2010: A natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, creates a "wall of fire" more than 1,000 feet high and kills eight people.
1999: Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter, who pitched from 1965 to 1979 for both the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees, dies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at age 53 in Hertford, North Carolina. An eight-time All-Star, Hunter won the 1974 Cy Young Award, pitched a perfect game in 1968 and won five World Series titles, three with the A's and two with the Yankees.
1999: The Sega Dreamcast game system goes on sale. By 1 p.m. all Toys R Us locations in the U.S. had sold out.
1997: Actor Burgess Meredith, best known for his roles as boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill in the first three "Rocky" movies and as The Penguin in the 1960s "Batman" TV series, dies from complications of Alzheimer's disease and melanoma at age 89 in Malibu, California. Some of Meredith's other memorable roles came in the movies "The Day of the Locust," "Grumpy Old Men" and "Foul Play" and in four episodes of the TV series "The Twilight Zone," including the famous "Time Enough at Last" episode.
1996: Bill Monroe, the singer-songwriter and musician who helped create the style of music known as bluegrass, dies at age 84 in Nashville, Tennessee. Bluegrass music takes its name from his band, the Blue Grass Boys, named for Monroe's home state of Kentucky.
1993: Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat recognizes Israel as a legitimate state in an official letter to its prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin.
1992: Robin Yount of the Milwaukee Brewers becomes the 17th major-leaguer to reach 3,000 hits. He would collect another 142 hits in his career before retiring following the 1993 season.
1988: Atlanta Braves pitcher Bruce Sutter joins Rollie Fingers and Rich "Goose" Gossage as the only relievers with 300 career major-league saves. The game and save were the last of his Hall of Fame career.
1980: Actress Michelle Williams, known for the TV show "Dawson's Creek" and her Academy Award-nominated roles in "Brokeback Mountain," "Blue Valentine" and "My Week with Marilyn," is born in Kalispell, Montana. Williams has also starred in movies like "Halloween H20," "I'm Not There," "Shutter Island" and "Oz the Great and Powerful."
1979: Tracy Austin, at age 16 years and 9 months, becomes the youngest player to win the U.S. Open women’s tennis title.
1978: Film executive Jack Warner, who became the president and driving force behind the Warner Bros. Studios, dies of a heart inflammation at the age of 86 in Los Angeles, California.
1976: Chinese communist revolutionary and politician Mao Zedong, commonly referred to as Chairman Mao, is taken off life support and dies at age 82 in Beijing, China. He had suffered a heart attack seven days earlier, his third overall, and his lung infection had worsened. The founding father of the People's Republic of China from its establishment in 1949, he governed the country as chairman of the Communist Party of China until his death.
1975: Singer-songwriter and actor Michael Bublé, known for his best-selling albums of traditional pop, big band and jazz standards, is born in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
1971: About 1,000 of the approximately 2,200 inmates at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York, riot and seize control of the prison, taking 42 staff hostage. The revolt would come to an end four days later when New York State Police and National Guardsmen storm the prison. At least 39 people were killed in the final assault, including 10 correctional officers and civilian employees. Another officer and four inmates were killed earlier during the riot. The riot was based upon prisoners' demands for political rights and better living conditions.
1971: John Lennon's second solo album, "Imagine," is released. The album would eventually peak at No. 1 in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
1971: Actor Eric Stonestreet, best known for his Emmy-nominated role as Cameron Tucker on the sitcom "Modern Family," is born in Kansas City, Kansas.
1971: Actor Henry Thomas, best known for playing Elliott Taylor in the 1982 film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," is born in San Antonio, Texas. He's also known for roles in "Cloak & Dagger," "Legends of the Fall" and "Gangs of New York." He's seen here with "E.T." director Steven Spielberg and Drew Barrymore at the premiere of the 20th anniversary version of the film in 2002.
1969: In Canada, the Official Languages Act comes into force, making the French language equal to the English language throughout the Federal government.
1969: Model and actress Rachel Hunter is born in Glenfield, Auckland, New Zealand.
1966: The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act is signed into law by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The act created the National Highway Safety Bureau (now National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and led to the national adoption of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
1966: Actor and comedian Adam Sandler, who became famous on "Saturday Night Live" and has starred in movies like "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore," "The Waterboy," "The Wedding Singer," "50 First Dates" and "Grown Ups," is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1965: A day after making landfall on Key Largo as a Category 3 hurricane, Hurricane Betsy makes a second landfall near New Orleans, this time as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm left 76 dead and caused $1.42 billion in damages, becoming the first hurricane to top $1 billion in unadjusted damages.
