1497: Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama rounds the Cape of Good Hope, on his way to being the first European to reach India by sea. The discovery would open up a new trade route for Portugal and marks the beginning of the first wave of global multiculturalism.
1718: Off the coast of North Carolina, British pirate Edward Teach, better known as "Blackbeard," is killed in battle with a boarding party led by Royal Navy Lt. Robert Maynard.
1744: Abigail Adams, who would go on to become United States' second first lady as the wife of President John Adams from 1797 to 1801, is born in Weymouth, Mass. She was also the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States.
1858: Denver is founded as Denver City, a mining town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in what was then western Kansas Territory. General William Larimer, a land speculator from eastern Kansas, named the town site to curry favor with Kansas Territorial Gov. James W. Denver, who, unbeknownst to Larimer, had already resigned from office.
1869: In Dumbarton, Scotland, the clipper Cutty Sark is launched. It was one of the last clippers ever built, and the only one still surviving today intact.
1890: Charles de Gaulle, a French military commander and politician who would become president of France from 1959 to 1969, is born in Lille, France.
1896: George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., an American engineer and inventor most famous for creating the original Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, dies of typhoid fever at the age of 37 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Ferris died on the edge of bankruptcy, unable to claim enough of his share of the profits from the original Ferris Wheel to cover his expenses.
1898: Wiley Post, a famed American aviator and the first pilot to fly solo around the world, is born in Van Zandt County, Texas. Post would be killed with cowboy and film star Will Rogers on Aug. 15, 1935, when their plane developed engine problems at takeoff and crashed in Barrow, Alaska.
1899: Composer, singer and actor Hoagy Carmichael, best known for composing the music for "Stardust," "Georgia on My Mind," "The Nearness of You" and "Heart and Soul," four of the most-recorded American songs of all time, is born in Bloomington, Ind.
1900: English composer Arthur Sullivan, best known for the 14 comic operas produced in collaboration with the playwright W. S. Gilbert, dies of heart failure, following an attack of bronchitis, at age 58 in London, England. The most famous of Gilbert and Sullivan's work includes "H.M.S. Pinafore," "The Pirates of Penzance" and "The Mikado." Sullivan composed 23 operas, 13 major orchestral works, eight choral works and oratorios, two ballets, incidental music to several plays, and numerous hymns and other church pieces, songs, and piano and chamber pieces. The best known of his hymns and songs include "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "The Lost Chord."
1902: U.S. Army physician and bacteriologist Walter Reed dies of a ruptured appendix at the age of 51 in Washington, D.C. In 1900, Reed led the team that postulated and confirmed the theory that yellow fever is transmitted by a particular mosquito species, widely considered a milestone in biomedicine. The names of several facilities honor Reed's memory, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
1916: Author Jack London, best known for the novels "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang," dies at the age of 40 in Glen Ellen, Calif. His death certificate gives the cause as uremia, following acute renal colic, commonly caused by kidney stones.
1921: Comedian and actor Rodney Dangerfield, whose films included "Caddyshack," "Back to School" (pictured) and "Easy Money" and who also would become known for his exasperated standup routine about getting "no respect," is born Jacob Rodney Cohen in Babylon, N.Y.
1924: Actress Geraldine Page, who was nominated for an Academy Award eight times before winning the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in 1985's "The Trip to Bountiful," is born in Kirksville, Mo. Her other Oscar-nominated roles came in "Hondo," "Summer and Smoke," "Sweet Bird of Youth," "You're a Big Boy Now," "Pete 'n' Tillie," "Interiors" and "The Pope of Greenwich Village."
1925: Halfback Red Grange signs with the Chicago Bears the day after his last college football game for the University of Illinois. He would receive about $100,000 for a 19-game barnstorming tour with the team. A charter member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame, his signing with the Bears helped legitimize the NFL as a league.
1934: The Christmas song "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" is first heard on Eddie Cantor's radio show. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music the next day and more than 400,000 copies sold by Christmas.
