1521: Pope Leo X excommunicates Martin Luther in the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem. An earlier papal edict had demanded Luther recant or face excommunication over his written attacks on orthodox Catholic beliefs and his denial of the power of Rome to determine what is right and wrong in matters of faith.
1870: The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge begins.
1879: Grace Coolidge, who would become first lady of the United States when her husband, Calvin Coolidge, was elected president in 1923, is born Grace Anna Goodhue in Burlington, Vt.
1888: Marvin C. Stone of Washington, D.C., patents the spiral winding process to manufacture the first modern paper drinking straws. Not satisfied with the natural rye grass straws commonly used in those days, Stone came up with way to wind paper into a tube, sealing the gaps with glue and covering the whole straw in wax to keep it from turning mushy in liquid.
1892: Author J. R. R. Tolkien, best known for his classic high fantasy works "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Silmarillion," is born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now Free State Province in South Africa). He died at age 81 on Sept. 2, 1973.
1907: Actor Ray Milland, best known for his Academy Award–winning portrayal of an alcoholic writer in "The Lost Weekend," as well as for his roles in "Reap the Wild Wind," "Dial M for Murder" and "Love Story," is born Alfred Reginald Jones in Neath, Wales. He died of lung cancer on March 10, 1986, at age 79.
1909: Comedian, conductor and pianist Victor Borge, who became beloved for his live and televised musical comedy performances, is born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen, Denmark. He died at age 91 on Dec. 23, 2000.
1911: Film director John Sturges, best known for movies such as "Bad Day at Black Rock," "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," "The Magnificent Seven," "The Great Escape" and "Ice Station Zebra," is born in Oak Park, Ill. Sturges, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Director for "Bad Day at Black Rock," died of heart attack and emphysema at age 82 on Aug. 18, 1992. He's seen here (second from left) with James Coburn, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson on the set of "The Great Escape."
1923: Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram, best known for his 15-year tenure with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL and NFL, is born in Chicago, Ill. Stram won three AFL Championships (more than any other coach in the league's history) and Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs. He died from complications due to diabetes at the age of 82 on July 4, 2005.
1925: Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini announces he is taking dictatorial powers over Italy.
1926: Record producer George Martin, best known for his work with The Beatles and considered one of the greatest record producers of all time, is born in London, England. He's seen here in this undated photo from the 1960s.
1929: Film director Sergio Leone, mostly associated with the "Spaghetti Western" genre and known for movies such as "A Fistful of Dollars," "For a Few Dollars More," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West," is born in Rome, Italy. He died of a heart attack at the age of 60 on April 30, 1989.
1930: Actor Robert Loggia, best known for roles in movies such as "Scarface," "Jagged Edge," "Big" and "Independence Day" (pictured), is born Salvatore Loggia in Staten Island, N.Y.
1932: Actor Dabney Coleman, best known for his roles in movies such as "9 to 5," "Tootsie," "WarGames" and "You've Got Mail," is born in Austin, Texas.
1938: The March of Dimes, initially known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, is established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fight polio. The organization's current name came from its annual fundraising event that requested Americans donate a dime each to the cause. Today, the nonprofit organization continues to work to improve the health of mothers and babies. Roosevelt is seen here counting dimes with Basil O'Connor, president of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.
1939: Hall of Fame hockey player Bobby Hull, nicknamed "The Golden Jet" and one of the greatest ice hockey players of all time, is born in Pointe Anne, Ontario, Canada. In his 23 years in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association, he played for the Chicago Black Hawks, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers. He's seen here with his son, fellow NHL great Brett Hull, during a 2005 ceremony by the Phoenix Coyotes (who were once the original Winnipeg Jets team before relocating) to unretire his number so his son could wear it.
1945: Singer-songwriter Stephen Stills (center), best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash, is born in Dallas, Texas.
1946: Rock musician John Paul Jones (far left), best known as the bassist, keyboardist and co-songwriter for Led Zeppelin, is born John Baldwin in Sidcup, Kent, England.
1950: Actress Victoria Principal, best known for her role as Pamela Barnes Ewing on the TV drama "Dallas," is born in Fukuoka, Japan.
1953: Frances P. Bolton and her son, Oliver P. Bolton, both Republicans from Ohio, become the first mother and son to serve simultaneously in the U.S. Congress. They would end up serving together for a total of three terms.
