2013: Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since 1415. Benedict made the decision to step down "because of advanced age." He became known as "pontiff emeritus," with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio eventually being selected as the new pope on March 13, 2013, and becoming Pope Francis.
2011: Actress Jane Russell, one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s, dies of respiratory failure at the age of 89 in Santa Maria, Calif. She made her debut in "The Outlaw" (pictured), a 1943 movie about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to showcase her voluptuous figure, before going on to star in movies such as "The Paleface" opposite Bob Hope, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" opposite Marilyn Monroe, and "His Kind of Woman" and "Macao" opposite Robert Mitchum.
2009: Radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, whose "Paul Harvey News and Comment" was a fixture on the ABC Network for 58 years, and who was also known for his famous "The Rest of the Story" segments, dies at the age of 90 in Phoenix, Ariz. Harvey is seen here in 2005 receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.
2007: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. dies of a heart attack at the age of 89 in Manhattan, N.Y. Schlesinger served as special assistant and "court historian" to President John F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1963 and later wrote a detailed account of the Kennedy Administration titled "A Thousand Days." He also actively supported the presidential campaign of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, which ended with Kennedy's assassination in Los Angeles. Schlesinger wrote the biography "Robert Kennedy and His Times" several years later. He won Pulitzers for "A Thousand Days" and his 1946 book "The Age of Jackson."
2002: John Madden is announced as Dennis Miller's replacement on "Monday Night Football." Madden signed a four-year, $20 million deal with ABC Sports.
1997: In what will become known as the North Hollywood shootout, two heavily armed and armored bank robbers and Los Angeles police officers fire more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition following a robbery of a Bank of America branch. Both suspects, Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, were killed in the shootout and 11 police officers and seven civilians were injured.
1997: An earthquake centered near the city of Ardabil in northern Iran kills at least 1,100 and injures another 2,600.
1993: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas, with a warrant to arrest the group's leader David Koresh. Four BATF agents and five Davidians died in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff. Seventy-six people, including 25 children, would die when fire consumed the complex on April 19, 1993, after weeks of fruitless talks between the FBI and Koresh.
1991: Just 100 hours after the U.S.-led Coalition force's ground assault in Kuwait began, the first Gulf War ends with a ceasefire at midnight.
1986: The coming-of-age comedy "Pretty in Pink," starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer, and directed by John Hughes, premieres in theaters. The film would prove a critical and commercial success, earning $6 million during its opening weekend and $40 million during its theatrical run.
1986: Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and his wife Lisbet Palme are attacked by an unidentified assassin while walking home from a movie theater in Stockholm. Palme was shot in the back at close range and died just past midnight while his wife suffered a minor injury when a bullet grazed her back. Two years later, small-time criminal and drug addict Christer Pettersson was arrested, tried and convicted for Palme's murder. Pettersson's conviction was later overturned on appeal. Although more than 130 people have confessed to the murder, the case remains unsolved, and a number of theories as to who carried out the murder have been proposed.
1984: Michael Jackson wins a record-setting eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for "Thriller" and Record of the Year for "Beat It." While Jackson still stands alone with the record for most Grammys in one night by a solo artist, the band Santana would match his eight Grammys in 2000.
1983: The album "War" by U2 is released. The third album by the Irish rock group, it would debut at No. 1 in the UK, and its first single, "New Year's Day," was the band's first hit outside Ireland or the UK. The album, which also featured the song "Sunday Bloody Sunday," would reach No. 12 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and became their first Gold-certified album in America.
1983: "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," the finale of the TV series "M*A*S*H," becomes the most watched television program in history to that time, with 125 million people tuning in. The episode surpassed the single-episode ratings record that had been set by the "Dallas" episode that resolved the "Who Shot J.R.?" cliffhanger and would reign until 2010, when it was passed in total viewership by Super Bowl XLIV.
1976: Actress and model Ali Larter, best known for the TV series "Heroes," as well as movie roles in "Varsity Blues," "The House on Haunted Hill" and "Final Destination," is born in Cherry Hill, N.J.
1969: Actor Robert Sean Leonard, best known for his roles in the movie "Dead Poets Society" and the TV show "House, M.D.," is born in Westwood, N.J.
1961: Actress Rae Dawn Chong, best known for movies such as "Quest for Fire," "The Color Purple," "Commando" and "Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers," is born in Edmonton, Canada. She is the daughter of Tommy Chong, half of the comedic duo Cheech & Chong.
