1732 - The Royal Opera House opens at Covent Garden, London.
1787 - Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.
1941 - The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor officially brings the United States into World War II.
1949 - The government of the Republic of China moves from Nanking to Taipei.
1965 - Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras simultaneously lift mutual excommunications that had been in place since 1054
1972 - Apollo 17, the last Apollo moon mission, is launched.
1975 - Indonesia invades East Timor.
1982 - First US execution by lethal injection is carried out.
1988 - In Armenia an earthquake 6.9 on the Richter scale killed nearly 25.000, injured 15.000 and left 400.000 persons homeless.
1988 - Yasser Arafat recognizes the right of Israel to exist.
1989 - In the third and final installment of their historic boxing trilogy, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran fight in Las Vegas; Leonard retains the WBC Super Middleweight championship of the world with a 12 round decision.
521 - Saint Columba, Irish Christian missionary to Scotland (d. 597)
1598 - Gian Lorenzo Bernini, artist (d. 1680)
1637 - Bernardo Pasquini, composer (d. 1710)
1670 - John Aislabie, director of the South Sea Company (d. 1742)
1761 - Marie Tussaud, museum proprietres and waxwork modeller (d. 1850)
1784 - Allan Cunningham, Scottish poet (d. 1842)
1801 - Johann Nestroy, dramatist and actor (d. 1862)
1860 - Sir Joseph Cook, sixth Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1947)
1863 - Pietro Mascagni, composer (d. 1945)
1863 - Richard Sears, department store founder (d. 1914)
1873 - Willa Cather, novelist (d. 1947)
1879 - Rudolf Friml, American composer (d. 1972)
1887 - Ernst Toch, composer (d. 1964)
1888 - Joyce Cary, author (d. 1957)
1888 - Hamilton Fish, American politician (d. 1991)
1903 - Danilo Blanusa,Croatian mathematician (d. 1987)
1905 - Gerard Kuiper, astronomer (d. 1973)
1912 - Daniel Jones, composer
1912 - Louis Prima, musician (d. 1978)
1915 - Eli Wallach, actor
1924 - Mrio Soares, President of Portugal 1986-96
1928 - Noam Chomsky, linguist, political writer
1932 - Ellen Burstyn, actress
1934 - Gordon Parks Jr., director (d. 1979)
1942 - Harry Chapin, musician (d. 1981)
1942 - Peter Tomarken, game show host
1944 - Daniel Chorzempa, organist
1947 - Johnny Bench, Baseball Hall of Famer
1948 - Gary Morris, singer, actor
1949 - Tom Waits, singer, composer, actor
1956 - Larry Bird, Basketball Hall of Famer
1966 - C. Thomas Howell, actor
1966 - Carl Ververs, also known as Carl August Simon, Dutch artist
1987 - Aaron Carter, singer
2003 - Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands
43 BC - Cicero, Roman politician and author
283 - St. Eutychian, Pope
1254 - Pope Innocent IV
1815 - Michel Ney, a marshal of the French army, executed by firing squad
1894 - Ferdinand Marie, French diplomat and engineer
1902 - Thomas Nast, cartoonist
1956 - Huntley Gordon, pioneer Hollywood actor
1970 - Rube Goldberg, cartoonist
1975 - Thornton Wilder, playwright
1985 - Potter Stewart, retired United States Supreme Court justice
1990 - Joan Bennett, actress