1608: Poet John Milton, best known for his epic poem "Paradise Lost," is born in London, England.
1851: The first YMCA in North America is established in Montreal, Quebec.
1868: The first traffic lights are installed, outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Resembling railway signals, the lights used semaphore arms and were illuminated at night by red and green gas lamps. Policemen stood next to the signals all day in order to operate them. However, after one of the traffic lights exploded a month later, badly injuring a policeman operating the light, the project was immediately dropped. It would be another 40 years before traffic lights reappeared, this time in America.
1872: P. B. S. Pinchback is sworn in as the governor of Louisiana, becoming the first black man to serve as a governor of a U.S. state. The son of a former slave and her former master, Pinchback was the state's lieutenant governor when the state legislature filed impeachment charges against Gov. Henry Clay Warmoth. With Warmoth required by state law to step aside until his case was tried, Pinchback served the final 35 days of his term. Warmoth was not convicted, and the charges were eventually dropped.
1902: Actress Margaret Hamilton, best known for playing the malevolent Miss Almira Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 musical "The Wizard of Oz," is born in Cleveland, Ohio. In later years, Hamilton made frequent cameo appearances on television sitcoms and commercials. She also gained recognition for her work as an advocate of causes designed to benefit children and animals, and, as a former schoolteacher, retained a lifelong commitment to public education. She died of a heart attack at age 82 on May 16, 1985.
1905: Screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo is born in Montrose, Colo. Blacklisted from Hollywood along with the "Hollywood Ten" for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, Trumbo won two Oscars while blacklisted, one for 1953's "Roman Holiday" that was originally given to a front writer and one for 1956's "The Brave One," awarded to "Robert Rich," Trumbo's pseudonym. He also wrote screenplays for "Spartacus," "Exodus" and "Johnny Got His Gun," adapting the last from his 1939 novel of the same name. Trumbo, seen here with his wife, Cleo, in 1947, died from a heart attack at the age of 70 on Sept. 10, 1976.
1912: Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, who served as the 55th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 until his retirement in 1987, is born in Cambridge, Mass. An outspoken liberal Democrat, O'Neill served in the House for 34 years, representing twocongressional districts in Massachusetts. He is the only speaker to serve for five complete consecutive Congresses and the second longest-serving speaker in U.S. history after Sam Rayburn. He died of cardiac arrest at age 81 on Jan. 5, 1994.
1916: Actor Kirk Douglas, known for movies such as "Champion," "The Bad and the Beautiful," "Paths of Glory" and "Spartacus," is born Issur Danielovitch in Amsterdam, N.Y. The father of fellow actor Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas has received Academy Award nominations for "Champion," "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "Lust for Life" and received an honorary Oscar in 1996 "for 50 years as a creative and moral force in the motion picture community."
1922: Comedian and actor Redd Foxx, best known for his starring role on the sitcom "Sanford and Son," is born John Elroy Sanford in St. Louis, Mo. Foxx, who died from a heart attack on Oct. 11, 1991, also starred in the short-lived TV shows "Sanford," "The Redd Foxx Show" and "The Royal Family."
1928: Actor Dick Van Patten, best known for his role as the father, Tom Bradford, on the TV series "Eight is Enough," is born in Kew Gardens, N.Y.
1929: Actor, screenwriter and director John Cassavetes is born in New York City. He was known for his performances in movies such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Dirty Dozen" and for directing such independent films as "Faces," "Husbands," "A Woman Under the Influence," "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" and Gloria." He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "The Dirty Dozen" and also received Oscar nominations for the screenplay for "Faces" and for directing "A Woman Under the Influence." He died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1989 at the age of 59.
1934: Actress Judi Dench, best known for her film roles, including playing MI6 spy chief "M" in the James Bond movies since 1995's "GoldenEye," is born in York, Yorkshire, England. Also renowned for her stage work, especially in Shakespeare productions, she won an Oscar for portraying Queen Elizabeth in 1998's "Shakespeare in Love" and also received nominations for her roles in the movies "Mrs. Brown," "Chocolat," "Iris," "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and "Notes on a Scandal."
1935: The Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, which was renamed the Heisman Trophy the following year, is awarded to halfback Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago. The trophy is awarded annually to the nation's most outstanding college football player.
1938: Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones is born in Eatonville, Florida. Considered one of the greatest defensive players ever, Jones played most of his 14-season NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams, but also played for the San Diego Chargers and Washington. Jones specialized in quarterback "sacks," a term he coined, and accumulated an unofficial career total of 173.5 sacks. He also was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He died of natural causes at age 74 on June 3, 2013.
1941: Actor Beau Bridges (left), best known for movies such as "Norma Rae," "Heart Like a Wheel" and "The Fabulous Baker Boys," is born Lloyd Vernet Bridges III in Los Angeles, Calif. Bridges, the son of actor Lloyd Bridges and the brother of actor Jeff Bridges (right), is a three-time Emmy, two-time Golden Globe and one-time Grammy Award winner.
1942: Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, who played nine seasons in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, is born in Chicago, Ill. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Butkus recorded 1,020 tackles, 22 interceptions and 27 fumble recoveries in his career. He starred collegiately at the University of Illinois and is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. After retiring following the 1973 season, he became a well known celebrity endorser, broadcaster and actor.
1949: Professional golfer Tom Kite, who has 19 PGA Tour victories, including the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, is born in McKinney, Texas. Kite spent 175 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings between 1989 and 1994 and was the first golfer in PGA Tour history to reach the milestones of $6 million, $7 million, $8 million and $9 million in career earnings.
1950: Singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading, known for songs such as "Love And Affection," "Willow," "Drop the Pilot" and "Me Myself I," is born in Basseterre, Saint Kitts.
