534 B.C.: In Athens, Greece, Thespis of Icaria wins the first documented competition to find the best "tragedy," a new theatrical style at the time in which one singer or actor performs the words of individual characters in the stories, distinguishing between the characters with the aid of different mask. Thespis, who is named by Aristotle as the first person ever to appear on stage as an actor playing a character in a play, would inspire the word thespian, another word for actor still in use today.
1644: John Milton publishes "Areopagitica," a pamphlet decrying censorship. It is regarded as one of the most eloquent defenses of press freedom ever written.
1804: Franklin Pierce, who would go on to become the 14th president of the United States from 1853 to 1857, is born in Hillsborough, N.H.
1859: William Henry McCarty Jr., who would go on to use the name William Bonney or "Billy the Kid" as a frontier outlaw, is born, most likely in New York City. Relatively unknown during his short life, he would kill his first man at the age of 18 and is generally believed to have killed between four and nine men. He was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico's governor placed a price on his head months before he was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
1876: Corrupt Tammany Hall leader William Magear Tweed, better known as "Boss Tweed," is delivered to authorities in New York City after being captured in Spain. Tweed, who had earlier served a year in jail after being convicted for stealing up to $45 million from New York City taxpayers through political corruption, fled the country while awaiting a civil trial in which New York State was seeking to recover $6 million in embezzled funds. He would end up dying in jail in New York City.
1887: Actor Boris Karloff, who would become famous for playing Frankenstein's monster in the 1931 horror movie "Frankenstein," is born William Henry Pratt in London, England. Karloff would also star in two "Frankenstein" sequels, "Bride of Frankenstein" and "Son of Frankenstein," and is also known for voicing the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the 1966 animated television special "Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" His resume also includes such films as "The Mummy," "The Old Dark House," "The Mask of Fu Manchu" and 1932's "Scarface."
1888: Comedian and actor Harpo Marx, the second-oldest of the Marx Brothers comedy team, is born Adolph Marx in New York City. Harpo would become known for wearing a curly reddish wig and never speaking in films, instead blowing a horn or whistling to communicate.
1889: The first jukebox is installed when Louis Glass and his business associate, William S. Arnold, place a coin-operated Edison cylinder phonograph in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. The machine, an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph with oak cabinet, had been fitted locally in San Francisco with a coin mechanism invented and soon patented by Glass and Arnold. Patrons could pay a nickel a play to listen to music using one of four listening tubes. The machine, originally called a "nickel-in-the-slot-player," would prove to be an instant success, making more than $1,000 in less than six months.
1934: Screenwriter and film director Robert Towne, who most notably won an Academy Award for the screenplay to Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," is born in Los Angeles. Towne also wrote the screenplays for movies such as "The Last Detail," "Shampoo," "Heaven Can Wait," "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan," "Days of Thunder," "The Firm" and "Mission: Impossible."
1936: Life magazine is reborn as a photo magazine and enjoys instant success. Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Fortune magazines, bought a humor and general interest magazine of the same name just so he could acquire the rights to the "Life" name. Luce sold Life's subscription list and features to another magazine and relaunched the publication, giving birth to the photo magazine in the United States. The first issue sold for 10 cents.
1954: The Dow Jones industrial average finally surpasses its pre-crash high -- 25 years after Black Tuesday -- when it closes at 382.74.
1954: Bruce Hornsby, a Grammy-winning musician whose recording career started in 1986 with the No. 1 hit song "The Way It Is," is born in Williamsburg, Va.
1960: Broadcast journalist Robin Roberts, anchor of the morning show "Good Morning America," is born in Pass Christian, Miss.
1963: The body of U.S. President John F. Kennedy lays in repose in East Room of White House, a day after he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy would lay in repose for 24 hours in the same room where, nearly 100 years earlier, President Abraham Lincoln had lain following his assassination.
1963: The BBC broadcasts the first ever episode of "Doctor Who," which would go on to become the world's longest running science-fiction drama. The original series would last 26 seasons before ending in 1989, with a new version relaunched in 2005.
