On This Day

Famous Deaths on December 15

  • 1025 Basilius II, the Bulgarendoder, Byzantine emperor (976-1025), dies
  • 1072 Alp Arslan, Turkish sultan in Persia (b. 1029)
  • 1230 Ottokar I, king of Bohemia (1197-1230), dies
  • 1263 King Haakon IV of Norway (b. 1204)

Afonso de Albuquerque

1515 Afonso de Albuquerque, Portuguese admiral, Duke of Goa and Viceroy of Portuguese India, dies at sea in sight of Goa at around 62

  • 1576 Joachim Hopperus, Frisian lawyer and politician, dies at 53
  • 1598 Philip van Marnix, Flemish ruler of St Aldegonde/poet, dies at 58
  • 1621 Charles d'Albert, duc of Luynes, French courtier, favourite of Louis XIII and Constable of France, dies at 43
  • 1626 Adriaen de Vries, Dutch sculptor/painter, dies at about 70
  • 1673 Margaret Cavendish, English poet, playwright and philosopher (early science fiction work The Blazing World), dies at about 50

Jan Vermeer

1675 Jan Vermeer, Dutch painter (Girl with a Pearl Earring), dies at 43

  • 1683 Izaak Walton, English biographer and author (The Compleat Angler), dies at 90
  • 1688 Gaspar Fagel, lawyer/Neth grand pensionary (1672-88), dies at 54
  • 1699 Henrik A van Reede tot Drakenstein, Dutch botanist, dies at about 63
  • 1712 Sidney 1st earl of Godolphine, English minister of Finance, dies at 67
  • 1715 George Hickes, English linguist (Old German Philology), dies at 73
  • 1753 Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, English architect, dies at 59
  • 1779 Manuel Jeronimo Romero de Avila, Spanish theorist and composer, dies at 62
  • 1792 Joseph Martin Kraus, composer, dies at 36

Anthony Wayne

1796 Anthony Wayne, American Military Leader (Legion of the United States), dies of gout at 51

  • 1816 Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz, Bohemian aristocrat and composer, dies at 44
  • 1816 Charles Stanhope, 3rd earl Stanhope, English radical politician and scientist, dies at 63
  • 1817 Maria Walewska [Leszczinska], lover of emperor Napoleon I, dies
  • 1822 Ferenc Verseghy, Hungarian poet and composer, dies at 65
  • 1826 William Browser, revolting slave, executed in NYC
  • 1831 Paulus Roelof Cantz'laar, Dutch naval officer and colonial governor, dies at 60
  • 1839 Matthijs I van Bree, Flemish court-painter, dies at 66
  • 1855 Jacques Charles François Sturm, French mathematician (b. 1803)
  • 1861 Gualtiero Sanelli, composer, dies at 45
  • 1880 Carlo Boncompagni di Mombello, Italian minister of Justice, dies at 76
  • 1885 Ferdinand II, German prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry and King of Portugal (1837-53), dies at 69
  • 1885 Robert Toombs, American lawyer and 1st Confederate States Secretary of State, dies at 75

Sitting Bull

1890 Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa-Sioux chief who helped led his people to victory in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, killed by US Police aged 58 or 59

  • 1892 Charles Balmer, German composer, dies at 75
  • 1896 John GR Acquoy, Dutch theologist/church historian, dies at 67
  • 1901 Elias Álvares Lobo, Brazilian composer, dies at 67
  • 1909 Francisco Tárrega, Spanish composer, dies at 57
  • 1924 T. Frank Appleby, American politician (U.S. House of Representatives - (R) New Jersey, 1921-23), dies at 60
  • 1934 Maggie L. Walker, African-American teacher and businesswoman (1st female Bank President), dies at 69
  • 1939 Tom McKibbin, Australian cricketer (5 Tests for Aust 1895-1898, 17 wkts), dies at 69

Fats Waller

1943 Fats Waller [Thomas Wright], American jazz singer and composer (Ain't Misbehavin', Hot Chocolate), dies at 39

Glenn Miller

1944 Glenn Miller, American bandleader and jazz composer (Glenn Miller Orchestra-In the Mood), dies in a suspected plane crash at 40

