On This Day

Famous Birthdays on December 21

Thomas Becket

1117 Thomas Becket, English archbishop of Canterbury (1162-1170), born in London, England (d. 1170)

  • 1401 Tommaso Masaccio, Italian painter, born in San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy (d. 1428)
  • 1518 Mark van Vaernewijck, Habsburg historian, born in Ghent, County of Flanders, Habsburg Netherlands (d. 1569)
  • 1596 Petro Mohyla, Moldovan Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Kiev and Galicia (d. 1646)

Roger Williams

1603 Roger Williams, English theologian and colonist, born in London, England (d. 1684)

  • 1616 Pietro Andrea Ziani, Italian organist & composer, born in Venice, Italy (d. 1684)
  • 1628 Samuel Friedrich Capricornus, Czech composer, born in Žerčice, Czech Republic (d. 1665)
  • 1714 John Bradstreet, Canadian-born soldier, born in Annapolis Royal, Canada (d. 1774)
  • 1728 Hermann Friedrich Raupach, German composer, born in Stralsund, Germany (d. 1778)
  • 1756 Thomas Anton Kunz, Czech composer, born in Prague, Czech Republic (d. 1830)
  • 1778 Anders Sandøe Ørsted, Danish politician, born in Rudkøbing, Denmark (d. 1860)

Leopold von Ranke

1795 Leopold von Ranke, German historian who founded the modern concept of source-based history, born in Wiehe, Saxony, Holy Roman Empire (d. 1886)

  • 1800 Barnwell Rhett Robert, (Confederacy), (d. 1876)

Benjamin Disraeli

1804 Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, British Prime Minister (Tory: 1868, 1874-80) and writer, born in London (d. 1881)

  • 1805 Thomas Graham, British chemist and father of colloid chemistry (d. 1869)
  • 1810 Ludwig Schuncke, German pianist & composer, born in Kassel, Germany (d. 1834)
  • 1815 Thomas Couture, French history painter & teacher, born in Senlis, France (d. 1879)
  • 1818 Amalia, wife of king Otto of Greece
  • 1818 Lewis H. Morgan, American ethnologist (Systems of Consanguinity), born in Aurora, New York (d. 1881)
  • 1823 Jean Henri Fabre, French nautralist & entomologist (insects & spiders), born in Saint-Léons, Aveyron, France
  • 1826 Ernst Pauer, Austrian composer and pianist, born in Vienna (d. 1905)
  • 1832 John Henry Ketcham, American politician and Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Dover Plains, New York (d. 1906)
  • 1840 Mehmed N Kemal, Turkish journalist (Vatan)
  • 1843 Thomas Bracken, Irish-born New Zealand poet, born in Clones, County Monaghan (d. 1898)
  • 1848 Edward Everett Rice, American musical composer & theater producer, born in Brighton, Boston (d. 1924)
  • 1849 James Lane Allen, American writer (Kentucky Cardinal), born in Lexington, Kentucky (d. 1925)
  • 1850 Zdenek Fibich, Czech classical composer (Šárka, The Bride of Messina), born in Všebořice (d. 1900)
  • 1851 Thomas Chipman McRae, American politician, 34th Governor of Arkansas (d. 1929)
  • 1853 Isolde Kurz, German poet & short-story writer (Meine Mutter), born in Stuttgart, Germany (d. 1944)
  • 1859 Gustave Kahn, French symbolist poet & art critic, born in Metz, France (d. 1936)
  • 1860 Henrietta Szold, U.S. Jewish Zionist leader & founder of Hadassah, born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1945)
  • 1867 John Winter Thompson, American organist, born in Michigan (d. 1951)
  • 1870 Sir Patrick Duncan, Governor-General of the Union of South Africa (1937 to 1943), born in Ellon, United Kingdom (d. 1943)
  • 1872 Albert Payson Terhune, American novelist (Lad, a Dog), born in Newark, New Jersey (d. 1942)
  • 1872 Sidney Ainsworth, British silent film actor (Not in the News, The Rajah's Tunic), born in Manchester, England (d. 1922)
  • 1873 Blagoje Bersa, Croatian composer, born in Dubrovnik, Croatia (d. 1934)
  • 1874 Juan Bautista Sacasa, President of Nicaragua (1932-36), born in León, Nicaragua
  • 1878 Jan Łukasiewicz, Polish logician and philosopher, born in Lviv, Ukraine (d. 1956)
  • 1879 Theodore Limperg, Dutch accountant, born in Amsterdam, Netherlands (d. 1961)
  • 1885 Frank Patrick, Canadian ice hockey player, born in Ottawa, Canada (d. 1960)
  • 1886 George Norman Peterkin, English composer & music publisher, born in Liverpool, England (d. 1982)
  • 1886 Hermann A. J. Kees, German Egyptologist (Problems of Egyptology)
  • 1887 Cy Williams, American MLB outfielder (4-time NL HR leader; Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies), born in Wadena, Indiana (d. 1974)
  • 1889 Sewall Wright, American geneticist, born in Melrose, Massachusetts (d. 1988)
  • 1890 Hermann Joseph Muller, American geneticist and Nobel laureate, born in NYC, New York (d. 1967)
  • 1891 John W. McCormack, American politician (D) Speaker of House (1962-70), born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1980)

