On This Day

Famous Birthdays on May 17

  • 1155 Jien, Japanese poet and historian, born in Kyoto (d. 1225)
  • 1443 Edmund, Earl of Rutland, brother of Kings Edward IV of England and Richard III of England, born in Rouen, Normandy (d. 1460)
  • 1451 Engelbert II, Earl of Nassau-Dillenburg-Dietz and viceroy of Luxembourg, born in Breda, Netherlands (d. 1504)

Person of interestAlbert of Prussia

1490 Albert of Prussia, 1st Duke of Prussia, born in Ansbach (d. 1568)

Duke of Prussia Albert of Prussia
Duke of Prussia
Albert of Prussia
  • 1551 Martin Delrio, Flemish theologian and occultist, born in Antwerp (d. 1608)
  • 1576 Ferdinand van Apshoven the Older, Flemish painter, baptized in Antwerp
  • 1628 Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Austria and Regent of the Tyrol, born in Innsbruck, Austria (d. 1662)
  • 1682 Bartholomew Roberts, Welsh pirate (raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719-1722), born in Puncheston, Pembrokeshire, Wales (d. 1722)
  • 1706 Andreas Felix von Oefele, German historian and librarian, born in Munich (d. 1780)
  • 1718 Robert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness, English diplomat and politician (d. 1778)
  • 1732 Francesco Pasquale Ricci, Italian composer, born in Como, Italy (d. 1817)
  • 1741 John Penn, American attorney (signed US Declaration of Independence), born in Port Royal, Caroline County, Virginia (d. 1788)
  • 1743 Seth Warner, American revolutionary leader, born in Roxbury, Connecticut (d. 1784)

Person of interestEdward Jenner

1749 Edward Jenner, English physician, father of immunology, pioneered smallpox vaccinations, born in Berkeley (d. 1823)

Physician and Scientist Edward Jenner
Physician and Scientist
Edward Jenner
  • 1758 John St Aubyn, British fossil collector, born in Golden Square, London (d. 1839)
  • 1768 Caroline of Brunswick, Queen Consort of King George IV (1820-21), born in Brunswick, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Holy Roman Empire (d. 1821)

  • 1768 Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, English general, born in London (d. 1854)
  • 1794 Anna Brownell Jameson, Anglo-Irish historian and writer (Loves of the Poets), born in Dublin, Ireland (d. 1860)
  • 1796 Martinus Niewindt, Dutch Bishop of Curacao (advocate for fair treatment and abolition of slavery), born in Amsterdam (d. 1860)
  • 1800 Carl Friedrich Zöllner, German composer, born in Mittelhausen, Germany (d. 1860)
  • 1803 Robert Smith Surtees, British novelist (Jorrocks’s Jaunts and Jollities), born in The Riding, England (d. 1864)
  • 1804 Ottho Gerhard Heldring, Dutch preacher and reformer (Heldring Institutions), born in Zevenaar, Netherlands (d. 1876)
  • 1808 Charles-Louis-Adolphe Vogel, French composer (Les trois couleurs), born in Lille, France (d.1892)
  • 1812 Joseph Warren Revere, American Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1880)
  • 1819 Johann Nepomuk Kafka, Bohemian pianist and composer, born in Neustadt an der Mettau (d. 1886)
  • 1821 Sebastian Kneipp, Bavarian priest and naturopathist (known for "Kneipp Cure" form of hydrotherapy), born in Stephansried, Germany (d. 1897)
  • 1823 Charlotte Sainton-Dolby, English contralto and composer, born in London (d. 1885)
  • 1836 Wilhelm Steinitz, Austrian world chess champion (1866-94), born in Prague, Bohemia, Austrian Empire (d. 1900)
  • 1836 Virginie Loveling, Flemish writer (Sophie) and poet, born in Nevele, East Flanders, Belgium (d. 1923)
  • 1836 Sir Norman Lockyer, English physicist, co-founder of helium gas, founder and editor of "Nature" magazine, born in Rugby, Warwickshire (d. 1920)
  • 1844 Julius Wellhausen, German biblical scholar (analysis of the structure and dating of the Pentateuch), born in Hamelin, Hanover, Germany (d. 1918)
  • 1846 Edmund Bishop, English Roman Catholic historian and Secretary of Thomas Carlyle, born in Totnes, England (d. 1917)
  • 1850 Antonio Scontrino, Italian composer, born in Trapani, Italy (d. 1922)
  • 1866 Erik Satie, French composer (Gymnopédies), born in Honfleur, Normandy (d. 1925)
  • 1867 Gerrit Mannoury, Dutch mathematician and philosopher, born in Wormerveer, Netherlands (d. 1956)
  • 1868 Horace Elgin Dodge, American automobile manufacturing pioneer (co-founder of Dodge Brothers Company), born in Niles, Michigan (d. 1920)