1957: Actor John Turturro, best known for his roles in movies such as "Do the Right Thing," "Miller's Crossing," "Barton Fink," "Quiz Show," "The Big Lebowski," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and the "Transformers" film series, is born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1955: Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, best known for his trademark comedic persona of speaking in a loud, grating tone of voice and squinting, is born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has made numerous TV and movie appearances, including "Beverly Hills Cop" and the "Problem Child" movies, but is most known for his voice work, including voicing the parrot Iago in Disney's "Aladdin" and the Aflac Duck until 2011.
1954: The first color television sets using the NTSC standard are offered for sale to the general public. The Westinghouse H840CK15 retailed for $1,295, or more than $11,000 in 2014 dollars, and was available only in the New York area. In April the price was cut to $1,110 after only 30 sets had been sold. Only 500 were ever built, and most were never sold, because there was very little programming in color at the time.
1948: Actress Mercedes Ruehl, best known for her Oscar-winning role in "The Fisher King," as well as roles in other movies such as "Married to the Mob" (pictured), "Lost in Yonkers" and "Last Action Hero," is born in Queens, N.Y.
1948: Actress and singer Bernadette Peters, one of the most critically acclaimed Broadway performers, who has also starred in movies such as "The Jerk," "Silent Movie," "Pennies from Heaven" and "Annie," is born in Queens, N.Y. Peters has received nominations for seven Tony Awards, winning two, and nine Drama Desk Awards, winning three. She also won a Golden Globe in 1982 for her role in "Pennies from Heaven."
1942: Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones is born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. He was the group's leader early on, but drowned in a swimming pool in 1969 at the age of 27.
1942: The heavy cruiser USS Houston is sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait during World War II with 693 crew members killed, along with HMAS Perth which lost 375 men.
1940: Race car driver Mario Andretti, whose name has become synonymous with speed and racing in the United States, is born in Motovun, Kingdom of Italy. Andretti, whose family emigrated to the United States when he was 15, had a long career in racing, winning the 1978 Formula One World Championship, four IndyCar titles and IROC VI. He remains the only driver to ever win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship. Andretti, seen here in 1991, had 109 career wins on major circuits and became the only person to be named United States Driver of the Year in three decades (1967, 1978 and 1984).
1940: The game of basketball is televised for the first time, with NBC broadcasting a game between Fordham University and the University of Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden. Pitt won the game 57–37.
1939: Dancer, singer, actor and theatrical director Tommy Tune, who has won nine Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts, is born in Wichita Falls, Texas.
1931: College basketball coach Dean Smith, who won two NCAA Championships and made 11 Final Fours during his 36-year tenure at the University of North Carolina, is born in Emporia, Kan. A member of both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame, he also coached Team USA to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In 1997, he retired as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball. His record of 879 wins would eventually be eclipsed by Bob Knight in 2007, Mike Krzyzewski in 2011 and Jim Boeheim in 2012. Krzyzewski is the current leader with 927 career wins.
1931: Actor Gavin MacLeod (left), best known for his television roles on "McHale's Navy," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Love Boat," is born in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
1929: Architect Frank Gehry, whose buildings have become tourist attractions, is born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Some of his most famous works includes the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles; the Experience Music Project in Seattle; the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park; and 8 Spruce Street in New York City.
1925: The Charlevoix-Kamouraska earthquake strikes northeastern North America. The quake, which was centered in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, Canada, along the Saint Lawrence River, was felt as far south as Virginia and as far west as the Mississippi River.
1923: Actor Charles Durning, best known for his roles in movies such as "The Sting," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Tootsie," "To Be or Not to Be" and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," is born in Highland Falls, N.Y. Durning earned Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his roles in "To Be or Not to Be" and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." He died of natural causes at age 89 on Dec. 24, 2012.
1916: Writer Henry James, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism and the author of novels such as "The Portrait of a Lady," "The Turn of the Screw," "The Wings of the Dove" and "The Ambassadors," dies at the age of 72 in London, England.
1915: Actor Zero Mostel, best known for his portrayal of comic characters such as Tevye on stage in "Fiddler on the Roof," Pseudolus on stage and on screen in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," and Max Bialystock in the original film version of "The Producers," is born Samuel Joel Mostel in Brooklyn, N.Y. He died of an aortic aneurysm at age 62 on Sept. 8, 1977.
1906: Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, a mobster with the Genovese crime family and a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip, is born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1893: The USS Indiana, the lead ship of her class and the first battleship in the United States Navy comparable to foreign battleships of the time, is launched.
1784: John Wesley charters the first Methodist church, Methodist Episcopal Church, in Leesburg, Va.
1525: The Aztec king Cuauhtémoc is executed by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés' forces for allegedly conspiring to kill Cortés and the other Spaniards.