Walter Hagen

1892 Walter Hagen, American golfer (11 major titles, US Open 1914, 19), born in Rochester, New York (d. 1969)

  • 1892 Amy Key Clarke, English mystical poet & writer, born in England, United Kingdom (d. 1980)
  • 1895 Paul Hoffer, German composer, born in Barmen, Germany (d. 1949)
  • 1896 Carl Romme, Dutch catholic foreman/KVP-min Socialist Business, born in Oirschot, Netherlands (d. 1980)
  • 1896 Constantine Rokossovski, Russian marshal/vice-premier of Poland, born in Warsaw, Poland (d. 1968)
  • 1896 Leroy Robertson, American composer & music educator, born in Fountain Green, Utah (d. 1971)
  • 1898 Ira S. Bowen, American physicist & astronomer (Mt Wilson/Palomar), born in Seneca Falls, New York (d. 1973)
  • 1899 Guy Wilkerson, American actor (Dead or Alive, West of Texas, Shootin' Iron), born in Whitewright, Texas (d. 1971)
  • 1900 Oda Schaefer, German writer & journalist (Die Windharfe, Ladies Only), born in Wilmersdorf, Berlin
  • 1900 Vsevolod Vishnevsky, Russian playwright and journalist, born in Saint Petersburg (d. 1951)
  • 1901 Juan A de Zunzunegui y Loredo, Spanish writer, born in Portugalete, Spain (d. 1982)
  • 1901 Robin Irvine, British actor (Easy Virtue, When Boys Leave Home), born in London, England (d. 1933)
  • 1902 Peetie Wheatstraw [William Bunch], American blues singer, songwriter, and piano player, born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas (d. 1941)
  • 1905 Anthony Powell, English novelist (Infants of Spring), born in Westminster, United Kingdom (d. 2000)
  • 1907 Garmt Stuiveling, Dutch poet & literary (Poet in Love), born in Stroobos, Netherlands (d. 1985)
  • 1908 Pat Weaver, American radio advertising executive (started Today show), born in Los Angeles, California (d. 2002)
  • 1909 George Ball, American politician and diplomat (US Ambassador to the UN, Under Secretary of State), born in Des Moines, Iowa (d. 1994)
  • 1909 Seichō Matsumoto, Japanese mystery writer and journalist, born in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan (d. 1992)
  • 1910 Rosa Bouglione, French circus performer, born in Ixelles, Belgium (d. 2018)
  • 1911 Josh Gibson, American Negro League baseball legend (hit 800+ HRs), born in Buena Vista, Georgia (d. 1947)
  • 1911 Paul Burkhard, Swiss composer, born in Zürich, Switzerland (d. 1977)
  • 1913 Raich Carter, English soccer forward (13 caps; Sunderland, Derby County, Hull C) and manager (Hull C, Leeds, Mansfield Town, Middlesborough), born in Sunderland, England (d. 1994)
  • 1914 Ivan Generalić, Croatian painter, born in Hlebine, Croatia (d. 1992)
  • 1915 Werner von Trapp, Austrian singer (Trapp Family Singers), born in Zell am See, Austria (d. 2007)
  • 1916 Eve Perrick, British journalist
  • 1916 John Boon, British publisher (Mills and Boon), born in King's Lynn, Norfolk (d. 1996)
  • 1917 Andre Eglevsky, Russian-born ballet dancer & teacher (Limelight), born in Moscow, Russia (d. 1977)
  • 1917 Sophie Masloff, American politician, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 2014)
  • 1917 Diana Athill, English writer and editor (Stet), born in London, England (d. 2019)
  • 1918 Donald Regan, US Secretary of the Treasury (1981-85) and White House Chief of Staff (1985-87), born in Cambridge, Massachusetts (d. 2003)

Kurt Waldheim

1918 Kurt Waldheim, Austrian 4th Secretary-General of the United Nations (1972-81) and 9th President of Austria (1986-92), born in Sankt Andrä-Wördern, Austria (d. 2007)

