On This Day

Famous Deaths on December 17

  • 535 Emperor Ankan of Japan (b. 466)
  • 695 Begga, ancestress of the Carolingians/saint, dies [or 693]
  • 1187 Gregory VIII [Alberto de Morra], Italian Pope (1187), dies
  • 1195 Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut (b. 1150)
  • 1213 Jean de Matha, French saint, dies at 53
  • 1273 Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, Persian poet, scholar and mystic dies aged 65 or 66
  • 1471 Isabella of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy, dies at 74
  • 1562 Adrian Willaert, Flemish singer/bandmaster/composer, dies at about 82
  • 1651 Wolfgang Schonsleder, composer, dies at 81
  • 1663 Nzinga Mbandi, Queen of Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (1626 -1663) (modern Angola), dies at about 82
  • 1679 Don Juan, ruler of Spain, dies
  • 1711 Arnold Moonen, Dutch vicar and linguist (Defeated German Spraekkunst), dies at 67
  • 1721 Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarbrough, English statesman (b. 1640)
  • 1751 Kilian I von Dientzenhofer, Czech master builder, dies at 62
  • 1811 John Antes, American composer and missionary, dies at 71
  • 1811 Louis Abel Beffroy de Reigny, French dramatist and composer, dies at 54
  • 1829 Bernard Jumentier, French composer, primarily of sacred music, dies at 80

Simón Bolívar

1830 Simón Bolívar, South American revolutionary and president (Colombia), dies at 47 in Santa Marta, Colombia

  • 1833 Kaspar Hauser, German son of grand duke Karel of Bathe (who claimed to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell), murdered at 21
  • 1847 Marie-Louise of Austria, Duchess of Parma and second wife of Napoleon, dies at 56
  • 1857 Francis Beaufort, Irish admiral and hydrographer (Beaufort wind force scale), dies at 83
  • 1860 Désirée Clary, Queen of Sweden and Norway (1818-44), dies at 83
  • 1870 Saverio Mercadante, Italian composer, dies at 75
  • 1874 William Barker Cushing, American naval officer (best known for sinking the CSS Albemarle during a daring nighttime raid on 27 October 1864), dies at 32
  • 1881 Lewis H Morgan, US ethnologist (Iroquois-indians), dies at 62
  • 1891 Msiri, ruler of the Garanganze Kingdom, Congo (Katanga), dies in battle against Belgian funded expedition
  • 1891 Omer Bodson, Belgian captain, dies in battle against Msiri, ruler of Garanganze Kingdom in the Congo
  • 1892 George Brayton, American engineer who developed the Brayton Cycle combustion engine, dies at 62
  • 1893 Levinus T Keuchenius, Dutch min of Colonies (1888-90), dies at 71
  • 1899 Frederick "Freddy" Roberts, son of British field marshal, dies in battle

William Thomson

1907 William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, Irish-Scottish mathematical physicist (Kelvin Scale) and engineer (transatlantic telegraph), dies of a chill at 83