  • 1946 Konrad Haebler, German historian (Hundert Kalenderinkunabeln), dies at 89
  • 1946 Gordon Frederic Norton, composer, dies at 77
  • 1947 Arthur Machen, Welsh author (b. 1863)
  • 1950 Robert Müller-Hartmann, German composer, dies at 66
  • 1951 Eric Drummond, British 1st Secretary-General of the League of Nations (1919-33), dies at 75
  • 1951 María Grever, Mexican-American composer ("What A Difference A Day Makes" / "Cuando vuelva a tu lado"), dies at 66
  • 1952 Potti Sreeramulu, Indian revolutionary known as the Father of Andhra for conducting a 56 day hunger strike in support of a separate Telugu-speaking state, fasts to death at 51, sparking rioting and 3 days later Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to declare an intention to form Andhra Pradesh state
  • 1953 Kishio Hirao, composer, dies at 46
  • 1958 Wolfgang Pauli, Swiss-American theoretical physicist (Pauli inhibition, Nobel 1945), dies at 58
  • 1961 William "Dummy" Hoy, professional baseball player, dies at 99

Charles Laughton

1962 Charles Laughton, English actor (Hunchback of Notre Dame), dies at 63

Walt Disney

1966 Walt [Walter Elias] Disney, American animator and producer (co-founder of Walt Disney Co), dies of lung cancer at 65

