1857: The SS Central America sinks about 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C., drowning a total of 426 passengers and crew, including Capt. William Lewis Herndon. The ship was carrying 13 to 15 tons of gold from the San Francisco Gold Rush.
1910: The premiere performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 in takes place Munich with a chorus of 852 singers and an orchestra of 171 players.
1913: Athlete Jesse Owens, who won four track and field gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, is born in Oakville, Ala.
1919: Adolf Hitler joins the German Workers Party.
1931: Country music singer George Jones, best known for hits such as "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "White Lightning," is born in Saratoga, Texas.
1933: Hungarian-American physicist Leó Szilárd, while waiting for a red light in London, conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.
1940: The Lascaux paintings are discovered in France. The cave paintings are estimated to be 17,300 years old and are some of the best examples of art from the Paleolithic period.
1940: Actress Linda Gray, best known for her role as Sue Ellen Ewing on the TV drama "Dallas," is born in Santa Monica, Calif.
1942: The RMS Laconia, carrying 268 British soldiers, 160 Polish soldiers, 80 civilians and 1,800 Italian prisoners of war, is torpedoed off the coast of West Africa during World War II. When Werner Hartenstein, commanding officer of the U-boat that attacked the ocean liner, realized civilians and prisoners of war were on board, he surfaced to rescue survivors and called for more help. The next day, when an American B-24 Liberator bomber started attacking the U-boats, the Germans ordered their submarines to dive, abandoning many survivors. Estimates place the total number of survivors from the ship at around 1,500.
1943: Italian dictator Benito Mussolini is rescued from house arrest on the Gran Sasso mountain in Abruzzi, Italy, by German commando forces led by Otto Skorzeny. The airborne mission was ordered personally by Adolf Hitler. Following his rescue, Mussolini would head the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces.
1944: Singer Barry White, known for his distinctive bass voice and romantic image on such songs as "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe," is born under the birth name Barry Eugene Carter in Galveston, Texas.
1951: Actor Joe Pantoliano, best known for movies like "The Matrix," "Memento," "The Goonies," "Risky Business" and "The Fugitive," is born in Hoboken, N.J.
1952: Strange occurrences, including lights seen in the sky and a monster or alien sighting, take place in Flatwoods, W.Va. Descriptions of the "Flatwoods Monster" vary, although most agree that it was at least 10 feet tall and that it had a red face that appeared to glow from within, and a green body. Witnesses also describe the creature's head as having bulging, non-human eyes and as either being shaped like a heart, or as having a large heart shaped cowling behind it. Various experts have suggested the lights were actually a meteor and the creature an owl perched on a tree limb with foliage underneath it creating the illusion of the lower portions of the creature.
1952: Musician and songwriter Neil Peart, best known as the drummer for the rock band Rush, is born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
1953: U.S. Sen. John Fitzgerald Kennedy marries Jacqueline Lee Bouvier at St. Mary's Church in Newport, R.I.
1954: "Lassie" makes its television debut. The show would last for 19 seasons, airing its final episode on March 24, 1973.
1955: Actor Peter Scolari, best known for the TV shows "Bosom Buddies," "Newhart" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show," is born in New Rochelle, N.Y.
1957: Film composer and music producer Hans Zimmer, who has composed music for more than 100 films, is born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Among his credits are the award-winning film scores for "The Lion King," "Crimson Tide," "The Thin Red Line," "Gladiator," "The Last Samurai," "The Dark Knight" and "Inception."
1958: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Little Rock School District has to continue with its integration plan. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus immediately ordered the schools closed in response.
1959: The TV western "Bonanza" premieres, making it the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in color. The show would last 14 seasons and 430 episodes before ending on Jan. 16, 1973, making it the second longest running western series behind "Gunsmoke."
1966: Gemini 11 launches. The mission, the penultimate mission of NASA's Gemini program, would reach a height of 850 miles, the highest Earth orbit ever reached by a manned spacecraft.
1966: "The Monkees" TV show premieres on NBC.
1966: Singer-songwriter and musician Ben Folds, best known for his work as the frontman and pianist for the alternative rock band Ben Folds Five, is born in Winston-Salem, N.C. Folds is also known for his solo work and for his collaborations with musicians such as William Shatner, Regina Spektor and "Weird Al" Yankovic.
1967: Comedian and actor Louis C.K. ("Louie") is born under the birth name Louis Szekely in Washington, D.C.
1967: Actor Jason Statham, best known for movies like "Crank," "The Transporter" and "The Expendables," is born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, England.
1970: Palestinian terrorists blow up three hijacked airliners in Jordan, continuing to hold the passengers hostage in various undisclosed locations in Amman.
1973: Actor Paul Walker, best known for movies such as "Varsity Blues," "Into the Blue" and "The Fast and the Furious" film series, is born in Glendale, Calif.
1977: South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko dies from injuries suffered while being interrogated in police custody. News of Biko's death spread quickly, opening many eyes around the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime.
1978: The sitcom "Taxi," starring Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Conway and Andy Kaufman, premieres on ABC. The show would go on to win 18 Emmy awards over five seasons before ending in 1983.
1978: R&B, pop and gospel singer Ruben Studdard, who rose to fame as winner of the second season of "American Idol," is born in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany.
1980: Basketball player Yao Ming, one of China's best-known athletes and an eight-time NBA All-Star, is born in Shanghai, China.
1981: Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, who got her start on "American Idol" and won an Academy Award for her role in "Dreamgirls," is born in Chicago, Ill.
1983: Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes a U.S. citizen. He had emigrated from Austria 14 years earlier.
1986: The 3-D sci-fi musical "Captain EO," starring Michael Jackson and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, premieres at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. It would debut six days later at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
1986: Actress Emmy Rossum, best known for movies such as "Mystic River," "The Day After Tomorrow," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Beautiful Creatures," and the Showtime drama "Shameless," is born in New York City.
1984: Dwight Gooden sets the MLB record for strikeouts in a season by a rookie with 246, breaking the record set by Herb Score in 1954. Gooden's would end up with 276 strikeouts by the end of that season.
1988: Hurricane Gilbert devastates Jamaica. It would turn toward Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula two days later, causing an estimated $5 billion in damage.
1992: NASA launches space shuttle Endeavour on STS-47, marking the 50th shuttle mission. On board are Mae Carol Jemison (back row, second from right), the first black woman in space, Mamoru Mohri (back row, far right), the first Japanese citizen to fly in a U.S. spaceship, and Mark Lee and Jan Davis (back row, far left), the first married couple in space.
1992: Actor Anthony Perkins ("Psycho") dies from complications of AIDS at age 60 in Los Angeles.
1993: Actor Raymond Burr ("Perry Mason," "Ironside") dies from cancer at age 76 in Healdsburg, Calif.
1994: Frank Eugene Corder crashes a single-engine Cessna 150 into the White House's south lawn, striking the West Wing and killing himself. President Bill Clinton and his family were not at the White House at the time.
2003: County music legend Johnny Cash dies of complications from diabetes at the age of 71 in Nashville, Tenn.
2005: Hong Kong Disneyland opens in Penny's Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.
2008: Author David Foster Wallace ("Infinite Jest") commits suicide at age 46 in Claremont, Calif.
2011: The National September 11 Memorial opens to the public in New York City. The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, on the former location of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed during the attacks. The memorial consists of a forest of trees with two square pools in the center, where the Twin Towers once stood.
2013: Engineer Ray Dolby, the creator of the Dolby noise reduction system and a co-inventor of video tape recording, dies of leukemia at age 80 at his home in San Francisco.