1780: The Great Hurricane of 1780 kills 20,000 to 30,000 people in the Caribbean. The death toll means the hurricane likely ranks as the deadliest hurricane in Atlantic hurricane history.
1813: Giuseppe Verdi, one of the most influential composers of the 19th century and known mostly for his operas, is born in the village of Le Roncole in what is now Northern Italy. Some of his best known operas include "Rigoletto," "La Traviata," "Don Carlos" and "Aida."
1845: In Annapolis, Md., the Naval School (later renamed the United States Naval Academy) opens with 50 midshipman students and seven professors.
1872: Politician and diplomat William H. Seward, who served as the governor of New York, a U.S. senator, and the U.S. secretary of state under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, dies at the age of 71 in Auburn, N.Y. Once a competitor of Lincoln's for the Republican nomination for president, Seward joined his cabinet after Lincoln was elected. On the night of Lincoln's assassination, he survived an attempt on his own life by one of John Wilkes Booth's co-conspirators. As Johnson's secretary of state, he engineered the 1867 purchase of Alaska from Russia in move that was ridiculed at the time as "Seward's Folly."
1911: Jack Daniel, American distiller and the founder of Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey distillery, dies from blood poisoning at the age of 65 in Lynchburg, Tenn.
1913: President Woodrow Wilson triggers the explosion of the Gamboa Dike, the last obstruction in the way of the Panama Canal. Wilson pushed a button in Washington, D.C., more than 4,000 miles away, to trigger the explosion.
1913: Adolphus Busch, the German-born co-founder of Anheuser-Busch with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser, dies at age 74 in Hesse, Germany.
1917: Jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, known for his unique improvisational style and who is the second-most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, is born in Rocky Mount, N.C.
1924: Filmmaker Edward D. Wood Jr., known for his low-budget films in the 1950s, including "Glen or Glenda" and "Plan 9 from Outer Space," is born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
1933: A United Airlines Boeing 247 crashes near Chesterton, Ind., after an explosive device detonates on board in the first proven case of sabotage in the history of commercial aviation. The transcontinental flight, carrying three crew members and four passengers, had originated in Newark, N.J., with its final destination in Oakland, Calif. Despite the efforts of the investigators, no suspect has ever been identified or charged in this incident, and it remains unsolved.
1933: A U.S. patent is issued to Waldo L. Semon for a method of making plasticized PVC or polyvinyl chloride, now known simply as vinyl. The patent was titled "Synthetic Rubber-like Composition and Method of Making Same" (U.S. No. 1,929,453). The patent lists uses such as water-proof boots or shoes, insulating coatings and resilient flooring material.
1941: Actor Peter Coyote, best known for movies such as "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Jagged Edge," "Outrageous Fortune," "Sphere" and "Erin Brockovich," is born Rachmil Pinchus Ben Mosha Cohon in New York City. He's seen here in a 2007 episode of the TV show "Brothers & Sisters."
1954: Singer David Lee Roth, best known as the original (1973-1985) and current (2006-present) lead singer of the hard rock band Van Halen, is born in Bloomington, Ind.
1956: The movie "Giant," starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean, premieres in New York City. The movie was the last of Dean's three films as a leading actor, and earned him his second and last Academy Award nomination. He was killed at age 24 in a car accident before the film was released.
1957: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower apologizes to Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, finance minister of Ghana, and invites him to the White House after he is refused service at a Howard Johnson's restaurant in Dover, Del.
1958: Country singer Tanya Tucker, who had her first hit, "Delta Dawn," in 1972 at the age of 13, is born in Seminole, Texas.
1963: The James Bond movie "From Russia with Love" premieres in London, England. The movie, Sean Connery's second outing as the British superspy, was a critical and commercial success, taking in more than $78 million in worldwide box office receipts.
1964: The opening ceremony of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, is broadcast live in the first Olympic telecast relayed by geostationary communication satellite.
1966: The Beach Boys release the single "Good Vibrations." It would become their third U.S. No. 1 hit after "I Get Around" and "Help Me, Rhonda," reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1966, as well as being their first British chart-topper.
1967: The Outer Space Treaty, signed on Jan. 27, 1967, by more than 60 nations, comes into force. The treaty represents the basic legal framework of international space law. Among its principles, it bars treaty signers from placing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the moon or any other celestial body, or to otherwise station them in outer space. The treaty also explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the moon or a planet, claiming that they are the common heritage of mankind.
1969: Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 70,000 yards, 500 touchdowns, 300 interceptions, 6,000 completions and 10,000 pass attempts, is born in Gulfport, Miss. Favre spent 20 seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, winning Super Bowl XXXI with the Packers and becoming the only player to win the AP Most Valuable Player three consecutive times (1995–97).
