December 10, 1967
26-year-old Otis Redding is killed in a plane crash. He had just recorded the song (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay (1968) two days earlier. It was released after his death, becoming his only Billboard #1 hit and the first posthumously-released song to reach #1 on the U.S. charts. Redding and his band the Bar-Kays were traveling to play in Madison, Wisconsin, flying in poor weather with heavy rain and fog. They were given permission to land at the airport, but somehow the plane crashed into Lake Monona instead. The victims of the crash were: Otis Redding; four members of the Bar-Kays – guitarist Jimmy King, tenor saxophonist Phalon Jones, organist Ronnie Caldwell, and drummer Carl Cunningham; their valet, Matthew Kelly; and the pilot, Richard Fraser. The only survivor of the crash was Bar-Kays trumpeter Ben Cauley. Cauley awoke from the crash in the frigid waters of the lake. He spotted several other survivors floating in the water, but they died before the rescue team arrived 17 minutes later. Bassist James Alexander was the only other survivor of the Bar-Kays. He was not on the plane because it only held eight people, and it was his turn to take a commercial flight. The cause of the crash has never been determined.
December 11, 1941
Italy and Germany declare war against the U.S., with Adolf Hitler declaring, “After victory has been achieved, Germany, Italy, and Japan will continue in closest co-operation with a view to establishing a new and just order.” In return, the U.S. declared war against them. Also today, Poland declared war on Japan.
December 12, 1983
The Cabbage Patch Kids dolls are featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine. The dolls were responsible for Black Friday riots at stores where shoppers were trampling each other to “adopt” them. The dolls would go on to set the record as the most successful new doll introduction in the history of the toy industry. They were created in 1976 by Xavier Roberts using the German technique of needle molding from the 1800s. Instead of selling them, he allowed people to adopt them from Babyland General Hospital, which he ran from a renovated turn of the century medical facility.