  • 1919 Gert Fredriksson, Swedish canoeist (6 Olympic gold 1948, 52, 56, 60), born in Nyköping, Sweden (d. 2006)
  • 1920 Bob Bindig, American cartoonist (d. 2006)
  • 1920 Kel Nagle, Australian golfer (British Open 1960), born in Sydney, NSW (d. 2015)
  • 1921 Alicia Alonso, Cuban ballerina, founder of the National Ballet of Cuba, born in Havana, Cuba (d. 2019)
  • 1921 James Tye, British safety expert
  • 1921 Joan Dickson, British cellist and teacher, born in Edinburgh, Scotland (d. 1994)
  • 1922 Paul Winchell, American ventriloquist (Jerry Mahoney, Knucklehead Smith), born in NYC, New York
  • 1923 Intizar Hussain, Urdu writer and columnist, born in Dibai, Bulandshahr (d. 2016) (approx. date)
  • 1923 Wataru "Wat" Misaka, American professional basketball player, first non-white player, and first player of Asian descent in BAA (later known as NBA) (New York Knicks, 1947-48), born in Ogden, Utah (d. 2019)
  • 1924 Johan W "Jo" van Marle, KNVB-chairman (1980-93), born in Zwolle, Netherlands (d. 1995)
  • 1924 Rita Reys [Maria Reijs], Dutch jazz singer, born in Rotterdam, Netherlands (d. 2013)
  • 1926 John Herbert McDowell, American composer for ballet, TV and the stage, born in Washington, D.C. (d. 1985)
  • 1926 Joe Paterno, American college hall of football coach (Penn State) and Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of 1986, born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 2012)
  • 1927 Michael Carreras, British film producer & director, born in London, United Kingdom (d. 1994)
  • 1928 Edwin "Ed" Nelson, American actor (Peyton Place, Along Came a Spider), born in New Orleans, Louisiana,(d. 2014)
  • 1928 Thomas Rajna, British-Hungarian pianist, and composer (Amarantha; Stop All The Clocks), born in Budapest, Hungary
  • 1929 Jack Philip Cannon, British composer & teacher, born in Paris, France (d. 2017)
  • 1930 Willem R "Wim" van der Zee, secretary of Council of Churches
  • 1931 Caroline Kaart [Paterson Raitt], Dutch alto singer, born in Blackness, United Kingdom
  • 1931 David Baker, American composer (Reflections) and educator, born in Indianapolis, Indiana (d. 2016)
  • 1932 Ilja Zeljenka, Slovak composer (Oświęcim), born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) (d. 2007)
  • 1932 Edward Hoagland, American essayist, born in NYC, New York
  • 1933 Huib Eversdijk, Dutch 2nd chamber member (CDA), born in Kapelle, Netherlands (d. 2012)
  • 1933 Jackie Hendriks, cricketer (West Indian wicket-keeper of 60's), born in Kingston, Jamaica
  • 1933 Miklos Kocsar, Hungarian composer, born in Debrecen, Hungary
  • 1934 Hanif Mohammad, Pakistani Cricket Batsman (55 Tests; longest Test innings in history at 16 hours, 337 v WI 1958; 12 x 100), born in Junagadh, British India (d. 2016)
  • 1934 (Bennie Ross) "Hank" Crawford, American saxophonist, arranger and songwriter ("Help Me Make It Through the Night"), born in Memphis, Tennessee (d. 2009)
  • 1934 Harmonica Slim [Travis Blaylock], American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter ("You Better Believe It"), born in Texarkana, Texas (d. 1984)
  • 1935 Phil Donahue, TV talk show host (The Phil Donahue Show), born in Cleveland, Ohio
  • 1935 Lorenzo Bandini, Italian racecar driver, born in Marj, Libya (d. 1967)
  • 1935 Yusuf Bey (Joseph Stephens), American activist, born in Greenville, Texas (d. 2003)
  • 1935 Edward Schreyer, Canadian politician (Premier of Manitoba), born in Beausejour, Canada
  • 1935 John G. Avildsen, American film director (Rocky, The Karate Kid), born in Oak Park, Illinois (d. 2017)
  • 1936 Éric Gaudibert, Swiss composer, pianist, and teacher, born in Vevey, Switzerland (d. 2012)