  • 1968 Jess Willard, Heavyweight boxing champ (1915-19), dies at 86
  • 1968 Antonio J. Barrette, French Canadian politician, premier of Quebec, dies at 69
  • 1971 Paul Pierre Lévy, French mathematician (b. 1886)
  • 1972 Edward Earle, Canadian actor (Charlie Chan-Meeting at Midnight), dies at 90
  • 1972 Herbert Eimert, German composer (Glockenspiel), dies at 75
  • 1973 Orest Alexandrovich Evlahkov, composer, dies at 61
  • 1974 Erich Walter Sternberg, composer, dies at 83
  • 1974 Anatole Litvak, Russian-born American film director, writer and producer (Mayerling, Anastasia, The Snake Pit), dies at 72
  • 1975 Mukhtar Ashrafi, Soviet-Uzbek composer, dies at 63
  • 1977 Wilfred Kitching, the 7th General of The Salvation Army (b. 1893)
  • 1978 Chill Wills, American actor (Frontier Circus, Rounders), dies at 75
  • 1979 Bern Hoffman, actor (Major Dell Conway), dies at 66
  • 1980 Rudolph Cleveringa, Dutch anti-nazi lawyer and professor of Law at Leiden University, dies at 86
  • 1983 Jimmy McLin, American jazz banjo player, and guitarist (James P. Johnson; Willie "The Lion" Smith; The Ink Spots), dies at 75
  • 1983 “Big Chief” Russell Moore, Pima-American jazz trombonist (Lionel Hampton; Louis Armstrong), and composer ("Wounded Knee Chant"), dies at 70
  • 1984 Jan Peerce [Jacob Pincus Perelmuth], American tenor (NBC Symphony, 1938-55; NY Metropolitan Opera, 1941-67; "Bluebird of Happiness"), dies at 80
  • 1984 Lennard Pearce, British actor (Only Fools and Horses....), dies of a heart attack at 69
  • 1984 Frank Spedding, Canadian Chemist whose uranium extraction process helped make possible the first atomic bomb, dies at 82
  • 1985 Forrest C. Shaklee, American chiropractor and founder (Shaklee Products), dies at 91
  • 1986 Serge Lifar, Russian-French dancer, choreographer (Paris Opera Ballet), dies at 81
  • 1987 Septima Poinsette Clark, American educator and civil rights activist, dies at 89
  • 1989 Arnold Moss, American actor (Loves of Carmen, Kim, Quebec, Viva Zapata), dies at 79
  • 1989 Edward Underdown, British actor (Beat the Devil, Thunderball), dies at 81
  • 1990 Betty Warren actress (Passport to Pimlico), dies
  • 1990 Jean Paige, actress (Capt Blood, Black Beauty), dies
  • 1991 Horatio Luro, American horse trainer (Decidedly, Northern Dancer), dies at 90
  • 1991 Ray Smith, British actor (And Then You Die), dies at 55
  • 1994 Hans de Jong, musician and conductor (Amsterdams Vrouwenkoor), dies at 86
  • 1994 Harry Tobias, American songwriter, dies at 99
  • 1994 Henry Phelps Brown, British historian and economist, dies at 88
  • 1994 Mollie Doreen Phillips, British figure skater and judge (Olympics 1932,36), dies at 87
  • 1995 Jim [James Geoffrey Cutcliffe] Hepburn, English tap-dancer and socialist, dies at 88
  • 1995 Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, Deputy Prime Minister of Spain (1976-81) and Minister of Defense (1977-79), dies at 83
  • 1995 Johnny Lytle, American jazz drummer and vibraphonist, known as "Fast Hands", dies of kidney failure at 63
  • 1995 Charles Fletcher, British pioneering physician and TV presenter (wrote the 1st report into the dangers of smoking), dies at 84
  • 1996 Gerald Moverley, first Bishop of the Diocese of Hallam in Yorkshire, dies at 74
  • 1996 Guiseppe Dossetti, politician/priest, dies at 83
  • 1996 Tristan Keuris, Dutch composer (Sinfonia) dies at 50
  • 1997 Pananayiotis Taki Vatikiotis, Middle Eastern scholar, dies at 69
  • 1998 Jan Meyerowitz, German-American composer, dies at 85
  • 2001 Russ Haas, American professional wrestler, dies of heart attack at 27
  • 2001 Rufus Thomas [Mr. Swing], American musician (Do the Funky Chicken), dies at 84
  • 2003 George Fisher, American political cartoonist (b. 1923)
  • 2003 Keith Magnuson, Canadian ice hockey player (b. 1947)
  • 2004 Pauline Gore, mother of Al Gore (b. 1912)
  • 2005 Heinrich Gross, Austrian physician (b. 1914)
  • 2005 Stan Leonard, Canadian golfer (3 PGA Tour titles), dies of heart failure at 90
  • 2005 William Proxmire, American politician (Sen-D-WI, 1957-88), dies at 90
  • 2005 Darrell Russell, American football player, dies in a car crash at 29
  • 2006 Clay Regazzoni, Swiss Formula One driver, dies at 67
  • 2006 Henny Alma [Hendrika den Broek], Dutch actress (Soldier of Orange), dies at 83
  • 2007 John Berg, American actor (Star Trek: Nemesis), takes his own life at 58
  • 2007 Julia Carson, U.S. Congresswoman from Indiana (b. 1938)
  • 2008 León Febres Cordero, Ecuador's former President (b. 1931)
  • 2008 Geraldine McCullough, American painter and sculptor (Phoenix), dies at 91
  • 2009 Oral Roberts, American television evangelist and author (b. 1918)
  • 2010 Blake Edwards, American writer and director (10, SOB, Breakfast at Tiffany's), dies at 88
  • 2010 Bob Feller, American Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher (AL Triple Crown 1940; 3 x no-hit games), dies from leukemia at 92
  • 2010 Eugene Victor Wolfenstein, American political scientist (b. 1940)
  • 2011 Andy Carey, third baseman for 1950s New York Yankees, dies at 80
  • 2013 Harold Camping, American evangelist and founder of Family Radio, dies at 92
  • 2014 Ray Steadman-Allen, British choral and brass band composer, dies at 92
  • 2015 Ken Pogue, Canadian actor (Adderly, Katts and Dog), dies of cancer at 81
  • 2017 Don Hogan Charles, American photographer and first African-American photographer hired by The New York Times, dies at 79
  • 2017 Heinz Wolff, German-born British scientist and TV/ radio presenter (BBC series "The Great Egg Race"), dies from heart failure at 89
  • 2020 Jean-Pierre Lux, French rugby union centre (42 caps; US Tyrosse, US Dax) and administrator (President European Rugby Cup 1999-2014), dies at 74
December 15 Highlights