Published On: May 17 2013 04:26:12 PM CDTUpdated On: May 20 2015 01:00:00 AM CDT
2013: An EF5 tornado strikes Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people -- including seven students at Plaza Towers Elementary school. The tornado injured another 377 people and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage.
2013: Rock musician Ray Manzarek, best known as the co-founder and keyboardist for The Doors, dies of bile duct cancer at age 74 in Rosenheim, Germany.
2012: English singer-songwriter and musician Robin Gibb, one of three brothers who made up the disco group the Bee Gees, dies at the age of 62 in London, England, from from liver and kidney failure brought on by colorectal cancer. While he was a originally a backup singer in the Bee Gees, he eventually took on more lead singing duties, including singing lead vocals on tracks such as "Massachusetts," "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" and "I Started a Joke" and shared lead vocals on songs such as "Lonely Days" and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."
2012: Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan terrorist responsible for the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, dies of prostate cancer at age 60 in Tripoli, Libya. Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of 270 counts of murder for the bombing and was sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the Scottish government freed Megrahi on Aug. 20, 2009, (seen here in white) after he was given around three months to live following a diagnosis of terminal prostate cancer.
2011: Professional wrestler and actor "Macho Man" Randy Savage, who held 20 championships, including six world titles between the WWF and WCW, during a career that lasted more than three decades, dies of cardiac arrhythmia at the age of 58 in Seminole, Florida.
2011: The fantasy adventure movie "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" opens in theaters. The movie, the fourth in a film franchise inspired by the Walt Disney theme park ride of the same name, featured Johnny Depp returning to the role of Capt. Jack Sparrow for a fourth time. The movie broke many box office records upon release and stands as the 11th highest-grossing film of all time worldwide when not adjusting for inflation, earning more than $1 billion worldwide.
2000: NBA player Malik Sealy, 30, dies in a head-on collision in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Sealy was playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the time of his death and had previously played for the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons. Tests showed that Souksangouane Phengsene, the driver of the other vehicle, which was traveling the wrong way down the highway, had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 percent at the time of the accident. Phengsene eventually pled guilty to a charge of vehicular manslaughter, received a four-year prison term and was released from prison in 2003. Sealy, a Bronx native who played his college ball at Saint John's University, was also an aspiring actor, and had a major role in the 1996 Whoopi Goldberg movie "Eddie" (pictured, at left).
1993: The sitcom "Cheers" airs its series finale, "One for the Road," after 11 seasons. The triple-length finale was watched by an audience of approximately 42.4 million households, making it the second-highest-rated series finale of all time behind the series finale of "M*A*S*H." From its fourth season on, the show finished in the top 10 in the ratings, peaking at No. 1 during its ninth season in 1990-91. It was also nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series for all 11 of its seasons and earned 28 Emmys from a then-record 117 nominations.
1990: The Hubble Space Telescope sends its first photograph from space, an image of a double star 1,260 light years away. While the telescope clearly exceeded the best ground-based telescopes, scientists soon began to realize that the images weren't as sharp as they were supposed to be. Analysis of the flawed images revealed that the primary mirror had been ground to the wrong shape. Corrective optics to fix the problem were installed during the Hubble's first servicing mission in December 1993.
1989: Comedian and actress Gilda Radner, best known as one of the original cast members of the sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live," dies of ovarian cancer at the age of 42 in Los Angeles, California. While on "Saturday Night Live," Radner created recurring characters such as obnoxious personal advice expert Roseanne Roseannadanna, the Barbara Walters parody "Baba Wawa," and Emily Litella, an elderly hearing-impaired woman who gave angry and misinformed editorial replies on the "Weekend Update" segment. She met actor Gene Wilder while filming the 1982 comedy "Hanky Panky" and the two were later married. She also starred with Wilder in the movies "The Woman in Red" and "Haunted Honeymoon" (pictured), her last role prior to her death.
1983: In the journal Science, two separate research groups led by Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier independently publish their findings that a novel retrovirus, later named HIV, may be infecting AIDS patients.
1982: The sitcom "Barney Miller" airs its 168th and final episode after eight seasons. The show, set in a New York City police station in Greenwich Village, starred Hal Linden as the title character, the station's captain. It won two Golden Globes and three Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series in 1982, after it had concluded.
1980: In a referendum in Quebec, 60 percent percent of voters reject a proposal from the province's government to move toward independence from Canada. The referendum was the first on Quebec sovereignty, with a second such vote in 1995 narrowly failing.
1972: Rapper and actor Busta Rhymes, best known for songs such as "Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check," "Dangerous," "What's It Gonna Be?!" and "Pass the Courvoisier, Part II," is born Trevor Tahiem Smith Jr. in Brooklyn, New York. He's also appeared in movies such as "Higher Learning," "Shaft," "Finding Forrester" and "Halloween: Resurrection."
