On This Day

Famous Deaths in 1981

Deaths 1 - 200 of 314

  • Jan 1 Hephzibah Menuhin, American-Jewish concert pianist (b. 1920)
  • Jan 2 David Lynch, singer (Platters-My Prayer), dies at 51
  • Jan 3 Princess Alice of Albany (b. 1883)
  • Jan 4 Ruth Lowe, Canadian pianist and composer (I'll Never Smile Again), dies at 66
  • Jan 5 Harold Urey, American physical chemist (Deuterium, Nobel 1934), dies at 87
  • Jan 5 Paul Félix, Flemish architect (Song of the Sun), dies at 67
  • Jan 5 Lanza del Vasto, Italian philosopher (b. 1901)
  • Jan 6 A. J. Cronin, Scottish writer (Citadel, Shining Victory), dies at 84
  • Jan 7 Jose Ardevol, Cuban composer, dies at 69
  • Jan 7 Alvar Lidell, UK radio broadcaster (b. 1908)
  • Jan 7 Eric Robinson, Australian politician (b. 1926)
  • Jan 8 Matthew Beard, entertainer, dies
  • Jan 8 Woody Chamblis, actor (Mr Lathrop-Gunsmoke), dies at 66
  • Jan 9 Kazimierz Serocki, composer, dies at 58
  • Jan 10 Richard Boone, American actor (The Richard Boone Show, Have Gun Will Travel), dies of throat cancer at 63
  • Jan 10 Fawn M. Brodie, American historian (b. 1915)

  • Jan 11 Beulah Bondi, actress (It's a Wonderful Life), dies at 88
  • Jan 12 Isobel Elsom, actress (Unseen, Jane Eyre, Illegal), dies at 87
  • Jan 13 Emiel van Hemeldonck, Belgian writer (Mary, My Child), dies at 83
  • Jan 14 John O'Grady, Australian writer (Nino Culotta) (b. 1907)
  • Jan 15 Emanuel Celler, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York), dies at 92
  • Jan 16 Bernard Lee, British actor (M in James Bond movies, Fallen Idol, Dr No), dies at 73
  • Jan 17 Loukas Panourgias, Greek footballer (b. 1899)
  • Jan 21 Allyn Joslyn, American actor (They Won't Forget, Cafe Society), dies at 79
  • Jan 21 Norman Stronge, former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament, assassinated by IRA alongside son James
  • Jan 21 James Stronge former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament, assassinated by IRA, alongside his father Norman
  • Jan 22 Fannie Thomas, American who became the oldest known American at her death, dies at 113 years and 273 days
  • Jan 22 Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Pakistani historian and educationist, dies at 77
  • Jan 23 Bobby Sherwood, orchestra leader (Milton Berle Show), dies at 66

Person of interestSamuel Barber

Jan 23 Samuel Barber, American composer (School for Scandal), dies of cancer at 70

Composer Samuel Barber
Composer
Samuel Barber
  • Jan 25 Richard Talmadge, actor (Speed Reporter), dies
  • Jan 25 Adele Astaire [Lady Charles Cavendish], American dancer and entertainer, sister of Fred Astaire (Last Man on Earth, Millie), dies at 82
  • Jan 27 Leo Collard, Belgian minister of Education (1946/54-58), dies at 78
  • Jan 29 Cozy Cole, rocker (Topsy Part II), dies

Person of interestDonald Wills Douglas

Feb 1 Donald Wills Douglas, American aircraft industrialist (McConnell Douglas) and aviation pioneer (Douglas DC-3), dies at 88

Aviation Pioneer Donald Wills Douglas
Aviation Pioneer
Donald Wills Douglas
  • Feb 1 Ernst Pepping, German composer, dies at 79

