Famous People Who Died in 1939

  • Jan 2 Roman Dmowski, Polish politician, dies at 74

Amelia EarhartAmelia Earhart (1897-1939)

Jan 5 American aviator (1st woman to fly solo across the Atlantic), is declared dead at 41 after disappearing over the Pacific Ocean in 1937

  • Jan 6 Albert Ward, cricketer (England batsman in 7 Tests 1893-95), dies
  • Jan 9 Johann Strauss, Austrian conductor and Royal Ball director, dies at 72
  • Jan 10 Jameson Thomas, British actor (Piccadilly, Farmer's Wife), dies from tuberculosis at 50
  • Jan 10 Julius Bittner, Austrian composer (Missa Austriaca), dies at 64
  • Jan 13 Jacob Ruppert Jr., American Baseball HOF executive (owner New York Yankees 1915-39; signed Babe Ruth; built Yankee Stadium), dies from phlebitis at 71
  • Jan 19 Cliff Heathcote, American baseball player (b. 1898)
  • Jan 23 Matthias Sindelar, Austria soccer star, dies under mysterious circumstances at 35
  • Jan 24 Maximilian Bircher-Benner, Swiss physician and nutritionist, dies at 71
  • Jan 27 John Watson, Canadian philosopher (Objective Idealism), dies at 91
  • Jan 28 W. B. Yeats, Irish poet (Wild Swans at Coole-Nobel 1923), dies at 73
  • Feb 4 Edward Sapir, American linguist and cultural anthropologist (North American Indian languages), dies at 55
  • Feb 4 Henri Deterding, Dutch oil magnate (Royal Oil, Shell), dies at 72
  • Feb 7 Boris Grigoriev, Russian painter (b. 1886)

Pius XIPius XI (1857-1939)

Feb 10 Italian 259th Pope (1922-39), dies at 81

  • Feb 11 Franz Schmidt, Austro-Hungarian cellist, pianist, and composer, dies at 64
  • Feb 15 Foppe G. Scheltema, Dutch lawyer, dies at 47
  • Feb 15 Henri Jaspar, 27th Prime Minister of Belgium (1927-31), dies at 68
  • Feb 15 Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Russian painter (b. 1878)
  • Feb 16 Jura Soyfer, Austrian political journalist and cabaret writer, dies at Buchenwald concentration camp at 26
  • Feb 17 Willy Hess, German violinist, dies at 79
  • Feb 18 Ludwig Bonvin, composer, dies at 89
  • Feb 22 Antonio Machado, Spanish poet (Campos de Castilla), dies at 63
  • Feb 27 Nadezhda Krupskaya, Russian revolutionary (Central Committee member, Soviet Minister for Education, wife of Vladimir Lenin), dies at 70

Howard CarterHoward Carter (1873-1939)

Mar 2 British archaeologist and egyptologist who found King Tutankhamun's tomb, dies at 65