  • 1871 Henk Bremmer, Dutch art historian (Modern Kunstwerken), born in Leiden, Netherlands (d. 1956)
  • 1873 Dorothy M. Richardson, English novelist (Pilgrimage), born in Abington, Berkshire (d. 1957)
  • 1873 Henri Barbusse, French novelist (Le Feu), born in Asnieres, France (d. 1935)
  • 1876 Alban Collignon, Belgian sport journalist, born in Mechelen, Belgium (d. 1955)
  • 1886 Alfonso XIII, King of Spain (1886-1931), born in Madrid, Kingdom of Spain (d. 1941)
  • 1888 Tich Freeman, English cricket leg-spinner (legend for Kent & England), born in Lewisham, Kent (d. 1965)
  • 1888 Selmer Jackson, American actor (The Grapes of Wrath, Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp), born in Lake Mills, Iowa (d. 1971)
  • 1889 Alfonso Reyes, Mexican writer (Simpatías y diferencias) and diplomat (Higenia Cruel), born in Monterrey, Mexico (d. 1959)
  • 1890 Philip James, American composer, born in Jersey City, New Jersey (d. 1975)
  • 1891 Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife, granddaughter of King Edward VII and great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, born in East Sheen Lodge, Richmond, England (d. 1959)
  • 1893 Frederick McKinley Jones, American inventor (developments in refrigeration), born in Cincinnati, Ohio (d. 1961)
  • 1896 Brasílio Itiberê da Cunha Luz, Brazilian composer, born in Curitiba, State of Paraná, Brazil (d. 1967)
  • 1896 Hannah Tillich, German-American writer (Harbor Mouse) and wife of Paul Tillich, born in Rotenburg an der Fulda, Germany (d. 1988)
  • 1897 Odd Hassel, Norwegian chemist (Nobel 1969 - the study of the three-dimensional geometric structure of molecules), born in Kristiana, Norway (d. 1981)
  • 1898 A. J. Casson, Canadian painter (member of Group of Seven), born in Toronto, Ontario (d. 1992)
  • 1899 Ralf Harolde, American actor (Framed, Smart Money, Tip-off), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 1974)
  • 1900 Nicolai Berezowsky, Russian-American composer, born in St. Petersburg, Russia (d. 1953)
  • 1901 Werner Egk, German composer (Die Zaubergeige), born in Donauwörth, Germany (d. 1983)
  • 1902 John Vincent, American composer, born in Birmingham, Alabama (d. 1977)
  • 1903 Douglas Packard, British Lieutenant General (d. 2000)

Person of interestCool Papa Bell

1903 James "Cool Papa" Bell, American baseball center fielder in Negro league baseball, considered by many to have been one of the fastest men ever to play the game, born in Starkville, Mississippi (d. 1991)