  • Feb 1 Nils Geirr Tveitt, composer, dies at 72
  • Feb 1 Wanda Hendrix, American actress (Sierra, Ride the Pink Horse), dies at 52
  • Feb 2 Jan Donner, Dutch chairman of High Council, dies at 89
  • Feb 2 Louise Lorraine, actress (Adventures of Tarzan), dies
  • Feb 5 Barend Barendse, Dutch sports reporter and actor (Zeskamp, Oebele), dies at 73
  • Feb 5 Kuda Bux, Indian mystic (I'd Like to See), dies at 75
  • Feb 5 Ella Grasso, Governor of Connecticut (b. 1919)
  • Feb 6 Hugo Montenegro, American film music composer (b. 1925)
  • Feb 6 Frederica of Hanover, Queen Consort of Greece, dies at 63

Person of interestBill Haley

Feb 9 Bill Haley, American rock vocalist known as the father of Rock 'n' Roll (Rock Around the Clock), dies of a heart attack probably caused by alcoholism at 55

Father of Rock 'n' Roll Bill Haley
Father of Rock 'n' Roll
Bill Haley
  • Feb 12 Jean Dixon, actress (Joy of Livng, You Only Live Once), dies
  • Feb 15 Jack Crapp, English cricketer (7 Tests for England 1948-49, 319 runs), dies at 68
  • Feb 15 Mike Bloomfield, American musician (Electric Flag), dies of a drug overdose at 37
  • Feb 15 Thomas Beversdorf, composer, dies at 56
  • Feb 15 Karl Richter, German composer and conductor, dies at 54
  • Feb 18 John Knudsen Northrop, American aircraft designer (Northrop Air), dies at 85
  • Feb 19 Frank Merrick, English composer, dies at 94
  • Feb 26 FC Terborgh, [Reijnier Flaes], lawyer/writer (Turkish War), dies at 79

Person of interestHoward Hanson

Feb 26 Howard Hanson, American classical music composer and conductor (Nordic), dies at 84

Composer and Conductor Howard Hanson
Composer and Conductor
Howard Hanson
  • Feb 26 Munabi, assistant to Uganda president Obote, murdered
  • Feb 26 Robert Aickman, English writer and conservationist (co-founding the Inland Waterways Association), dies at 66
  • Feb 27 Jacob H Gilbert, American politician (US Representative 1960-1971), dies at 60
  • Mar 2 Janear Hines, actress (Roberta-Julia), dies at 30
  • Mar 4 Torin Thatcher, British actor (Houdini, Isranbul, Lady Godiva), dies of cancer at 76
  • Mar 5 Brenda De Banzie, actress (39 Steps, Hobson's Choice), dies at 64
  • Mar 5 Paul Horbiger, actor (3rd Man), dies at 86
  • Mar 5 Yip Harburg [Isidore Hochberg], American lyricist (Somewhere Over The Rainbow), dies in a car crash at 84
  • Mar 6 George Geary, English cricketer (14 Tests for England, 46 wickets), dies at 87
  • Mar 6 Klaus Grabowski, German alleged murderer and convicted sex offender, shot and killed in Lübeck District Court by Marianne Bachmeier the mother of the daughter he was accused of murdering
  • Mar 7 John Gnagy, artist (Learn to Draw), dies at 73
  • Mar 7 Kirill Petrovich Kondrashin, Russian conductor/composer, dies at 67
  • Mar 7 Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling, German tennis player (Wimbledon 1931, 1936 runner-up), dies at 72
  • Mar 9 Max Delbrück, German-American biologist and molecular geneticist (bacteriophage, Nobel Prize 1969), dies at 74
  • Mar 14 Ken Barrington, cricketer (82 Tests for England, 6806 runs), dies
  • Mar 15 René Clair, French film director (I Married a Witch, It Happened Tomorrow), dies at 82
  • Mar 17 Paul Dean, American baseball player (St. Louis Cardinals), dies at 68
  • Mar 22 James "Jumbo" Elliott, American track coach (b. 1915)
  • Mar 25 Felix de Nobel, Dutch orchestra leader and pianist, dies at 73
  • Mar 26 Cyril Dean Darlington, English biologist and geneticist who discovered the mechanics of chromosomal crossover and its role in inheritance and evolution, dies at 77
  • Mar 26 Tim Wall, cricketer (SA v NSW 1933 is Sheffield Shield record), dies
  • Mar 27 Mao Dun [Shen Dehong], Chinese writer (Midnight), dies at 84
  • Mar 29 Eric Williams, 1st Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago (People's National Movement: 1962-81), dies at 79
  • Mar 30 Dewitt Wallace, US founder (Reader's Digest), dies at 91
  • Mar 30 Noel Harford, New Zealand cricketer (8 Tests for NZ 1955-58), dies at 50
  • Mar 31 Enid Bagnold, British novelist (Chalk Garden, 1956 Award of Merit), dies at 91
  • Apr 1 D[ennis] F[eltham] Jones, sci-fi author (Colossus), dies at 65
  • Apr 1 Eua Sunthornsanan, Thai composer and bandleader (b. 1910)
  • Apr 2 Delfo Cabrera, Argentine distance runner (Olympic gold marathon 1948), dies in a car accident at 62
  • Apr 3 Juan Trippe, American airline pioneer and entrepreneur (Pan Am founder), dies at 81
  • Apr 3 Leo Kanner, Austrian-American psychiatrist and social activist known for his work related to autism, dies at 86
  • Apr 4 Brad Johnson, actor (Annie Oakley), dies at 56
  • Apr 5 Bob "Bear" Hite, rocker (Canned Heat), dies of a heart attack at 36
  • Apr 5 Cornelis Verolme, Dutch ship builder, dies at 80
  • Apr 7 Christopher "Kit" Lambert, British record producer and manager of The Who, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at 45
  • Apr 8 Norman Taurog, American film director (Skippy), dies at 82

