, actress
- 1972 - Warren Sapp, football player
- 1980 - Jake Gyllenhaal, actor (The Day After Tomorrow)
- 1980 - Marla Sokoloff, actress (Full House, The Practice)
- 1992 - Mark Egan
2000 and beyond
Holidays and observances
December 18 - December 20 - November 19 - January 19 -- listing of all days
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