1693: A powerful earthquake and the resulting tsunamis and landslides destroy parts of Sicily and Malta and leave upward of 54,000 people dead.
1757: Alexander Hamilton, one of America's founding fathers and the first secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury, is born in Nevis, British West Indies.
1794: U.S. Marshal Robert Forsyth is shot and killed in Augusta, Ga., while trying to serve civil court papers, becoming the first U.S. marshal to die while carrying out his duties.
1843: American lawyer Francis Scott Key, the writer of the poem that became the American national anthem, dies of pleurisy, an inflammation of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs, at the age of 63 in Baltimore, Md.
1922: Leonard Thompson, age 14, becomes the very first person to receive an injection of insulin as a treatment for diabetes. Thompson weighed only 65 pounds and was about to slip into a coma and die when he received the injection in Toronto, Ontario. Before this time, diabetes had inevitably resulted in death within months or even weeks of the diagnosis. Thompson would go on to live another 13 years with the insulin, before dying at age of 27 due to pneumonia, a diabetes complication.
1927: At a banquet in Los Angeles, Louis B. Mayer, head of the film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, announces the creation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The group, intended as an organization that would mediate labor disputes and improve the film industry's image, would hold the first Academy Awards two years later.
1928: English writer Thomas Hardy, best known for such novels as "Far from the Madding Crowd," "The Mayor of Casterbridge," "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" and "Jude the Obscure," dies at the age of 87 in Dorchester, Dorset, England.
1942: Musician Clarence Clemons, best known for being a part of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band for nearly 40 years, is born in Norfolk County, Va. Clemons, who was nicknamed "The Big Man" because of his imposing presence at 6 feet 4 inches and well over 200 pounds, also released several solo albums and appeared as a guest musician with other performers and bands. He also appeared as an actor in several films, including "New York, New York" and "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" and made cameo appearances in several TV series, including "Diff'rent Strokes," "Nash Bridges," "The Simpsons" and "The Wire." He died at age 69 on June 18, 2011, of complications from a stroke he had suffered six days earlier.
1946: Country singer Naomi Judd, who formed the singing duo known as The Judds with her daughter Wynonna Judd in the 1980s, is born in Ashland, Ky. She is also the mother of actress Ashley Judd. She's seen here (center) with Ashley (left) and Wynonna (right).
1952: Golfer Ben Crenshaw, a two-time winner of The Masters who also captained the U.S. team to a Ryder Cup victory in 1999, is born in Austin, Texas.
1960: Henry Lee Lucas, once listed as America's most prolific serial killer, commits his first known murder, killing his mother in Tecumseh, Mich., with a knife during a drunken argument. He would serve 10 years in prison before being released due to overcrowding. Becoming a drifter after his release, he would eventually be convicted in 10 more homicides after his 1983 arrest, but also made bogus confessions in about 600 total murders. Lucas received the death penalty for the 1979 murder of an unidentified woman dubbed "Orange Socks," as those were the only items of clothing found on her, but had his sentence commuted to life in prison in 1998 due to flimsy evidence in the case. He died in prison of natural causes in 2001.
1962: An avalanche on Huascarán mountain in Peru wipes out the mountain village of Ranrahirca and several other settlements, killing an estimated 4,000 people.
1963: The Beatles release the single "Please Please Me" with "Ask Me Why" as the B-side. The song, the band's second U.K. single, would become The Beatles' first U.S. single on Feb. 7, 1963.
1964: U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry publishes the landmark report "Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States," saying that smoking may be hazardous to health. The report sparked national and worldwide anti-smoking efforts.
1964: Billboard magazine publishes its first Country Album Chart, with Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" album taking the No. 1 spot.
1964: The Whisky-a-Go-Go opens on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, Calif., and quickly becomes a vital music venue. Some of the early acts to play the Whiskey include The Animals, The Doors and Otis Redding.
1971: R&B singer and actress Mary J. Blige, a Grammy winner known for songs such as "Real Love," "Not Gon' Cry," "Family Affair" and "Be Without You," is born in The Bronx, N.Y. Blige has also acted in movies such as "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" and "Rock of Ages."
1972: Actress Amanda Peet, best known for movies such as "The Whole Nine Yards," "Saving Silverman," "Identity," "Syriana" and "2012," is born in New York City.
1972: A notice in the British government publication The London Gazette states that Reginald Dwight was legally changing his name to Elton Hercules John. He chose the new name to honor Elton Dean, a saxophonist, and the late Long John Baldry, a British blues musician.
1973: Owners of American League baseball teams vote 8-4 to adopt the designated-hitter rule, allowing teams to designate a player to bat in place of the pitcher, for what was initially a three-year trial run. Since 1973, most collegiate, amateur and professional leagues have adopted the rule or some variant. The most notable exception is MLB's National League, which does not use a designated hitter.
1979: Actor Jack Soo, best known for his role as Detective Nick Yemana on the television sitcom "Barney Miller," dies of esophageal cancer at age 61 in Los Angeles, Calif. Soo also appeared in movies such as "The Green Berets" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
1995: The WB Television Network premieres as a fifth TV network. The network, a joint venture between Warner Bros. and Tribune Broadcasting, would shut down on Sept. 17, 2006, and merge with UPN to form The CW.
1995: The NHL Players Association and team owners reach an agreement to end a lockout that had stretched on for more than three months. As a result, the league shortened the 1994-95 season length from 84 games, the length of the previous two seasons, to 48 games. A total of 468 games were lost due to the lockout, along with the NHL All-Star Game.
2002: The first planeload of 20 al-Qaida prisoners from Afghanistan arrives at a U.S. military detention camp located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
2003: Having lost confidence in the state's penal system in the wake of accusations that Chicago police detective Jon Burge used torture to extract confessions out of hundreds of suspects, Illinois Gov. George Ryan commutes the death sentences of 167 prisoners on Illinois' death row. Illinois would eventually abolish the death penalty in 2011.
2007: English soccer player David Beckham announces a five-year deal to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the U.S.-based MLS.
2008: New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary, who in 1953 became the first person to climb Mount Everest, dies of a heart attack at the age of 88 in Auckland, New Zealand.
2010: Miep Gies, one of the Dutch citizens who helped hide Anne Frank, her family and four other Jews from the Nazis during World War II, dies at age 100 in Hoorn, North Holland, Netherlands. Gies began working for Frank's father, Otto Frank, in 1933 at the Dutch branch of the German firm Opekta. Together with her husband, Jan Gies, and other Opekta employees, she hid the Franks in several hidden rooms above the company's Amsterdam office building from July 6, 1942 to Aug. 4, 1944. She retrieved Anne Frank's diary after the family was arrested and kept the papers safe until Otto Frank returned from Auschwitz in 1945. Gies is seen here in a 1987 photo.
2010: Mark McGwire admits to The Associated Press that he had used steroids and human growth hormone on and off during the 1990s, including the 1998 season when he broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record. Later in the day, however, he disputed that the drugs gave him more power to hit homers, instead saying he used them to recover from injuries.
After five months of detention in North Korea, Jeffrey Fowle arrived back in Ohio early Wednesday for an emotional reunion with his family. Here's a look at other Americans who have been detained abroad and their fates.