1307: As legend has it, Swiss folk hero William Tell, an expert marksman with a crossbow, shoots an apple off his son's head.
1836: Playwright and poet W. S. Gilbert, best known for the 14 comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, is born in London, England. The most famous of Gilbert and Sullivan's work includes "H.M.S. Pinafore," "The Pirates of Penzance" and "The Mikado."
1865: Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is published in the New York Saturday Press. The story was Twain's first great success as a writer, bringing him national attention.
1883: American and Canadian railroads institute five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.
1886: Chester A. Arthur, the 21st president of the United States from 1881 to 1885, dies at age 57 in New York City the day after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage that left him unconscious.
1901: George Gallup, the pioneer of survey sampling techniques and inventor of the Gallup poll, is born in Jefferson, Iowa.
1903: The Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty is signed by the United States and Panama, establishing the Panama Canal Zone and the subsequent construction of the Panama Canal. The treaty gave the U.S. exclusive rights to the zone, which was to extend five miles on either side of the canal route in perpetuity, in exchange for a payment of $10 million and an annual rental payment of $250,000. The treaty was a source of conflict between the two countries since its creation and was eventually abolished by the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties, which allowed gradual transfer of the Canal Zone to Panama and the handover of the full control of the Panama Canal on Dec. 31, 1999.
1909: Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer is born in Savannah, Ga. Mercer, who won four Academy Awards in 19 nominations, is best-known for songs like "Hooray for Hollywood," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," "Jeepers, Creepers!," "Fools Rush In," "That Old Black Magic," "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Moon River" and "Summer Wind." He died of brain cancer at the age of 66 on June 25, 1976.
1922: French writer Marcel Proust, best known for his monumental novel "In Search of Lost Time," dies of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess at age 51 in Paris, France.
1923: Alan Shepard, the naval aviator and NASA astronaut who in 1961 became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space, is born in Derry, N.H. Shepard made his historic flight into space as part of Project Mercury and returned to space a decade later, commanding the Apollo 14 mission and becoming the fifth person to walk on the moon. After leaving NASA he became a successful businessman. He died of leukemia in 1998 at the age of 74.
1927: Singer-songwriter Hank Ballard, one of the first rock 'n' roll artists to emerge in the early 1950s, is born John Henry Kendricks in Detroit, Mich. The lead singer of Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, he played an integral part in the development of rock 'n' roll, releasing hit singles like "Work With Me, Annie" and writing and recording "The Twist," which spread the popularity of the dance and became a hit for Chubby Checker. Ballard, who died of throat cancer at age 75 on March 2, 2003, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
1928: The animated short "Steamboat Willie," the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, premieres at Universal's Colony Theater in New York City. The short, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, features the third appearances of cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, including a May 1928 test screening of the silent animated short "Plane Crazy," but was the first to be distributed.
1932: Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies cartoon "Flowers and Trees," the first cartoon short to use Technicolor, receives the first Academy Award for an animated short film.
1942: Actress Linda Evans, best known for playing Krystle Carrington on the primetime soap opera "Dynasty," is born Linda Evenstad in Hartford, Conn.
1948: Jack Tatum, a football safety who played 10 seasons from 1971 through 1980 for the Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers, is born in Cherryville, N.C. Considered one of the hardest hitters ever to play the game, he won a Super Bowl with Oakland in 1977 and a national championship with Ohio State in 1968. He also shares the record for the longest fumble return for a touchdown, returning a fumble 104 yards against Green Bay in September 1972. Tatum, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005, died of a heart attack at age 61 on July 27, 2010.
1950: Actor Dennis Haskins, best known as Mr. Belding from "Saved by the Bell," is born in Chattanooga, Tenn.
1952: Actor Delroy Lindo, known for movies like "Malcolm X," "Get Shorty," "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Crooklyn," is born in London, England.
1953: Author and illustrator Alan Moore, known for his work producing comic book series like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," "Watchmen," "V for Vendetta" and "From Hell," is born in Northampton, Northamptonshire, England.
