December 8, 1980 John Lennon is shot dead outside his residence in the Dakota building in New York City. He was returning from a recording studio with his wife Yoko Ono, when 25-year-old Mark David Chapman shot him four times at close range. Chapman, an obsessed fan who had been photographed with the former Beatle giving him an autograph just hours before, waited on the steps of the Dakota after the shooting, waiting to hand himself over to police. At his trial, Chapman’s defence team was confident that he could successfully plead ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ but Chapman pleaded ‘guilty’, claiming God had instructed him to do so. He was sentenced to 20 years to life imprisonment and remains in jail in New York despite having applied six times for parole since 2000. Lennon was cremated but Ono chose against holding a funeral.
Click here to see a slideshow on Twitter of Lennon fans’ favourite photos.
Also on December 8: a woman appears in a theatrical performance for the first time in England, in Shakespeare’s Othello (1660); the United States joins World War II after declaring war on Japan (1941); the flag of Europe is adopted (1955).
Born on December 8: Mary, Queen of Scots (1542), Georges Méliès (1861), Lucian Freud (1922), Sammy Davis Jr (1925), Jim Morrison (1943), Kim Basinger (1953), Teri Hatcher (1964), Sinead O’Connor (1966), Dwight Howard (1985).