1993 Late Show with David Letterman debuts on CBS. It had been thought by many that Letterman would take over for Johnny Carson when he retired. However, NBC gave the job to Jay Leno and Letterman moved from NBC to CBS.
1984 First launch of the third space shuttle Discovery.
1983 First African-American in space Lt. Col. Guion S. Bluford, Jr. aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
1963 Washington-Moscow Hot Line opens, providing emergency communication in the event of a crisis.
1954 Atomic Energy Bill Pres. Eisenhower signs the bill allowing private ownership of nuclear reactors for the production of electricity.
1935 Revenue Act is passed by Congress, raising inheritance and gift taxes.
1861 Civil War General Fremont frees the slaves of Missouri; against the orders of Pres. Lincoln.
1856 The second school of higher education for blacks in the U.S. Wilberforce College in Ohio is founded. Ashmun Institute of Pennsylvania, founded in 1854, was the first. Source: An Almanac of the Christian Church
1800 Slave Revolt Virginian slave Gabriel Prosser organizes an army of about 1,000 slaves and almost succeeded in taking Richmond. Afterwards, 35 slaves, including Prosser, were executed. Source: Legends, Lies & Cherished Myths of History
1939 Elizabeth Ashley American Tony-winning actress. TV: Evening Shade (Aunt Frieda).
1935 John Phillips American folk singer, with The Mamas and the Papas, California Dreamin' and Monday, Monday.
1931 John Leonard "Jack" Swigert, Jr d. 1982 American astronaut. During Apollo 13 he proclaimed, "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here." Lovell repeated the sentiment a few seconds later.
1918 Ted Williams d. 2002 American baseball Hall of Famer, American League's MVP (1946, 49). He served as a pilot for WWII and the Korean War. An avid fisherman, he hosted a TV fishing show and was inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame.
1918 Kitty Wells (Muriel Deason), American country singer, "Queen of Country Music." She was the first woman to hit #1 on the country charts with It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (1952).
1908 Fred MacMurray d. 1991 American actor. Film: The star of numerous Disney movies. TV: My Three Sons (1960-72, dad Steve Douglas). His face served as the model for the Captain Marvel in the comic books (1939).
1907 Shirley Booth d. 1992 (Thelma Booth Ford), American Oscar, Tony and Emmy-winning actress, Hazel Burke of Hazel.
1907 John William Mauchly d. 1980 American computer pioneer. He and J. Presper Eckert invented the first digital general-purpose computer (ENIAC) in 1945. He and Eckert also started the first computer company (1947).
1896 Raymond Massey d. 1983 Canadian actor. Film: Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940, title role). TV: Dr. Kildare (Dr. Gillespie).
1893 Huey Pierce Long d. 1935 Louisiana governor (1928-31), U.S. Senator (1931-35), who ran for the presidency under his "share the wealth" plan. He was assassinated by Dr. Carl Austin Weiss Jr.
1891 Claire Straith d. 1958 American cosmetic surgery, safety pioneer. After witnessing the injuries and disfigurements of his patients from automobile crashes, he promoted the use of padded dashes, recessed dash knobs, and seat belts. With the notable exceptions of Chrysler and Tucker, most manufactures rejected his suggestions, opting for style over safety.
1871 Ernest Rutherford d. 1937 British Nobel-winning physicist. He was the first to split the atom (1919). He also discovered the alpha particle (1904) and the proton (1920).
1797 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley d. 1851 English author. Writings: Frankenstein (1818). She was the wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelly.
2015 Brad Jay Anderson b. 1924 American cartoonist, creator of Marmaduke (1954).
2006 Glenn Ford b. 1916 (Gwyllyn Ford), Canadian-born actor. Film: Gilda (1946) and Blackboard Jungle (1955). TV: Cade's County (Sam Cade). Quote: Response to being rushed, "I've only got one other speed, and it's slower."
1970 Abraham Zapruder b. 1905 American clothing manufacturer. He made the famous film of Pres. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas.
1968 William Talman b. 1917 American actor. TV: Perry Mason (D.A. Hamilton Burger).
1940 Joseph John Thomson b. 1856 English physicist. He discovered the electron (1897).
1483 Louis XI b. 1423 King of France (1461-83).
1181 Alexander III b. circa 1105 Italian religious leader, 170th Pope (1159-81).