Jane Fonda

1937 Jane Fonda, American actress (Barbarella, Klute, 9 to 5), born in NYC, New York

  • 1937 Donald F. Munson, American politician (former Maryland Senator), born in Hagerstown, Maryland
  • 1938 Larry Bryggman, American actor (Dr John Dixon-As the World Turns), born in Concord, California
  • 1938 Roland Coryn, Belgian violist, composer, and music educator, born in Kortrijk, Belgium
  • 1939 Lloyd Axworthy, Canadian politician, born in North Battleford, Canada
  • 1940 Tony Rivers [Thompson], British pop singer and vocal arranger (Harmony Grass; Cliff Richard), born in Shildon, England
  • 1940 Frank Zappa, American rocker, composer, activist and filmmaker (Mothers of Invention, Hot Rats), born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1993)
  • 1940 Paul [Ray Hildebrand], American singer (Paul & Paula), born in Joshua, Texas
  • 1940 Kálmán Sóvári, Hungarian soccer defender (17 caps; Újpesti Dózsa, VM Egyetértés), born in Budapest, Hungary (2020)
  • 1942 Carla Thomas, American singer (Let Me Be Good to You)

Hu Jintao

1942 Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (2002-12) and President of the People's Republic of China (2003-13), born in Taizhou, Jiangsu

  • 1942 Reinhard Mey, German singer, born in Berlin, Germany
  • 1943 Albert Lee, English guitarist, born in Lingen, Herefordshire
  • 1943 (Marvin John) "Jack" Nance, American stage & screen actor (Eraserhead; Twin Peaks), born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1996)
  • 1943 Walter Spanghero, French rugby player, born in Payra-sur-l'Hers, France
  • 1943 André Arthur, Canadian radio host & politician, born in Quebec City, Canada
  • 1944 Jared Martin, American actor (Varian-Fantastic Voyage, Dusty-Dallas), born in NYC, New York
  • 1944 Michael Tilson Thomas, American conductor (San Francisco Symphony, 1995-2020), and composer (Shówa/Shoáh), born in Los Angeles, California
  • 1944 Hwang Jang Lee, Korean martial artist and film actor, born in Aomori, Japan
  • 1944 Zheng Xiaoyu, Chinese bureaucrat, born in Fuzhou, China (d. 2007)
  • 1945 Doug Walters, Australian cricketer (Aussie batting genius 1965-81 Extrovert), born in Dungog, Australia
  • 1945 Millie Hughes-Fulford, American scientist & astronaut (STS 40), born in Mineral Wells, Texas
  • 1946 Carl Wilson, American rock vocalist and guitarist (Beach Boys), born in Hawthorne California (d. 1998)
  • 1946 Christopher Keene, American conductor (La Traviata), born in Berkeley, California (d. 1995)
  • 1946 Josh Mostel, American actor (Jesus Christ Superstar; Big Daddy), born in NYC, New York
  • 1946 Kevin Peek, Australian guitarist, born in Adelaide, Australia (d. 2013)
  • 1947 Paco de Lucía, Spanish flamenco guitarist and composer, born in Algeciras, Spain (d. 2014)
  • 1948 Barry Gordon, American actor (Gary-Archie Bunker's Place), born in Brookline, Massachusetts
  • 1948 Dave Kingman, American baseball player (Mets, NY Yankees, Giants), born in Pendleton, Oregon

Samuel L. Jackson

1948 Samuel L. Jackson, American actor (Amos & Andrew, White Sand, Pulp Fiction), born in Washington, D.C.

  • 1948 Willem AFG Vermeend, Dutch economist & politician, born in Zuilen, Netherlands
  • 1948 Willi Resetarits, Austrian musician, born in Stinatz, Austria
  • 1949 Nikolaos Sifounakis, Greek politician, born in Rethymno, Greece
  • 1949 Thomas Sankara, Burkinabé revolutionary and politician, President of Burkina Faso (1983-87), born in Yako, Upper Volta (d. 1987)
  • 1950 Jeffrey Katzenberg, American film producer, born in NYC, New York
  • 1950 Lillebjørn Nilsen, Norwegian singer-songwriter, born in Oslo, Norway
  • 1951 Nick Gilder, English singer (Hot Child in the City), born in London
  • 1952 Dennis Boutsikaris, American actor (Batteries Not Included), born in Newark, New Jersey
  • 1952 Steve Furniss, American swimmer (Olympic bronze 1972), born in Madison, Wisconsin
  • 1952 Joaquín Andújar, Dominican baseball pitcher (Cardinals), born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic (d. 2015)
  • 1953 Betty Wright [Bessie Norris], American R&B singer-songwriter (Clean Up Woman), born in Miami, Florida (d. 2020)
  • 1953 Andras Schiff, Hungarian-British concert pianist and conductor, born in Budapest, Hungary
  • 1953 Arie Luyendyk, American-Dutch Indy-car racer (1990 Indianapolis 500), born in Sommelsdijk, Netherlands

