On This Day

Famous People Who Died in 1981

Deaths 1 - 200 of 338

  • Jan 1 Hephzibah Menuhin, American-Australian concert pianist, dies at 60
  • Jan 1 Ceferino Garcia, Filipino boxer (World Middleweight champion 1939-40), dies at 74
  • Jan 1 Mauri Rose, American auto racer (Indianapolis 500 1941, 47, 48), dies at 74
  • Jan 2 David Lynch, American singer (Platters - "Twilight Time"; "Only You"; "The Great Pretender"), dies of cancer 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 5 Guy Paquinet, French jazz trombonist, and bandleader, dies at 77
  • 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, American actor (Our Gang shorts - "Stymie"). dies of pneumonia after a stroke and fall, at 56
  • Jan 8 Woody Chamblis, American actor (Mr Lathrop-Gunsmoke), dies at 66
  • Jan 9 Kazimierz Serocki, Polish composer and co-founder of the Warsaw Autumn Festival, 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, American 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, American orchestra leader (Milton Berle Show), dies at 66

Samuel Barber

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

  • 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 (William Randolph) "Cozy" Cole, American jazz drummer ("Topsy I"; "Topsy II"), and educator, dies of cancer at 71

Donald Wills Douglas

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

  • Feb 1 Ernst Pepping, German composer, dies at 79
  • Feb 1 Nils Geirr Tveitt, Norwegian 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, American politician, Governor of Connecticut (1975-80), dies at 61
  • Feb 6 Hugo Montenegro, American film music composer (b. 1925)
  • Feb 6 Frederica of Hanover, Queen Consort of Greece, dies at 63

Bill 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

  • Feb 12 Jean Dixon, actress (Joy of Living, 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, American classical composer ("Of Walruses, Cheesecake, and Morse Code"), and educator (Indiana University, 1949-80) dies of asthma complications 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], Dutch lawyer and writer (Turkish War), dies at 79
  • 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, American actress (Julia - "Roberta"), dies of Bright's disease at 30
  • Mar 2 Tony Gulotta, American auto racer (Indianapolis 500 1927 3rd), dies at 78
  • 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 ("Over The Rainbow"; "It's Only A Paper Moon"), dies in a car crash at 84
  • Mar 5 (Theodore) "Red" Saunders, American jazz drummer and bandleader, based in Chicago, dies at 69
  • Mar 6 George Geary, English cricket fast bowler (14 Tests, 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 Kondrashin, Russian conductor (Bolshoi Theatre, 1943-56; Moscow Philharmonic, 1960-75; Concertgebouw, 1978-81), 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 10 Bill Hopkins, English composer, dies of a heart attack at 37
  • Mar 14 Ken Barrington, English cricketer (82 Tests for England, 6806 runs), dies of a heart attack at 50
  • 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 19 Frank Lane, American MLB executive (GM Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, KC Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers), dies at 85
  • Mar 21 Mark Donskoy, Soviet-Ukrainian film director (Rainbow, A Mother's Heart) and screenwriter, dies at 80
  • Mar 22 James "Jumbo" Elliott, American track coach (b. 1915)
  • Mar 23 Mike Hailwood, MBE GM, British motorcycle road racer (World C'ships: 250cc – 1961, 66, 67; 350cc – 1966, 67; 500cc –1962, 63, 64, 65; 76 Grand Prix wins), dies in a car accident at 40
  • 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, Australian cricketer (SA v NSW 1933 is Sheffield Shield record), dies at 76
  • 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 [1]
  • Mar 30 Dewitt Wallace, American founder of 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 singer, composer and bandleader, dies of cancer at 71
  • 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

Omar 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

  • 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 (Ballade of Merel; Te Deum), dies at 88

Joe Louis

Apr 12 Joe Louis, American boxer (world heavyweight champion 1937-49), dies of cardiac arrest at 66

