1706: Politician, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of America who also gained international renown as a scientist for his famous experiments in electricity and for his many inventions, is born in Boston, Massachusetts Bay.
1891: American historian and statesman George Bancroft, who established the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., during his tenure as U.S. secretary of the Navy, dies at the age of 90 in Washington, D.C. Bancroft was also prominent in promoting secondary education both in his home state of Massachusetts and at the national level.
1893: Hawaii's monarchy is overthrown when a group of businessmen and sugar planters force Queen Lili'uokalani to abdicate. The coup's success was supported by the landing of U.S. Marines, who came ashore at the request of the conspirators ostensibly to ensure the safety and property of American citizens, an act that was later declared illegal. Hawaii was initially reconstituted as an independent republic, but the ultimate goal of the revolutionaries was the annexation of the islands to the United States, which was accomplished in 1898.
1893: Rutherford B. Hayes, who served as the 19th president of the United States from 1877 to 1881, dies of complications from a heart attack at the age of 70 in Fremont, Ohio.
1899: Al Capone, the crime boss whose Prohibition-era crime syndicate was dedicated to illegal activities such as smuggling and bootlegging liquor in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931, is born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1904: "The Cherry Orchard," the last play by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, premieres at the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia. Less than six months later Chekhov died of tuberculosis at the age of 44.
1912: English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition reach the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had gotten there first five weeks earlier. On their return journey, Scott (back row, center) and his four comrades all died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.
1913: James Cash Penney consolidates all partner interests in 34 Golden Rule stores and incorporates them as one Utah-based company named the J.C. Penney Company. The following year the company's headquarters were moved to New York City. Pictured is the "Mother Store," Penney's first Golden Rule store, which opened in Kemmerer, Wyo., in 1902 and remains in operation as a J.C. Penney store today.
1922: Actress Betty White, best known for her television roles as Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and Rose Nylund on "The Golden Girls," is born in Oak Park, Ill. White is also known for her regular appearances on the game shows "Password" and "Match Game" from the 1950s through the early 1980s and now is a regular on the TV Land sitcom "Hot in Cleveland."
1927: Juliette Gordon Low (center), the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA, dies of breast cancer at age 66 in Savannah, Ga. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting Movement, asked Low to help form a group of Girl Guides in Scotland in 1911. When Low returned home to Savannah in 1912, she formed a Girl Guide troop there, and when the Girl Guides became the Girl Scouts in 1915, Low became the first president.
1927: Actress and singer Eartha Kitt, best known for playing Catwoman on the final season of the 1960s "Batman" TV series, is born in North, S.C. She's also remembered for her 1953 hit recordings of "C'est Si Bon" and the enduring Christmas novelty smash "Santa Baby." She died of colon cancer at age 81 on Dec. 25, 2008.
1928: Vidal Sassoon, who started out as a hairdresser and became a worldwide success with his chain of hairstyling salons and line of hair care products, is born in London, England. He died of leukemia at age 84 on May 9, 2012.
1929: The cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man first appears in Elzie Segar's "Thimble Theatre" comic strip. Although the strip was in its 10th year, Popeye quickly became the main focus of the strip, which would become one of King Features' most popular properties during the 1930s. In 1933, the character was adapted into a series of theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures, which proved even more popular and continued production through 1957.
1931: Actor James Earl Jones, known for voicing Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" movie series and Mufasa in "The Lion King," and for roles in movies such as "The Great White Hope," "Conan the Barbarian" and "Field of Dreams," is born in Arkabutla, Miss.
1942: Muhammad Ali, considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, is born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Ky. Ali would go on to become the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion, but is almost as well known for his unorthodox fighting style and his pre-match hype.
1945: Soviet forces capture the almost completely destroyed Polish city of Warsaw during World War II.
1945: The Nazis begin the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland as Soviet forces close in. Nearly 60,000 prisoners were forced on a death march toward a camp in Wodzislaw Slaski, Poland, with those too weak or sick to walk left behind. The remaining 7,500 prisoners left at Auschwitz would be liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army on Jan. 27.
1946: The United Nations Security Council holds its first session in London, England. Since that first meeting, the council, which exists in continuous session, has traveled widely, holding meetings in many cities, such as Paris and Addis Ababa, as well as at its current permanent home at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
1949: "The Goldbergs," the first sitcom on American television, airs for the first time. The show, which got it start as a radio show from 1929 to 1946, followed the home life of a Jewish family living in The Bronx, N.Y. It would air on and off on several different stations and in syndication through 1956 for a total of 71 episodes.
1949: Performance artist and actor Andy Kaufman, known for his elaborate hoaxes and pranks, is born in New York City. Kaufman would go on to become a mainstream success thanks to his role of Latka on the sitcom "Taxi" before dying at age 35 on May 16, 1984, from kidney failure brought on by lung cancer.
1955: Singer-songwriter and actor Steve Earle, who began his career as a songwriter in Nashville, Tenn., and broke through with his 1986 album "Guitar Town," is born in Fort Monroe, Va. He has also appeared in the HBO drama series "The Wire" and "Treme" and has written a novel, a play and a book of short stories.
1959: Susanna Hoffs, lead singer and guitarist for The Bangles, is born in Los Angeles, Calif.
1961: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving office, in which he warns against the accumulation of power by the "military-industrial complex."