  • 1909 Leopold II, King of Belgium (1865-1909), dies at 74
  • 1913 Stefano Gobatti, Italian composer, dies at 61
  • 1917 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, 1st qualified woman physician in Britain, first woman mayor (Aldeburgh), dies at 81
  • 1917 Frank Gotch, American professional wrestler, dies at 40
  • 1925 A N "Monkey" Hornby, cricketer (England capt at Oval 1882), dies
  • 1926 Alexander Kastalsky, Russian composer, dies at 70
  • 1927 Hubert Harrison, West Indian-American writer and freedom fighter, dies at 44
  • 1930 Peter Warlock [Philip Heseltine], British composer, dies of a probable suicide at 36
  • 1933 Hans Vaihinger, German philosopher (Side-Studies), dies at 81
  • 1933 Thubten Gyatso, 13th Dalai Lama, dies at 57
  • 1937 Gerard Vissering, banker/president of Dutch Bank, dies at 72
  • 1940 Alicia Boole Stott, Irish mathematician, dies at 80
  • 1944 Pieter A. Roodenburgh, student and resistance fighter, dies at 26
  • 1946 Constance [Clara] Garnett, Russian-English translator, dies at 84
  • 1948 Edgar Istel, German composer, dies at 68
  • 1949 David Stanley Smith, American composer (Merrymount), dies at 72
  • 1956 Eddie Acuff, actor (Guns of Pecos), dies at 48
  • 1957 Dorothy L. Sayers, English novelist (The Nine Tailors), dies at 66
  • 1961 Marion Perkins, sculptor (Man of Sorrow), dies at 53
  • 1962 Thomas Mitchell, American Academy Award-winning actor (Gone With The Wind; High Noon), dies of bone cancer at 70
  • 1964 Victor Franz Hess, Austrian-born physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1883)
  • 1966 Gustaf Paulson, Swedish organist and composer (The Resurrection Symphony), dies at 68
  • 1967 Harold Holt, Australian prime minister (Liberal, 1966-67), presumed to have drowned at 59
  • 1967 [Francis] Barry Byrne, American architect, dies at 83
  • 1967 Jack Perrin, American actor, dies of heart attack at 71
  • 1969 Arturo da Costa e Silva, 27th President of Brazil (1967-69), dies at 67
  • 1972 Erwin Dressel, German composer, dies at 63
  • 1973 Charles Greeley Abbot, American astronomer (Solar Constant), dies at 101
  • 1973 Patrick Hadley, composer, dies at 74
  • 1975 Frank Sully, American actor (Along Came Jones, Phantom Thief, Inside the Law), dies at 67
  • 1975 Noble Sissle, jazz musician, dies at 86
  • 1975 Hound Dog Taylor [Theodore Roosevelt], American Chicago blues guitarist and singer, dies of lung cancer at 60
  • 1978 Don Ellis, American jazz band leader (b. 1934)
  • 1981 Edwin Erich Dwinger, German writer (General Vlassov), dies at 83
  • 1982 Leonid Kogan, Soviet Russian violinist (Lenin Prize, 1952), dies of a heart attack at 58
  • 1982 Philipp Jarnach, French pianist, composer, and music educator (Hamburg Music Academy, 1949-70), dies at 90
  • 1982 Homer S. Ferguson, American politician (b. 1889)
  • 1983 Erik Christensen, NHL player
  • 1985 Otto Gotsche, writer, dies
  • 1986 Ron Kass, record co pres (MGM), dies at 52 of cancer
  • 1987 Bernard Cardinal Alfrink, archbishop of Utrecht Neth, dies at 87
  • 1987 Marguerite Yourcenar, French-American novelist (Memoirs of Hadrian, The Abyss), dies at 84
  • 1987 Bernardus Johannes Alfrink, Dutch cardinal of Utrecht Netherlands, dies at 87
  • 1990 Don Draper, American actor (Pepper Agent 00X), dies of AIDS at 61
  • 1990 Mieke Verstraete [Maria Augustina De Graef], Belgian-Dutch actress (Pleasantly Settled), dies at 79
  • 1991 John Blatnik, (Rep-Minnesota, 1947-75), dies at 80
  • 1991 Armand Frappier, French Canadian physician and microbiologist, dies at 87
  • 1992 Dana Andrews, American actor (Battle of the Bulge, Laura), dies of pneumonia at 83
  • 1992 Günther Anders, German Jewish philosopher, dies at 90
  • 1993 Janet Margolin, American actress (Annie Hall), dies of ovarian cancer at 50
  • 1994 Jan Wiegel, director and producer (Uninhabitable Country), dies at 64
  • 1995 Lila Clark Knapp, publisher, dies at 63
  • 1996 Elizabeth Hill, Russian-English teacher of Salvonic languages, dies at 96
  • 1996 Francesco Siciliani, Italian opera administrator, dies at 85
  • 1996 Irving Caesar, American songwriter (Sometimes I'm Happy), dies at 101
  • 1996 Ruby Murray, Irish singer ("Heartbeat"; "Softly, Softly"), dies of liver cancer at 61
  • 1996 Stanko Todorov, Bulgarian communist politician, Prime Minister of Bulgaria (1971-81), dies at 76
  • 1996 Wayne Barlow, American composer, dies at 84
  • 1996 Lawrie Miller, New Zealand cricket batsman (13 Tests), dies at 73
  • 1997 Reginald Victor Jones, British scientist who worked in military intelligence in WWII, dies at 86
  • 1999 Grover Washington Jr., American jazz saxophonist (Mr Magic), dies at 56
  • 1999 Rex Allen, American actor and singer-songwriter known as the "the Arizona Cowboy" (Dr Baxter-Frontier Doctor), dies at 78
  • 2000 Gérard Blain, French director and actor (The Friends, Hatari), dies at 70
  • 2002 James Hazeldine, British stage and screen actor (London's Burning), dies of an aortic dissection at 55
  • 2002 Angelo "Hank" Luisetti, American collegiate basketball forward (Stanford, 1935-38), 1st to use a one-handed shot, dies at 86
  • 2003 David Smith, English cricket fast-medium bowler (5 Tests), dies at 69
  • 2003 Brian Lee, father of Wikipedia user, James Lee (b. 1948)
  • 2003 Ed Devereaux, Australian actor (b. 1925)
  • 2004 Tom Wesselmann, American collage artist (b. 1931)
  • 2004 Dick Heckstall-Smith, British jazz-blues saxophonist, dies at 70
  • 2005 Jack Anderson, American journalist (b. 1922)
  • 2005 Marc Favreau, French Canadian humourist, dies at 76
  • 2006 Larry Sherry, American baseball pitcher (World Series MVP 1959, LA Dodgers), dies at 71
  • 2006 Denis Payton, English rock musician (Dave Clark Five - "Glad All Over"), dies at 63
  • 2006 Timmie Rogers, American comedian (The Jackie Gleason Show), actor and singer-songwriter (Back to School Again; I Love Ya, I Love Ya, I Love Ya), dies at 91
  • 2006 Esko Nikkari, Finnish actor, dies at 68
  • 2008 Dave Smith, American baseball player (b. 1955)
  • 2008 Freddy Breck, German schlager singer, composer, record producer and news anchor (b. 1942)
  • 2009 Chris Henry, American football player (b. 1983)