Baseball player Cool Papa Bell
Baseball player
Cool Papa Bell
  • 1904 Jean Gabin, French actor (Moulin Rouge, La Grande Illusion), born in Paris, France (d. 1976)
  • 1905 John Patrick, American screenwriter and playwright (Pulitzer Prize 1954), born in Louisville, Kentucky
  • 1906 Eric Mensforth, British pioneer in the development of the helicopter in Britain, born in Stretford, Manchester (d. 2000)
  • 1906 Horace McMahon, American actor (Detective Story, Martin Kane Private Eye), born in South Norwalk, Connecticut (dd. 1971)
  • 1906 Zinka Milanov, Croatian soprano (Ljublama Opera 1927, NY Metropolitan Opera), born in Zagreb, Croatia (d. 1989)
  • 1907 Charles Cawley, British chief scientist and Minister of Power (1959-67) (d. 2000)
  • 1907 Ilona Elek, Hungarian fencer (Olympic gold 1936, 48), born in Budapest, Hungary (d. 1988)
  • 1908 Sigismund Toduţă, Romanian composer, born in Simeria, Romania (d. 1991)
  • 1909 Edward Playfair, British senior civil servant, born in London (d. 1999)
  • 1909 Magda Schneider, German actress (Eva, Going Gay, Be Mine Tonight), born in Bavaria, German (d. 1996)
  • 1909 Karl Schäfer, Austrian figure skater (Olympic gold 1932, 36), born in Vienna, Austria (d. 1976)
  • 1911 Knut Anders Haukfield, SOE Operative
  • 1911 Maureen O'Sullivan, Irish actress (Tarzan, Pride & Prejudice, Hannah and Her Sisters), born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland (d. 1998)
  • 1911 Lisa Fonssagrives, Swedish supermodel, born in Västra Götaland County, Sweden (d. 1992)
  • 1912 Archibald Cox, American lawyer and special prosecutor (Watergate), born in Plainfield, New Jersey (d. 2004)
  • 1912 Clarence "Ace" Parker, American NFL quarterback (Brooklyn, Boston Yanks), born in Portsmouth, Virginia (d. 2013)
  • 1912 Sándor Végh, Hungarian-French violinist teacher and conductor, born in Kolozsvár, Transylvania, Austria-Hungary (d. 1997)
  • 1913 Alec Ogilvie, CEO (Powell Duffryn)
  • 1913 Desmond Barel Hirshfield, Lord Hirshfield, British chartered accountant, born in Birmingham (d. 1993)
  • 1913 Hans Ruesch, Swiss racing driver (d. 2007)
  • 1914 Guido Masanetz, German composer (In Frisco ist der Teufel Los), born in Friedeck, Austria-Hungary (d. 2015)
  • 1915 Joseph D Craggs, electrical engineer
  • 1916 Cornelis A Eman, Aruban politician
  • 1916 John Hinde, photographer/circus promoter
  • 1918 Birgit Nilsson, Karup Sweden, operatic soprano (Elektra, Salome)
  • 1919 Antonio Aguilar [Barraza], Mexican singer, producer and actor (Emiliano Zapata) who popularized the Mexican equestrian sport la charrería, born in Villanueva, Zacatecas, Mexico (d. 2007)
  • 1919 Merle Miller, American biographer (d. 1986)
  • 1920 Harriet Van Horne, columnist/panelist (Leave it to Girls), born in Syracuse, New York
  • 1920 Lydia Wideman, Finnish cross country skier (first female cross-country Olympic gold 1952), born in Vippula, Finland
  • 1921 Dennis Brain, french-hornist (Serenade), born in London, England
  • 1921 John Garlick, British senior civil servant
  • 1921 Bob Merrill, American composer and lyricist (People, Mambo Italiano), born in Atlantic City, New Jersey (d. 1998)
  • 1923 Michael Beetham, Marshal (RAF)
  • 1923 Miles Wingate, deputy master (Trinity House)

  • 1923 Peter Mennin[i], American composer (Moby Dick) and educator (Juilliard), born in Erie, Pennsylvania (d. 1983)
  • 1924 Frantisek Kovaricek, composer
  • 1924 Lord Tombs, CEO (Rolls Royce)
  • 1924 Thomas Baird, British vice-admiral
  • 1926 Cicely Berry, British theatre director (Royal Shakespeare Company)
  • 1926 David Young, Lt-Gen/CEO (Cairn Tech)
  • 1926 David Ogilvy, Earl of Airlie, Scottish peer, Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, born in London
  • 1926 Geoffrey Caston, vice chancellor (U of South Pacific)
  • 1926 Tenniel Evans, British actor and clergyman (10 Rillington Place, My Brother's Keeper), born in Nairobi, Kenya (d. 2009)
  • 1927 Ronald Halstead, deputy CEO (British Steel)
  • 1928 Donald Cameron Watt, historian
  • 1928 Ian Griggs, bishop (Ludlow)
  • 1928 Vivian Moses, biotechnologist
  • 1929 Raymond Hide, geophysicist
  • 1929 George Weinberg, American psychotherapist (coined "homophobia"), born in Manhattan, New York (d. 2017)
  • 1929 John Davies, Australian swimmer (Olympic gold 200m breaststroke 1952; WR 200m breaststroke 2:34.4 1952), born in Sydney, Australia (d. 2020)
  • 1931 [Walter] Dewey Redman, American jazz saxophonist, born in Fort Worth, Texas (d. 2006)
  • 1932 Arthur Jones, principal (Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester)
  • 1932 Colin Hope, British industrialist (Turner and Newall), born in Birkenhead (d. 2015)
  • 1932 Peter Burge, cricketer (dashing Australian batsman of 50's & 60's)
  • 1932 Rodric Braithwaite, British ambassador to USSR
  • 1934 Earl Morrall, American NFL quarterback (Super Bowl 1970, 72, 73; Pro Bowl 1957, 68; First-team All-Pro 1968, 72; NFL MVP 1968; Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins), born in Muskegon, Michigan (d. 2014)
  • 1935 Dennis Potter, British TV dramatist (The Singing Detective, Karaoke, Midnight Movie), born in Gloucestershire, England (d. 1994)
  • 1935 Ivan Slone, world-famous watchmaker
  • 1936 Dennis Hopper, American actor (True Grit, Blue Velvet, Easy Rider), born in Dodge City, Kansas (d. 2010)
  • 1936 Lars Gustafsson, writer
  • 1936 Philippe Boesmans, composer
  • 1937 Hazel R. O'Leary, United States Secretary of Energy
  • 1938 Don Dolan, actor (Guy Lewis- General Hospital), born in Staten Island, New York
  • 1938 Jason Bernard, actor (Judge-Liar Liar)

