1564: Astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei, whose achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for the Earth revolving around the sun, is born in Pisa, Italy.
1812: Charles Lewis Tiffany, the jeweler who founded Tiffany & Co. in New York City in 1837, is born in Killingly, Conn.
1820: Susan B. Anthony, the prominent civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States, is born in Adams, Mass.
1867: Johann Strauss' waltz "The Blue Danube" is played for the first time at a public concert in Vienna, Austria.
1874: Sir Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, is born in Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland. In January 1909, Shackleton and three companions trekked to the farthest south latitude in exploration history up to that time, 97 geographical miles from the South Pole. Although he was beaten to the South Pole by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, he also became famous for his failed attempt in 1914-17 to cross Antarctica. Disaster struck this expedition when its ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and was slowly crushed before the shore parties could be landed. Shackleton was ultimately able to escape with no loss of life.
1879: U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.
1882: Actor John Barrymore, best known for his stage work and for his roles in movies like "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde," "Grand Hotel," "Dinner at Eight," "Twentieth Century" and "Don Juan," is born in Philadelphia, Pa. Barrymore was also a member of a multi-generation theatrical dynasty, as the brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore, and the paternal grandfather of Drew Barrymore.
1898: The USS Maine, sent to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt against Spain, explodes and sinks in Havana Harbor in Cuba, killing more than 260. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry. The event, fanned by inflammatory articles printed in the newspapers of the day blaming Spain, served as a catalyst to the Spanish-American War.
1903: The first teddy bear, made by Russian immigrants and Brooklyn, N.Y., toy store owners Morris and Rose Michtom, is introduced in America. It is said that the Michtoms saw a Washington Post political cartoon depicting President Theodore Roosevelt sparing the life of a bear cub during a hunt and named the stuffed animal after the president.
1905: Lew Wallace, a Union general in the Civil War and author best known for his historical novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ," dies of atrophic gastritis at the age of 77 in Crawfordsville, Ind. "Ben-Hur" became an instant bestseller and has been adapted four times for films, including the most famous version in 1959 starring Charlton Heston.
1907: Actor Cesar Romero, who played a wide range of screen roles but is perhaps best remembered for playing The Joker on the 1960s "Batman" TV series, is born in New York City. Romero is also known for roles in movies such as "The Thin Man," "Ocean's 11," "Captain from Castile" and "Public Enemy's Wife" and on TV in shows including "Chico and the Man" and "Falcon Crest." He died of bronchitis and pneumonia at age 86 on Jan. 1, 1994.
1927: Actor and comedian Harvey Korman, best remembered for his performances on the sketch comedy series "The Carol Burnett Show" and in several films by Mel Brooks, most notably as Hedley Lamarr in "Blazing Saddles," is born in Chicago, Ill. Korman died at age 81 on May 29, 2008, as the result of complications from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm he had suffered four months previously.
1933: Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, Fla., but instead shoots Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak, who dies of his wounds on March 6, 1933, and four others. Zangara would initially be sentenced to 80 years in prison for attempted murder, but was sentenced to death after Cermak died. He was executed by electric chair on March 20, 1933.
1936: In Germany, Norwegian skater Sonja Henie wins her third consecutive Olympic figure skating gold. Henie is the only skater to win three ladies singles Olympic gold medals in a row, although Swedish figure skater Gillis Grafström did the same in men's singles from 1920-28.
1942: Following an assault by Japanese forces during World War II, British Lt. Gen. Arthur Percival surrenders Singapore. Percival is seen here on the far right with other British officers on their way to surrender. About 80,000 Indian, United Kingdom and Australian soldiers became prisoners of war, the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history.
1946: ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, is formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The computer, whose name stood for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, was designed to calculate artillery firing tables for the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory.
1949: Gerald Lankester Harding, director of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, and Roland de Vaux, the president of the trustees of the museum, begin excavations at Cave 1 of the Qumran Caves in what is now the West Bank, where they will eventually discover the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls.
1950: The Walt Disney animated movie "Cinderella" premieres in Boston, Mass. The movie, the 12th in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, would prove a huge box office success, becoming Disney's biggest hit since its first animated movie, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
1951: Actress Jane Seymour, best known for the television series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and her movie roles in "Live and Let Die," "Somewhere In Time" and "Wedding Crashers," is born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg in Hayes, Middlesex, England.
1954: Cartoonist Matt Groening, the creator of "The Simpsons" and "Futurama," is born in Portland, Ore.
1961: Sabena Flight 548 crashes in Belgium, killing 73, including the entire United States figure skating team, several coaches and family members, who were on their way to the 1961 World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The exact cause of the crash was never determined beyond reasonable doubt. Investigators suspected that the aircraft may have been brought down by a failure of the stabilizer-adjusting mechanism.
