On This Day

Famous Deaths on December 20

  • 217 Pope Zephyrinus, Bishop of Rome (199-217)
  • 860 King Ethelbald of Wessex
  • 910 Alfonso III the Great, King of Leon, Galicia and Asturias, dies
  • 1022 Elvira Mendes, wife of Alfonso V of Castile (b. 996)
  • 1073 Domingo, Spanish monastery founder/abbot/saint, dies
  • 1355 Stefanus IX Uros IV Dusan, king (1331-46)/Serbia (1346-55), dies
  • 1494 Matteo Maria Boiardo, Italian poet
  • 1524 Thomas Linacre, English scholar and physician
  • 1539 Johannes Lupi, Flemish composer
  • 1590 Ambroise Paré, French physician (b. 1510)
  • 1632 Nicolas Antoine, French cath pastor who converted to Judaism, executed
  • 1676 John Galle, Flemish engraver and printer, dies at 76
  • 1679 Johan Maurits, Prince of Nassau-Siegen (Maurits House), dies at 75
  • 1708 Willem van Bemmel, Dutch painter and etcher, dies at 78
  • 1722 Kangxi Emperor of China, 4th Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, dies at 68
  • 1723 Augustus Quirinus Rivinus, German physician and botanist, dies at 71
  • 1740 Richard Boyle, 2nd Viscount Shannon, English military officer and statesman (b. 1675)
  • 1749 Pakubuwono II, susuhunan of Mataram Java, dies
  • 1768 Carlo Innocenzio Maria Frugoni, Italian poet (b. 1692)
  • 1768 Carlo Innocenzo Fragoni, Italian poet, dies at 76
  • 1783 Antonio Soler, Spanish Catalan composer (Fandango), dies at 54
  • 1793 Joseph Legros, French singer and composer who was the most prominent haute-contres of his generation, dies at 54
  • 1798 Cornelis Ploos van Amstel, Dutch engraver/art collector, dies at 72
  • 1799 David Traugott Nicolai, German composer, dies at 66

Sacagawea

1812 Sacagawea, Shoshone interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition, dies at 24

  • 1815 Giovanni Meli, Sicilian poet (Buccolica), dies at 75
  • 1819 Louis-Luc Loiseau de Persuis, French composer, dies at 50
  • 1821 Gian Francesco Fortunati, composer, dies at 75
  • 1856 Francesco Bentivegna, Italian revolutionary (b. 1820)
  • 1862 Robert Knox Scottish surgeon, anatomist and zoologist
  • 1875 Michail P Pogodin, Russian historian/writer (Povesti), dies at 75
  • 1876 Hannah Omish, at 12 is youngest ever hanged in US
  • 1903 Gavriil Musicescu, composer, dies at 56
  • 1909 Benjamin Ipavec, composer, dies at 79
  • 1916 Manuel Giro, Spanish composer, dies at 68
  • 1916 William Wallace Gilchrist, American composer, dies at 70
  • 1917 Lucien Petit-Breton, French road cyclist (Tour de France 1907-8), dies in a road accident at 35
  • 1921 Hans Hartwig von Beseler, German Colonel General, dies at 71
  • 1929 Emile Loubet, French premier (1892)/president (1899-1906), dies at 90
  • 1935 Martin O'Meara, Australian soldier (b. 1882)
  • 1936 Baron De Borchgrave, Belgian ambassador, murdered in Madrid
  • 1938 Annie Armstrong, American missionary leader, dies at 88
  • 1939 Hans Langsdorff, German capt (Graaf Spee), commits suicide
  • 1941 Igor Severyanin, Russian poet (b. 1887)
  • 1942 Jean Gilbert [Max Winterfeld], German composer, dies at 63
  • 1942 Dan Ahearn, Irish-American athlete (men's triple jump WR 15.52m 1911-24), dies at 54
  • 1944 Abbas Hilmi II, viceroy of Egypt (1892-1914), dies at 70
  • 1945 Charles Eady, cricketer (Tasmanian player for Aust 1896-1901), dies
  • 1948 C Aubrey Smith [Charles], British actor (The Prisoner of Zenda), dies at 85
  • 1948 Ladha Ramji, cricketer (bro of Amar Singh, Test Ind 1933-34), dies
  • 1953 Henry Horatio Dixon, Irish Biologist (cohesion-tension theory in plants), dies at 84
  • 1954 Emilis Melngailis, composer, dies at 80
  • 1954 James Hilton, English author (Lost Horizon), dies at 54
  • 1956 Ramon Carrillo, Argentine neuroscientist and Public Health minister (b. 1906)
  • 1957 Walter Page, American jazz double bassist, baritone saxophonist, tuba player, and bandleader (Blue Devils; Count Basie Orchestra), dies at 57

