2006: Hall of Fame baseball center fielder Kirby Puckett, who spent his entire 12-year baseball career playing with the Minnesota Twins, winning two World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, dies at the age of 45 in Phoenix, Ariz., the day after suffering a massive hemorrhagic stroke. He is the Twins franchise's all-time leader in career hits, runs, doubles and total bases. He was forced to retire at age 35 due to loss of vision in one eye from a central retinal vein occlusion, at which time his .318 career batting average was the highest by any right-handed American League batter since Joe DiMaggio.
2000: Eric Clapton is inducted as a solo artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making him the first person inducted three times. He also got in as a member of the rock bands The Yardbirds and Cream.
1998: The Coen Brothers' comedy "The Big Lebowski," starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore and John Turturro, premieres in theaters. The film, about a case of mistaken identity between an unemployed Los Angeles slacker known as "The Dude" and a millionaire who share the same name, struggled at the box office, but became a cult favorite over time.
1987: The action movie "Lethal Weapon," starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, premieres in theaters. The $15 million film was a box office hit, earning $120 million, and spawned three sequels.
1986: Artist Georgia O'Keeffe, best known for her large-format paintings of enlarged blossoms and New Mexico landscapes, dies at the age of 98 in Santa Fe, N.M. She is seen here in a 1918 photograph by Alfred Stieglitz.
1985: Mike Tyson knocks out Hector Mercedes in the first round in his first professional fight at the age of 18.
1983: The first United States Football League game is played, with the Washington Federals playing the Philadelphia Stars. The league was designed as a spring/summer option for when the NFL was in its offseason. While it had some success, including luring players such as Heisman Trophy winners Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie and Mike Rozier, and future Pro Football Hall of Famers Future Reggie White, Jim Kelly and Steve Young, it folded after its third season.
1982: Russian-American author Ayn Rand, known for her two best-selling novels, "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged," dies of heart failure at the age of 77 in New York City. She is also known for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism, which made her a significant influence among libertarians and conservatives in America.
1981: After 19 years of presenting the "CBS Evening News," Walter Cronkite signs off for the last time. He was succeeded the following Monday by Dan Rather.
1975: On the late-night television show "Good Night America," the Zapruder film showing the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy is shown in motion to a national TV audience for the first time ever.
1972: Shaquille O'Neal, who won four NBA titles, three NBA Finals MVP honors, one NBA MVP award and the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year Award in his 19-year career, is born in Newark, N.J. O'Neal played mostly for the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, but also spent a year each with Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
1967: Actress Connie Britton, best known for her TV roles in "Spin City," "Friday Night Lights," "American Horror Story" and "Nashville," is born in Boston, Mass. Her roles have earned her four Emmy nominations and one Golden Globe nomination.
1965: American actress Margaret Dumont, best known for being the comic foil to Groucho Marx in seven of the Marx Brothers' films, dies of a heart attack at the age of 82 in Hollywood, Calif. In the movies "The Cocoanuts," "Animal Crackers," "Duck Soup," "A Night at the Opera," "A Day at the Races," "At the Circus" and "The Big Store," Dumont played wealthy high-society, posh-voiced widows whom Groucho's character alternately insulted and romanced for his money.
1964: The Nation of Islam's Elijah Muhammad officially gives boxing champion Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali.
1962: The Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, one of the 10 worst storms in the United States in the 20th century, begins on the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The storm lingered through five high tides over a three-day period, killing 40 people, injuring more than 1,000 and causing hundreds of millions in property damage in six states.
1959: Actor and comedian Tom Arnold, who found fame while married to comedian and TV star Roseanne Barr and went on to appear in movies such as "True Lies" and "Nine Months," is born in Ottumwa, Iowa.
1953: Georgy Malenkov succeeds Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Soviet Union and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. A close collaborator of Stalin, he was considered the most powerful Soviet politician before being overshadowed and ousted by Nikita Khrushchev.
1951: The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were accused of passing of information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, begins. The couple would eventually be convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage during a time of war and executed on June 19, 1953. The Rosenbergs were the only two American civilians to be executed for espionage-related activity during the Cold War.
1950: Silly Putty is introduced as a toy by marketing consultant Peter Hodgson, who packaged one-ounce portions of the rubber-like material in plastic eggs. The material, which was discovered in 1943 in General Electric's laboratories, could be stretched, rolled into a bouncing ball or used to transfer colored ink from newsprint. While there was originally no application for the material, Hodgson saw a sample and realized its potential as a toy, making him a millionaire when it took off.
1947: Actor, comedian and filmmaker Rob Reiner, who rose to fame as "Meathead," Archie Bunker's liberal son-in-law on "All in the Family," before directing movies such as "This is Spinal Tap," "Stand By Me," "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally," "Misery" and "A Few Good Men," is born in The Bronx, N.Y.