  • Mar 6 Ferdinand von Lindemann, German mathematician (Proving π is a transcendental number), dies at 86
  • Mar 7 Amadeo Roldán, Cuban composer and violinist, dies at 38
  • Mar 7 John Jules Barrish, Irish writer and philosopher, dies at 53
  • Mar 13 Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, French scholar and philosopher, dies at 81
  • Mar 18 Henry Lunn, English humanitarian and religious leader, dies at 79
  • Mar 19 Lloyd L. Gaines, American civil rights activist
  • Mar 20 Percy Dean, British naval lieutenant and politician who received the Victoria Cross for saving men during the raid of Zeebrugge, dies at 61
  • Mar 21 Evald Aav, Estonian composer, dies at 39
  • Mar 27 Constance Lindsay Skinner, Quesnel British Columbia, Canadian author (Rivers of America), dies at 57
  • Mar 28 Francis Matthew John Baker, Australian politician (b. 1903)
  • Apr 5 William Cooper, cricketer (two Tests for Australia 1882-84), dies
  • Apr 6 Robert Courtneidge, British theater producer, dies
  • Apr 7 Joseph Lyons, 10th Prime Minister of Australia (1932-39), dies at 59
  • Apr 9 Emilio Serrano y Ruiz, Spanish composer, dies at 89
  • Apr 10 Alfredo Panzini, Italian author (Il Bacio de Lesba), dies at 75
  • Apr 11 S.S. Van Dine [pseudonym for William Huntingdon Wright], American critic and detective writer (Philo Vance), dies at 50
  • Apr 18 Theo Mann, Dutch actress (Pink Bernd, Hedda Gabler), dies at 88
  • Apr 21 Herman Finck, British conductor (Palace Theatre (London), 1900-20), theater and light classical composer (In The Shadows), dies at 66
  • Apr 25 John Foulds, British cellist, musicologist, and composer (World Requiem; Three Mantras), dies in Calcutta of cholera at 58
  • May 3 [Karl Eduard] Wilhelm Groener, German general, dies at 71
  • May 11 Yevgeny Miller [Eugen Ludwig Müller], Baltic German general and a leader of the anticommunist White Army during and after the Russian Civil War, executed at 71 after being kidnapped in Paris by Soviet intelligence and taken to Moscow where he was tortured and eventually shot
  • May 13 Stanislaw Lesniewski, Polish logician and mathematician (Warsaw School of Logic), dies at 53
  • May 13 Wilhelm Normann, German chemist (hydrogenated liquid fat creating trans fat), dies at 69
  • May 20 Joe Carr, American Pro Football HOF contributor (NFL President 1921-39), dies from a heart attack at 59
  • May 22 Ernst Toller, German playwright, commits suicide at 45
  • May 22 Jiri Mahen, Czech author (b. 1882)
  • May 25 Joseph Duveen, British art connoisseur (Elgin marbles), dies at 69
  • May 26 Charles Horace Mayo, American surgeon and co-founder (Mayo Clinic), dies at 74
  • May 26 Cornelis Jacobus Snijders, Dutch military leader - Supreme Commander of Dutch Navy (1910-18), dies at 86
  • May 27 Joseph Roth, Austrian-Jewish journalist (Fluctuate ohne Ende), dies of pneumonia at 44
  • May 29 Ursula Ledóchowska, Polish-Austrian Catholic saint and foundress of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, dies of a carcinoma at 74
  • May 30 Floyd Roberts,, American auto racer, killed in a 100 mph crash during 1939 Indianapolis 500 at 39
  • Jun 4 Tommy Ladnier, American jazz trumpeter (Lovie Austin; King Oliver; New Orleans Feetwarmers; Noble Sissle; Sidney Bechet), dies of a heart attack at 39
  • Jun 5 Elijah Beardsworth, British world quick shaving champion, dies
  • Jun 5 Frank van de Goes, Dutch writer and Marxist theorist, dies at 80
  • Jun 9 Owen Moore, Irish actor (She Done Him Wrong), commits suicide at 52