  • 1938 Pervis Jackson, American R&B singer (Spinners), born in New Orleans, Louisiana (d. 2008)
  • 1938 Trinus Riemersma, Dutch-Frisian writer (Conquest of Leeuwarden)
  • 1939 Wim de Bie, CEO (Simplistic Covenant)
  • 1939 Gary Paulsen, American author of young adult literature, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Person of interestAlan Kay

1940 Alan Kay, American computer scientist (GUI design and object-oriented programming), born in Springfield, Massachusetts

Computer Scientist Alan Kay
Computer Scientist
Alan Kay
  • 1941 David Cope, American composer, born in San Francisco, California
  • 1941 Malcolm Hale, musician (Spanky and Our Gang), born in Butte, Montana (d. 1968)
  • 1941 Ben Nelson. American politician
  • 1941 Grace Zabriskie, American actress
  • 1942 Caroline Charles, fashion designer
  • 1942 Taj Mahal [Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, Jr.], American singer-songwriter (Real Thing), born in Harlem, New York
  • 1942 Myles Brand, American sports administrator (4th NCAA President), born in Brooklyn, NY (d. 2009)
  • 1943 Johnny Warren, Australian Footballer (d. 2004)
  • 1943 Vicky Moscholiou, Greek singer (d. 2005)
  • 1944 Arif Butt, Pakistani cricketer (pace bowler for Pakistan in three Tests 1964-65), born in Lahore, Punjab, British India (d. 2007)
  • 1944 Canon P B Price, general secretary, USPG
  • 1944 Jesse Winchester, singer/songwriter (Learn to Love it), born in Shreveport, Louisiana (d. 2014)
  • 1945 D A S Pennefather, Maj-General/Commandant (General Royal Marines)
  • 1945 George Miller, American politician (Rep-D-CA, 1975-2015), born in Richmond, California
  • 1946 Sinaida Turchina, USSR, team handball (Olympic gold 1976)
  • 1946 Udo Lindenberg, German musician, born in Gronau, Westphalia
  • 1946 F. Paul Wilson, American novelist
  • 1947 John Traicos, cricketer (in Egypt South Africa 1970, Zimbabwe 1992-93)
  • 1949 Bill Bruford, English drummer (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis), born in Sevenoaks, Kent
  • 1949 Timothy Cordy, British director (Town/Country Planning Association)
  • 1949 Andrew Latimer, English musician (Camel), born in Guildford, England
  • 1950 Alan Johnson, British politician (Home Secretary 2009-10), born in London
  • 1950 Howard Ashman, American playwright and lyricist (Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid), born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1991)
  • 1950 Janez Drnovšek, Slovenian politician
  • 1951 I R Evans, CEO (Hyder, Welsh Water)