Chris Evert

1954 Chris Evert, American tennis player (18 Gram Slam singles titles), born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • 1955 Jane Kaczmarek, American actress, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • 1955 Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, Japanese musician, born in Agano, Niigata Prefecture
  • 1956 Kevin Burnham, American sailor (Olympic gold 470 class 2004; silver 470 1992), born in Hollis, New York City (d. 2020)
  • 1956 Lee Roy Parnell, American country singer (Oughta be a Law), born in Abilene, Texas
  • 1957 Lisa Gerritsen [Leisa Orszag], American actress (The Mary Tyler Moore Show & Phyllis - "Bess"), born in Los Angeles, California

Ray Romano

1957 Ray Romano, American actor (Everybody Loves Raymond, Ice Age), born in Queens, New York

  • 1957 Tom Henke, American baseball player, born in Kansas City, Missouri
  • 1957 John Geddert, American gymnastics coach (US head coach London Olympic Team 2012), born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan (d. 2021)
  • 1959 Florence Griffith Joyner, American sprinter (3 x Olympic gold 1988), born in Los Angeles, California (d. 1998)
  • 1960 Andy Van Slyke, American baseball player, born in Utica, New York
  • 1960 Michael Swain, American judoka (Olympic bronze 88), born in Elizabeth, New Jersey
  • 1960 Roger McDowell, American baseball pitcher (NY Mets, Baltimore Orioles), born in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1960 Louis Demetrius Alvanis, English classical pianist, born in London, United Kingdom
  • 1961 Trevor Bayliss, Australian cricketer (NSW batsman) and coach (England), born in Goulburn, Australia
  • 1961 Francis Ng, Hong Kong actor (Internal Affairs), born in British Hong Kong
  • 1961 Ryuji Sasai, Japanese video game composer, born in Osaka Prefecture, Japan
  • 1962 Christy Forester, American musician (Forester Sisters-Men), born in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
  • 1964 Joey Kocur, NHL right wing (Vancouver Canucks), born in Calgary, Alberta
  • 1964 Keith Taylor, NFL safety (Washington Redskins), born in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey
  • 1964 Rob Kelly, English football manager, born in Birmingham, England
  • 1964 Fabiana Udenio, Argentine actress, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 1965 Andy Dick, American actor (Matthew-Newsradio), born in Charleston, South Carolina
  • 1965 Gabrielle Glaser, American musician (Luscious Jackson)
  • 1965 Anke Engelke, Canadian-German comedian, born in Montreal, Quebec
  • 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, American actor (Lost Boys, 24), born in London, England
  • 1966 Karri Turner, American actress, born in Fort Worth, Texas
  • 1967 Ervin Johnson, NBA center (Seattle Supersonics, Milwaukee Bucks), born in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 1967 Terry Mills, NBA forward (Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons), born in Romulus, Michigan
  • 1967 Mikhail Saakashvili, Soviet-born President of Georgia, born in Tbilisi, Georgia
  • 1968 Anthony Lynn, NFL running back (Denver Broncos-Super Bowl 32), born in McKinney, Texas
  • 1968 Khrystyne Haje, American actress (Simone-Head of the Class), born in Santa Clara, California
  • 1969 Chuck Smith, NFL defensive end (Atlanta Falcons), born in Athens, Georgia
  • 1969 Julie Delpy, French-American actress (Before Sunrise; before Sunset; Before Midnight), singer-songwriter, and director born in Paris, France
  • 1969 Leon Searcy, NFL offensive tackle (Pittsburgh Steelers, Jackson Jaguars), born in Washington, D.C.
  • 1969 Mihails Zemļinskis, Latvian footballer, born in Riga, Latvia
  • 1970 Irving Spikes, NFL running back (Miami Dolphins), born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi
  • 1970 Monique Ambers, WNBA forward (Phoenix Mercury)
  • 1971 Matthieu Chedid, French musician, born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France
  • 1971 Fenton Keogh, Australian celebrity chef
  • 1971 Brett Scallions, American singer (Fuel, The X's), born in Brownsville, Tennessee
  • 1972 Latroy Hawkins, American baseball player, born in Gary, Indiana
  • 1972 Dustin Hermanson, American baseball player, born in Springfield, Ohio
  • 1972 Erwin Schrott, Uruguayan opera singer, born in Montevideo, Uruguay
  • 1973 Mike Alstott, American football fullback (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), born in Joliet, Illinois
  • 1973 Karmen Stavec, German-born Slovenian singer, born in West Berlin