Laurel and Hardy team up, a human heart is transplanted for the first time, an assassin targets Bob Marley, and the first text message is sent via phone, all on this day.
1775: The Grand Union flag, the precursor to the Stars and Stripes, is raised aboard the Continental Navy vessel Alfred by Lt. John Paul Jones.
1818: Illinois becomes the 21st U.S. state.
1828: Andrew Jackson is elected the seventh president of the United States.
1857: Author Joseph Conrad, who would go on to write novels such as "Heart of Darkness," "Lord Jim," "Nostromo" and "Chance," is born Józef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski in Berdychiv, Ukraine.
1894: Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, most famous "Treasure Island," "Kidnapped" and "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 44 in Vailima, Samoa.
1898: The Duquesne Country and Athletic Club defeats a collection of early football players from several teams based in southwestern Pennsylvania in a game at Pittsburgh's Exposition Park, in what is considered to be the very first all-star game for professional American football. The Duquesnes win the game 16-0.
1910: Neon lighting, developed by French physicist Georges Claude, makes its public debut at the Paris Motor Show. The colored light is produced by passing electrical current through inert gases in a vacuum tube.
1925: Country singer Ferlin Husky, who would have two dozen top 20 hits in the Billboard country charts between 1953 and 1975, is born in Cantwell, Mo. Husky is best known for the No. 1 hits "Gone" and "Wings of a Dove."
1927: Country singer Andy Williams, who recorded 17 gold and three platinum-certified albums and hosted the TV variety show "The Andy Williams Show" from 1962 to 1971, is born Howard Andrew Williams in Wall Lake, Iowa.
1927: The silent short film "Putting Pants on Philip," the first Laurel and Hardy film, is released.
1930: Film director Jean-Luc Godard, who would become identified with the 1960s French "New Wave" film movement, is born in Paris, France. He is best known for his films "Breathless," "My Life to Live" and "Contempt."
1947: The play "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams opens on Broadway in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The production is directed by Elia Kazan and starred Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, all of whom, except for Tandy, went on to make the 1951 movie version.
1948: Heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne, best known as the lead singer of Black Sabbath and for his solo work, is born John Michael Osbourne in Aston, Birmingham, England.
1952: Televangelist Benny Hinn, best known for his regular "Miracle Crusades," revival meeting/faith healing summits usually held in large stadiums and later broadcast worldwide on his television program "This Is Your Day," is born in Jaffa, Israel.
1960: The musical "Camelot," based on the King Arthur legend and starring Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Roddy McDowall and Robert Goulet, debuts at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. It would win four Tony Awards and the original cast album would be America's top-selling album for 60 weeks.
1960: Actress Daryl Hannah, best known for her performances in the films "Splash," "Blade Runner," "Roxanne," "Wall Street" and "Steel Magnolias," is born in Chicago, Ill.
1960: Actress Julianne Moore, known for her roles in movies such as "Boogie Nights," "The End of the Affair," "Far From Heaven," "The Hours" and "The Kids Are All Right," is born in Fort Bragg, N.C.
1965: The Beatles' sixth studio album, "Rubber Soul," is released in the United Kingdom. The album, featuring songs such as "Drive My Car," "Norwegian Wood" and "Nowhere Man," would begin a 42-week run on the British charts eight days later. On Christmas Day it would replace "Help!," the Beatles' previous album, at the top of the charts, a position "Rubber Soul" would hold for eight weeks.
1965: Figure skater Katarina Witt, who would go on to win two Olympic gold medals and four world championships for East Germany in the 1980s, is born in Staaken, East Germany.
1966: The Monkees, already stars thanks to their TV show, play their first concert. About 8,000 screaming fans show up for the performance in Honolulu, Hawaii, confirming their status as real-life superstars.
1967: In Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, with his team of 20 surgeons, performed the first human heart transplant, on 54-year-old South African businessman Louis Washkansky. The patient would last only 18 days before succumbing to double pneumonia, contracted after destruction of his body's immunity mechanism by drugs administered to suppress rejection of the new heart. However, the next patient, Philip Blaiberg, lived for nearly two years. Since then, many thousands of human heart transplants have been performed.
1968: Elvis Presley's television special "Elvis" airs. The special, part of which featured a black-leather-clad Presley informally jamming in front of a small audience, would become known as the "'68 Comeback Special."
