1520: After navigating through a strait at the southern end of South America, three ships under the command of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reach the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first Europeans to sail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.
1582: In Stratford-upon-Avon, England, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway pay a bond for their marriage license. It is believed they were married the same day or soon after.
1757: Poet and artist William Blake, now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age, is born in London, England.
1811: Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, premieres at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany. Popularly known as the Emperor Concerto, it would be the last piano concerto Beethoven composed.
1814: The Times in London is for the first time printed by automatic, steam powered presses built by the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer, signaling the beginning of the availability of newspapers to a mass audience.
1843: The Kingdom of Hawaii is officially recognized by the United Kingdom and France as an independent nation. The day would became a national holiday to celebrate the recognition of Hawaii's independence and the Hawaiian Kingdom entered into treaties with most major nations in the following years. In 1893, the kingdom would be overthrown by local businessmen and politicians, composed primarily of American and European residents, with annexation by America following in 1898.
1859: American writer Washington Irving, best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," dies of heart attack at the age of 76 in Tarrytown, N.Y.
1861: Despite Missouri being a Union state, the Confederate Congress officially admits it as the 12th confederate state at the urging of Gov. Claiborne Fox Jackson, a Southern sympathizer who favored secession. Missouri's Confederate government would be driven into exile from Missouri after losing control of the state and Jackson died a short while later in Arkansas. The secessionist government continued in exile, eventually setting up a legislature in Marshall, Texas, until the end of the war.
1893: In New Zealand's general election, women vote for the first time ever in a national election. This Tribute to the Suffragettes memorial in Christchurch, New Zealand, honors the country's suffragettes, including (from left to right) Amey Daldy, Kate Sheppard, Ada Wells and Harriet Morison.
1895: Frank Duryea wins the Chicago Times-Herald race, the first gasoline-powered automobile race in the United States. The 54-mile race ran from Chicago's Jackson Park to Evanston, Ill., with Duryea winning the $2,000 first prize in approximately 10 hours, averaging about 7.3 miles per hour.
1907: In Haverhill, Mass., scrap-metal dealer Louis B. Mayer opens his first movie theater. Mayer would buy more theaters before moving to California to start his own production company, which eventually became Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or MGM studios. Mayer, seen here with Joan Crawford in 1953, is generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within MGM in its golden years.
1909: Sergei Rachmaninoff makes the debut performance of his Piano Concerto No. 3, considered to be one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire, with the now-defunct New York Symphony Society at the New Theater in New York City. Rachmaninoff is seen here in 1910 proofing copies of the concerto.
1914: Following a World War I-induced closure in July, the New York Stock Exchange partially re-opens for bond trading to help the war effort. It would re-open completely for stock trading in December 1914.
1925: The Grand Ole Opry begins broadcasting from the new fifth-floor radio studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville, Tenn., as the "WSM Barn Dance." The phrase "Grand Ole Opry" would first be uttered on air in December 1927. Over the years the show would move to bigger and bigger venues around Nashville, before landing in the downtown Ryman Auditorium in 1943 and then to the 4,400-seat Grand Ole Opry House, east of downtown Nashville, in March 1974.
1929: Berry Gordy Jr., a record producer and the founder of the Motown record label, is born in Detroit, Mich.
1936: Politician Gary Hart, who ran as a Democratic candidate in the U.S. presidential elections in 1984 and again in 1988, when he was considered a frontrunner for the nomination until an extramarital affair with model Donna Rice was revealed, is born Gary Warren Hartpence in Ottawa, Kansas. He's seen here at right receiving his U.S. Naval Reserve commission from Secretary of the Navy Edward Hidalgo in 1980.
1939: James Naismith, the Canadian-American sports coach who invented the game of basketball in 1891, dies at the age of 78 in Lawrence, Kan., nine days after suffering a major brain hemorrhage.
1942: A fire in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, Mass., kills 492 people, making it the deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.
1943: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin meet at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran, to discuss World War II strategy. It was the first of the World War II conferences held between all of the "Big Three" Allied leaders.
1943: Composer and singer Randy Newman, who's known for songs such as "Short People" and "I Love L.A." as well as providing film scores for movies such as "Toy Story," "Cars" and "Monsters, Inc.," is born in Los Angeles, Calif. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2013.
1944: The MGM movie musical "Meet Me in St. Louis," starring Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien and Mary Astor, opens in New York. It would prove to be the second-highest grossing picture of the year, only behind "Going My Way." Garland debuted the standards "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which both became hits after the film was released.
1946: Director Joe Dante, best known for movies like "Gremlins," "Piranha," "The Howling," "Explorers," "Innerspace" and "The 'Burbs," is born in Morristown, N.J.
1948: The Polaroid Land Camera first goes on sale, at a Boston department store, for $89.75. This first model would be sold through 1953, and was the first commercially successful self-developing camera system. A sepia-colored photograph took about one minute to produce.
1949: Orchestra leader Paul Shaffer, best known as David Letterman's sidekick and band leader since 1982, is born in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
1950: Actor Ed Harris, who would go on to earn Academy Award nominations for his roles in "Apollo 13," "The Truman Show," "The Hours" and "Pollock," is born in Englewood, N.J.
1959: Actor Judd Nelson, best known for being a member of the "Brat Pack" in the mid-1980s and for his roles in movies such as "The Breakfast Club" and "St. Elmo's Fire," is born in Portland, Maine.
1960: American author Richard Wright, whose work, including "Black Boy" and "Native Son," helped redefine discussions of race relations in America in the mid-20th century, dies of a heart attack at the age of 52 in Paris, France.
1960: Elvis Presley's version of "Are You Lonesome To-Night?" hits No. 1 on the charts, where it would stay for six weeks.
1961: Syracuse University running back Ernie Davis becomes the first black athlete to win the Heisman Trophy. Davis would become the No. 1 overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft by Washington, although he was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, but would never play in the NFL. He would be diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 1962 and die on May 18, 1963, at the age of 23.
1961: Filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, best known for directing "Y Tu Mamá También," "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Children of Men" and "Gravity," is born in Mexico City.
1962: Comedian Jon Stewart, best known as the host of Comedy Central's satirical news program "The Daily Show" since 1999, is born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in New York City.
1963: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces that Cape Canaveral in Florida would be renamed Cape Kennedy in honor of his assassinated predecessor, President John F. Kennedy. The name would be changed back to Cape Canaveral in 1973 by a vote of residents.
1964: NASA launches the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars. In July 1965, the spacecraft would perform the first successful flyby of Mars, returning the first pictures of the Martian surface.
1964: National Security Council members agree to recommend that U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson adopt a plan for a two-stage escalation of bombing in North Vietnam.
1964: Willie Nelson makes his debut on the Grand Ole Opry.
1967: American TV personality and model Anna Nicole Smith, who first gained popularity in Playboy, becoming the 1993 Playmate of the Year, is born Vickie Lynn Hogan in Houston, Texas. She would also become known for her highly publicized second marriage to oil business mogul J. Howard Marshall, 62 years her senior, and her Feb. 8, 2007, death by prescription drug overdose.
1968: John Lennon pleads guilty to a charge of misdemeanor possession of cannabis and is fined $360 in London. Yoko Ono, who was arrested with Lennon on Oct. 18, was cleared of charges.
1976: Actress Rosalind Russell, best known for her movie roles in "His Girl Friday" and "Auntie Mame," dies of breast cancer at the age of 69 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
1979: Air New Zealand Flight 901, a DC-10 operated sightseeing flight over Antarctica, crashes into Mount Erebus in whiteout conditions, killing all 257 people on board.
1984: Prince's "I Would Die 4 U" becomes the fourth single from the album "Purple Rain." The song would reach No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
1987: Actress Karen Gillan, best known for playing Amy Pond in the BBC series "Doctor Who," is born in Inverness, Scotland.
1989: Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the first person in Olympic Games history to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics, which she did at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, escapes her homeland into Hungary. The five-time Olympic gold medalist would eventually make her way to New York City and settle in the United States, becoming a naturalized American citizen in 2001.
1990: A day after Britain's conservatives chose John Major to succeed Margaret Thatcher as their party leader, Major is summoned to Buckingham Palace and appointed Thatcher's successor as prime minister.
1994: Convicted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991, is clubbed to death in a Wisconsin prison by a fellow inmate.
1995: U.S. President Bill Clinton signs the $6 billion National Highway Designation Act, part of which would return all speed limit determination authority to the states effective Dec, 8, 1995, effectively ending the federal 55 mph speed limit.
1997: The final episode of the original five-year, 200-episode run of the animated show "Beavis and Butt-head" airs on MTV.
1999: Hsing-Hsing, a giant panda who arrived at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in 1972 as a symbol of U.S.-China detente, is euthanized at age 28 because of deteriorating health.
2001: Enron Corp., once the world's largest energy trader, sees its credit rating decreased to junk status after would-be rescuer Dynegy Inc. backs out of an $8.4 billion deal to take it over. Enron would file for bankruptcy on Dec. 2, 2001.
2002: Suicide bombers blow up an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, killing 13 people and injuring 80. Their colleagues failed in their attempt to bring down Arkia Israel Airlines Flight 582 with surface-to-air-missiles.
2010: WikiLeaks and five major newspapers start to release to the public the first of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, about 100,000 of which were marked "secret" or "confidential."
2010: Canadian-born American actor Leslie Nielsen, best known for his comical roles in movies such as "Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun" series, dies of pneumonia at the age of 84 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Nielsen, who had also served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked as a disc jockey before breaking into acting, started out his career with more serious roles, including positively reviewed parts in "Forbidden Planet" and "The Poseidon Adventure."