1935: The China Clipper, the first transpacific mail and passenger service, takes off from Alameda, Calif., for its first commercial flight. It reaches its destination, Manila, a week later.
1940: Actor and film director Terry Gilliam, who got his start with the Monty Python comedy troupe and has directed such films as "Brazil," "Time Bandits," "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," "The Fisher King," "12 Monkeys" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," is born in Medicine Lake, Minn.
1942: During the World War II Battle of Stalingrad between German and Soviet forces, Gen. Friedrich Paulus sends Adolf Hitler a telegram saying that the German 6th Army is surrounded. As the Russian winter set in, the German troops weakened rapidly from cold, starvation and ongoing Soviet attacks. The eventual Soviet victory would be a turning point in the war, with German forces never recovering their earlier strength.
1943: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek meet in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss ways to defeat Japan during World War II.
1943: Professional tennis player Billie Jean King, who won six Wimbledon and four U.S. Open singles titles and 29 Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles titles during a 21-year career from 1959 to 1990, is born in Long Beach, Calif. She's also known for winning The Battle of the Sexes tennis match against Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome in 1973.
1950: In the lowest scoring game ever in the NBA, the Fort Wayne Pistons (later the Detroit Pistons) defeat the Minneapolis Lakers (later the Los Angeles Lakers) 19-18.
1950: Guitarist and actor Steven Van Zandt, a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band who has also acted, most notably in the HBO series "The Sopranos," is born in Winthrop, Mass. He's seen here at right in 2007 with "Sopranos" costars Tony Sirico and Michael Imperioli.
1954: Fred Myers (pictured) and three colleagues found the National Humane Society. It is later renamed the Humane Society of the United States.
1955: RCA Victor pays $40,000 to Sun Records and Sam Philips for the rights to Elvis Presley. Presley's first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel," released in January 1956, was a No. 1 hit.
1955: Shemp Howard, best known as a member of the Three Stooges comedy team, dies of heart attack at the age of 60 in Hollywood, Calif. He was an older brother of both Moe Howard and Curly Howard as well as the "third stooge" in the early years of the act. He would rejoin the trio in May 1946 after Curly suffered a stroke.
1958: Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, whose film debut came in the 1978 horror film "Halloween," is born in Santa Monica, Calif. Since starting her career as a "scream queen" with roles in "Halloween," "The Fog" and "Prom Night," she has added movies such as "A Fish Called Wanda," "True Lies" and the 2003 remake "Freaky Friday" to her resume.
1961: The Elvis Presley film "Blue Hawaii" premieres in theaters. The movie would open at No. 2 at the box office for that week and, despite mixed reviews from critics, finish as the 10th top-grossing movie of 1961 and 14th for 1962, earning a total of $5 million.
1961: Actress Mariel Hemingway, best known for roles in movies such as "Manhattan," "Lipstick" and "Deconstructing Harry," is born in Mill Valley, Calif.
1963: In Dallas, Texas, U.S. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated and Texas Gov. John B. Connally is seriously wounded when a sniper fires shots from the Texas School Book Depository at the president's motorcade. Suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was later captured and charged with the murder of both Kennedy and police officer J. D. Tippit, whom he shot while fleeing the scene. Oswald would be shot two days later by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby while in police custody.
1963: British writer Aldous Huxley, best known as the author of the novel "Brave New World," dies of laryngeal cancer at the age of 69 in Los Angeles.
1963: Northern Irish writer C. S. Lewis, best known as the author of the "The Chronicles of Narnia" book series, dies of renal failure at the age of 64 in Oxford, England.
1963: The Beatles release their second album, "With the Beatles," in the United Kingdom. The album, which includes the songs "All My Loving" and "Roll Over Beethoven," would become the second album to sell a million copies in the United Kingdom, after the soundtrack to the 1958 film "South Pacific."
1967: Professional tennis player Boris Becker, a six-time Grand Slam singles champion and the youngest-ever winner of the men's singles title at Wimbledon at the age of 17 in 1985, is born in Leiman, West Germany. Becker is seen here in 1994.