1964: Actor and comedian Chris Farley, who found fame as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" and starred in movies such as "Tommy Boy," "Black Sheep" and "Beverly Hills Ninja," is born in Madison, Wis. Farley died of a drug overdose at the age of 33 in December 1997.
1964: The Beatles' album "Meet the Beatles!" reaches No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart. It would remain on top of the chart for 11 weeks before being replaced by "The Beatles' Second Album," marking the first time an artist had replaced itself at the No. 1 album position.
1965: The epic Biblical drama "The Greatest Story Ever Told," starring an ensemble cast including Max von Sydow, Charlton Heston, Claude Rains, Dorothy McGuire, Telly Savalas and Martin Landau, premieres in New York City. The movie, which tells the story of Jesus Christ from the Nativity through the Resurrection, was a commercial failure but garnered five Academy Award nominations.
1965: Singer and musician Nat King Cole, known for his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres, dies of lung cancer at the age of 49 in Santa Monica, Calif. Some of Cole's best known songs include "Unforgettable," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "The Christmas Song," "Nature Boy," "Mona Lisa," "Too Young" and "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer."
1965: A new red-and-white maple leaf design is adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the old Canadian Red Ensign banner.
1965: The Beatles release the single "Eight Days a Week" in the United States. It would go on to become their seventh No. 1 hit in the U.S. Although it was a huge American hit, the group did not think highly of the song and they never performed it live.
1972: Hockey player Jaromír Jágr, the most productive European-born player who has ever played in the NHL and one of the best players of all time, is born in Kladno, Czechoslovakia. Jágr was the fifth overall selection in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft and won consecutive Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. He has won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading point scorer five times and won a Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 1999. He is one of a small group of hockey players to have won the Stanley Cup (1991, 1992), the Ice Hockey World Championships (2005, 2010) and the Olympic gold medal in ice hockey (1998). He's seen here playing with for the Czech Republic in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
1973: Actor Wally Cox, who appeared in the 1950s TV series "Mr. Peepers" and was the voice of the cartoon character "Underdog," dies of a heart attack at the age of 48 in Hollywood, Calif.
1973: Actor Tim Holt, best known for his leading roles in Western films and his co-starring role opposite Humphrey Bogart in the 1948 film "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," dies of bone cancer at the age of 54 in Shawnee, Okla. Some of the films he appeared in include "Stagecoach," "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "My Darling Clementine."
1978: Escaped mass murderer Ted Bundy is recaptured in Pensacola, Fla., after being on the loose since escaping from a Colorado jail on Dec. 30, 1977. Bundy committed multiple additional assaults, including three murders, before his recapture. Shortly before his execution in January 1989, he would confess to 30 homicides committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978, although the true total remains unknown.
1984: Singer and actress Ethel Merman, known primarily for her powerful voice and roles in musical theater, dies in her sleep at the age of 76 in New York City. Among the many standards introduced by Merman in Broadway musicals are "I Got Rhythm," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "It's De-Lovely," "You're the Top," "Anything Goes" and "There's No Business Like Show Business."
1985: The coming of age comedy-drama "The Breakfast Club," starring Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, and directed by John Hughes, premieres in theaters. The movie would go on to earn $51 million at the box office and is considered one of the greatest high school films of all time, as well as one of Hughes' most memorable and recognizable works.
1989: The Soviet Union officially announces that all of its troops have left Afghanistan, officially bringing an end to the Soviet war in the country after nine years.
1992: Jeffrey Dahmer is found sane and guilty in the killing of 15 men and boys in the Milwaukee area. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms a few days later, but would be clubbed to death in a Wisconsin prison by a fellow inmate in November 1994.
1996: Actor McLean Stevenson, best known for his role as Lt. Colonel Henry Blake on the TV sitcom "M*A*S*H," dies of a heart attack at the age of 68 in Los Angeles, Calif.
2002: New Zealand actor Kevin Smith, best known for his roles on the TV series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess," dies at the age of 38 after 10 days in a coma following an accidental fall of several stories shortly after wrapping up work on a martial arts film in Beijing, China.
2003: Protests against the Iraq war take place in more than 600 cities worldwide. It is estimated that between 8 million to 30 million people participated, making this the largest peace demonstration in history.
2013: A meteor explodes over Chelyabinsk Oblast in Russia's Ural Mountains region, injuring 1,500 people as a shock wave blows out windows and rocks buildings. Measuring between 17 and 20 meters in size, it is the largest known natural object to have entered Earth's atmosphere since a small asteroid or comet destroyed a wide, remote, forested area of Siberia in 1908. The Chelyabinsk meteor is also the only meteor confirmed to have resulted in a large number of injuries.