On This Day Alert

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 ReviewLearn More said it was "not merely a success; it has become a phenomenon."

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

Initially panned by critics, The Brady Bunch went on to become an icon of American pop culture. The program stands as one of the most influential sitcoms of American 1970's television programming. Learn More

Noted as one of the most internationally successful Spanish filmmakers, Almodóvar and his films have gained worldwide interest and developed a cult following. Among his many awards, he's won two Oscars. Learn More

After crisscrossing the country with her captors - or conspirators - for more than a year, newspaper heiress and wanted fugitive Patty Hearst was captured in a San Francisco apartment and arrested for armed robbery. Learn More

The Constitution of the United States of America was signed by 38 of 41 delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Supporters of the document waged a hard-won battle to win ratification. Learn More

The film, which starred Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, was a box-office hit and garnered six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Adrian Lyne) and Best Actress (Close).

Only produced for three model years, many think of the Edsel as a symbol of corporate hubris at its worst: it was an over-hyped, over-sized, over-designed monstrosity. Others believe it was simply a victim of bad timing. Learn More

The death of the silent-screen idol, at the age of 31, sent his fans into a hysterical state of mass mourning. In his brief film career, the Italian-born actor established a reputation as the archetypal screen lover. Learn More

During the Geneva Convention of 1864, Swiss humanitarian Jean-Henri Dunant called for nonpartisan care to the sick an wounded in times of war and for the neutrality fo medical personnel. Learn More

In March, the U.S. government approved statehood for Hawaii, and in June the Hawaiian people voted by a wide majority to accept admittance into the United States. Two mths later, Hawaii became the 50th state. Learn More

The Double Eagle II landed in a field near Paris, 137 hours after lifting off from Preque Isle, Maine. The helium-filled balloon flew 3,233 miles in the six-day odyssey.

The comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin, who would rise to fame as . "wild and crazy" comedian during the 1970's, was born in Waco, Texas. Learn More

Shortly after midnight on this day in 1961, East German soldiers began laying down barbed wire and bricks as a barrier between Soviet-controlled East Berlin and the democratic western section of the city. Learn More

President James K. Polk signed the Smithsonian Institution Act into law after a decade of debate about how to best spend a bequest left to America from an obscure English scientist, James Smithson.  Learn More

Like his band, the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia thrived creatively and commercially for decades. A legendary guitarist and cultural icon, Jerry Garcia was 53 years old. Learn More

Warhol was one of the most influential artists of the latter part of the 20th century. He was a major pioneer of the pop art movement of the 1960's, later outgrowing that roll to become a cultural icon. Learn More

Wes Craven, the man responsible for terrorizing millions of moviegoers with his Nightmare on Elm Street series and Scream trilogy, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Learn More

Though it would later be seen as the beginning of a new era in popular culture, only a few thousand night owl subscribers to a single northern New Jersey cable system were able to witness the televised revolution.  Learn More

Famed author J.K. Rowling was born near Bristol, England. Since the late '90's, her severn Harry Pottery novels have sold over 400 million copies and have been translated into more than 60 languages. Learn More

American archeologist Hiram Bingham got his first look at Machu Picchu, an ancient Inca settlement in Peru that is now one of the world's top tourist destinations. Learn More