1956: A fire breaks out at the top part of the Eiffel Tower, severely damaging the structure's summit and creating a cloud of black smoke visible from much of Paris. The cause of the fire, limited to an area of the tower containing radio and television installations, turned out to be electrical. Firefighters had to climb the 984-foot tower on foot to battle the flames.
1956: Actor and director Mel Gibson, best known for starring in the "Mad Max" and "Lethal Weapon" film series and directing such movies as "Braveheart," "The Passion of the Christ" and "Apocalypto," is born in Peekskill, N.Y. Gibson, who also starred in "Braveheart," won an Oscar for Best Director for the film, which also won Best Picture. He's also known for starring in such films as "Ransom," "Maverick," "What Women Want," "We Were Soldiers" and "Signs."
1959: Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state.
1961: The United States withdraws diplomatic recognition of the Cuban government and closes the embassy in Havana.
1962: Pope John XXIII excommunicates Fidel Castro after Castro suppressed Catholic institutions in Cuba.
1967: Jack Ruby, the Dallas-area nightclub operator who shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, President John F. Kennedy's accused assassin, dies of a pulmonary embolism, secondary to lung cancer, at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The hospital is the same one where Oswald had died and Kennedy had been pronounced dead after his assassination. Ruby had been convicted in Oswald's death, but an appeals court had ruled he had been denied a fair trial and ordered his conviction reversed. Ruby's death came before he could be retried.
1969: Race car driver Michael Schumacher, a seven-time World Champion who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time, is born in Hürth, West Germany.
1973: CBS sells the New York Yankees for $8.8 million to a group of investors led by George Steinbrenner III and his minority partner, team president E. Michael Burke. Steinbrenner would end up owning the team for 37 years until his death in July 2010, a time during which the Yankees won seven World Series titles.
1975: Actress Danica McKellar, best known for playing Winnie Cooper on the TV show "The Wonder Years," is born in La Jolla, Calif.
1977: Apple Computer is incorporated. Pictured is the Apple I, the company's first computer, which was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak.
1979: Hilton Hotels founder and businessman Conrad Hilton dies of natural causes at the age of 91 in Santa Monica, Calif.
1980: Joy Adamson, an Austrian naturalist known as the author of the best-selling book "Born Free," is found dead at the age of 69 in Shaba National Reserve in Kenya, Africa. Although she was initially thought to have been killed by a lion, a teenaged herder she had briefly employed would later confess to killing Adamson because she had chased him away from the camp after a wage disagreement. "Born Free," which describes Adamson's experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa, was printed in several languages and made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name.
1981: NFL quarterback Eli Manning, who has led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles, winning MVP honors both times, is born in New Orleans, La.
1983: Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett sets a record with the longest run from scrimmage in league history, running a play from scrimmage 99 yards for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. The record can never be broken, although it could be tied.
1990: Former leader of Panama Manuel Noriega surrenders to American forces 13 days after the United States invaded Panama in an attempt to force him from power. Five days into the invasion, Noriega took refuge in the Vatican diplomatic mission in Panama City, where he stayed until surrendering. Upon his surrender, he was immediately flown to the United States for trial on charges of drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering.
1999: The Mars Polar Lander is launched. The lander was supposed to study the soil and climate of a region near the south pole on Mars. However, NASA would lose radio contact with the spacecraft moments before it entered the Martian atmosphere on Dec. 3, 1999.
2005: Writer and illustrator Will Eisner, best known for his comic book series "The Spirit," dies at age 87 in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., of complications from a quadruple bypass surgery performed about two weeks earlier. One of the earliest cartoonists to work in the American comic book industry, the Eisner Award, given to recognize achievements each year in the comics industry, was named in his honor.
2006: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion and agrees to cooperate in investigations of corruption in Congress. He would serve 43 months in prison before being released on Dec. 3, 2010.
2008: Britney Spears suffers from a mental breakdown in Beverly Hills, Calif., where she refuses to hand over her sons Jayden James and Sean Preston to their father, Kevin Federline. Spears was eventually taken to Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center via ambulance and admitted as a "special needs" patient. The following day, her visitation rights were suspended at an emergency court hearing, and Federline was given sole physical and legal custody of the children. The pop singer would eventually be committed to the psychiatric ward of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on an involuntary psychiatric hold and the court placed her under temporary conservatorship of her father James Spears and attorney Andrew Wallet, giving them complete control of her assets. Spears was released on Feb. 6, 2008.