On This Day Alert

An indifferent student, L'Amour dropped out of high school at age 15. Over the next two decades, he traveled around the world working in an amazing variety of jobs. At various times, he tried his hand at being a cowboy, seaman, longshoreman, prizefighter, miner, and fruit picker. During World War II, L'Amour served time in Europe as an officer in the tanks corps. Learn More

His theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man's view of the universe and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and ultimately, the atomic bomb. Learn More

His discovery of a new planet was the first to be made in modern times, and also the first to be made by use of a telescope, which allowed him to distinguish Uranus a planet, not a star. Learn More

Paul McCartney, former member of The Beatles, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his "services to music." The 54-year-old from Liverpool became Sir Paul in a centuries-old ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Learn More

Music Television Network (MTV) aired the first episode of the animated series Beavis and Butt-head, which went on to become the networks highest-rated series up to that point.

Now a common household remedy, acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical found in the bark of willow trees. The active ingredient, salicin, was used for centuries in folk medicine. Learn More

The Yellowstone Act of  1872 set a precedent and popularized the idea of preserving sections of the public domain for use as public parks. Congress went on to designate dozens of other national parks after. Learn More

Celebrated sitcom M*A*S*H concluded after 11 seasons, airing a 2.5 hour special watched by 77% of the TV viewing audience. It was the largest percentage ever to watch a single television show up to that time.

One of the foremost playwrights of the 20th-century and member of the American Theater Hall of Fame, he is remembered for his plays including  The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Learn More

Napolean drew blueprints for a channel tunnel between Britain and France in 1802. Attempts to dig it date back to 1883. Yet not until 1986 was it announced that a tunnel would soon become a reality. Learn More

She is best known for her novels The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife. Tan also played in a band called Rock Bottom Remainders with fellow writers Stephen King and Dave Barry.

Once believed to be the ninth planet, Pluto was discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh. Pluto lost its planet status in 2006. Learn More

The store owner and inventor Morris Michtom introduced the first Teddy bears, named after President Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy bears soon became a national childhood institution. Learn More

Leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, Mandla was released from prison after 27 years. He remained a global advocate for peace and social justice until his death in December 2013. Learn More

John Steinbeck's career was just starting to take off when this novella, the story of the bond between two migrant works, brought national attention to his work. He went on to win a Pulitzer Prize two years later. Learn More

Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith, all heavyweights in the rapidly growing motion-picture industry, joined forces to create their own film studio. Learn More

Considered the most comprehensive and accurate dictionary of the English language, it is the definitive authority on the meaning, pronunciation, and history of over half a million words, past and present. Learn More

It began with the stirring notes of the William Tell Overture and a shout out of "HI-you, Silver! Away!" The "masked rider of the plains" became one of the most popular and enduring western heroes of the 20th century.

45 stars sang including Cyndi Lauper Willie Nelson, Tina Turner, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, and Bob Dylan. The record sold more than 7 million copies and raised more than $60 million for African famine relief.

At the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond was discovered during a routine inspection. Weighing 1.33 pounds and christened the "Cullinan", it was the largest diamond ever found. Learn More

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, died in London at the age of 90. Learn More

Simultaneous flights took off from London and Paris. The innovative supersonic airliners flew well over the sound barrier at 1, 340 miles an hour, cutting air travel time by more than half.

He advocated civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to segregation in the American South. The peaceful protests he led were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted. Learn More

Apple Inc. CEO Stee Jobs unveiled the iPhone - a touchscreen mobile phone with an iPod, camera and web-browsing capabilities, among other features - at the Macworld convention in San Francisco. Learn More

American's first presidential election was held as voters cast ballots to chose state electors. George Washington won the presidential election, as expected, and was sworn into office on April 30, 1789.

The film was an immediate hit: The New Yorker called it "the biggest success in the history of the movies." while The Saturday Review said it was "not merely a success; it has become a phenomenon." Learn More

While spending the Christmas holidays at Graceland, his newly purchased Tennessee mansion, rock-and-roll star Elvis Presley received his draft notice for the United States Army. Learn More

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come and as a result, is transformed into a kinder man. Learn More

Spielberg is one of the most successful directors in modern movie history with such blockbusters as Jaws, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.

Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful flight of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air-aircraft. THe gasoline=powered, propeller-driven biplane flew for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight. Learn More

Using sleigh dogs, Norwegian Roald Amundsen, one of the great figures in polar exploration, became the first explorer to reach the South Pole, beating his British rival, Robert Falcon Scott.

Dutch navigator Abel Tasman became the first European explorer to sight the South Pacific island group now known as New Zealand. Weeks earlier, he had discovered Tasmania, off the coast of Austrailia.

After ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII became the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson. Learn More

Dickenson lived much of her life in reclusive isolation. While she was a prolific poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. Learn More

360 Japanese warplanes descended on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attach drew the United States irrevocably into World War II. Learn More

Owing to the bust crafted in 1345 B.C., Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, has become one of the most famous women of the ancient world, and an icon of feminine beauty.

The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. Learn More 

The American ship was discovered sailing erratically but at full sail near the Azores Islands in the Atlantic. It was seaworthy, stores and supplies untouched, but not a soul was onboard. Captain and crew were never found. Learn More

Marlon Brando's famous cry of "STELLA!" first boomed across a Broadway stage at the Ethel Barrymore Theater during the first-ever performance of Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire.

American author Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) is lauded as the "greatest humorist this country has produced." Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Learn More

The actress Natalie Wood, who starred in such movies as Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story, drowned in a boating accident near California's Catalina Island. She was 43 years old.

Born in Seattle, Hendrix grew up playing guitar, imitating blues greats like Muddy Waters as well as early rockers. He's remembered for classic songs as Purple Haze, Foxy Lady, and The Wind Cries Mary.

Influential American publisher Henry Luce re-invented Life as a picture-based periodical. The first issue featured a cover photo of the Fort Peck Dam by Margaret Bourke-White. Learn More

London was one of the first writers to become a worldwide celebrity and earn a large fortune for writing. His most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush. Learn More

Before the marriage, Phili, former prince of Greece and Denmark, renounced his titles. Wed in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London, they received 2,300 wedding gifts from around the world.

Considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest wone all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in a Lead Tole, Actress in a Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay).

The original Broadway production of The Sound of Music won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show has enjoyed numerous productions and revivals as well as a film adaptation.

Invented by Edward A. Calahan, an employee of the American Telegraph Company, ticker tape was the earliest digital electronic communications medium, transmitting stock price information over telegraph lines. Learn More


The book is sailer Ishmael's narrative of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaling ship Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that on the ship's previous voyage bit off Ahab's leg at the knee.

A literary celebrity during his lifetime, he is remembered for writing Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson ranks as the 26th most translated author in the world.

On this day in 1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shuts it doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892. Today, an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor off the New Jersey coast and named for merchant Samuel Ellis, who owned the land in the 1770s. Learn More

Dracula was written as a collection of realistic but completely fictional diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship's logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to the story.

He was one of the best-selling acoustic artists of the 1970's. Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed, with a total sales of over 33 million records worldwide.

Rice's books have sold nearly 100 million copies, placing her among the most popular authors in recent American history. She is perhaps best known for her series of novels, The Vampire Chronicles.

In a career that spanned parts of six decades, Miles Davis pulled much of the jazz world along with him as he evolved from one new sound to the next with utter disregard for the critical or popular reaction. Learn More