1946: Actor Martin Kove, best known for his roles in the 1980s movies "The Karate Kid" (pictured, left) and "Rambo: First Blood Part II," is born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1946: Guitarist and singer-songwriter David Gilmour, best known for his work with the rock band Pink Floyd, is born in Cambridge, England.
1944: Singer Mary Wilson (right), best known as a founding member of the popular sixties group The Supremes, is born in Greenville, Miss. Wilson remained as member of the group following the departures of group mates Diana Ross and Florence Ballard until the group disbanded in 1977.
1940: Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Stargell is born in Earlsboro, Okla. Over his 21-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Stargell batted .282, with 2,232 hits, 423 doubles, 475 home runs and 1,540 runs batted in, helping his team capture six National League East division titles, two National League pennants and two World Series.
1932: Conductor and composer John Philip Sousa, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches, including "Semper Fidelis" (the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps) and "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (the National March of the United States of America), dies of heart failure at the age of 77 in Reading, Pa.
1926: Economist Alan Greenspan, who served as the Federal Reserve chairman under four different U.S. presidents from 1987 to 2006, is born in New York City.
1923: TV personality Ed McMahon, best known as Johnny Carson's sidekick and announcer on "The Tonight Show" for 30 years, is born in Detroit, Mich. McMahon would also become famous for hosting the TV talent show "Star Search" and presenting sweepstakes for the direct marketing company American Family Publishers. He died at age 86 on June 23, 2009.
1917: Writer and illustrator Will Eisner, best known for his comic book series "The Spirit," is born in Brooklyn, N.Y. One of the earliest cartoonists to work in the American comic book industry, the Eisner Award, given to recognize achievements each year in the comics industry, was named in his honor. Eisner died at age 87 on Jan. 3, 2005, of complications from a quadruple bypass surgery performed about two weeks earlier.
1912: The Oreo cookie is introduced by the National Biscuit Company, today known as Nabisco.
1906: Actor and comedian Lou Costello (right), who would go on to form one-half of the famous comedy duo Abbott and Costello with Bud Abbott, is born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, N.J. He died of a heart attack at age 52 on March 3, 1959.
1905: Musician, songwriter, and bandleader Bob Wills, considered by many as one of the founders of Western swing along with his band the Texas Playboys, is born James Robert Wills on a farm near Kosse, Texas. Some of Wills' biggest hits included "Cherokee Maiden," "Spanish Two Step," "Steel Guitar Rag," "San Antonio Rose" and "Faded Love." He died of pneumonia at age 70 on May 13, 1975.
1900: Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Robert Moses "Lefty" Grove, who won 300 games in his 17-year major-league career with the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox, is born in Lonaconing, Md. Grove led the American League in wins in four separate seasons, in strikeouts seven years in a row, and had the league's lowest earned run average a record nine times.
1888: Author Louisa May Alcott, best known as author of the novel "Little Women" and its sequels "Little Men" and "Jo's Boys," dies of a stroke at the age of 55 in Boston, Mass.
1885: Ring Lardner, a sports columnist and short story writer best known for his satirical takes on the sports world, marriage and the theater, is born in Niles, Mich. Lardner was also the father of Ring Lardner Jr., the Oscar-winning screenwriter of such films as "Laura," "Woman of the Year" and "M*A*S*H."
1869: Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev makes a formal presentation to the Russian Chemical Society on his first version of the periodic table of the elements. In his final version of the periodic table, he left gaps, foretelling that they would be filled by elements not then known and predicting the properties of three of those elements.
1857: The Supreme Court of the United States rules in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case, holding that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the territories, and that people of African descent were not protected by the Constitution and were not U.S. citizens.
1853: Giuseppe Verdi's opera "La Traviata" premieres in Venice, Italy. The opera has become immensely popular over the years and today is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire.
1840: The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, the first dental school in the world, opens.
1836: After a 13-day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops, the 189 Texas volunteers defending the Alamo Mission, including frontiersman Davy Crockett and Col. Jim Bowie, are killed and the fort is captured.
1820: The Missouri Compromise is signed into law by President James Monroe. The compromise allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, while prohibiting slavery in the rest of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory.
1806: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era, is born in Kelloe, Durham, England. Some of her best known poems include "The Cry of the Children," "Lady Geraldine's Courtship" and "Sonnet 43" from the collection "Sonnets from the Portuguese," better known by the first line "How do I love thee?"
1619: Cyrano de Bergerac, the soldier and writer who would serve as the inspiration for French poet Edmond Rostand's play bearing his name, is born in Paris, France.
1475: Italian artist and sculptor Michelangelo, often considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time, is born in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany. Some of his best known works include the sculptures "Pietà" and "David" and frescos of the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.