1962: Actor and comedian Jim Carrey, best known for roles in movies such as "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "Dumb and Dumber," "The Mask," "The Truman Show," "Man on the Moon" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," is born in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
1964: Michelle Obama, who became the first lady of the United States when her husband Barack Obama took office as president in 2009, is born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in Chicago, Ill.
1966: A B-52G bomber collides with a KC-135 Stratotanker during mid-air refueling at 31,000 feet over the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain, dropping three 70-kiloton nuclear bombs near the town of Palomares and another one into the sea. The KC-135 was completely destroyed when its fuel load ignited, killing all four crew members. The B-52G broke apart, killing three of the seven crew members aboard. The non-nuclear explosives in two of the weapons detonated upon impact with the ground, resulting in the contamination of nearly a square mile by plutonium. The bomb that fell into the sea was recovered intact after a search lasting more than two months. It's the silver tube seen here in the foreground on the fantail of the submarine rescue ship USS Petrel.
1971: Grammy-winning rock and rap musician Kid Rock, known for songs such as "Bawitdaba," "Cowboy," "Picture" and "All Summer Long," is born Robert James Ritchie in Romeo, Mich.
1977: Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by a firing squad in Utah, ending a nearly 10-year moratorium on capital punishment in the United States.
1980: Actress and singer Zooey Deschanel, known for her roles in movies such as "Elf," "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "(500) Days of Summer" and for the TV sitcom "New Girl," is born in Los Angeles, Calif. She is also one half of the indie music duo She & Him with singer-songwriter M. Ward.
1981: Singer Ray J, known for songs such as "One Wish" and "Sexy Can I," is born William Ray Norwood Jr. in McComb, Miss. He is also the brother of singer Brandy Norwood (right) and first cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg.
1982: Basketball star Dwyane Wade, who has won three NBA titles since his 2003 debut with the Miami Heat, is born in Chicago, Ill. He was named NBA Finals MVP in 2006, led the NBA in scoring in 2009 and has earned bronze and gold Olympic medals with Team USA.
1989: Patrick Purdy opens fire with an assault rifle at the Cleveland Elementary School playground in Stockton, Calif., killing five children and wounding 29 others and one teacher before taking his own life.
1990: The Who, Simon & Garfunkel (pictured), the Kinks, the Four Tops, the Four Seasons, Bobby Darin, the Platters and Hank Ballard are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1991: Operation Desert Storm begins early in the morning with an extensive aerial bombing campaign designed to destroy Iraq's Air Force and anti-aircraft facilities. In response, Iraq fired eight Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation. The aerial campaign would be followed by a ground assault designed to push Iraqi troops out of Kuwait starting on Feb. 24. The U.S.-led Coalition forces quickly earned a decisive victory, liberating Kuwait and advancing into Iraqi territory before declaring a cease-fire 100 hours after the ground campaign started.
1994: A magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits Northridge, Calif., killing 57 people and injuring more than 8,700. The quake, which had one of the highest ground accelerations ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area and was felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nev., also caused an estimated $20 billion in damage, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
1995: A magnitude 7.3 earthquake hits near Kobe, Japan, causing more than $100 billion in property damage and killing 6,434 people.
1996: David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Pete Seeger, Jefferson Airplane, The Velvet Underground and The Shirelles headline the class of 1996 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although the ceremony was held in New York City, it was the first induction since the Hall of Fame's long-awaited museum complex opened in Cleveland, Ohio, in the fall of 1995.
1998: U.S. President Bill Clinton gives his deposition in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, making him the first U.S. president to testify as a defendant in a criminal or civil lawsuit. In the deposition, Clinton denies having sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, a denial that would later become the basis for the impeachment charge of perjury. As for the sexual harassment suit, Clinton would later agree to an out-of-court settlement and pay Jones (pictured) $850,000.
1998: Matt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair on his website The Drudge Report, reporting that Newsweek editors were sitting on a story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff exposing the affair. The story would break in the mainstream press with a report in The Washington Post four days later.
2001: U.S. President Bill Clinton posthumously promotes Meriwether Lewis, one of the leaders of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition, from lieutenant to captain.
2003: Actor Richard Crenna, best known for his roles in movies such as "The Sand Pebbles," "Body Heat" and the first three "Rambo" movies, dies of heart failure at the age of 76 in Los Angeles, Calif. Crenna was also known for the TV series "Our Miss Brooks" and "The Real McCoys."
2005: Actress Virginia Mayo, Warner Brothers biggest box office money maker in the late 1940s, dies of pneumonia and complications of congestive heart failure at age 84 in Los Angeles, Calif. Mayo got her start in vaudeville and is best known for a series of comedic films with Danny Kaye. She also appeared alongside Bob Hope in "The Princess and the Pirate," with James Cagney in "White Heat" (pictured), and in William Wyler's Best Picture Oscar-winner "The Best Years of Our Lives."
2008: American chess grandmaster and author Bobby Fischer, the 11th World Chess Champion and considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time, dies from degenerative renal failure at the age of 64 in Reykjavík, Iceland. Fischer was also an eight-time U.S. champion, winning his first title in 1958 at the age of 14.
2011: Music publisher, promoter and producer Don Kirshner, known as "The Man With the Golden Ear" for his success with bands such as The Monkees, Kansas and The Archies, dies of heart failure at the age of 76 in Boca Raton, Fla. Kirshner was also influential in starting off the careers of singers and songwriters, including Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond and Carole King. In April 14, 2012, he was posthumously inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.