Moss Hart

1961 Moss Hart, American playwright (You Can't Take it With You, Act 1), dies of a heart attack at 57

  • 1961 Earle Page, eleventh Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1880)
  • 1962 Erik William Gustav Leidzen, Swedish American composer, dies at 68
  • 1962 Luis Abraham Delgadillo, composer, dies at 75
  • 1963 Paul Constantinescu, composer, dies at 54
  • 1965 Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt, German anthropologist (classified human into races), dies at 73
  • 1968 Max Brod, Czech-born Israeli composer, writer and biographer of Kafka, dies at 84

John Steinbeck

1968 John Steinbeck, American author (Grapes of Wrath, Nobel Prize 1940, 1962), dies at 66

  • 1971 Roy O. Disney, American businessman and co-founder of the Walt Disney Company with brother Walt, dies of cerebral hemorrhage at 78
  • 1972 Gabby Hartnett, American Baseball Hall of Fame catcher (MLB All Star 1933–38; NL MVP 1935; Chicago Cubs) and manager (Chicago Cubs), dies of cirrhosis at 72
  • 1973 Bobby Darin [Walden Robert Cassotto], American singer (Mack the Knife), dies of a heart attack at 37
  • 1973 Luis Carrero Blanco, Prime Minister of Spain (1973), assassinated by ETA
  • 1974 André Jolivet, French composer (Jeune France, Mana), dies at 69
  • 1975 Vincent Lopez, orchestra leader (Welcome Aboard), dies at 76
  • 1975 William Lundigan, American actor (Climax, Pinky, They Asked for It), dies of lung and heart congestion at 61
  • 1976 Richard J Daley, American politician (38th Mayor-Chicago-D:1955-76), dies of a heart attack at 74
  • 1976 Walter Fitzgerald, actor (Adv of Sadie, Fallen Idol), dies at 80
  • 1981 Dimitris Rontiris, Greek actor and director (b. 1899)
  • 1982 Artur Rubinstein, Polish-American concert pianist, dies in Geneva at 95
  • 1982 Milan Ristić, Serbian composer, dies at 76
  • 1986 Joe DeSa, American baseball player (b. 1959)

