1561: Philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon, whose work helped establish and popularize inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method, is born in London, England.
1875: Pioneering film director D. W. Griffith, best known as the director of the epic 1915 film "The Birth of a Nation" and the subsequent film "Intolerance," is born in La Grange, Ky.
1889: Columbia Phonograph is formed in Washington, D.C. The company would eventually evolve into what today is called Columbia Records. Columbia is the oldest brand name in pre-recorded sound, being the first record company to produce pre-recorded records as opposed to blank cylinders.
1901: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who became a national icon during her 63-year reign and was identified with strict standards of personal morality, dies at the age of 81 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, England.
1905: Russian troops open fire on workers marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg, killing more than 100 in what became known as "Bloody Sunday." Strikes and riots broke out throughout the country in outraged response to the massacre, to which Nicholas responded by promising the formation of a series of representative assemblies, or Dumas, to work toward reform. The incident would end up being one of the key events leading to the eventual Russian Revolution of 1917.
1922: Pope Benedict XV, whose pontificate was largely overshadowed by World War I and its consequences in Europe, dies of pneumonia at the age of 67 in Rome, Italy. During World War I, Benedict declared the neutrality of the Holy See and attempted to mediate peace in 1916 and 1917. When those efforts failed, he focused on humanitarian efforts, such as attending prisoners of war, the exchange of wounded soldiers and food deliveries to needy populations in Europe.
1931: R&B and soul singer Sam Cooke, whose hits included "Cupid," "You Send Me" and "Twistin' the Night Away," is born Samuel Cook in Clarksdale, Miss. Cooke was fatally shot by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles on Dec. 11, 1964. Motel manager Bertha Franklin told police that she shot the 33-year-old Cooke in self-defense after he broke into her office residence and attacked her. A coroner's inquest would later return a verdict of justifiable homicide.
1932: Actress Piper Laurie, known for her Academy Award-nominated roles the films "The Hustler," "Carrie" and "Children of a Lesser God," is born in Detroit, Mich. Laurie is also known for her Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning role as Catherine Martell in the TV series "Twin Peaks."
1934: Actor and director Bill Bixby, best known for portraying The Hulk's alter ego Dr. David Banner on the TV series "The Incredible Hulk," is born in San Francisco, Calif. He would also star in the TV sitcoms "My Favorite Martian" and "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," the TV miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man," and movies such as "The Apple Dumpling Gang" and "Clambake" during his career. Bixby, who first tried his hand at directing with episodes of "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," directed episodes of many TV series in the 1970s through 1990s, finishing his career by directing 30 episodes during the second and third seasons of the sitcom "Blossom." He died of complications from prostate cancer at the age of 59 in 1993.
1938: In Princeton, N.J., Thornton Wilder's play "Our Town" is performed publicly for the first time. Wilder would receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama later in the year for the work.
1940: Actor John Hurt, best known for roles in movies such as "The Elephant Man," "Alien," "Midnight Express," "Hellboy" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," is born in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, England.
1940: Football coach George Seifert, who won two Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers in 1989 and 1994, is born in San Francisco, Calif.
1946: The Central Intelligence Group, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, is formed.
1949: Singer and musician Steve Perry, best known as the former lead singer of the rock band Journey, is born in Hanford, Calif.
1953: The Arthur Miller drama "The Crucible" opens at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway. Miller wrote the play, a dramatization of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay during 1692 and 1693, as an allegory of McCarthyism. It would win the Tony Award for Best Play later in the year.
1953: Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, best known for writing and directing such independent films as "Stranger Than Paradise," "Dead Man," "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," "Coffee and Cigarettes" and "Broken Flowers," is born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
1959: Actress Linda Blair, best known for her role as the possessed child, Regan, in the 1973 film "The Exorcist," is born in St. Louis, Mo.
1960: Singer Michael Hutchence, best known as the lead singer of the band INXS, is born in Sydney, Australia. Hutchence, seen here in 1995, was found dead, hanging by a belt in a Sydney, Australia, hotel room on Nov. 22, 1997. In February 1998, his death would be ruled a suicide while depressed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
1965: DJ Jazzy Jeff, best known for his early career with Will Smith as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, is born Jeffrey Allen Townes in Philadelphia, Pa.
1965: Actress Diane Lane, best known for roles in movies such as "Unfaithful," "The Perfect Storm" and "Secretariat," is born in New York City.
1968: Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first Apollo Lunar Module into space. The mission would test the Lunar Module in a space environment, in particular its descent and ascent engine systems. The module would carry astronauts to the moon on Apollo 11 in 1969.