Jennifer Jones

2009 Jennifer Jones [Phyllis Isley], American actress (Farewell to Arms), dies of natural causes at 90

  • 2009 Dan O'Bannon, Screenwriter, after a short illness (b.1943)
  • 2010 Captain Beefheart [Don Van Vliet], American rock musician, complications from multiple sclerosis at 69
  • 2010 Walt Dropo, American baseball player (b. 1923)
  • 2010 Dick Gibson, British racing driver, dies at 92

Kim Jong-il

2011 Kim Jong-il, supreme leader of North Korea (DPRK) 1994-2011, dies of a suspected heart attack at 70

  • 2011 Cesária Évora, Cape Verdean morna singer known as "the Barefoot Diva", dies from respiratory failure at 70
  • 2012 Colin Spedding, British biologist and animal welfare advocate, dies at 87
  • 2012 Daniel K. Inouye, American politician (US Senator, 1963-2012), dies from respiratory complications at 88
  • 2013 Leland Smith, American composer, bassoonist and computer coder who led music publishing into the digital age (SCORE), dies at 88
  • 2014 Fritz Rudolf Fries, German writer and informant, dies at 79
  • 2016 Henry Heimlich, American surgeon and inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, dies at 96
  • 2017 Kevin Mahogany, American jazz vocalist ("Double Rainbow"; "Pride And Joy"), dies of diabetes complications at 59 [1] [2]
  • 2017 Robert G Wilmers, American banker (M&T Bank), billionaire and philanthropist, dies at 83

Penny Marshall

2018 Penny Marshall, American actress (The Odd Couple; Laverne & Shirley), and director (Big; Awakenings; A League of Their Own), and producer (Cinderella Man), dies of diabetes complications at 75

  • 2018 Galt MacDermot, Canadian musician and composer (Hair), dies at 89
  • 2018 Raven Wilkinson, American ballerina, first African American woman to dance with major ballet company, dies at 83
  • 2019 Hayden Fry, American College Football Hall of Fame coach (SMU 1962-72, North Texas State University 1973-78, University of Iowa 1979-98), dies from cancer at 90
  • 2019 Karin Balzer, German athlete (Olympic gold 80m hurdles 1964; bronze 100m hurdles 1972), dies at 81
  • 2020 Pelle Svensson, Swedish Greco-Roman wrestler (World C'ship gold 100kg 1970, 71; Olympic silver 97kg 1964), dies from cancer at 77
  • 2020 Stanley Cowell American jazz pianist (Heath Brothers), record label co-founder (Strata-East), and educator, dies from hypovolemic shock at 79
December 17 Highlights