1497: Vasco da Gama sets sail on the first direct European voyage to India. He would ultimately arrive at Calicut, India, on May 20, 1498. The discovery would open up a new trade route for Portugal and marks the beginning of the first wave of global multiculturalism.
1822: English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowns at age 29 after being caught in a sudden storm while sailing in the Ligurian Sea off the coast of present-day Tuscany, Italy. The author of such poem as "Ozymandias," "Ode to the West Wind," "To a Skylark," "Music, When Soft Voices Die," "The Cloud" and "The Masque of Anarchy," Shelley did not find fame during his lifetime, but recognition for his poetry grew steadily following his death. His second wife, Mary Shelley, was famous herself as the author of "Frankenstein."
1831: John Pemberton, the pharmacist who invented Coca-Cola in 1886, is born in Knoxville, Ga.
1838: Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich Count von Zeppelin, the inventor and aviation pioneer who built the first rigid dirigible airships, named Zeppelins, is born in Konstanz, Grand Duchy of Baden (now part of Germany).
1839: Industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, who became the world's richest man and the first American worth more than $1 billion, is born in Richford, N.Y. In 1870, Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust.
1889: The first issue of The Wall Street Journal is published.
1932: The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches its lowest level of the Great Depression, closing at 41.22.
1934: Comedian and actor Marty Feldman, best known for his roles in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" and "Silent Movie," is born in London, England.
1935: Singer and actor Steve Lawrence, best known as a member of the "Steve and Eydie" duo with his wife Eydie Gormé, is born Sidney Liebowitz in Brooklyn, N.Y. While he was known more for his nightclub and stage performances, he recorded the No. 1 hit "Go Away Little Girl" in 1962 and sung other top 10 songs like "Footsteps" and "Party Doll."
1944: Actor Jeffrey Tambor, best known for his roles in the TV series "The Larry Sanders Show" and "Arrested Development," is born in San Francisco, Calif.
1948: The United States Air Force accepts its first female recruits into a program called Women in the Air Force. The first WAF recruit was Sgt. Esther Blake who enlisted in the first minute that regular Air Force duty was authorized for women.
1948: Singer-songwriter and author Raffi, well loved by many children born in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s for his popular children's songs, is born Raffi Cavoukian in Cairo, Egypt.
1948: The movie musical "Easter Parade," starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, opens in theaters. The movie featured music by Irving Berlin, including some of Astaire and Garland's best-known songs, such as "Steppin' Out With My Baby" and "We're a Couple of Swells," and won an Oscar for its score.
1949: Celebrity chef, restaurateur and businessman Wolfgang Puck is born Wolfgang Johannes Topfschnig in Sankt Veit an der Glan, Austria.
1950: President Harry Truman appoints Gen. Douglas MacArthur as commander-in-chief of United Nations forces in Korea.
1951: Actress Anjelica Huston is born in Santa Monica, Calif. In 1986, Huston became the third generation of her family to win an Academy Award, for her performance in "Prizzi's Honor," joining her father, director John Huston, and grandfather, actor Walter Huston. She's also been nominated for Oscars for her roles in "Enemies, a Love Story" and "The Grifters," and is also known for movies such as "The Witches," "The Addams Family" and "The Royal Tenenbaums," and the TV series "Smash."
1952: Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert is born in Mantua, Ohio. Lambert was the starting middle linebacker for four Super Bowl-winning teams in an 11 year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1974 to 1984. He was also a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the NFL's "All-Decade Team" for both the 1970s and '80s.
1957: Grace Coolidge, the first lady of the United States as the wife of President Calvin Coolidge from 1923 to 1929, dies at age 78.
1958: The Recording Industry Association of America presents its first gold record album to the soundtrack for "Oklahoma!" for selling more than a million copies.
1958: Actor Kevin Bacon, known for movies such as "Diner," "Footloose," "A Few Good Men," "The River Wild," "Tremors," "Apollo 13" and "Mystic River," is born in Philadelphia, Pa.
1961: Country music singer-songwriter Toby Keith, known for songs such as "Should've Been a Cowboy," "How Do You Like Me Now?!," "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)," "I Love This Bar" and "As Good as I Once Was," is born Toby Keith Covel in Clinton, Okla.
1962: Singer-songwriter Joan Osborne, best known for her 1995 hit song "One of Us," is born in Anchorage, Ky.
1967: British actress Vivien Leigh, best known for her role as Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind" and Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire," dies of tuberculosis at age 53 in London, England.
1968: Actor Billy Crudup, best known for movies such as "Almost Famous," "Big Fish" and "Watchmen," is born in Manhasset, N.Y.
1970: Singer-songwriter, musician and producer Beck Hansen, known better by his stage name Beck, is born Bek David Campbell in Los Angeles, Calif. He is best known for songs such as "Loser," "Where It's At" and "Devil's Haircut."
1977: Actor Milo Ventimiglia, best known for his roles on the TV series "Gilmore Girls" and "Heroes," and in the movie "Rocky Balboa," is born in Anaheim, Calif.
1978: After six months at No. 1, the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack is finally bumped off the top spot of the Billboard 200 album chart by Gerry Rafferty's "City To City." It would remain on the chart until March 1980 and end up selling more than 15 million copies in America alone.
1981: The Go-Go's release their debut album, "Beauty and the Beat." The album would go on to peak at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, spending six straight weeks stop the album chart. The album ended up selling more than two million copies and reached double platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time.
1982: Actress Sophia Bush, best known for her starring role in the TV series "One Tree Hill," is born in Pasadena, Calif. She's also appeared in movies such as "John Tucker Must Die," "The Hitcher" and "The Narrows."
1994: Actor Dick Sargent, best known as the second actor to portray Darrin Stephens on the sitcom "Bewitched," dies of prostate cancer at age 64 in Los Angeles, Calif. Sargent took over the role from 1969 through 1972, after Dick York was forced to leave the show because of a severe back condition.
1994: Kim Jong-il begins to assume supreme leadership of North Korea upon the death of his father, Kim Il-sung, who had led the country since its establishment in 1948.
1996: The Spice Girls debut single "Wannabe" is released in the United Kingdom. It would top the UK Singles Chart for seven weeks on its way to receiving a platinum certification by the British Phonographic Industry. In January 1997 it was released in the United States, where it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks.
1998: Actor Jaden Smith, the son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, is born in Malibu, Calif. Smith has appeared alongside his father in "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "After Earth" and has also starred in the remakes of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "The Karate Kid" (pictured here with Jackie Chan).
2010: During an ESPN prime-time special branded "The Decision," basketball free agent LeBron James announces he is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to "take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat." James was an unrestricted free agent after playing seven seasons for the Cavaliers, where he was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a six-time NBA All-Star. While the decision was met with outrage by many Cleveland fans, James has gone on to pair with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to lead the Heat to three straight NBA Finals appearances, winning titles in 2012 and 2013.
2011: Betty Ford, the U.S. first lady from 1974 to 1977 during the presidency of her husband, President Gerald Ford, and the founder of the Betty Ford Center, dies of natural causes at age 93 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
2011: Space shuttle Atlantis is launched in the final mission of NASA's shuttle program. Atlantis landed for the last time on July 21, 2011.
2012: Actor Ernest Borgnine, who won an Oscar in 1955 for "Marty" and was also known for playing Quinton McHale in the 1962–1966 TV series "McHale's Navy," dies of renal failure at age 95 in Los Angeles, Calif. Borgnine was also known for movies such as "From Here to Eternity," "The Dirty Dozen," "The Wild Bunch" and "The Poseidon Adventure," and, in later years, voicing the character of Mermaid Man on the cartoon "SpongeBob SquarePants."