  • Jun 13 Arthur Coningham, Australian cricketer (one Test for Australia 1894), dies at 75
  • Jun 13 Volter Kilpi, Finnish writer (Suljetuilla Porteilla), dies at 64
  • Jun 16 Chick Webb, American jazz drummer and big band leader (introduced Ella Fitzgerald), dies of Pott's disease (tuberculosis of the spine), at 34
  • Jun 17 Eugene Weldman, the last person to be publicly guillotined in France, dies at 31. When asked if he had remorse for his victims he had killed, he replied, “Remorse, what for? I didn’t even know them”
  • Jun 18 Frans "Sas" van Aerschot, Flemish operetta actor (Paljas), dies at 73
  • Jun 19 Grace Abbott, American social worker (US Children's Bureau), dies at 60
  • Jun 26 Ford Madox Ford [Hueffer], British novelist (The Good Soldier), critic, and journal editor (The Transatlantic), dies at 65
  • Jul 1 Louis Davids [Simon David], Dutch cabaret artist and comedian, dies at 65
  • Jul 7 Deacon White, American Baseball Hall of Fame catcher (NL batting champion, RBI leader 1877; Boston Red Stockings), dies from heat stroke at 91
  • Jul 8 Havelock Ellis, English physician and social reformer who studied sexual behaviour (Man & Woman), dies at 80
  • Jul 14 Alphonse Mucha, Czech Nouveau painter and artist, dies at 78
  • Jul 15 Johon Mellanby, physiologist, dies
  • Jul 15 Percy Scott Worthington, architect, dies
  • Jul 16 Beatrice Erskine Lane Suzuki, Zen student, dies
  • Jul 18 Witold Maliszewski, Polish composer, dies at 65
  • Jul 19 Rose Hartwick Thorpe, American poet (Curfew Must Not Ring) and writer, dies at 89
  • Jul 19 Tom Hayward, English cricket batsman (35 Tests, 3 x 100; HS 137; Surrey CCC), dies at 68
  • Jul 20 Joseph Mendes da Costa, sculptor, dies
  • Jul 26 Billy Murphy, New Zealand boxer (world featherweight champion 1890; first world champion in any class from NZ), dies at 75
  • Jul 27 Alexandre Stellio [Fructueux], Martinican biguine clarinetist, composer, and bandleader, dies at 54
  • Jul 28 William James Mayo, American surgeon and co-founder (Mayo Clinic in Minnesota), dies at 78
  • Aug 2 Harvey Spencer Lewis, American Rosicrucian author and mystic, dies at 55
  • Aug 3 August Enna, Danish opera composer (The Witch; Kleopatra), dies at 80
  • Aug 11 Jean Bugatti, Italian automobile designer (b. 1909)
  • Aug 16 Ron Oxenham, cricketer (7 Tests for Australia, 14 wickets), dies
  • Aug 19 Johannes Marinus Meulenhoff, Dutch publisher, dies at 70
  • Aug 23 Sidney Coe Howard, American playwright (Silver Cord, Pulitzer 1925), dies at 48
  • Aug 24 W H Moule, cricketer (Australia v England 1880)/High Court judge, dies
  • Aug 25 (Charles) "Babe" Siebert, Canadian NHL ice hockey player, 1925-39, 3X All-Star (Montreal Maroons, Boston Bruins, and 2 other teams), drowns in Lake Huron at 35
  • Sep 5 Cornelis J "Cor" van Ast, Dutch actor and director (Ghost Hotel, Two Boys), dies at 67
  • Sep 6 Arthur Rackham, English book illustrator (Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rip van Winkle), dies of cancer at 71
  • Sep 7 Kyoka Izumi, Japanese novelist (b. 1873)
  • Sep 13 Eugene Foss, American politician (45th Governor of Massachusetts), dies at 80
  • Sep 17 Ethel M. Dell, English author (Storm Drift), dies at 58
  • Sep 18 Gwen John, Welsh painter, dies at 63
  • Sep 18 Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Polish writer, painter, and photographer (b. 1885)
  • Sep 20 Paul Bruchési, French Canadian Catholic archbishop of Montreal, dies at 83
  • Sep 21 Armand Călinescu, Prime Minister of Romania, assassinated by the iron guard at 46