1970: George Harrison releases "My Sweet Lord" as a single in the United States. It would later be released in the United Kingdom on Jan. 15, 1971. The single, Harrison's first as a solo artist, topped charts worldwide and became the biggest-selling single of 1971 in Great Britain.
1976: In a dive off the island of Elba, Italy, free diver Jacques Mayol becomes the first man to reach a depth of 100 meters undersea without breathing equipment. Mayol, the inspiration for Luc Besson's 1988 movie "The Big Blue," would also reach the 105-meter mark in 1983 at the age of 56.
1980: A series of earthquakes in southern Italy kills more than 3,000 people, injures more than 10,000 and leaves 300,000 homeless.
1987: The comedy-drama "Three Men and a Baby," starring Steve Guttenberg, Tom Selleck and Ted Danson, and directed by Leonard Nimoy, premieres in Los Angeles. The movie would prove to be the biggest box office hit of the year, surpassing "Fatal Attraction" and eventually grossing $167 million in the United States alone.
1987: TV personality Nicole Elizabeth "Snooki" Polizzi, best known for the MTV reality television show "Jersey Shore," is born in Santiago, Chile.
1988: Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers scores his 600th career goal in the National Hockey League. The goal, coming in his 718th game and at the age of 27 years and 302 days, would make Gretzky the youngest and fastest to reach that milestone. Gretzky's seen here in 1989 with the Hart Trophy he would win that season as the NHL's Most Valuable Player.
1990: British writer Roald Dahl, the author of such books as "James and the Giant Peach," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Matilda" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," dies of a blood disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, at the age of 74 in Oxford, England. Dahl also served in the British Royal Air Force during World War II, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence officer and rose to the rank of Wing Commander.
1991: A day before he dies, Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, 45, confirms that he has AIDS.
1992: Singer-songwriter and fiddler Roy Acuff, one of the most influential stars in country music history, dies of congestive heart failure at age 89 in Nashville, Tenn. Acuff began his music career in the 1930s and gained fame as the singer and fiddler for his group, the Smoky Mountain Boys. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1938 and co-founded Acuff-Rose Music, the first major Nashville-based country music publishing company, in 1942.
1992: A prototype of the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, which can be considered the first "smartphone," is introduced at the COMDEX computer and technology trade show in Las Vegas, Nev. The device, which combined a cell phone and PDA into one device, allowing a user to make and receive telephone calls, facsimiles, emails and cellular pages, among other functions, would go on sale in August 1994 at a price of $899 with a two-year service contract or $1,099 without a contract.
1992: Actress and singer Miley Cyrus, who rose to fame in 2006 on the Disney Channel TV show "Hannah Montana," is born under the birth name Destiny Hope Cyrus in Nashville, Tenn.
1995: French film director Louis Malle, best known for the movies "Le Monde du silence," "Atlantic City" and "Au revoir, les enfants," dies of lymphoma at the age of 63 in Beverly Hills, Calif. He's seen here at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993.
2005: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is elected president of Liberia and becomes the first elected female head of state in Africa.
2006: A series of bombings kills at least 215 people and injures 257 others in Sadr City, making it the second deadliest sectarian attack since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003.
2007: MS Explorer, a cruise liner carrying 154 people, sinks in the Antarctic Ocean south of Argentina after hitting an iceberg near the South Shetland Islands. There were no fatalities, with evacuees drifting for five hours until they were picked up by the Norwegian ship MS Nordnorge.
2011: After 11 months of protests in Yemen and a total of 33 years in power, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh (seen here in 2004 with Russian President Vladimir Putin) signs a deal to transfer power to Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in exchange for legal immunity.
2012: Actor Larry Hagman, whose best known roles include astronaut Maj. Tony Nelson on "I Dream of Jeannie" and J.R. Ewing on "Dallas," dies at age 81 in Dallas, Texas, from complications of acute myeloid leukemia.
Matthew Todd Miller, a 24-year-old from California, has been convicted of "acts hostile" to North Korea and sentenced to six years of hard labor. Learn more about the three Americans currently being detained in North Korea.