1967: Actor Mark Ruffalo, best known for his role as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in "Marvel's The Avengers," is born in Kenosha, Wis. Ruffalo has also appeared in movies such as "You Can Count on Me," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Zodiac," "Shutter Island" and "The Kids Are All Right," for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
1968: The Beatles release their self-titled double album, which is more popularly referred to as "The White Album" due to its all-white cover art. It would reach No. 1 on the charts in the United Kingdom and the United States and eventually sell more than 30 million copies worldwide.
1974: The United Nations General Assembly recognizes the Palestine Liberation Organization as the "representative of the Palestinian people" and grants the PLO observer status. On July 7, 1998, this status was extended to allow participation in General Assembly debates, though not in voting.
1976: The comic strip "Cathy" by Cathy Guisewite debuts. The strip would enjoy a nearly 34-year run, at its peak appearing in more than 1,400 newspapers, before coming to an end on Oct. 3, 2010, with the revelation that Cathy is pregnant with a girl.
1977: British Airways inaugurates a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.
1980: Actress and writer Mae West, a sex symbol known for her bawdy double entendres whose entertainment career spanned seven decades, dies at the age of 87 in Los Angeles of natural causes three months after suffering a stroke. Some of her most popular movies included "She Done Him Wrong," "I'm No Angel," "My Little Chickadee," "Klondike Annie" and "Go West, Young Man."
1984: Actress Scarlett Johansson, known for her roles in movies such as "Ghost World," "Lost in Translation," "Match Point," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and "Marvel's The Avengers," is born in New York City.
1986: In his first title fight, Mike Tyson knocks out Trevor Berbick in the second round for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship, becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history at 20 years and 4 months.
1986: Actor Scatman Crothers, best known for his work on the TV show "Chico and the Man" and in the movie "The Shining," dies of pneumonia at the age of 76 in Van Nuys, Calif. Crothers was also known for his voiceover work, providing the voices of Meadowlark Lemon in the animated TV version of "The Harlem Globetrotters," Jazz the Autobot in "The Transformers," the title character in "Hong Kong Phooey," and Scat Cat in the 1970 film "The Aristocats."
1986: Sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who made history in 2012 by becoming the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics, is born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Nicknamed "Blade Runner," Pistorius had both of his legs amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old and runs on racing blades. On Feb. 14, 2013, he was charged in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and is scheduled to be tried in March 2014.
1988: In Palmdale, Calif., the first prototype B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is revealed.
1988: Pink Floyd releases the live double album "The Delicate Sound Of Thunder." The album, recorded over five nights at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, N.Y., in August 1988, would reach No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart and end up selling more than three million copies.
1990: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdraws from the Conservative Party leadership election and announces that she will end her premiership. She would officially resign on Nov. 28 after more than 11 years as prime minister.
1993: British writer Anthony Burgess, best known as the author of the novel "A Clockwork Orange," dies of lung cancer at the age of 76 in London, England.
1995: "Toy Story" is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery. The movie, which was the first by Pixar, would become the top-grossing film on its opening weekend on the way to earning more than $361 million worldwide.
1996: O.J. Simpson takes the stand as hostile witness in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against him, saying accusations he killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman are "absolutely not true."
1997: INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence is found dead, hanging by a belt in a Sydney, Australia, hotel room. In February 1998, his death would be ruled a suicide while depressed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He's seen here in 1995.
1998: The TV news magazine "60 Minutes" airs a tape of Jack Kevorkian giving lethal drugs in a September 1998 assisted suicide of a terminally ill patient. Kevorkian would later be sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder for the incident, but would be paroled for good behavior on June 1, 2007, after serving eight years and two-and-a-half months in prison.
2005: Angela Merkel is elected as Germany's first female chancellor.
2005: Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console goes on sale in the United States and Canada. The company would end up selling 326,000 of the consoles in North America over the next couple weeks.