1971: Race car driver Tony Stewart, who won the NASCAR championship in 2002, 2005 and 2011, is born in Columbus, Indiana. Stewart also won an IndyCar Series championship in 1997, making him the only driver to win a championship in both NASCAR and IndyCar.
1969: The Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam ends. In total, the U.S. lost 72 soldiers, committed five infantry battalions and 10 batteries of artillery, flew 272 missions and expended more than 500 tons of ordnance during the 10-day battle only to capture the heavily fortified hill, which was of little strategic value, only to quietly abandon the hill a couple weeks later. The controversy over the battle led to outrage back home and contributed to a growing negative public opinion about the war.
1968: Actor Timothy Olyphant, best known for the TV dramas "Deadwood" and "Justified" and for movies such as "Scream 2," "Go," "The Girl Next Door," "Live Free or Die Hard" and "Hitman," is born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
1966: Actress Mindy Cohn, best known for playing Natalie Green on the 1980s sitcom "The Facts of Life," is born in Los Angeles, California.
1959: Actor Bronson Pinchot, best known for playing Balki Bartokomous on the sitcom "Perfect Strangers," and for his roles in movies like "Risky Business" and "Beverly Hills Cop," is born in New York City.
1946: Singer and actress Cher, who rose to fame as one-half of the husband-and-wife singing duo Sonny & Cher before becoming a solo star and an Oscar-winning actress, is born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California. She's best known for songs such as "I've Got You Babe," "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," "Half-Breed," "Dark Lady," "I've Found Someone," "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "Believe." She earned her first Oscar nomination for the 1983 drama "Silkwood" and won for Best Actress for the 1987 romantic-comedy "Moonstruck." She's also appeared in movies such as "Mask," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Mermaids" and "Burlesque."
1944: Singer-songwriter Joe Cocker, best known for covers of songs such as "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "You Are So Beautiful," the Grammy-winning duet "Up Where We Belong with Jennifer Warnes, and the 1989 song "When the Night Comes," is born in Sheffield, England. He died of lung cancer at age 70 on Dec. 22, 2014.
1916: The Saturday Evening Post publishes its first cover with a Norman Rockwell painting. The painting was titled "Boy with Baby Carriage." Rockwell would continue to provide illustrations for the magazine's cover for more than four decades.
1908: Actor James Stewart, best known for movies such as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "The Philadelphia Story," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Rear Window" and "Vertigo," is born in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Stewart won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in "The Philadelphia Story" and was nominated for another four Oscars. He also was a World War II and Cold War veteran, rising to the rank of brigadier general in the United States Air Force Reserve. He died of a pulmonary embolism at age 89 on July 2, 1997.
1902: Cuba gains independence from the United States. Tomás Estrada Palma became the country's first president.
1891: Thomas Edison's prototype Kinetoscope motion picture viewer is publicly demonstrated for the first time, for approximately 150 members of the National Federation of Women's Clubs. The club women looked inside a peephole on top of a cabinet to see a three-second film of the device's inventor, Edison's employee William Dickson, bowing, smiling and passing a hat from hand to hand.
1883: The Indonesian volcanic island of Krakatoa begins to erupt. The volcano would continue to release huge plumes of steam and ash until late August, when it exploded in a series of four massive eruptions, killing more than 36,000 people and destroying two-thirds of Krakatoa island.
1873: Jacob W. Davis of Reno, Nevada, receives a U.S. patent on a rivet process for strengthening the pocket openings of canvas pants. He assigned the patent to himself and Levi Strauss, as his business partner. Davis was in charge of manufacturing when Levi Strauss & Co. opened its two San Francisco factories, with its first riveted clothing being made and sold sometime during 1873. The company was the only one making riveted clothing for nearly 20 years, until the patent expired around 1891.
1862: President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act into law. The act stated that anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government and was 21 or older, or the head of a family, could file an application to claim a federal land grant of up to 160 acres. The occupant had to reside on the land for five years and show evidence of having made improvements before a deed would be granted. Pictured is the certificate of the first homestead granted under the act, given to Daniel Freeman in Beatrice, Nebraska.
1768: Dolley Madison, the first lady of the United States from 1809 to 1817 as the wife of President James Madison, is born Dolley Payne in the Quaker settlement of New Garden, North Carolina.
1609: Shakespeare's sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.
1570: Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum," the first modern atlas.
1506: Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, whose four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean opened up the Americas to Europe, dies around the age of 54 in Valladolid, Spain. Despite the fame his journeys brought him, Columbus died in poverty.
1498: Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India when he arrives at Calicut, India.
The United States and Cuba are officially restoring diplomatic relations and opening embassies in each other's countries. Get up to speed on the last five decades of American foreign policy toward Cuba.