Person of interestOmar Bradley

Apr 8 Omar Bradley, American WWII General (Invasion of Normandy) and 1st Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1949-53), dies of cardiac arrhythmia at 88

US WWII General Omar Bradley
US WWII General
Omar Bradley
  • Apr 10 Howard Thurman, African-American theologian and author (Deep River, Deep is the Hunger), dies at 81
  • Apr 11 Marie Ney, dies at 85
  • Apr 12 Hans Chemin-Petit, German composer, dies at 78
  • Apr 12 Hendrik Andriessen, Dutch organist and composer (Te Deum), dies at 88

Person of interestJoe Louis

Apr 12 Joe Louis, [Brown bomber], US heavyweight boxing champion (1937-49), dies of cardiac arrest at 66

Boxer and World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis
Boxer and World Heavyweight Champion
Joe Louis
  • Apr 13 Prince Asaka Yasuhiko of Japan (b. 1887)
  • Apr 15 French Duynstee, Dutch states rights leader, dies at 67
  • Apr 15 John Thach, American WWII Naval aviator (developed the Thach Weave) and USN admiral, dies at 75
  • Apr 16 Eric Hollies, English cricketer (13 Tests for England, 44 wickets), dies at 68
  • Apr 18 James H. Schmitz, American sci-fi author (Lion Game), dies at 69
  • Apr 19 Ernst Levy, Swiss composer, dies at 85
  • Apr 21 Harry Lee, cricketer (scored 18 & 1 in only Test for England), dies
  • Apr 22 Brailsford Reese Brazeal, dean (Morehouse College), dies at 76
  • Apr 23 Josep Pla, Catalan journalist and writer (b. 1897)
  • Apr 26 Jim Davis, American actor (Jack Ewing-Dallas), dies at 65
  • Apr 26 Madge Evans, American TV panelist (Masquerade Party), dies at 71
  • Apr 28 Mickey "Toy Bulldog" Walker, welterweight champ (1922-26) dies at 79
  • Apr 28 Cliff Battles, Pro/College Football Halls of Fame halfback (Boston Braves/Redskins, Washington Redskins), dies at 70
  • Apr 30 Peter Huchel, German poet, dies at 78
  • May 1 Clarence A Bacote, historian/political scientist, dies at 75
  • May 5 Bobby Sands, Irish IRA activist dies in the 66th day of his hunger strike at 26
  • May 7 Mieczyslaw Kolinski, composer, dies at 79
  • May 8 Margaret Lindsay, actress (G Men, Lady Killer, Jezebel), dies at 70
  • May 8 Maurice Fernandes, cricket captain (WI in 1st Test win, 1930 v Eng), dies
  • May 9 C E "Nip" Pellew, cricketer (10 Tests 484 runs at 37), dies
  • May 9 Nelson Algren, American novelist (Man with the Golden Arm), dies at 72

