2012: Author and political activist Gore Vidal ("Lincoln," "The City and the Pillar," "Myra Breckenridge") dies of complications from pneumonia in Hollywood Hills, California. He was 86.
2012: Michael Phelps wins a gold medal as part of the U.S. team in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay at the Summer Olympics in London, England. The medal was his 19th Olympic medal, breaking the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the most Olympic medals won. He would win three more at the 2012 games, for a total of 22 in his career, including 18 golds.
2009: Three American tourists, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, are arrested by Iran on suspicion of espionage during what their families have said was a simple hiking trip along the Iraq-Iran border. Shourd was released 14 months later on "humanitarian grounds" while Bauer and Fattal were convicted of "illegal entry" and "espionage" two years after their arrest. They were each sentenced to eight years in prison, but were released on Sept. 21, 2011. Each of the detainees was released after payment of about $465,000 bail.
2007: Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland and the longest-running British Army operation ever, comes to an end.
2007: The iTunes Music Store reaches 3 billion songs sold.
2006: Fidel Castro hands over power to brother Raúl Castro while recovering from surgery he underwent due to intestinal problems. Although the move was described as temporary, Raul Castro would remain acting president until February 2008 when he was chosen as his brother's successor.
1999: NASA intentionally crashes the Lunar Prospector spacecraft into the moon after the presence of water ice was successfully detected. It was hoped that the impact would liberate water vapor from the suspected ice deposits in the crater and that the plume would be detectable from Earth. However, no such plume was observed.
1997: The Oakland A's trade Mark McGwire to St. Louis Cardinals. He would end up leading the majors with 58 home runs that season. The following season he would go on to break Roger Maris' 61-homer single-season record by hitting 70.
1995: Selena's "Dreaming of You," a combination of Spanish-language songs and new English-language tracks, debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. The album, released less than four months after her murder, makes her the first Latin artist to debut on the chart at No. 1.
1991: The United States and Soviet Union both sign the START I Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The treaty would go on to be the first to reduce (with verification) both countries' stockpiles.
1990: Nolan Ryan, pitching for the Texas Rangers, becomes the 20th major-league pitcher to win 300 games. He would go on to win 324 in his career before retiring in 1993.
1989: Tennis player Victoria Azarenka, a former World No. 1 ranked player and two-time Australian Open champion, is born in Minsk, Belarus.
1987: The James Bond movie "The Living Daylights," which featured the debut of Timothy Dalton as the famous British spy, premieres in the United States.
1981: The seven-week baseball players' strike comes to an end when the players and owners agree on the issue of free agent compensation.
1980: John Phillips (top) of The Mamas & the Papas is arrested by the FBI for possession of cocaine. He was eventually sentenced to five years in prison, but lectured against drugs for 250 hours as an alternate sentence.
1979: James Taylor plays a free concert in New York's Central Park to help the city's campaign to restore the park's Sheep Meadow.
1976: Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is released.
1971: Apollo 15 astronauts Jim Irwin and Dave Scott become the first to ride in a lunar rover. It remains on the surface of the moon today.
1968: Billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1966: Actor Dean Cain ("Lois & Clark") is born in Mount Clemens, Michigan.
1965: "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling is born Joanne Rowling in Yate, Gloucestershire, England.
1964: Country singer Jim Reeves dies at age 40 when his single-engine Beechcraft crashes near Nashville, Tennessee. Some of Reeves' best known hits include "Four Walls," "He'll Have to Go," "Billy Bayou" and "Welcome to My World."
1964: Ranger 7 sends back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from Earth-bound telescopes.
1962: Actor Wesley Snipes, known for roles in movies like "White Men Can't Jump" and the "Blade" film franchise, is born in Orlando, Florida.
1956: Actor Michael Biehn, best known for his roles in the action movies "The Terminator," "Aliens" and "The Abyss," is born in Anniston, Alabama.
1953: The Department of Health, Education and Welfare is created. The agency was the precursor to the Department of Health and Human Services, which it became in 1979 when the separate Department of Education was formed.
1948: At Idlewild Field in New York, New York International Airport (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport) is dedicated.
1941: Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring orders SS General Reinhard Heydrich to "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question." Heydrich would become one of the main architects of the Holocaust.
1936: Tokyo is awarded the 1940 Olympics, which were later canceled due to the outbreak of World War II.
1928: MGM's Leo the lion roars for the first time, being introduced before the studio's first talking picture, "White Shadows on the South Seas."
1886: Hungarian composer Franz Liszt dies from pneumonia at age 74 in Bayreuth, Germany.
1875: Andrew Johnson, who served as the 17th U.S. president from 1865 to 1869, dies at age 66 in Elizabethton, Tennessee, following a stroke. Johnson was Abraham Lincoln's vice president for just over a month when he became president upon Lincoln's assassination. After coming into conflict with the Republican-dominated Congress over Reconstruction, he was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first president to be impeached, although he was acquitted in the Senate by one vote. Johnson also twice served as Tennessee's governor, the second time from 1862 to 1865 as military governor after the state had been retaken, and represented the state in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. He had been elected to the Senate again in 1875 (the only former president to serve there), just months before his death.
1790: The very first U.S. patent is issued to inventor Samuel Hopkins for his process to refine potash.
1703: Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but the audience, by some reports at least, pelts him with flowers and drinks to his health instead of ridiculing him.
A.D. 781: The oldest recorded eruption of Mt. Fuji in Japan takes place.