1771: The opera "Ascanio in Alba," composed by a 15-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, has its debut at the Teatro Regio Ducal in Milan, Italy.
1781: British Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis surrenders at the Siege of Yorktown. The surrender would prompt the British government to negotiate an end to the American Revolutionary War.
1849: Polish musician and composer Frédéric Chopin, considered one of the great masters of Romantic music, dies of tuberculosis at the age of 39 in Paris, France.
1860: The Open Championship, now known as the British Open, is held for the first time, at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. The inaugural tournament was restricted to professionals and attracted a field of eight golfers who played three rounds of 12 holes each in a single day. Scottish golfer Willie Park Sr. won with a score of 174, beating the favorite, fellow Scot Old Tom Morris, by two strokes. The tournament is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf and the only one to take place outside the United States.
1888: The first issue of National Geographic Magazine is released at newsstands.
1900: Actress Jean Arthur, best known for her roles in the Frank Capra films "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," "You Can't Take It With You" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and for her role as the rancher's wife in the Western "Shane," is born Gladys Georgianna Greene in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Arthur also was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1944 for her performance in "The More the Merrier."
1902: Actress Irene Ryan, best known for playing Daisy "Granny" Moses on the sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies," is born Irene Noblett in El Paso, Texas. Ryan was also one of the few entertainers who found success in vaudeville, radio, film, television and Broadway.
1907: Guglielmo Marconi's company begins the first commercial transatlantic wireless service between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Clifden, Ireland.
1912: Albino Luciani, who would go on to become Pope John Paul I in 1978, is born in Forno di Canale (now Canale d'Agordo) in Belluno, a province of the Veneto region in Northern Italy.
1914: Writer Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of the DC Comics character Superman (along with artist Joe Shuster), first published in "Action Comics #1" in June 1938, is born in Cleveland, Ohio. Siegel and Shuster sold all rights to the character to DC Comics for $130 in March 1938 and fought a number of legal battles over ownership of the superhero the rest of their lives, eventually gaining recognition for their roles in creating him.
1915: Playwright Arthur Miller, whose plays include "All My Sons," "Death of a Salesman" and "The Crucible," is born in Harlem, New York City.
1918: Actress and dancer Rita Hayworth, best known for her roles in movies such as "Cover Girl," "Gilda" and "Only Angels Have Wings," is born under the birth name Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1920: Actor Montgomery Clift, known for roles in movies such as "The Search," "Red River," "A Place in the Sun," "From Here to Eternity" and "Judgment at Nuremberg," is born in Omaha, Neb.
1930: Robert Atkins, the physician and cardiologist who created the Atkins diet, is born in Columbus, Ohio. He died on April 17, 2003, at age 72, nine days after slipping on icy pavement in New York City and suffering severe head trauma.
1931: Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion. He would be sentenced to 11 years imprisonment, at the time the longest tax evasion sentence ever given, along with heavy fines, and liens were filed against his various properties.
1938: Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel, one of the greatest American icons of the 1970s, is born under the birth name Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Mont. In his career he attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps between 1965 and 1980, and, in 1974, a failed jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket. The 35 broken bones he suffered during his career earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of "most bones broken in a lifetime." He died of pulmonary disease at age 69 on Nov. 30, 2007.
1939: The drama "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," starring Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur and directed by Frank Capra, premieres in Washington, D.C. The movie would prove to be a box office success and turn Stewart into a movie star. It would also earn 11 Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Original Story.
1942: Musician Gary Puckett (center), the lead singer of Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, whose biggest hits were "Woman, Woman," "Young Girl" and "Lady Willpower," is born in Hibbing, Minn.
1947: Actor Michael McKean, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Leonard "Lenny" Kosnowski on the sitcom "Laverne & Shirley" and as David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap, is born in New York City. McKean is also known for appearing in the ensemble movies of his "This is Spinal Tap" co-star Christopher Guest, including "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind" and "For Your Consideration."
1948: Actress Margot Kidder, best known for her role as Lois Lane in four "Superman" movies opposite Christopher Reeve, is born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.
1948: Actor George Wendt, best known for his role of Norm Peterson on the TV sitcom "Cheers," is born in Chicago, Ill.
1956: Donald Byrne, 26, and Bobby Fischer, 13, play a famous chess game called "The Game of the Century," with Fischer beating Byrne.
