1556: The deadliest earthquake in recorded history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hits Shaanxi province, China, destroying a 521-mile wide area. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.
1737: Merchant, statesman and patriot John Hancock, who served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is born in Braintree, Mass., in a part of town that eventually became the separate city of Quincy, Mass. Hancock is also remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence.
1789: Georgetown University, the first Catholic university in the United States, is founded in Georgetown, Md., now a part of Washington, D.C.
1803: Arthur Guinness, Irish brewer and the founder of the Guinness brewery business, dies at the age of 77 or 78 in Dublin, Ireland.
1832: Painter Édouard Manet, a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, is born in Paris, France. Some of Manet's masterworks include "The Luncheon on the Grass" and "Olympia."
1849: Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her medical degree by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, N.Y., becoming the United States' first female doctor.
1855: The first bridge over the Mississippi River opens in what is now Minneapolis, Minn., a crossing made today by the Father Louis Hennepin Bridge.
1898: Pioneering film director Sergei Eisenstein, best known for his silent films "Strike," "Battleship Potemkin" and "October," is born in Riga, Latvia, in what was then the Russian Empire.
1898: Actor Randolph Scott, whose career spanned from 1928 to 1962, with most of his work coming in westerns, is born in Orange County, Va. Some of his best known films include "The Last of the Mohicans," "Western Union," "Go West, Young Man," "Virginia City" and "Ride the High Country." He died of heart and lung disease at age 89 on March 2, 1987.
1911: Marie Curie's nomination to the French Academy of Sciences, having already won one Nobel Prize, is nevertheless voted down by the Academy's all-male membership. She went on to win a second Nobel Prize later in the year.
1941: Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.
1943: Duke Ellington plays at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time.
1944: Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, whose best known work is "The Scream," dies at age 80 in Oslo, Norway.
1944: Actor Rutger Hauer, best known for his roles in movies such as "Nighthawks," "Blade Runner," "Ladyhawke" and "The Hitcher," is born in Breukelen, Utrecht, Netherlands.
1950: Actor Richard Dean Anderson, best known as the star of the TV shows "MacGyver" and "Stargate SG-1," is born in Minneapolis, Minn.
1951: Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who captained US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City in 2009, is born in Denison, Texas.
1953: The NFL's Dallas Texans become the Baltimore Colts, retaining the Texans' blue and white colors. The team would later move to Indianapolis, where they remain today.
1957: Princess Caroline of Monaco, the eldest child of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and American actress Grace Kelly, is born in Monaco.
1957: Wham-O begins producing its newly acquired toy, the Pluto Platter. The company would rename the toy the Frisbee in June 1957 in a move to stimulate sales of the flying disc. The toy's original inventor, Fred Morrison, is seen here promoting his Pluto Platter in the 1950s.
1960: The Trieste, a specially constructed bathyscaphe, or deep-sea submersible, descends 35,810 feet in the Pacific Ocean into Challenger Deep, the deepest point known to exist on Earth, in the Marianas Trench near the island of Guam. Jacques Piccard, the son of the Trieste's creator, Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard, and U.S. Navy Lt. Don Walsh made the five-hour descent, setting a deep-diving record that has stood unchallenged since.
1964: The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, is ratified. Poll taxes appeared in southern states after Reconstruction as a measure to prevent black voters from voting. At the time of the amendment's passage, five states still retained a poll tax: Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi. While the amendment made the tax illegal in federal elections, it wasn't until 1966 that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule that poll taxes for state elections were also unconstitutional because they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
1964: Actress Mariska Hargitay, the daughter of Jayne Mansfield best known for her role on the TV crime drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," is born in Los Angeles, Calif.
1968: North Korea seizes the Navy intelligence research ship USS Pueblo, claiming the ship had violated their territorial waters while spying. Two U.S. sailors were killed in the incident and the remaining 82 crew members were taken hostage as prisoners of war for 11 months before being released. The Pueblo is still held by North Korea today, moored as a museum ship in Pyongyang, and officially remains a commissioned vessel of the U.S. Navy.
1974: Actress Tiffani Thiessen, best known for her TV roles in "Saved by the Bell," "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "White Collar," is born in Long Beach, Calif.
1975: The TV sitcom "Barney Miller," set in a New York City police station in Greenwich Village, makes its debut. The show, which starred Hal Linden (right) in the title role, would run for eight seasons before ending on May 20, 1982. The show would win three Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series in 1982, and two Golden Globes during its run.
1976: Actor, singer, football player and social activist Paul Robeson dies of stroke complications at the age of 77 in Philadelphia, Pa. Robeson became a football All-American and the class valedictorian at Rutgers University and went on to play in the NFL while attending Columbia Law School. At Columbia, he became a participant in the "Harlem Renaissance" with performances in stage productions "The Emperor Jones" and "All God's Chillun Got Wings." Robeson became an international cinematic star in roles in "Show Boat," "Bosambo" and "Sanders of the River," but turned his focus to civil rights, becoming politically involved in response to the Spanish Civil War, fascism and social injustices.
1977: The TV mini-series "Roots," based on Alex Haley's novel "Roots: The Saga of an American Family," begins airing. The series finale, broadcast on Jan. 30, 1977, still holds a record as the third-highest-rated U.S. television program ever. The series would go on to earn 36 Emmy nominations, winning nine.
1977: Carole King's "Tapestry" sets a record for a female solo artist with the 302nd week it spends on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, nearly six years after its release. Its stay at No. 1 on the chart for 15 consecutive weeks in 1971 also gave it the record for the most weeks at No. 1 by a female solo artist for more than 40 years until surpassed by Adele's "21" in 2012.
1983: The action-adventure television series "The A-Team," about a fictional group of ex–U.S. Army Special Forces personnel who work as soldiers of fortune while on the run for a "crime they didn't commit," debuts. The show, which starred George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz and Mr. T, would run for five seasons before ending on March 8, 1987.
1986: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Sam Cooke. Also inducted were Alan Freed and Sam Phillips as non-performers and Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmy Yancey and Robert Johnson as early influences.
1989: Spanish painter Salvador Dalí, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work, including his best-known work, "The Persistence of Memory," which features melting pocket watches, dies of heart failure at the age of 84 in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain.
2002: John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban," returns to the United States in FBI custody. Lindh was a United States citizen who was captured as an enemy combatant during the United States' 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. He would eventually be sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.
2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan, where he had gone as part of an investigation into the alleged links between "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid and Al-Qaeda. He was beheaded by his captors nine days later. In March 2007, at a closed military hearing in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that he had personally beheaded Pearl.
2003: NASA receives the final, very weak signal from Pioneer 10, the robotic space probe that completed the first mission to the planet Jupiter, with the probe at a distance of 12 billion kilometers from Earth. Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System.
2003: Singer and actress Nell Carter, best known for her Broadway work and for starring on the TV sitcom "Gimme a Break!", dies from heart disease complicated by diabetes at the age of 54 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
2004: Actor Bob Keeshan, best known as the title character of the children's television program "Captain Kangaroo," dies at the age of 76 in Hartford, Vt.
2005: Late night talk show host Johnny Carson, best known for the 30 years he spent as host of "The Tonight Show," dies of respiratory failure arising from emphysema at the age of 79 in West Hollywood, Calif.
2011: American fitness and nutritional expert Jack LaLanne, who is sometimes called "the godfather of fitness" and the "first fitness superhero," dies of pneumonia at the age of 96 in Morro Bay, Calif.