this is the week that was

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18 December:

1970: Divorce becomes legal in Italy.

1983: Gerald Ford becomes the first US President to appear in a soap opera when he makes a guest appearance in Dynasty.

19 December:

1863: Frederick Walton of London patents linoleum.

1980: Alexei Kosygin dies, aged 77, on the 74th birthday of his former colleague, Leonid Brezhnev.

20 December:

1957: Elvis Presley receives his call-up papers.

21 December:

1846: The surgeon Robert Liston performs the first leg amputation at University College Hospital using ether as a general anaesthetic.

1880: The Isle of Man gives the vote to property-owning widows and spinsters.

1911: The Jules Bonnet gang in Paris escape after a bank raid in the first recorded use of a getaway car.

1935: Premiere of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

22 December:

1938: A coelacanth is caught off the coast of South Africa, refuting the idea that it had been extinct for 70 million years.

1943: The Government announces that there are only enough turkeys in Britain for one family in ten.

23 December:

1834: Joseph Hansom patents the "safety cab".

1888: Van Gogh cuts off his ear.

1987: Santa Claus, by arrangement with the Finnish Tourist Board, has an audience with the Pope.

24 December:

1974: The Beatles partnership is legally dissolved.