  • 1951 Simon Hughes, British politician and government minister (SD)
  • 1952 Jody Pijper, Dutch (background) singer
  • 1952 Howard Hampton, Canadian politician
  • 1953 George Johnson, rocker (Brothers Johnson), born in Los Angeles, California
  • 1953 Kathleen Sullivan, American newscaster (ABC-TV, CBS Morning Show), born in Pasadena, California
  • 1953 Nicholas Bacon, premier baronet of England
  • 1953 Yoko Shimada, Kumamota Japan, author (Kir Royal)/actress (Shogun)
  • 1954 John Iles, dolby supervisor (Elephant Man, Richard III)
  • 1954 Michael Roberts, jockey
  • 1955 Bill Paxton, actor (True Lies, Big Love), born in Fort Worth, Texas (d. 2017)
  • 1956 Bob Saget, American comedian (Full House, America's Funniest Home Video), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 1956 Sue Carpenter, TV presenter/journalist

Person of interestSugar Ray Leonard

1956 Sugar Ray Leonard, American boxer (Olympic gold 1976), born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina

  • 1956 Dave Sim, Canadian cartoonist
  • 1957 Pascual Pérez, Dominican baseball pitcher (MLB All Star 1983; Atlanta Braves), born in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic (d. 2012)
  • 1958 Vincent Henar, Surinam bassist (Fra Fra Sound), born in Surinam
  • 1959 Paul Di'anno, rocker (Iron Maiden Chingford, London V Early Vocalist
  • 1959 Jim Nantz, American sportscaster, born in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 1960 Fiona Hutchison, actress (One Life to Live, Guiding Light), born in Miami, Florida
  • 1960 Lou DiBella, American boxing promoter

Person of interestEnya

1961 Enya [Eithne Ní Bhraonáin], Irish singer and songwriter (A Day Without Rain), born in Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland

Singer-Songwriter Enya
  • 1962 Scott Case, NFL safety (Dallas Cowboys)
  • 1962 Tracey Bryn, rocker (Voice of Beehive-Let it Bee)

Person of interestCraig Ferguson

1962 Craig Ferguson, Scottish actor, writer and comedian, born in Glasgow, Scotland

Actor & Comedian Craig Ferguson
Actor & Comedian
Craig Ferguson
  • 1962 Lise Lyng Falkenberg, Danish writer
  • 1963 Jon Koncak, NBA center (Orlando Magic)
  • 1963 Page McConnell, American songwriter and keyboardist (Phish), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 1964 Menno Oosting, Dutch tennis player (d. 1999)

Person of interestTrent Reznor

1965 Trent Reznor, American musician (9 Inch Nails) and film score composer, born in Mercer, Pennsylvania

Musician Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor
  • 1965 Richard Baumhammers, American spree killer

  • 1965 Jeremy Vine, British radio and TV presenter (Eggheads), born in Epsom, England
  • 1966 Danny Manning, American basketball forward (NBA All-Star 1993, 94; NBA Sixth Man of the Year 1998; Phoenix Suns), born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • 1966 Mark Kratzmann, Australia, tennis star
  • 1967 Cameron Bancroft, actor (Beverly Hills 90210)
  • 1967 Debbie Dutch, Titusville NJ, actress (Hell's Paradox)
  • 1968 Tim Grunhard, NFL center (KC Chiefs)
  • 1968 Dave Abbruzzese, American drummer (Pearl Jam), born in Stamford, Connecticut
  • 1969 Craig Erickson, NFL quarterback (Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins)
  • 1969 Paige Turco, actress (Melanie-Guiding Light), born in Boston, Massachusetts
  • 1969 Ujesh Ranchod, cricketer (Zimbabwe off-spinner 1993)
  • 1969 Thom Filicia, American television personality
  • 1969 Alan Doyle, Canadian musician and actor (Great Big Sea), born in Petty Harbour. Newfoundland
  • 1969 Ryan Anthony, American trumpet player (Canadian Brass, 2000-03; Dallas Symphony, 2006-20), born in Whittier, California (d. 2020)
  • 1970 Derrick Deese, NFL guard (SF 49ers)
  • 1970 Hubert Davis, NBA guard (Dallas Mavericks, NY Knicks)
  • 1970 Jim Cummins, Dearborn, NHL right wing (Chicago Blackhawks)
  • 1970 John Karelse, soccer player (NAC)
  • 1970 Jordan Knight, American singer-songwriter (New Kids on the Block), born in Worcester, Massachusetts
  • 1970 Renzo Furlan, Italian tennis star