1968: "Fresh Cream," the debut studio album by British supergroup Cream, and Iron Butterfly's "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" album are both certified gold.
1968: Actor Brendan Fraser, best known for his roles in movies such as "Encino Man," "Crash" and "The Mummy," is born in Indianapolis, Ind.
1971: Pakistan launches a pre-emptive strike against 11 air bases in India, setting off a full-scale war that will last 13 days and leave more than 12,000 dead. The war will also lead to the creation of Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan, as an independent nation.
1973: The Pioneer 10 robotic space probe sends back the first close-up images of Jupiter.
1976: Bob Marley is shot in the upper arm and chest when intruders storm his house in Kingston, Jamaica, attempting to assassinate the singer. Also injured in the attack are Marley's wife and his manager, Don Taylor. All would make full recoveries, with Marley performing as scheduled two days later at "Smile Jamaica," a free concert organized by Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley in an attempt to ease tension between two warring political groups.
1976: During the photo shoot for Pink Floyd's "Animals" album cover, a 40-foot inflatable pig being photographed at Battersea Power Station on the River Thames breaks free. Pilots in the London area are warned of a pig loose in the skies, which reaches a height of 18,000 feet before coming down in Kent. The inflatable pig returned the following day for the photo shoot, but, as earlier photographs of the power station were considered better, the image of the pig would actually later be superimposed onto one of those photos.
1979: In Cincinnati, Ohio, 11 fans are suffocated in a crush for seats on the concourse outside Riverfront Coliseum before a sold-out concert by the rock band The Who.
1984: In one of the worst industrial disasters in history, a methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, kills more than 3,800 people outright and injures another 150,000 to 600,000. Some 6,000 of the injured would later die from their injuries.
1985: Actress Amanda Seyfried, best known for her roles on the TV drama "Big Love" and in movies like "Mean Girls," "Mamma Mia!," "Jennifer's Body" and "Dear John," is born in Allentown, Pa.
1989: In a meeting off the coast of Malta, U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev release statements indicating that the cold war between NATO and The Soviet Union may be coming to an end.
1992: United Nations Security Council Resolution 794 is unanimously passed, approving a coalition of U.N. peacekeepers led by the United States to form UNITAF, with the task of establishing peace and ensuring that humanitarian aid is distributed in Somalia.
1992: The Greek oil tanker Aegean Sea, carrying 80,000 tons of crude oil, runs aground in a storm while approaching La Coruña, Spain. The vessel breaks in two and catches fire, with the ship and its leaked oil burning for several days.
1992: Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group, uses a personal computer to send the world's first SMS text message via the Vodafone network to the phone of a colleague. Papworth sends the message "Merry Christmas."
1997: In Ottawa, Canada, representatives from 121 countries sign The Ottawa Treaty, prohibiting manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel landmines. The United States, People's Republic of China, and Russia do not sign the treaty, however.
1998: The comedy-drama "Shakespeare in Love," starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes and directed by John Madden, premieres in New York City. The movie would earn 13 Academy Award nominations, winning seven, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Paltrow, Best Supporting Actress for Judi Dench, and Best Original Screenplay.
1999: NASA loses radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere. The cause of the communication loss is not known. However, NASA's Failure Review Board would conclude that the most likely cause of the mishap was a software error that incorrectly identified vibrations, caused by the deployment of the lander's stowed legs, as surface touchdown. The resulting action by the spacecraft would have been the shutdown of the descent engines, while the spacecraft was still likely 40 meters above the surface, causing it to crash into the Martian surface. The lander is seen here in October 1998, a few months before its January 1999 launch.
1999: Actress Madeline Kahn, best remembered for her roles in movies such as "Paper Moon," "Young Frankenstein," "Blazing Saddles" and "Clue," dies of ovarian cancer at the age of 57 in New York City. Kahn received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in "Paper Moon" and "Blazing Saddles."
1999: Six firefighters are killed in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire in Worcester, Mass. The fire would eventually grow to five-alarm status and rage for six days before being brought under control.
2005: XCOR Aerospace's EZ-Rocket sets the point-to-point distance record for a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft, with pilot Dick Rutan flying about 10 miles from Mojave, Calif., to California City, Calif., in just under 10 minutes. The flight also marks the first official delivery of U.S. Mail by a rocket-powered aircraft.
2010: The Leaf, one of the first mass market electric cars, is officially launched by Nissan at the company's global headquarters in Yokohama, Japan.
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