2004: Ahmed Yassin, the Palestinian co-founder of Hamas, is assassinated when an Israeli helicopter gunship fires a missile at him as he is being wheeled from early morning prayers in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. The strike also killed Yassin's bodyguards along with nine bystanders and left 12 more people injured. Yassin, a 67-year-old quadriplegic who was nearly blind, had used a wheelchair since a sporting accident at the age of 12. An Islamist Palestinian paramilitary organization and political party, Hamas has been characterized by the European Union, Israel, Japan, Canada and the United States as a terrorist organization. The assassination was condemned by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and many Arab world leaders and sparked protests throughout the Middle East.
2001: Animator William Hanna, who co-founded the Hanna-Barbera animation studio with Joseph Barbera in 1957, dies of throat cancer at the age of 90 in Los Angeles, Calif.
1997: The Comet Hale-Bopp has its closest approach to Earth, passing within about 122 million miles.
1997: Tara Lipinski, age 14 years and 10 months, becomes the youngest woman to win a world figure skating title. Less than a year later, in Nagano, Japan, she would also become the youngest individual gold medalist in the history of the Winter Olympics.
1995: Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov returns to Earth after setting a record of 438 straight days in space on the Mir space station.
1994: Animator, film director and producer Walter Lantz, best known for founding Walter Lantz Productions and creating Woody Woodpecker, dies of heart failure at the age of 94 in Burbank, Calif. He's seen here in 1990.
1993: Cleveland Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews are killed in a boating accident on Little Lake Nellie in Clermont, Fla. Bob Ojeda was seriously injured in the accident, in which their boat struck a pier. It was the first death of active major league players since Thurman Munson in 1979.
1992: USAir Flight 405 crashes into Flushing Bay shortly after liftoff from New York City's LaGuardia Airport. Of the 51 people on board, 27 were killed in the accident, including the captain and one of the cabin crew members. The crash led to a number of studies into the effect that ice has on aircraft and several recommendations into prevention techniques.
1991: High school instructor Pamela Smart, accused of manipulating her student-lover into killing her husband, is convicted in Exeter, N.H., on charges of accomplice to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness tampering. She was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility for parole.
1990: A jury in Anchorage, Alaska, finds former tanker captain Joseph Hazelwood innocent of three major charges in connection with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, but convicts him of a minor charge of negligent discharge of oil. He was fined $50,000 and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service.
1989: Goalie Clint Malarchuk of the Buffalo Sabres suffers a near-fatal injury when another player's skate accidentally severs his carotid artery during a game against the St. Louis Blues. Malarchuk needed 300 stitches, yet he spent only one night in the hospital. He returned to practice four days later.
1980: "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)" becomes Pink Floyd's first, and only, No. 1 single in the United States.
1980: People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is founded by animal rights activists Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco.
1979: The National Hockey League votes to accept four World Hockey Association teams, the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques and New England Whalers, as new NHL teams for the 1979-1980 season. The merger agreement ended the seven-year existence of the WHA and re-established the NHL as the lone major league in North American professional ice hockey.
1978: Karl Wallenda, the German acrobat who founded The Flying Wallendas, an internationally known daredevil circus act that performed death-defying stunts, dies at the age of 73 after falling off a tight-rope between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He's seen here, second from left, in 1965.
1976: Actress Reese Witherspoon, best known for movies such as "Election," "Legally Blonde," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Walk the Line" and "Water for Elephants," is born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon in New Orleans, La. Witherspoon won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award for portraying country music legend June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line."
1972: Congress sends the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution to the states for ratification. The proposed amendment, designed to guarantee equal rights for women, ultimately would fall short of the three-fourths approval needed to be ratified.
1967: Muhammad Ali knocks out Zora Folley in the seventh round in New York City to retain his The Ring, WBC and WBA World Heavyweight titles. The match would be his final title defense before being stripped of his titles and having his boxing license suspended on April 28, 1967, for refusing to be drafted to Army service. He would later be sentenced to five years for draft evasion, a decision that was eventually reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. During the ensuing controversy, he wouldn't box for more than three years.
1965: Bob Dylan's album "Bringing It All Back Home," his first featuring electric guitar, is released. The album would reach No. 6 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart, the first of Dylan's albums to break into the U.S. top 10. The lead-off track, "Subterranean Homesick Blues," also would become Dylan's first single to chart in the U.S., peaking at No. 39.
1963: The Beatles' first album, "Please Please Me," is released in the United Kingdom.
1962: Barbra Streisand makes her Broadway debut at age 19 in the musical "I Can Get it For You Wholesale" at the Shubert Theater. The role would earn her a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.
1960: The first laser is patented by Arthur Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes under the title "Masers and Maser Communications System." What distinguished this invention as the first laser is that it was the first to operate in the visible light spectrum. The patent was assigned to the Bell Telephone Laboratories, where they had done the research.
1959: Actor Matthew Modine, best known for his roles in movies like "Vision Quest," "Streamers," "Birdy," "Full Metal Jacket," "Married to the Mob," "Memphis Belle" and "And the Band Played On," is born in Loma Linda, Calif.