1957: The Elvis Presley movie "Jailhouse Rock" has its premiere in Memphis, Tenn.
1958: Country singer-songwriter Alan Jackson, a two-time Grammy winner who has recorded 35 No. 1 country hits, is born in Newnan, Ga.
1960: Theater and film director and choreographer Rob Marshall, best known for directing the 2002 Academy Award for Best Picture winner "Chicago," is born in Madison, Wis. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for "Chicago" and has also directed the movies "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Nine" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." He has also been nominated for six Tony Awards for his work on Broadway.
1962: Cartoonist, filmmaker and voice actor Mike Judge, best known as the creator of "Beavis and Butt-head" and "King of the Hill" and as the director of "Office Space," is born in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
1963: Comedian and actor Norm Macdonald, best known for his stint on "Saturday Night Live," is born in Quebec City, Canada.
1965: The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair closes after a two-year run in the borough of Queens. More than 51 million people had attended the event. The fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th-century American culture and technology.
1968: The action movie "Bullitt," starring Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Jacqueline Bisset, premieres in theaters. The movie grossed more than $42.3 million in the United States, making it the fifth highest grossing film of 1968.
1969: Singer Wyclef Jean, known for his solo work as well as for being a member of The Fugees, is born in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti.
1972: Rapper and actor Eminem, who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and won an Oscar for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself" from the movie "8 Mile," is born under the birth name Marshall Bruce Mathers III in Saint Joseph, Mo.
1973: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) begins an oil embargo against several countries including the U.S. and Great Britain. The incident stemmed from Western support of Israel when Egypt and Syria attacked the nation on Oct. 6, 1973. The embargo would last until March 1974, during which government price controls and gas rationing in the U.S. commonly led to long lines at gas stations.
1979: Mother Teresa wins the Nobel Peace Prize, "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace." She would refuse the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and ask that the $192,000 in prize money be given to the poor in India.
1986: Reinhold Messner (seen here in 2009) becomes the first mountain climber to ascend all 14 "eight-thousanders" (peaks more than 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) above sea level) after reaching the peak of Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on Earth, on the border of Tibet and Nepal.
1987: U.S. first lady Nancy Reagan undergoes a modified radical mastectomy at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland after being diagnosed earlier in the month with breast cancer.
1987: The first indoor World Series game is held, as the Minnesota Twins host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.
1988: The Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup comprised of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, releases their first single, "Handle With Care." The song would end up being the last release for group member Roy Orbison prior to his death on Dec. 6, 1988.
1989: The Loma Prieta earthquake (6.9 on the Richter scale) hits the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 63 people throughout northern California, injuring 3,757 and leaving some 3,000 people homeless. The earthquake occurs during warm-ups for the third game of the 1989 World Series, featuring both of the Bay Area's Major League Baseball teams, the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. Because of game-related sports coverage, this was the first major earthquake in the United States of America to have its initial jolt broadcast live on television.
1990: The Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) is created.
1991: Singer and actor Tennessee Ernie Ford, best remembered for his hit recording of "Sixteen Tons," dies of liver failure at age 72 in Reston, Va. He also recorded the No. 1 country hits "Mule Train" and "The Shotgun Boogie" and hosted his own prime-time variety show in the 1960s.
2000: Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche earns his 448th victory as a goalie in the NHL, passing Terry Sawchuck to become the record holder for career victories. He would end up 551 career regular season wins by the time he retired, a record that would stand until broken by Martin Brodeur on March 17, 2009.
2003: The pinnacle is fitted on the roof of Taipei 101, a 101-floor skyscraper in Taipei, Taiwan, allowing it to surpass the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur by 184 feet and become the world's tallest highrise. It would officially rank as the world's tallest building until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010.
2005: "The Colbert Report," hosted by Stephen Colbert, premieres on Comedy Central.
2007: Entertainer Joey Bishop, a member of the "Rat Pack" with Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin, dies of heart failure at age 89 in Newport Beach, Calif.
2008: Singer and actor Levi Stubbs, best known as the lead vocalist of the Motown R&B group the Four Tops, dies at age 72 in Detroit, Mich., after a long series of illnesses, including cancer and a stroke. Stubbs was also known for providing the voice of the alien plant Audrey II in the 1986 musical horror film "Little Shop of Horrors."