1541: Hernando de Soto reaches the Mississippi River and names it Río de Espíritu Santo.
1794: Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, is executed on the guillotine during France's Reign of Terror. Lavoisier named both oxygen and hydrogen and predicted silicon. He also helped construct the metric system, put together the first extensive list of elements, and helped to reform chemical nomenclature.
1846: Zachary Taylor defeats a Mexican force north of the Rio Grande in the Battle of Palo Alto, the first major battle of the Mexican-American War.
1877: At Gilmore's Gardens in New York City, the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opens. The show, initiated by a group of hunters and originally for bird dogs, drew more than 1,200 dogs and proved so popular that its originally scheduled three days became four. The show is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the United States behind only the Kentucky Derby, which was first held in 1875.
1880: French novelist Gustave Flaubert, best known for his first published novel, 1857's "Madame Bovary," dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 58 in Rouen, France.
1884: Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, is born in Lamar, Mo. Truman, who fought in World War I and served as a U.S. senator from 1935 to 1945, was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's last running mate and assumed the presidency when Roosevelt died in 1945. During his presidency, Truman made the decision to use atomic weapons against Japan to end World War II, assisted in the founding of the United Nations, worked to contain communism and passed the $13 billion Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe.
1886: Pharmacist John Pemberton first sells a carbonated beverage named "Coca-Cola" as a patent medicine.
1902: In Martinique, Mount Pelée erupts, destroying the town of Saint-Pierre and killing more than 30,000 people. Only a handful of residents survive the blast.
1903: Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin, whose work was influential to the French avant-garde and many modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, dies of an overdose of morphine, and possibly a heart attack, at the age of 53 in Atuona, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. His work went mostly unappreciated during his lifetime, but became popular after his death.
1926: Stand-up comedian and actor Don Rickles, best known as an insult comic, is born in Queens, N.Y. Rickles, who became famous for his frequent appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," has appeared in movies such as "Run Silent, Run Deep" and "Casino" and is well known today for voicing the character Mr. Potato Head in the "Toy Story" animated movies.
1926: Broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough, best known for writing and presenting the nine "Life" series, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of all life on the planet, is born in London, England.
1927: Attempting to make the first nonstop transatlantic flight from Paris to New York and claim the $25,000 Orteig Prize for doing so, French war heroes Charles Nungesser and François Coli disappear after taking off aboard The White Bird biplane. Two weeks later, Charles Lindbergh successfully made the New York–Paris journey and claimed the prize, flying the Spirit of St. Louis.
1933: Mohandas Gandhi begins a 21-day fast in protest against the British rule in India.
1940: Author Peter Benchley, best known for his 1974 novel "Jaws," and for co-writing the screenplay for the summer blockbuster movie of the same name, is born in New York City.
1940: Singer-songwriter and actor Ricky Nelson, who started out on his family's TV show, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," and became a teen idol, is born in Teaneck, N.J. Nelson is known for songs such as "Poor Little Fool," "Travelin' Man" and "Hello Mary Lou" and also starred in the 1959 western "Rio Bravo" opposite John Wayne and Dean Martin. He died in an airplane crash on Dec. 31, 1985.
1940: Singer Toni Tennille (right), best known as one-half of the 1970s Grammy Award-winning pop duo Captain & Tennille, is born Cathryn Antoinette Tennille in Montgomery, Ala. Together with her husband, "Captain" Daryl Dragon, Tennille had five albums certified gold or platinum and scored numerous hits during their highest period of popularity, including "Love Will Keep Us Together," "Do That to Me One More Time and "Muskrat Love." They also hosted their own television variety series in 1976–77.
1945: World War II Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, thus ending the war in Europe. The day became known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. Seen here is British Prime Minister Winston Churchill waving to crowds in London after broadcasting to the nation the war with Germany was over.
1954: Actor David Keith, best known for movies such as "An Officer and a Gentleman," "Firestarter," "The Rose" and "Behind Enemy Lines," is born in Knoxville, Tenn.
1959: Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback/safety Ronnie Lott, widely considered one of the best defensive backs in NFL history, is born in Albuquerque, N.M. Lott, who starred for the University of Southern California and is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, spent 15 season in the NFL playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. He was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection, an eight-time First Team All-Pro selection and won four Super Bowls during his time with the 49ers.
1963: "Dr. No," the first in the James Bond film series, opens in America after premiering in England in October 1962. The plot finds Sean Connery's Bond taking on Dr. Julius No, who is plotting to disrupt an early American manned space launch with a radio beam weapon. It also features the first "Bond Girl," Ursula Andress, as the white-bikini-clad Honey Ryder.