1952: Sportscaster and commentator Bob Costas is born in New York City.
1948: Broadcast journalist Wolf Blitzer, a CNN reporter since 1990 whose team's coverage of the first Gulf War in Kuwait won a CableACE Award and made him a household name, is born in Augsburg, Germany.
1948: Andrew Lloyd Webber, the award-winning composer of musicals such as "The Phantom of the Opera," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Evita," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Cats," is born in London, England.
1946: The first American-designed rocket to reach space, WAC Corporal, climbs to 50 miles after launch from White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.
1940: Haing S. Ngor, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime and their labor camps who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the 1984 movie "The Killing Fields," is born in Samrong Yong, Cambodia. Ngor, a trained surgeon and gynecologist who was forced to conceal his education and training when Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge seized control of Cambodia in 1975, was imprisoned in a concentration camp along with his wife, My-Huoy, who subsequently died giving birth. After he was freed, he worked as a doctor in a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to America in 1980. Besides his debut acting role in "The Killing Fields," he also appeared in other movies and TV shows, most memorably in Oliver Stone's "Heaven & Earth" and the "Vanishing Son" miniseries. He was shot to death on Feb. 25, 1996, at the age of 55 outside his home in Los Angeles' Chinatown neighborhood.
1935: Actor M. Emmet Walsh, best known for movies like "The Jerk," "Blade Runner" and "Blood Simple," is born in Ogdensburg, N.Y.
1933: Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, opens on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, Germany.
1931: Actor William Shatner, best known for playing Capt. James T. Kirk in the original "Star Trek" TV series and seven movies, is born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Shatner is also known for his TV roles in "T.J. Hooker," "Rescue 911," "The Practice" and "Boston Legal."
1930: Pat Robertson is born Marion Gordon Robertson in Lexington, Va. The former Southern Baptist minister is best known these days as a best-selling author and the host of "The 700 Club." He is also chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network and unsuccessfully campaigned to become the Republican Party's nominee in the 1988 presidential election.
1930: Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who has won an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, is born in New York City. Sondheim's most famous works include "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music" and "Sweeney Todd." He also wrote the lyrics for "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" and has written material for movies, including the 1981 Warren Beatty film "Reds" and the 1990 movie "Dick Tracy," for which he won the Academy Award for Best Song for "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)." He's seen here in 1970s publicity photo.
1923: Mime artist Marcel Marceau, most famous for his persona as Bip the Clown, is born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France. He died at age 84 on Sept. 22, 2007.
1920: Actor Werner Klemperer, best known for the role of Colonel Klink on the sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," is born in Cologne, Germany. Klemperer and his family fled Germany in 1935 and he began a professional acting career on Broadway after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for each year of "Hogan's Heroes'" six seasons, winning the award in 1968 and 1969. He died from cancer at age 80 on Dec. 6, 2000.
1912: Actor Karl Malden, best known for the 1970s crime drama "The Streets of San Francisco" (pictured, at left, with Michael Douglas) as well as movies like "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "On the Waterfront," is born Mladen Djordje Sekulovich in Chicago, Ill. Malden, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for "A Streetcar Named Desire," also appeared in movies such as "One-Eyed Jacks," "Baby Doll," "How the West Was Won" and "Patton." He died at age 97 on July 1, 2009.
1908: Author Louis L'Amour, best known for his 89 novels, most of them in the western genre, is born Louis Dearborn LaMoore in Jamestown, N.D. He died of lung cancer at age 80 on June 10, 1988.
1895: The first motion picture shown on a screen is presented by the Lumière brothers (Auguste Lumière on the left and Louis Lumière on the right) in Paris, France. The film the Lumières shot specially for the occasion shows workers leaving the Lumières' own factory in Lyon, which made all kinds of photographic products. The workers streamed out, most on foot and some on bicycles. Several more such screenings followed before the first public performance, at the Grand Café in Paris on Dec. 28, 1895. The Lumières soon began opening cinemas in London, Brussels, Berlin and New York.
1894: Hockey's first Stanley Cup championship game is played at Victoria Rink in Montreal, with the Montreal Hockey Club beating the Ottawa Hockey Club 3-1.
1887: Comedian and actor Chico Marx is born Leonard Marx in New York City. The oldest of the Marx Brothers comedy team, he was known for his adopted persona of a dim-witted albeit crafty con artist, seemingly of rural Italian origin, and sported a curly-haired wig and Tyrolean hat.
1832: German writer and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, best known for his tragic play "Faust," dies at age 82 in Weimar, Germany.
1790: Thomas Jefferson takes office as America's first secretary of state.
1765: The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act requiring that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London and carrying an embossed revenue stamp. The act, which caused bitter and violent opposition in the colonies, would be repealed a year later. Seen here is a 1765 proof sheet of one-cent stamps required for newsprint.
1622: Algonquian Indians kill 347 English settlers around Jamestown, Virginia, a quarter of the colony's population.