On this day: December 27

POSTED: 12:53 PM PST Dec 26, 2012    UPDATED: 11:00 PM PST Dec 26, 2014 

Charles Darwin embarks on the HMS Beagle, "Howdy Doody" makes its TV debut, Apollo 8 splashes down after orbiting the Moon, and the Soviet Union occupies Afghanistan, all on this day.

OTD December 27 - Hal Ashby
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Columbia Pictures

1988: Film director Hal Ashby, best known for movies such as "Harold and Maude," "The Last Detail," "Shampoo," "Bound for Glory," "Coming Home" and "Being There," dies of pancreatic cancer at age 59 in Malibu, California. He earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Director for "Coming Home," which was also nominated for seven other Oscars, including Best Picture, winning Best Actor (Jon Voight), Best Actress (Jane Fonda) and Best Original Screenplay. Ashby started out as a film editor, earning an Oscar nomination for Film Editing in 1967 for "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming" and winning in 1968 for "In the Heat of the Night."

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