1965: Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers becomes the sixth pitcher of the modern era, and eighth overall, to throw a perfect game, the first by a left-hander since 1880. The 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs was Koufax's fourth no-hitter, setting a major-league record that was later broken by Nolan Ryan.
1965: The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development is established.
1960: Actor Hugh Grant, best known for movies such as "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Notting Hill," "Bridget Jones's Diary," "About A Boy" and "Love Actually," is born in London, England.
1956: Elvis Presley appears on "The Ed Sullivan Show" for the first time, with actor Charles Laughton hosting the show as a fill-in while Sullivan recuperated from a car accident. Presley performed "Don't Be Cruel," "Love Me Tender," "Ready Teddy" and a shortened version of "Hound Dog" in two segments broadcast from Hollywood. The show was seen by approximately 60 million viewers -- a record 82.6 percent of the television audience.
1951: Actor and singer Tom Wopat, best known for playing Luke Duke on "The Dukes of Hazzard," is born in Lodi, Wisconsin.
1949: Joe Theismann, best known for his 12 seasons playing in the NFL with Washington, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler and quarterback of the winning team in Super Bowl XVII, is born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Theismann, who played collegiately for Notre Dame, was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
1948: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) is established, with Kim Il-sung as leader.
1947: A moth lodges in a relay of a Harvard Mark II computer at Harvard University, marking the first actual case of a computer bug being found. While the Harvard Mark II operators did not coin the term "bug," the incident contributed to the widespread use and acceptance of the term within the computer software lexicon.
1942: A Japanese floatplane launched from a submarine and flown by Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and Petty Officer Okuda Shoji drops two incendiary bombs outside of Brookings, Oregon, in an attempt to start a forest fire. The damage done by the attack was minor, but it was the only time during World War II that mainland America suffered an air raid attack by enemy forces. The attack was also the first time the continental United States was bombed by an enemy aircraft.
1941: Soul singer Otis Redding is born in Dawson, Georgia. His biggest hit, 1967's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," became the first posthumous No. 1 record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts after his death in a plane crash on Dec. 10, 1967. "Respect" and "Try a Little Tenderness" are among his other most well-known songs.
1915: Albert Spalding, a pitcher, manager and executive in the early years of professional baseball, and the co-founder of A.G. Spalding sporting goods company, dies at age 65 in San Diego, California. In 1877, Spalding, then a pitcher and the manager of the Chicago White Stockings, began to use a glove to protect his catching hand, providing a boost for the gloves his newly formed company sold. The company also standardized early baseballs and developed the modern baseball bat with the bulge at its apex. Today, the company specializes in the production of balls for many sports, but is most-known for its basketballs, as the official ball provider for both the NBA and the WNBA.
1901: French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, among the most well-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period, dies from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis at age 36 in Château Malromé, France.
1899: Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt, one of the dominant pitchers of the 1920s and the winningest pitcher for the New York Yankees during that decade, is born in Brooklyn, New York. Hoyt helped the Yankees to World Series titles in 1923, 1927 and 1928 and compiled a record of 237-182 with 1,206 strikeouts in a career that also saw him play with the New York Giants, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He died of heart failure at age 84 on Aug. 25, 1984.
1893: U.S. first lady Frances Cleveland gives birth to daughter Esther, marking the first, and only, time a president's child was born in the White House.
1890: Harland Sanders, the businessman and restaurateur better known as Colonel Sanders who founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain, is born in Henryville, Indiana. He died of complications from pneumonia and leukemia at age 90 on Dec. 16, 1980.
1877: Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman and manager Frank Chance, who won two World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and 1908, is born in Salida, California. Chance also helped the Cubs to National League pennants in 1906 and 1910. He played 15 years for the Cubs and two years for the New York Yankees, also serving as manager for the last 10 years of his career. He also managed the Boston Red Sox in 1923, compiling a career managerial record of 946-648.
1850: California is admitted as the 31st U.S. state.
1828: Author Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy, best known for "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina," is born in Yasnaya Polyana, his family's estate in the Tula region of Russia.
1791: Three commissioners overseeing the construction of the capital of the United States name the city Washington, D.C., after President George Washington.
1776: The Continental Congress officially names its new union of sovereign states the United States. This replaced the term "United Colonies," which had been in general use.