Person of interestBob Marley

May 11 Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae musician (One Love), dies of brain and lung cancer at 36

Reggae Musician Bob Marley
Reggae Musician
Bob Marley
  • May 11 Hoyt J Fuller, American editor (1st World magazine), dies at 57
  • May 11 Odd Hassel, Norwegian chemist (Nobel 1969 - the study of the three-dimensional geometric structure of molecules), dies at 83

  • May 12 Benjamin Sheares, President of Singapore (1971-81), dies at 73
  • May 13 Carl Weinrich, American organist and composer, dies at 76
  • May 16 Ernie Freeman, American musician (Raunchy), pianist and arranger, dies at 58
  • May 17 Jeannette Ridlon Piccard, 1st US woman free balloon pilot, dies
  • May 17 Hugo Friedhofer, American composer, dies at 80
  • May 18 Arthur O'Connell, American actor (Mr Peepers, Second Hundred Years), dies at 73
  • May 18 William Saroyan, American novelist and stagewriter (Time of your life), dies at 72
  • May 21 Yuki Shimoda, actor (Farewell to Manzanar), dies
  • May 21 Patsy O'Hara, Irish hunger striker (b. 1957)
  • May 21 Raymond Mccreesh, Irish hunger striker (b. 1957)
  • May 23 George Jessel, American toastmaster general and entertainer (Diary of Young Comic), dies at 83
  • May 23 Rayner Heppenstall, English novelist (The Blaze of Noon), dies at 70
  • May 23 David Lewis, Canadian labour lawyer and politician (b. 1909)
  • May 24 Jack Warner [Waters], British actor (Dixon of Dock Green, Christmas Carol), dies from pneumonia at 85
  • May 25 Rosa Ponselle, American singer (Metropolitan Opera), dies at 84
  • May 25 Roy Brown, American boxer/rocker, dies of a heart attack at 55
  • May 25 Fredric Warburg, British publisher and author (b. 1898)
  • May 28 Mary Lou Williams, US jazz pianist and composer (Zodiac Suite), dies at 71
  • May 28 Stefan Wyszyński, Polish Cardinal, dies at 79
  • May 30 Ziaur Rahmen, President of Bangladesh, is assassinated
  • May 30 Don Ashby, Canadian ice hockey player (b. 1955)
  • May 31 Giuseppe Pella, 31st Prime Minister of Italy, dies at 79
  • Jun 1 Carl Vinson, American politician (38th Dean of the United States House of Representatives, 1961-65), dies at 97
  • Jun 1 Naim Chadir, PLO-representative in Brussels, murdered
  • Jun 3 Carleton Coon, American anthropologist (What in the World), dies at 76
  • Jun 3 Eric Dalton, South African cricket batsman (15 Tests, top score 117), dies at 74
  • Jun 5 Philo McCullough, actor (Branded, Ridin' Thru), dies
  • Jun 9 Russell "Lucky" Hayden [Pate Lucid], American actor (Judge Roy Bean, Three Men from Texas), dies from pneumonia at 68
  • Jun 9 Allen Ludden [Ellsworth], American TV personality and gameshow host (Password), husband of Betty White, dies of stomach cancer at 63
  • Jun 11 Eppo Doeve, Dutch cartoonist and painter, dies at 73