1952: Actor Michael Dorn, best known for playing the Klingon Worf on the TV series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine" and five "Star Trek" movies, is born in Luling, Texas. He's also had movie roles in "Shade," "Ali" and "The Santa Clause 2" and appeared on TV shows such as "Heroes," "Without a Trace" and "Castle."
1953: Actor John Malkovich, an Oscar-nominee for his roles in "Places in the Heart" and "In the Line of Fire," is born in Christopher, Ill. He's also appeared in movies such as "Empire of the Sun," "The Killing Fields," "Dangerous Liaisons," "Of Mice and Men," "Being John Malkovich" and "RED."
1957: Singer-songwriter and actor Donny Osmond, who first gained fame in the 1960s performing with his four older brothers as The Osmonds, is born in Ogden, Utah. He went solo in the early 1970s and then found even more fame performing with his younger sister Marie Osmond as Donny & Marie.
1960: The first episode of "Coronation Street," the world's longest-running television soap opera, is broadcast in the United Kingdom. Within six months, it had become the most-watched show on British television and continues to be popular today.
1962: Actress Felicity Huffman, best known for her TV roles in "Sports Night" and "Desperate Housewives" (pictured) and her Oscar-nominated performance in the movie "Transamerica," is born in Bedford, N.Y.
1963: The first Supremes album, "Meet The Supremes," is released. None of the album's four singles, "I Want a Guy," "Buttered Popcorn," "Your Heart Belongs to Me" and "Let Me Go the Right Way," reached the top 40. However, by the time their next album, 1964's "Where Did Our Love Go," was released, they had scored two top-40 hits, including the No. 1 hit "Where Did Our Love Go."
1965: Branch Rickey, the baseball executive famous for creating the farm team system and hiring the first black players, including Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers, dies of heart failure at age 83 in Columbia, Mo. Rickey had collapsed into a coma 26 days earlier during a speech as he was being inducted to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and never regained consciousness. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.
1965: "Thunderball," the fourth spy film in the James Bond series starring Sean Connery, premieres in Tokyo, Japan. The film would prove to be a box office hit, earning a total of $141.2 million worldwide, exceeding the earnings of any of the three previous Bond films.
1968: Doug Engelbart and a small team of researchers from the Stanford Research Institute demonstrate the first use of a computer mouse, Engelbart's invention, at a computer conference in San Francisco, Calif. The demonstration also debuted the graphical user interface, display editing and integrated text and graphics, hyper-documents, and two-way video conferencing and shared workspaces.
1968: Nucky Johnson, the Atlantic City, N.J., political boss and racketeer who would later serve as the inspiration for the character Nucky Thompson in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," dies at age 85 in Northfield, N.J. Johnson ran Atlantic City in the 1920s and '30s, growing wealthy by taking a cut of illegal gambling, liquor and prostitution in the city.
1968: Professional wrestler and actor Kurt Angle, the only Olympic gold medalist in the history of professional wrestling, is born in Pittsburgh, Pa. The two-time NCAA Division I champion won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1995 World Wrestling Championships and then won a gold medal in heavyweight freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. He made his WWF debut in 1999 and became a six-time world champion before leaving for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in 2006.
1969: Singer-songwriter Jakob Dylan, the son of Bob Dylan best known as the lead singer for the rock band The Wallflowers, is born in New York City.
1979: The World Health Organization certifies the eradication of the smallpox virus, making smallpox the first infectious disease driven to extinction.
1983: "Scarface," starring Al Pacino, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham and Michelle Pfeiffer, and directed by Brian De Palma, premieres in theaters. The movie, in which Pacino plays Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who becomes a drug cartel kingpin in Miami during the cocaine boom of the 1980s, went on to gross more than $65 million worldwide and become regarded as one of the all-time classic crime films.
1984: The Jacksons play their last show together as their Victory Tour comes to an end after six final shows at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Shortly after the tour ended, Michael Jackson returned to his solo career and Marlon Jackson left the group to start his own solo career.
1987: The First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, begins in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. By the time the uprising came to an end in 1991, 160 Israelis and 2,162 Palestinians had been killed in fighting. An ensuing Second Intifada took place from September 2000 to 2005.
1996: English archaeologist and anthropologist Mary Leakey, who made several of the most important fossil finds subsequently interpreted and publicized by her husband, the noted anthropologist Louis Leakey, dies at age 83 in Nairobi, Kenya.
2000: The Supreme Court of the United States halts the Florida vote recount in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Three days later the Supreme Court would issue its 5-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore that allowed Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's previous certification of George W. Bush as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes to stand, giving Bush the overall presidential election over Vice President Al Gore.
2005: The drama "Brokeback Mountain," starring Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams, and directed by Ang Lee, opens in theaters. The movie was nominated for eight Oscars, the most nominations at the 78th Academy Awards, where it won three: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score, losing Best Picture to the movie "Crash."
2008: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is arrested by federal officials for a number of crimes, including allegedly attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. After two trials, Blagojevich would ultimately be found guilty on most of the charges and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
2012: Mexican-American singer-songwriter and producer Jenni Rivera, dies at age 43 along with six others in a plane crash near Iturbide, Nuevo León, Mexico. The Latin Grammy-winner scored her first No. 1 album on the U.S. Billboard Top Latin Albums chart with her 10th studio album, 2008's "Jenni," and during her career sold more than 1 million albums in America alone.
A notorious pirate is captured and killed, RCA Victor buys Elvis' contract from Sun Records, the nation mourns a president, The Beatles release "The White Album," and "Toy Story" premieres, all on this day.