December 21 in history:

The New York World introduced a new type of puzzle on December 21st, 1913.  Arthur Wynne of the World invented a diamond-shaped grid, and gave readers clues to words that could be written into the grid, vertically and horizontally.  Or across and down, if you prefer.  Wynne called his first puzzle a “word-cross,” but soon changed the name to “crossword.”  (Solve the “Word-Cross” here.)

The world’s first heart-transplant patient died on this date in 1967.  South African grocer Louis Washkansky survived for 18 days after the ground-breaking operation performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard.

Paul Winchell became the first person to receive a U.S. patent for designing an artificial human heart.  But Winchell was better known as an entertainer than as an inventor.  Winchell, born December 21st, 1922, became famous as a ventriloquist with his dummy sidekick, Jerry Mahoney, and as the voice of Tigger in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh cartoons.

The wicked Queen demanded Snow White’s heart in a box in the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which premiered on December 21st, 1937.  The movie made history as the first full-length animated feature produced in the U.S.


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