  • Jun 11 Albert Markos, Romanian composer (Torso I), dies at 66
  • Jun 15 Philip Toynbee, British journalist and writer (Savage Days, Barricade), dies at 64
  • Jun 16 Humphrey Keervelt, director (Suriname Planning Bureau), murdered
  • Jun 16 John S Knight, American journalist and publisher (Knight Newspapers), dies at 86
  • Jun 16 Jule Gregory Charney, American meteorologist, dies at 64
  • Jun 17 Richard O'Connor, British general (b. 1889)
  • Jun 17 Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane) (b. 1889)
  • Jun 17 Yitzhak Zuckerman [Itzhak Zuckerman], Jewish resistance hero in World War II and one of the few survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, dies at 65
  • Jun 18 Richard Goolden, British actor (Two Days to Live, School for Husbands), dies at 86
  • Jun 21 Gunnar Ek, Swedish composer, dies on his 81st birthday
  • Jun 22 Lola Lane, actress (Zanzibar, Mystery Ship, Big Fight), dies
  • Jun 23 Zarah Leander, Swedish/German singer/actress (Gabriela), dies at 79
  • Jun 26 Peter Kreuder, German composer, dies
  • Jun 28 Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, Iran Islamic Rep Party founder, bombed
  • Jun 28 Peter Paul Kreuder, German composer, dies at 75
  • Jun 28 Terry Fox, Canadian one-legged marathoner, dies of cancer at 22
  • Jun 29 Mohammed Hussein Beheshti, Iran ayatollah/politician, murdered
  • Jul 1 George Voskovec [Jirí Wachsmann], Czech actor (12 Angry Men, Somewhere in Time), dies from a heart attack at 76
  • Jul 1 Carlos de Oliveira, Portuguese writer (b. 1921)
  • Jul 1 Rushton Moreve, American bass player (b. 1948)
  • Jul 2 Robert Emmett Keane, actor (Rookie Cop, Red Dragon), dies
  • Jul 3 Ross Martin [Martin Rosenblatt], Polish-American actor (Mr Lucky, The Wild Wild West), dies of a heart attack at 61
  • Jul 5 Jorge Urrutia Blondel, Chilean composer, dies at 75
  • Jul 7 Keefe Brasselle [John Brasselli], American actor (The Eddie Cantor Story, Be Our Guest), dies of liver disease at 58
  • Jul 7 Peace Pilgrim [Mildred Lisette Norman], American peace activist, dies at 72
  • Jul 8 Loring Smith, actor (Hartmans), dies at 86
  • Jul 9 Oscar van Hemel, Belgian-Dutch composer, dies at 88
  • Jul 9 Wilhelm H C Tenhaeff, para-psychologist, dies at 87
  • Jul 10 Ken Rex McElroy, American resident of Skidmore, Missouri known as "the town bully", murdered at 47 in an unsolved killing in front of a crowd of 30-46 in Skidmore's main street
  • Jul 12 Ben Seijes, historian (WWII), dies at 73

  • Jul 16 Harry Chapin, folk vocalist (Taxi), dies in car crash at 38
  • Jul 18 Wilhelm HC Tenhaeff, Dutch para-psychologist, dies at 87
  • Jul 19 Louis Cheslock, composer, dies at 81
  • Jul 19 Roger Doucet, French Canadian tenor (b. 1919)
  • Jul 25 Ian Martin, actor (Uncle Bill-O'Neills), dies at 69
  • Jul 26 Donald Lybbert, composer, dies at 58
  • Jul 27 Ray Harrison, dancer (American Song), dies at 64
  • Jul 27 William Wyler, American film director (Ben-Hur, Mrs Miniver), dies at 79
  • Jul 28 Fr. Stanley Rother, American Roman Catholic Priest, Martyr and Missionary to Guatemala, dies at 1981
  • Jul 29 Robert Moses, American urban planner (b. 1888)
  • Jul 31 Gen Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama, dies in plane crash
  • Aug 1 Paddy Chayefsky, screenwriter (Network, Hospital) dies of cancer at 58
  • Aug 1 Seppo Antero Yrjonpoika Nummi, composer, dies at 49
  • Aug 3 Roberto Peci, Italian brother of Red Brigade leader, murdered at 25
  • Aug 4 Melvyn Douglas [Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg], American actor (Hud, Being There, Ghost Story), dies at 80
  • Aug 14 Dudley Nourse, South African cricketer (34 Tests for South Africa, 2960 runs), dies at 70
  • Aug 14 Karl Böhm, Austrian conductor, dies at 87
  • Aug 17 Robert Russell Bennett, American composer/arranger (Oklahoma!), dies at 87
  • Aug 18 Anita Loos, American screenwriter, novelist (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and playwright, dies at 88