1971: Sold, dismantled and moved to the United States, London Bridge reopens in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
1973: U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns after pleading no contest to a federal income tax evasion charge. He had originally faced charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy stemming from alleged bribes he took while holding office as Baltimore County executive, Maryland governor, and vice president. Agnew is the only vice president in United States history to resign because of criminal charges. Nixon would replace him by appointing then House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford to the office of vice president.
1973: Actor and TV host Mario Lopez, best known for his role as A.C. Slater on "Saved by the Bell" and for hosting the celebrity tabloid TV news show "Extra," is born in San Diego.
1974: Racecar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Sr., is born in Kannapolis, N.C. Earnhardt Jr. has 19 career victories on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including the 2004 Daytona 500, and another 105 top five finishes.
1977: Quarterback Joe Namath plays the last game of his National Football League career. The future Hall of Famer took a beating for the Los Angeles Rams on a cold, windy and rainy Monday night game as the Rams fell 24-23 to the Chicago Bears on the road and was through for the regular season. He retired following the season.
1979: Future Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky makes his NHL debut at the age of 18. Gretzky and his Edmonton Oilers lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, however Gretzky picked up his first-ever NHL point, an assist, on Kevin Lowe's goal midway through the first period. Gretzky would end his first year in the league by scoring 137 points and winning the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player.
1980: A magnitude 7.3 earthquake shakes the Algerian town of El Asnam, followed three hours later by a 6.3 aftershock. At least 3,500 were killed and another 300,000 left homeless.
1980: The Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope network in New Mexico is dedicated. The VLA is arranged in a "Y" pattern, with nine antennas on each of the three arms. Each of the 27 antennae is a fully-steerable 82-foot diameter, parabolic dish, weighing about 230 tons. Information from all of its antennas is combined mathematically to produce resolving power equal to that of a single antenna as much as 22 miles in diameter. The VLA has made key observations of black holes and protoplanetary disks around young stars, discovered magnetic filaments and traced complex gas motions at the Milky Way's center.
1985: Actor Yul Brynner, best known for roles in such movies as "The King and I," "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Ten Commandments," dies from lung cancer at the age of 65 in New York City.
1985: Actor and filmmaker Orson Welles, whose first movie was 1941's "Citizen Kane," often ranked as one of the all-time greatest films, dies from a heart attack at the age of 70 in Los Angeles. An outsider to the studio system, he directed a total of only 13 movies in his career, including the critically acclaimed "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Touch of Evil." He also worked extensively in theater and radio, including the now legendary 1938 broadcast of H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds."
1988: The U2 album "Rattle and Hum" is released. The album, which features the singles "Desire," "Angel of Harlem," "When Love Comes to Town" and "All I Want Is You," would hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, remaining at the top spot for six weeks, and reach No. 1 on the U.K. and Australian charts.
2001: President George W. Bush presents a list of the FBI's 22 "most wanted" terrorists.
2003: A week after a National Enquirer report that he was being investigated for illegally obtaining the prescription drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh annouces that he is addicted to painkillers and plans to check into a rehab center.
2003: Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Volume 1," starring Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine, premieres in theaters. It is the first of two films that were theatrically released several months apart, the second one titled "Kill Bill: Volume 2" and coming out in early 2004. The film earned $22 million in its opening weekend, Tarantino's highest-grossing opening weekend to that point.
2004: Former major-league third baseman Ken Caminiti, who played 15 seasons with the Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves, dies of a drug overdose at age 41 in The Bronx, N.Y. He was the 1996 National League Most Valuable Player and hit 239 home runs in his career, but later admitted to using steroids during his MVP season and for several seasons afterward.
2004: Actor Christopher Reeve, best known for playing Superman in four movies between 1978 and 1987, dies of cardiac arrest at the age of 52 in Mount Kisco, N.Y. The actor became a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition on May 27, 1995, and spent much of the last decade of his life lobbying on behalf of people with spinal-cord injuries and for human embryonic stem cell research.
2010: Singer-songwriter and preacher Solomon Burke, one of the founding fathers of soul music in the 1960s, dies at age 70 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands, while on a plane from Los Angeles that had just landed. Over his 55-year career, Burke had 35 singles that charted in the U.S., including hits like "Cry to Me," "If You Need Me," "Got to Get You Off My Mind," "Down in the Valley" and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2012: Football player and actor Alex Karras dies from complications caused by kidney failure at the age of 77 in Los Angeles, Calif. Karras played with the Detroit Lions in the National Football League from 1958–1962 and 1964–1970, but is best known for his roles in the movie "Blazing Saddles" and the TV sitcom "Webster."
2013: Scott Carpenter, one of the original seven astronauts selected for NASA's Project Mercury in April 1959, dies at age 88 in Denver, Colo., following a stroke. Carpenter was the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth American in space, following Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn.