1737: Antonio Stradivari, recognized as the most renowned maker of stringed instruments in history, dies in Cremona, Italy. He's seen here in an 1893 painting by Edgar Bundy.
1777: The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over Gen. John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October. The date was set earlier in the year by the Continental Congress' "First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving." It would be just one of several thanksgiving days the Continental Congress would appoint during the American Revolutionary War, each time recommending to the executives of the various states the observance of these days in their states.
1787: New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
1878: Joseph Stalin, the Premier of the Soviet Union from May 6, 1941, until his death on March 5, 1953, is born in the town of Gori, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire (now Georgia).
1886: Hall of Fame baseball player Ty Cobb, widely credited with setting 90 Major League Baseball records during a 24-year career spent mostly with the Detroit Tigers, is born in Narrows, Ga.
1888: Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law, Charlie Mason, discover the ancient Indian ruins of Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde, Colo. The structure, built by the Ancestral Pueblo peoples, is the largest cliff dwelling in North America.
1892: Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" is first performed, as a double premiere together with Tchaikovsky's last opera, "Iolanta," at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.
1915: U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, widowed the year before upon the death of his first wife, Ellen Axson Wilson, marries Edith Bolling Galt at her Washington, D.C., home. Wilson is one of only three presidents to be widowed while in office, and also one of only three presidents who got married while in office. Wilson and Galt are seen here together in June 1920.
1916: Actress Betty Grable, who would become as famous for her legs, once insured by her studio for $1 million with Lloyds of London, as for her movies, is born in St. Louis, Mo. Grable died in 1973 at age 56 of lung cancer.
1917: The 18th Amendment to enact Prohibition is officially proposed when the U.S. Senate passes a resolution containing the language of the amendment to be presented to the states for ratification. The House of Representatives had passed the resolution the previous day. The amendment would be ratified on Jan. 16, 1919, with the amendment taking effect on Jan. 17, 1920.
1932: The Chicago Bears defeat the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 in the first ever NFL playoff game. Because of a blizzard, the game is moved from Wrigley Field to the Chicago Stadium, the field measuring 80 yards long. Although the game would later be described as the first NFL Championship Game, that name would not officially be used until the following year's championship game between the Bears and the New York Giants.
1936: The first giant panda to reach the U.S. alive is brought back from an expedition in Tibet by Ruth Harkness, a young Manhattan socialite. A welcome diversion from the news of the Depression era, the lady and panda baby, named Su-Lin, were a media sensation. Su-Lin would eventually be acquired by Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, although he would die in April 1938. The body of Su-Lin is now on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
1943: Guitarist Keith Richards, who would co-found The Rolling Stones in 1962, is born in Dartford, Kent, England.
1946: Steven Spielberg, the Academy Award-winning director of such movies as "Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan," "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Jurassic Park," is born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1954: Actor Ray Liotta, best known for his roles in movies such as "Goodfellas" and "Field of Dreams," is born in Newark, N.J.
1957: The Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania goes online. It was the first nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States. It was taken out of service in 1982.
1958: Project SCORE, the world's first communications satellite, is launched. SCORE, which stood for Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment, would later capture the world's attention by broadcasting a Christmas message via short wave frequency from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower through an on-board tape recorder.
1961: The Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" hits No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it will stay for three weeks.
1963: Actor Brad Pitt, whose best known roles include the movies "12 Monkeys," "Seven," "Fight Club," "Ocean's Eleven," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Moneyball," is born in Shawnee, Okla. He has earned Oscar nominations for "12 Monkeys," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Moneyball."
1964: "The Pink Panther" cartoon series premieres with the release of the animated theatrical short "Pink Phink." The short would go on to win the 1964 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
1964: Professional wrestler Steve Austin, better known by his ring name "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, is born in Victoria, Texas. Described by WWE chairman Vince McMahon as the most profitable wrestler in the company's history, Austin gained significant mainstream popularity during the mid-to-late 1990s with the persona of the disrespectful, beer-drinking antihero.
1966: The 26-minute animated short "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" airs for the first time on television.
1968: Actress Rachel Griffiths, best known for movies such as "Muriel's Wedding," "Hilary and Jackie" and "Blow," and TV shows like "Six Feet Under" and "Brothers & Sisters" (pictured), is born in Melbourne, Australia. She earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in "Hilary and Jackie."
1969: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," the sixth spy film in the James Bond series, premieres in London, England. It is the only movie in the film franchise to feature Australian actor George Lazenby, who signed on following the decision of Sean Connery to retire from the role. When Lazenby declined to return for a second film, producers would entice Connery back one more time for 1971's "Diamonds are Forever."
1970: Rapper and actor DMX, best known for his 2000 hit song "Party Up (Up in Here)," is born Earl Simmons in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He has appeared in movies such as "Belly," "Romeo Must Die," "Exit Wounds" and "Cradle 2 the Grave."
1971: Bobby Jones, the most successful amateur golfer ever to compete on a national and international level, dies at the age of 69 in Atlanta, Ga. During his peak as a golfer from 1923 to 1930, Jones dominated top-level amateur competition, and competed very successfully against the world's best professional golfers. In 1930, he won the U.S. Amateur Championship to become the only golfer to ever win the (pre-Masters) Grand Slam, or all four major championships in the same calendar year.
1972: President Richard Nixon announces that the United States was engaging North Vietnam in Operation Linebacker II, a series of bombings that would last through Dec. 29, after peace talks collapsed with North Vietnam on Dec. 13. The operation would turn out to be the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the U.S. Air Force since the end of World War II.
1975: At a press conference, Rod Stewart announces he's leaving the Faces to go solo. Shortly thereafter, Ron Wood would depart the band to officially join the Rolling Stones.
1978: Actress Katie Holmes, best known for her role in the TV drama "Dawson's Creek" and for movies such as "Batman Begins" and "Thank You For Smoking," is born in Toledo, Ohio.
1980: Singer Christina Aguilera, who released her self-titled debut solo album at the age of 18 and would become the second top-selling single artist of the 2000s behind Madonna, is born in Staten Island, N.Y.
1989: Actress Ashley Benson, best known for her TV work in the shows "Days of our Lives," "Eastwick" and "Pretty Little Liars" (pictured), is born in Anaheim, Calif.
1997: Actor and comedian Chris Farley is found dead at the age of 33 in his apartment in the John Hancock Center in Chicago. An autopsy would later reveal that Farley had died of a drug overdose early that morning.
2002: "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," the second part in filmmaker Peter Jackson's fantasy trilogy, opens in theaters. The movie would go on to gross more than $926 million worldwide and earn six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, winning for Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.
2003: In Santa Maria, Calif., Michael Jackson is charged with seven counts of molesting a child under 14 and two counts of supplying the child with "an intoxicating agent." Jackson's lawyer denounced the allegations and said they were driven by money and revenge. Jackson would eventually be acquitted of all charges in June 2005.
2003: A judge in Seattle sentences confessed "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgway to 48 consecutive life terms. Ridgway pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first-degree murder as part of a plea bargain that spared him execution in exchange for his cooperation in locating the remains of his victims and providing other details. Ridgway murdered numerous women and girls, most of whom were also alleged prostitutes, in Washington state during the 1980s and 1990s, earning his nickname when the first five victims were found in the Green River.
2003: A jury in Chesapeake, Va., convicts teenager Lee Boyd Malvo of two counts of murder in the Washington, D.C.,-area sniper shootings. Malvo would later be sentenced to life in prison without parole. He would eventually be sentenced to another life term for another murder in Virginia and six more consecutive life sentences for murders committed in Maryland.
2006: Cartoonist Joseph Barbera, who co-founded the Hanna-Barbera animation studio with William Hanna in 1957, dies at the age of 95 in Los Angeles, Calif.
2008: Mark Felt, the former associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who late in life revealed himself to be the Watergate scandal whistleblower known as "Deep Throat," dies at age 95 in Santa Rosa, Calif.
2009: The divorce of reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin, who starred in "Jon & Kate Plus 8" with their eight children, is finalized.
2010: Governmental protests begin in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, following 26-year-old street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in protest of police corruption and ill treatment. With the success of the protests in Tunisia, a wave of unrest known as the "Arab Spring" would strike Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, then spread to other countries.