1953: Comedian and actor Kevin Nealon, best known for his television work on "Saturday Night Live" and "Weeds," is born in St. Louis, Mo.
1956: Comedian Sinbad, who became known in the 1990s for his HBO specials and for films such as "Necessary Roughness," "Houseguest," "First Kid," "Jingle All the Way" and "Good Burger," is born David Adkins in Benton Harbor, Mich. He also starred on "The Cosby Show" spin-off "A Different World" from 1987 to 1991.
1956: Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon is born in Los Angeles, Calif. Moon played for the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos and the National Football League's Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He led the University of Washington to a victory over Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl and went on to win five Grey Cup championships with the Eskimos, earning MVP honors in 1980 and 1982. In the NFL, he was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and led the league in passing in 1990 and 1991. He retired after the 2000 season holding the professional football (CFL and NFL career) records for most passing yardage, most passing touchdowns, most pass completions and most pass attempts.
1959: William Wyler's "Ben-Hur" premieres at Loew's Theater in New York City's Times Square. The movie, which starred Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, Jack Hawkins, Hugh Griffith and Haya Harareet, would go on to win a record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, a feat not equaled until "Titanic" in 1998 and then again by "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" in 2004.
1960: Actress Elizabeth Perkins, best known for movies such as "About Last Night…," "Big," "The Flintstones," "Avalon" and "28 Days" and for the Showtime series "Weeds," is born in Queens, N.Y.
1963: Bell Telephone introduces the first push-button telephone, the Western Electric 1500, to customers in Carnegie and Greensburg, Pa. It would gradually replace the use of rotary dial and become the industry standard for landline service.
1966: Future Baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers announces his retirement at the age of 30 due to arthritis in his left elbow. Koufax, whose last game was Oct. 2, 1966, in the World Series, won the 1963, 1965 and 1966 Cy Young Awards by unanimous votes, making him the first three-time Cy Young winner in baseball history. Koufax was also the first major leaguer to pitch four no-hitters, including one perfect game, and, despite a relatively short career, his 2,396 career strikeouts ranked seventh all-time as of his retirement.
1968: Actor Owen Wilson, whose movies include "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Meet the Parents," "Zoolander," "Shanghai Noon," "Wedding Crashers," "Cars," "Marley & Me" and "Midnight in Paris," is born in Dallas, Texas.
1969: Apollo 12 astronauts Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. and Alan L. Bean land on the lunar surface during the second manned mission to the moon. The mission would end on Nov. 24 with a successful splashdown.
1969: Financier and diplomat Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, dies in Hyannis Port, Mass., at age 81. He's seen here with his wife, Rose Kennedy, in 1940.
1974: Actress Chloë Sevigny, best known for the HBO series "Big Love" (pictured) and movies such as "Kids," "Boys Don't Cry" and "American Psycho," is born in Springfield, Mass. She earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress for 1999's "Boys Don't Cry." She's also had guest-starring role on the TV series "American Horror Story," "Portlandia" and "The Mindy Project."
1975: David Ortiz, who has won three World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox since joining the team in 2003, including in 2013 when he was named World Series MVP, is born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz, who began his career with the Minnesota Twins, is a nine-time MLB All-Star and led the American League in home runs in 2006 and in RBI in 2005 and 2006. He also holds the MLB career records for hits, home runs and RBI by a designated hitter.
1978: In Jonestown, Guyana, Jim Jones leads his Peoples Temple cult to a mass murder-suicide by cyanide poisoning that claims 909 lives, including more than 270 children. Jones was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Congressman Leo J. Ryan and four others had been murdered by members of the Peoples Temple hours earlier at a nearby airstrip.
1980: Canadian soldier and businessman Conn Smythe dies at age 85 in Toronto, Canada. Best known as the principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League from 1927 to 1961 and as the builder of Maple Leaf Gardens, his name appears on the Stanley Cup eight times for the championships the team won under his ownership. The Conn Smythe Trophy, named in his honor, has been given to the Most Valuable Player in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1965.