Max Robinson

1988 Max Robinson, 1st African American network TV anchor (ABC), dies of AIDS at 49

  • 1988 Alphonse Ouimet, Canadian television pioneer and president of the CBC, dies at 80
  • 1989 Audrey Christie, American actress (Splendor in the Grass, Fair Exchange), dies at 77
  • 1989 Kurt Böhme, German bass, dies at 81
  • 1991 Andries D Copier, Dutch glass designer (Guild glass), dies
  • 1991 Fop[pe] I Brouwer, biologist (Everything That Lives & Grows), dies
  • 1991 Helene Heigh, actress (Undercover Woman, Teen Age Thunder), dies at 86
  • 1991 Sam Rabin, speaker of house, dies at 88
  • 1991 Stephen Birnbaum, US tourism writer, dies at 54
  • 1991 Thomas Newman, actor/composer (Cape Fear), dies of heart attack at 60
  • 1991 Walter Chiari, actor (Girl Under Sheet), dies of heart attack at 67
  • 1991 Simone Beck, French chef (b. 1904)
  • 1991 Albert Van Vlierberghe, Belgian cyclist (b. 1942)
  • 1993 W Edwards Deming, US economist (helped Japan after WW II), dies at 93
  • 1994 Dean Rusk, US Secretary of State (1961-69), dies at 85
  • 1994 J C "Jody" Bateman, fiddler, dies at 75
  • 1995 John Henry Jacques, co-operative retailer, dies at 90
  • 1995 Madge Sinclair, Jamaican actress (Star Trek IV, Conrack, Convoy), dies at 55
  • 1995 Adone Zecchi, Italian composer, dies at 91
  • 1996 Amata Kabua, President of Marshall Islands (1979-96), dies
  • 1996 Carl Sagan, American scientist, astronomer, author, (Contact), dies at 62
  • 1996 Roger Peacock, English writer (Thursday is missing, dies at 76
  • 1997 Dawn Steel, American filmmaker, 1st woman to head Hollywood studio, dies of cancer at 51
  • 1997 Denise Levertov, American poet and essayist (Joy Beneath the Skin), dies at 74
  • 1997 Vincent Ciccone, inventor (Blow-Pops candy), dies at 81
  • 1997 Dick Spooner, English cricket wicket-keeper (7 Tests; 12 dismissals), dies at 77
  • 1998 Irene Hervey, American actress (b. 1910)
  • 1998 Chester P. Lyons, Canadian naturalist and author (b. 1915)
  • 1998 Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, British biophysicist (Nobel 1963), dies at 84
  • 1999 [Clarence] Hank Snow, Canadian country singer (I'm Moving On, I Went to Your Wedding), dies of heart failure at 85
  • 1999 Riccardo Freda, Italian film director and screenwriter (Theodora, Slave Empress), dies at 90
  • 2000 Mirza Ghulam Hafiz, Bangladesh statesman, politician, and philanthropist (b. 1920)
  • 2000 Adrian Henri, British poet and founder of poetry-rock group (Liverpool Scene), dies at 68
  • 2001 Foster Brooks, American comedian and actor (The Villain, Oddballs, Mork & Mindy), dies of natural causes at 89
  • 2001 Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegalese poet and 1st President of Senegal (1960-80), dies at 95
  • 2004 Son [Frank] Seals, American blues musician (Nothing But the Truth) dies from diabetes complications at 62
  • 2005 Maniam Moorthy, Malaysian climber
  • 2006 Shi Yuejun, Chinese serial killer
  • 2007 Nataline Sarkisyan, American medical patient (b. 1990)
  • 2008 Dorothy Sarnoff, American operatic soprano, Broadway actress (Rosalinda), author and pioneer of the self-help movement (Speech Can Change Your Life, Speech Dynamics), dies at 94
  • 2009 Jack Hixon, English football talent scout (b. 1921)
  • 2009 Brittany Murphy, American actress (Drop Dead Gorgeous), dies at 32
  • 2009 Arnold Stang, American comedian and actor (Broadside, Milton Berle, Top Cat), dies at 91
  • 2009 Mairoon Ali, Trinidadian comedienne and actress (b. 1954)
  • 2009 James Gurley, American rock lead guitarist (Big Brother and the Holding Company), dies of a heart attack at 69
  • 2010 Brian Hanrahan, British journalist (b. 1949)
  • 2010 Steve Landesberg, American actor and comedian (b. 1945)
  • 2010 James R. Mann, American attorney and politician (b. 1920)
  • 2010 Jean-Louis Martinet, French composer, dies at 98
  • 2012 Jimmy McCracklin, American pianist, dies from diabetes and hypertension at 91
  • 2012 Eagle Keys, American Canadian Football Hall of Fame linebacker and coach (Grey Cup champion 1949, 54-56, 66; Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan R'riders), dies at 89
  • 2014 John Freeman, British politician (Labour)/ambassador/TV host, dies at 99
  • 2015 Patricia Elliott, American actress (Renee-Empire, One Life to Live), dies at 77
  • 2016 Michèle Morgan, French actress (Passage to Marseille), dies at 96
  • 2017 Bernard Francis Law, Disgraced American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church (1982-2002), dies at 86
  • 2018 Donald Moffat, British actor (Logan's Run), dies at 87
  • 2019 Roland Matthes, German swimmer (Olympic gold 100, 200m backstroke 1968, 72; WR x 19), dies at 69
  • 2019 Junior Johnson, American auto racer and team owner (Daytona 500 1960; NASCAR Hall of Fame), dies from Alzheimer's disease at 88
  • 2019 Frank Foster, English rugby league lock (1 Test GB; Workington Town, Hull Kingston Rovers, Bradford Northern) and coach (Barrow, Whitehaven), dies at 79
  • 2019 Eduard Krieger, Austrian soccer defensive midfielder (25 caps; Austria Wien, Club Brugge K.V., LASK Linz), dies at 73
  • 2019 Yuri Pshenichnikov, Soviet soccer goalkeeper and coach (19 caps; FC Pakhtakor Tashkent, CSKA Moscow), dies at 79
  • 2020 Dietrich Weise, German soccer forward (Eintracht Frankfurt, FSV Mainz) and manager (FC Kaiserslautern, E Frankfurt, F Düsseldorf, Egypt, Liechtenstein), dies at 86
  • 2020 Fanny Waterman, English concert pianist & teacher (Leeds International Piano Competition), dies at 100 [1]
December 20 Highlights