Almanac – December 16

1653 –  Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

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1707 – Last recorded eruption of Mount Fuji,  Japan.

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1935 – Thelma Todd died. American actress. Appearing in about 120 pictures between 1926 and 1935, she is best remembered for her comedic roles in films like Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business and Horse Feathers.

On the morning of Monday, December 16, 1935, Thelma Todd was found dead in her car inside the garage of Jewel Carmen, a former actress and former wife of Todd’s lover and business partner, Roland West. Carmen’s house was approximately a block from the topmost side of Todd’s restaurant.

Her death was determined to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. The detectives of the LAPD concluded at first that Todd’s death was accidental, the result of her either warming up the car to drive it or using the heater to keep herself warm.

Other evidence, however, pointed to foul play. Blood from a wound was found on her face and dress, leading some to believe that she was knocked unconscious and placed in the car so that she would succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.

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1989 – Lee Van Cleef died. American film actor who appeared mostly in Westerns and action pictures. His sharp features and piercing eyes led to his being cast as a villain in scores of films, such as Kansas City Confidential, High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, For A Few dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

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