1983: The movie "A Christmas Story" opens in theaters. The movie, based on the short stories and semi-fictional anecdotes of author and raconteur Jean Shepherd, initially saw moderate box office success but has since become a holiday classic.
1985: Quarterback Joe Theismann suffers a compound break in his right leg after being hit by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants. The injury, which ended a 12 year NFL career for Theismann that included two Pro Bowl appearances and a win in Super Bowl XVII, was voted the NFL's "Most Shocking Moment in History" by viewers in an ESPN poll.
1987: The U.S. Congress issues the final Iran-Contra Affair report, stating that President Ronald Reagan bore "ultimate responsibility" for wrongdoing by his aides.
1987: "The Last Emperor" premieres in New York City. The biopic about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, would go on to win nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Bernardo Bertolucci.
1988: The animated movie "The Land Before Time" opens in theaters. The movie, which follows the adventures of anthropomorphic dinosaurs living in the prehistoric times, was a critical and financial success, spawning a franchise with 12 direct-to-video sequels as well as merchandise and a television series.
1991: The U2 album "Achtung Baby" is released. The album would become one of the band's most successful and debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart. It featured five singles ("One", "Mysterious Ways," "The Fly," "Even Better Than the Real Thing" and "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"), all of which were chart successes.
1992: The biopic "Malcolm X," with Denzel Washington portraying the Muslim minister and human rights activist, opens in theaters. Washington would earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in the film.
1994: Jazz singer-songwriter and bandleader Cab Calloway, known as a master of energetic scat singing, dies at age 86 in Hockessin, Del. Calloway led one of America's most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s through to the late 1940s and continued performing nearly up until his death, including a memorable role performing "Minnie the Moocher" in 1980's "The Blues Brothers."
1999: In College Station, Texas, 12 are killed and 27 injured at Texas A&M University when the 59-foot-tall Aggie Bonfire, under construction for the annual football game against the University of Texas, collapses in the early morning hours. The accident led Texas A&M to declare a discontinuance of the official bonfire, which had been a tradition for 90 years.
2001: Nintendo releases the GameCube home video game console in the United States. The sixth-generation console was the successor to the Nintendo 64 and competed with Sony's PlayStation 2, Microsoft's Xbox, and Sega's Dreamcast. About 22 million of the consoles were sold worldwide before the GameCube was discontinued in 2007. Its successor, the Wii, was released in November 2006.
2002: Actor James Coburn, best known for movies like "The Great Escape," "The Magnificent Seven," "Our Man Flint" and "Charade," dies of heart attack at age 74 in Beverly Hills, Calif. He also won an Academy Award for Best Supporting actor for his role in 1997's "Affliction."
2003: The Massachusetts high court declares that gays are entitled to marry. On May 17, 2004, the state would become the first in the United States to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
2005: "Walk the Line," starring Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, opens in theaters. The biographical film, which focused on the early life and career of the country music legend, also starred Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash. Both Phoenix and Witherspoon would earn Oscar nominations for their performances, with Witherspoon winning for Best Actress.
2005: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the fourth installment in the film series, opens in theaters. Within five days of its release, the movie had grossed more than $102 million in North America alone, which ranks it the third-highest first-weekend tally for a Harry Potter film behind only the last two installments in the series, the two-part "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." It would go on to earn about $900 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2005 and the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time at that time.
2006: Actor Tom Cruise and actress Katie Holmes get married during a $2 million, star-studded event with more than 150 guests at Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, a 15th-century castle along Lake Bracciano in Italy. The couple would divorce in 2012.
2009: Two days before turning 92, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., becomes the longest-serving lawmaker in congressional history, at 56 years, 320 days. Byrd, who served as a U.S. representative from 1953 until 1959 and as a U.S. senator from 1959 until his death on June 28, 2010, remains the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate, but his overall congressional record was surpassed by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., in June 2013.
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