Today is the 31st day of 2018 and the 42nd day of winter.
TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1606, Guy Fawkes was executed for his role in the Gunpowder Plot in Britain.
In 1958, Explorer 1 was launched, marking the first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.
In 1968, the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive began in South Vietnam.
In 2010, James Cameron's "Avatar" became the first film to reach a worldwide gross of $2 billion.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Franz Schubert (1797-1828), composer; John O'Hara (1905-1970), author; Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), baseball player; Carol Channing (1921- ), actress; Norman Mailer (1923-2007), author/journalist; Ernie Banks (1931-2015), baseball player; Jonathan Banks (1947- ), actor; Nolan Ryan (1947- ), baseball player; Minnie Driver (1970- ), actress; Portia de Rossi (1973- ), actress; Justin Timberlake (1981- ), singer-songwriter.
TODAY'S FACT: The first Social Security check, issued on this day in 1940, was for $22.54 and went to Ida May Fuller, who lived on a Vermont farm. Having worked less than three years under Social Security, she paid only $24.75 into the system, but she had collected $22,888.92 by the time of her death in 1975.
TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1999, Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway won his second consecutive Super Bowl and the final game of his NFL playing career, leading the Denver Broncos to a 34-19 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Elway was also selected as the game's MVP.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "There was that law of life so cruel and so just which demanded that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same." -- Norman Mailer, "The Deer Park"
TODAY'S NUMBER: $2.8 billion -- total worldwide gross of "Avatar," making it the highest-grossing film of all time.