On This Day Alert

On this day in 1975, Jaws, a film directed by Steven Spielberg that made countless viewers afraid to go into the water, opens in theaters.  Learn More

On this day in 1789, English Captain William Bligh and 18 others, cast adrift from the HMS Bounty seven weeks before, reach Timor in the East Indies after traveling nearly 4,000 miles in a small, open boat. Learn More

On this day in 1986, Bishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Prize for Peace, meets with South African President P.W. Botha to discuss the nationwide state of emergency declared by Botha in response to the anti-apartheid protests.  Learn More

On this day in 1987, in one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down" the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany.  Learn More

On this day in 1986, the hit John Hughes-directed teen comedy "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was released. It starred Matthew Broderick as a popular high school student in suburban Illinois who fakes an illness in order to score a day off from school.  Learn More

On this day in 1949, George Orwell's novel of a dystopian future, 1984, is published. The novel's all-seeing leader, known as "Big Brother," becomes a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy. Learn More

On this day in 2005, the family of W. Mark Felt ended 30 years of speculation, identifying Felt, the former FBI assistant director, as "Deep Throat," the secret source who helped unravel the Watergate scandal. Learn More

On this day in 1796, Edward Jenner, an English country doctor from Gloucestershire, administers the world's first vaccination as a preventive treatment for smallpox, a disease that had killed millions of people over the centuries. Learn More

On this day in 1971, celebrating his 21st birthday, Stevie Wonder left Motown Records. Berry Gordy had signed 11-year-old Steveland Hardaway Morris to a contract at the age of 11. Learn More

On this day in 1994, in his inaugural address, Mandela, who spent 27 years of his life as a political prisoner of the South African government, declared that "the time for the healing of the wounds has come." Learn More

On this day in 1963, with the release of Dr. No, moviegoers get their first look-down the barrel of a gun-at the super-spy James Bond, the immortal character created by Ian Fleming in his now-famous series of novels and portrayed onscreen by the relatively unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery. Learn More

The channel tunnel, or "Chunnel," connects Folkstone, England, with Sangatte, France, 31 miles away. The Chunnel cut travel time between England and France to a swift 35 minutes and eventually between London and Paris to two-and-a-half hours. Learn More

Co-created by Stan Lee, the legendary writer-editor behind Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, X-Men and the Incredible Hulk, among others, Iron Man made his first appearance in the pages of Marvel's comic books in 1963. Learn More

Months before its release, Orson Welles' landmark film Citizen Kane began generating such controversy that Radio City Music Hall eventually refused to show it. Instead, Citizen Kane, now revered as one of the greatest movies in history, made its debut at the smaller RKO Palace Theater on this day in 1941. Learn More

The impresarios behind Studio 54 were Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, college roommates at Syracuse University who got into the nightclub business after their first venture, a chain of steak restaurants, failed to flourish. Learn More

Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the media reported that Chrysler paid $25 million for Lamborghini, which at the time was experiencing financial difficulties. Today, Lamborghini is owned by Volkswagen. Learn More

At precisely high noon, thousands of would-be settlers made a mad dash into the newly opened Oklahoma Territory to make their claim to cheap land. The nearly two million acres of land opened up to white settlement was located in Indian Territory. Learn More

The Boston Marathon was the brainchild of Boston Athletic Association member and inaugural U.S. Olympic team manager John Graham, who was inspired by the marathon at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Learn More

After striking an iceberg, the Britich ocean liner Titanic
sank into the North Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. The massive ship carried 2,200 passengers and crew.

The bloodiest four years in American history began when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Bay. Learn More

In a collection of stories, O. Henry published one of his most beloved works. The Gift of the Magi, about a poor but devoted couple who each sacrifice their most valuable possession to buy a gift for each other.

"Who killed Laura Palmer?" was the question on everyone's mind on the night of April 8, 1990, when David Lynch's surreal television drama Twin Peaks premiered on ABC.

The first Pony Express mail, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously left St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California, thus setting a new standard for speedy mail delivery. Learn More

History's most well-traveled pope and the first non-italian to hold the position since the 16th century, died at his home in the Vatican. Two million people attended his funeral, said to be the biggest funeral in history.

Queen Elizabeth II makes the Welsh sensation Tom Jones-now Sir Tom Jones-a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Learn More

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