1968: The sketch comedy show "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" debuts on TV. The show would run for six seasons until March 12, 1973.
1968: TV host and restaurateur Guy Fieri, best known for Food Network shows like "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," "Guy Off the Hook" and "Guy's Grocery Games," is born Guy Ferry in Columbus, Ohio.
1969: A gunman attempts to assassinate Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The would-be assassin, Soviet Army deserter Viktor Ilyin, would be diagnosed as mentally ill and placed in solitary confinement in a psychiatric hospital.
1970: The first wide body jet goes into service as the Pan American Airways Boeing 747 flies its first flight between New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport and Heathrow Airport in London, England. The "jumbo jet" had a cabin almost twice as wide as a 707 and a length of 231 feet. With the ability to carry more than 400 passengers more than 5,500 miles, the 747 opened up economic long-distance travel to the masses.
1971: Businessman and publisher Harry Frank Guggenheim, who co-founded Newsday and served as the U.S. ambassador to Cuba, dies of cancer at the age of 80 in New York City.
1973: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who succeeded to the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, completed Kennedy's term and was elected president in his own right, dies of a massive heart attack at the age of 64 in Stonewall, Texas. While in office, Johnson was responsible for designing the "Great Society" legislation that included laws that upheld civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, and his "War on Poverty."
1973: The Supreme Court of the United States delivers its decision in Roe v. Wade, declaring on a 7-2 vote that abortion is a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny. Roe v. Wade prompted a national debate that continues today.
1973: Boxer Joe Frazier loses the first fight of his professional career to George Foreman in Kingston, Jamaica. Frazier had a 29-0 record going into the fight and had been the undefeated heavyweight world champion since Feb. 16, 1970, when he knocked out Jimmy Ellis.
1983: Professional tennis player Bjorn Borg retires at the age of 26. He set a record by winning five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles between 1976 and 1980, also won six French Open singles titles in his career and is considered by many to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
1984: The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, is introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous "1984" television commercial.
1987: Pennsylvania politician R. Budd Dwyer, set to be sentenced on bribery charges the following day, shoots and kills himself during a televised press conference, leading to debates on boundaries in journalism.
1994: Actor Telly Savalas, best known for playing the title role in the 1970s crime drama "Kojak," dies of complications of cancer of the bladder and prostate in Universal City, Calif., a day after his 72nd birthday. Savalas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for "Birdman of Alcatraz" and also appeared in movies such as "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "The Dirty Dozen" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
1995: Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, the matriarch of the Kennedy family, including sons U.S. President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Sens. Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, dies of complications from pneumonia at the age of 104 in Hyannis, Mass.
1997: The U.S. Senate unanimously confirms Madeleine Albright as the first female secretary of state by a vote of 99-0.
1998: Ted Kaczynski (center) pleads guilty to federal charges for his role as the Unabomber, agreeing to life in prison without parole in order to avoid the death penalty.
2001: Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth is sentenced to a minimum 18 years and 11 months in prison for his role in the 1999 shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams. Adams died a month after the shooting from her wounds. The baby survived and lives with the victim's mother.
2002: Kmart becomes the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
2005: Rose Mary Woods, who was President Richard Nixon's secretary from his days in Congress in 1951 through the end of his political career, dies at the age of 87 in Alliance, Ohio. Woods became a Watergate figure when she claimed responsibility in a 1974 grand jury testimony for inadvertently erasing up to five minutes of the 18 1/2 minute gap in a June 20, 1972, audio tape recorded in the Oval Office.
2008: Actor Heath Ledger, known for roles in movies such as "10 Things I Hate About You," "A Knight's Tale," "Monster's Ball" and "Brokeback Mountain," dies from an accidental prescription drug overdose at the age of 28 in New York City. In 2009, Ledger would posthumously win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his last completed role, playing The Joker in "The Dark Knight."
2010: Conan O'Brien ends his brief tenure on "The Tonight Show" a day after it was announced he had accepted a $45 million buyout from NBC to leave the show after only seven months. He would eventually start a new late night talk show, "Conan," on TBS on Nov. 8, 2010.
2012: Joe Paterno, the head coach of the college football Penn State Nittany Lions from 1966 to 2011, dies of complications from lung cancer at the age of 85 in State College, Pa. Although he once led all major college football coaches in career victories with 409, the NCAA vacated all of Penn State's wins from 1998 through 2011 as part of its punishment for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, eliminating 111 of the games Paterno had coached and won. Paterno's career ended with his dismissal from the team in 2011 for his role in the scandal.