1963: Film director Michel Gondry, best known for movies such as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Be Kind Rewind" and "The Green Hornet," is born in Versailles, France.
1964: Actress Melissa Gilbert, best known for portraying Laura Ingalls Wilder on TV series "Little House on the Prairie," is born in Los Angeles, Calif.
1967: Singer LaVerne Andrews (top), a member of the singing Andrews Sisters trio, dies of cancer at age 55 in Los Angeles, Calif. The Andrews Sisters, which also included her sisters Patty (middle) and Maxene (bottom), were best known for their 1941 hit "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." They recorded more than 400 songs and sold over 80 million records until breaking up after LaVerne's death.
1967: Ten days after refusing induction into the U.S. Army, boxer Muhammad Ali is indicted by a federal grand jury in Houston, Texas. After pleading not guilty, he was released on $5,000 bond and ordered not to leave the continental United States. Ali would be found guilty on June 20, 1967, but the conviction was eventually reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
1970: The Beatles album "Let It Be" is released. The album, which along with the title track featured songs such as "Get Back," "The Long and Winding Road" and "Across the Universe," was the 12th and final studio album released by the band.
1973: A 71-day standoff between federal authorities and the American Indian Movement members occupying the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee, S.D., ends with the surrender of the militants. The protest, held near the site of the tragic Battle of Wounded Knee, stemmed from the failure of an attempt to impeach the elected tribal president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. The group also was protesting the United States government's failure to fulfill treaties with Native American tribes and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations. Pictured is the Wounded Knee memorial burial ground.
1975: Singer-songwriter, record producer and actor Enrique Iglesias, known for hits such as "Bailamos," "Be with You" and "Hero," is born in Madrid, Spain.
1976: The rollercoaster Revolution, the first steel coaster with a vertical loop, opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif.
1978: David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as the "Son of Sam," pleads guilty to six murder charges. Shortly after his August 1977 arrest, Berkowitz confessed to killing six people and wounding several others in the course of eight shootings in the New York City area. He later claimed he was commanded to kill by a demon that possessed his neighbor's dog. He would eventually be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for each murder, to be served consecutively, making his maximum term 365 years.
1978: Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler become the first to reach the top of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. Two years later, Messner (seen here in 2012) would also become the first climber to complete a solo ascent of the mountain.
1980: The eradication of smallpox is endorsed by the World Health Organization. Pictured here is Rahima Banu, a 2-year old girl from the village of Kuralia in Bangladesh, who, in 1975, became the last known person to be infected with naturally occurring smallpox. A WHO team treated Banu, who recovered fully.
1984: After an American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, the Soviet Union announces that it will boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The Soviet Union, which was eventually joined in its boycott by other Eastern Bloc countries and Cuba, cited security concerns and "chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria being whipped up in the United States" in its decision.
1988: Science-fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, known for novels such as "Starship Troopers," "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," dies of emphysema and heart failure at age 80 in Carmel, Calif. He's seen here signing autographs at the 1976 World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, Mo.
1993: A decade into Aerosmith's comeback, the band's "Get a Grip" album reaches No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, marking their first trip to the top of the album charts.
1994: Actor George Peppard, best known for playing Col. John "Hannibal" Smith on the 1980s TV show "The A-Team," dies of pneumonia at the age of 65 in Los Angeles, Calif., while being treated for lung cancer. Peppard also starred opposite Audrey Hepburn in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and appeared in movies such as "How the West Was Won," "The Victors," "The Carpetbaggers" and "The Blue Max."
1999: Actress Dana Plato, best known for playing Kimberly Drummond on the 1980s sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes," dies of a prescription drug overdose at the age of 34 in Moore, Okla. Her death was eventually ruled a suicide.
2008: Country music singer-songwriter and actor Eddy Arnold, who scored 147 songs on the Billboard country music charts and sold more than 85 million records, dies of natural causes at the age of 89 in Nashville, Tenn. Arnold's best known hits include "What's He Doing in My World" and "Make the World Go Away." He also co-wrote the country and pop standard "You Don't Know Me."
2012: Children's book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, best known for the 1963 book "Where the Wild Things Are," dies from complications of a stroke at the age of 83 in Danbury, Conn.
Actress Tori Spelling recently spoke publically about her husband and fellow actor Dean McDermott's affair. But he's not the first celebrity to get in hot water over extramarital activities. Check out this list of high-profile celebrity affairs.