  • Apr 13 Prince Asaka Yasuhiko of Japan, Japanese military commander, dies at 93
  • Apr 14 Ivan Galamian, American violinist and violin teacher, dies at 78
  • Apr 15 French Duynstee, Dutch states rights leader, dies at 67
  • Apr 15 John Thach, American WWII naval aviator (developed the Thach Weave) & USN admiral, dies at 75
  • Apr 16 Eric Hollies, English cricket spin bowler (13 Tests, 44 wickets; dismissed Donald Bradman for 0 in his final Test innings), 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 21 Eddie Sauter, American musician (Sauter-Finegan Band, Sat Night Revue), dies at 66
  • Apr 23 Josep Pla, Spanish journalist & author, dies at 84
  • Apr 26 Jim Davis, American actor (Dallas - "Jack Ewing"), dies at 65
  • Apr 26 Madge Evans, American TV panelist (Masquerade Party), dies at 71
  • Apr 28 Mickey Walker, American boxer (World Welterweight Champion 1922-26; World Middleweight Champion 1926-29), dies at 79
  • Apr 28 Cliff Battles, American football halfback (First-team All-Pro 1933, 34, 36; Boston Braves/Redskins, Washington Redskins), dies at 70
  • Apr 28 Steve Currie, British rock bassist (T. Rex; Marc Bolan), dies in a car crash in Portugal at 33
  • 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, Polish-Canadian composer (Encounterpoint), educator, and ethno-musicologist, dies at 79
  • May 8 Margaret Lindsay, American actress (G Men, Lady Killer, Jezebel), dies at 70
  • May 8 Maurice Fernandes, West Indian cricket captain (WI in 1st Test win, 1930 v England), dies at 83
  • May 9 Nip Pellew, Australian cricketer (10 Tests 484 runs at 37), dies at 87
  • May 9 Nelson Algren, American novelist (Man with the Golden Arm), dies at 72

Bob Marley

May 11 Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae musician ("One Love"; "Three Little Birds"; "No Woman, No Cry"), dies of brain and lung cancer at 36

  • 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 & 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 stage and screen actor, singer, producer and host known as "The Toastmaster General", dies of a heart attack 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 [Ponzillo], American soprano opera diva ("Casta Diva"; La Forza del Destino - "Leonora"; Metropolitan Opera, 1918-37), dies at 84
  • May 25 Roy Brown, American R&B singer, songwriter ("Good Rockin' Tonight"), dies of a heart attack at 55
  • May 25 Fredric Warburg, British publisher (Animal Farm) and author, dies at 82
  • May 28 Mary Lou Williams, American 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, Surinamese official (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 Peter Paul Kreuder, German-Austrian pianist and film score composer, dies at 75
  • Jun 28 Mohammed Beheshti, Iranian cleric and politician (Chief Justice of Iran), assassinated in Hafte Tir bombing at 52
  • Jun 28 Terry Fox, Canadian one-legged distance runner (Marathon of Hope 1980), dies of cancer at 22
  • Jun 28 Floyd "Candy" Johnson, American jazz saxophonist (Andy Kirk; Count Basie; Bill Doggett), and educator, dies at 59
  • 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 [Morey], American bass player (Steppenwolf - "Magic Carpet Ride"), dies at in a car accident at 32
  • 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 violinist and 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 12 Merrill Ellis, American classical and experimental music composer, and performer (Kaleidoscope; Mutations), dies at 64
  • Jul 13 Kirby Stone, American jazz combo leader (Kirby Stone Four - "Baubles Bangles & Beads"), dies at 63
  • Jul 16 Harry Chapin, American folk-rock singer-songwriter ("Taxi"; "Cat's In The Cradle"), dies in car crash at 38
  • Jul 18 Wilhelm HC Tenhaeff, Dutch para-psychologist, dies at 87
  • Jul 19 Roger Doucet, French Canadian tenor (b. 1919)
  • Jul 19 Louis Cheslock, British-born American violinist, composer and educator of Polish heritage (Peabody Institute, 1916-76), dies at 82
  • Jul 21 Lawrence "Snub" Mosley, American jazz trombonist (Alphonso Trent Orchestra; Louis Armstrong), bandleader, and promoter of the slide saxophone ("The Man With The Funny Little Horn"),, dies at 75 [1]
  • Jul 25 Ian Martin, actor (Uncle Bill-O'Neills), dies at 69
  • Jul 26 Donald Lybbert, American composer (Zap; Lines for the Fallen), and educator, dies at 58