Sigmund FreudSigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Sep 23 Austrian neurologist and father of psychology, dies at 83

  • Sep 24 Carl Laemmle, German-born American film producer (Universal Pictures), dies of cardiovascular disease at 72
  • Sep 28 Felicjan Szopski, Polish composer, dies at 74
  • Sep 29 Samuel Dickstein, Polish mathematician, dies in WWII bombing at 88
  • Oct 7 Harvey Cushing, American neurosurgeon (blood pressure studies), dies at 70
  • Oct 10 Eleanor Rigby, a real person whose name may have suggested the title to The Beatles song (b. 1895)
  • Oct 16 Ludolf Nielsen, Danish composer, dies at 63
  • Oct 21 H G "Nummy" Deane, South African cricket batsman (17 Tests [12 as captain], 3 x 50; Natal, Transvaal), dies from a heart attack at 44
  • Oct 23 Zane Grey, American western novelist (Spirit of the Border), dies at 67
  • Oct 25 Cornelis JK van Aalst, president Dutch Business Society, dies at 73
  • Oct 28 Alice Brady, American silent and talkie film actress (My Man Godfrey; The Gay Divorcee; Zenobia), dies of cancer at 46
  • Oct 29 Dwight B. Waldo, American educator (first President of Western Michigan University), dies at 75
  • Oct 31 Otto Rank [Rosenfeld], Austria psychoanalyst (Trauma of Geburt), dies
  • Nov 3 Waldemar Lindgren, Swedish-American Geologist (economic geology, ore classification), dies at 79
  • Nov 4 Charles Arnold Tournemire, French organist and composer, dies at 69
  • Nov 5 Charles Barrois, French geologist and palaeontologist, dies at 88
  • Nov 6 Adolphe Max, Belgian politician (Mayor of Brussels - escaped German captivity WWI), dies at 69
  • Nov 9 Dirk Klop, Dutch intelligence lt, shot by German Abwehr
  • Nov 11 Jan Opletal, Czech student, victim of Nazi violence in Prague

Norman BethuneNorman Bethune (1890-1939)

Nov 12 Canadian doctor, communist and humanitarian (Spanish Civil War, Second Sino-Japanese War), dies of blood poisoning from a cut on his finger from operating on a wounded soldier at 49

  • Nov 12 Oscar [Bachigaloupi] Tourniaire, Dutch actor and director (Pink Kate), dies at 59
  • Nov 13 George Nicholls Jr, actor (Finishing School), dies at 42
  • Nov 13 Lois Weber, American film director who became the first American woman to direct a full feature-length film (The Merchant of Venice) and the first to own her own studio, dies of a stomach ulcer at 60
  • Nov 14 Bluey, Australian cattle dog and world's oldest reliably recorded dog dies at 29 year sand 5 days [1]
  • Nov 16 Pierce Butler, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (b. 1866)
  • Nov 20 Désiré Pâque, Belgian organist, composer, and pedagogue, dies at 72
  • Nov 25 Wilfred Trotter, English surgeon who was a pioneer in neurosurgery, popularized the concept of herd instinct, and was an authority in cancers of the head and neck, dies at 67

James NaismithJames Naismith (1861-1939)

Nov 28 Canadian-American physical educator and inventor (basketball, football helmet), dies at 78

  • Nov 29 Philipp Scheidemann, German politician (SPD) and Mayor of Kassel, dies at 74
  • Dec 1 Max Fiedler, German composer, dies at 79
  • Dec 8 Ernest Schelling, American child piano prodigy, conductor, and composer (A Victory Ball), dies of a cerebral embolism at 63
  • Dec 10 Wilhelm Grosz, Austrian pianist, conductor, classical composer (Afrika Songs), and popular songwriter ("Red Sails in the Sunset"; "Isle of Capri"), dies at 45 [1]

Douglas FairbanksDouglas Fairbanks (1883-1939)

Dec 12 American actor (The Mark of Zorro, 3 Musketeers, Robin Hood), dies from a heart attack at 56

  • Dec 15 Tom McKibbin, Australian cricket spin bowler (5 Tests, 17 wickets; NSW CA), dies at 69
  • Dec 18 Heywood Broun, American journalist (1st President of American Newspaper Guild), dies of pneumonia at 51
  • Dec 19 Eric Fogg, English composer, dies under a train at 36
  • Dec 19 Karl Wagenfeld, Low German writer (Lucifer, Death & Devil), dies at 70
  • Dec 19 Willem Benoy, Flemish actor and director (The White), dies at 57
  • Dec 20 Hans Langsdorff, German Kriegsmarine (navy) captain commits suicide after scuttling his ship, the 'Admiral Graf Spee,' due to damage from the Battle of the River Plat (near Argentina)
  • Dec 22 Ma Rainey [Gertrude Pridgett], American singer "Mother of the Blues", dies at 53

Anthony FokkerAnthony Fokker (1890-1939)

Dec 23 Dutch aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer (Eindecker monoplanes, Fokker Triplane), dies of pneumococcal meningitis at 49