On This Day

Famous Deaths on May 12

  • 912 Leo VI Sophos, Byzantine Emperor (886-912) and writer (Problematica), dies at 45
  • 1003 Gerbert, French scholar, dies in Rome
  • 1003 Pope Sylvester or Silvester II [Gerbert van Aurillac], 1st French Pope (999-1003), dies
  • 1012 Sergius IV [Pietro Crescentii], Italian Pope (1009-12), dies
  • 1382 Johanna I, Queen of Naples/Provence, dies
  • 1465 Thomas Palaeologus, Despot of the Despotate of Morea dies in Rome at about 56
  • 1634 George Chapman, English dramatist, poet and translator of Homer, dies
  • 1641 Thomas Wentworth, 1st earl of Strafford and Viceroy of Ireland, beheaded at 48
  • 1649 Isaac Doreslaer, English lawyer/diplomat, murdered
  • 1684 Edme Mariotte, French physicist and priest (invented Newtons cradle and discovered the eye's blind spot), dies (b. c. 1620)
  • 1699 Lucas Achtschellinck, Flemish painter (b. 1626)
  • 1708 Adolf Friedrich II of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (b. 1658)
  • 1737 Cornelis van Alkemade, Dutch historian, dies at 83
  • 1748 Thomas Lowndes, English astronomer, founder of the Lowndean professorship of astronomy at Cambridge University (b. 1692)
  • 1759 Lambert-Sigisbert Adam, French sculptor, dies at 58
  • 1784 Abraham Trembley, Swiss naturalist (first to study freshwater polyps or hydra), dies at 73
  • 1792 Charles Simon Favart, French dramatist, dies at 81
  • 1796 Johann Peter Uz, German poet (Theodicee), dies at 75
  • 1801 Nicholas Repnin, Russian statesman (b. 1734)
  • 1811 Louis-Charles-Joseph Rey, French classical cellist and composer, dies at 52
  • 1814 Robert Treat Paine, American judge (signed US Declaration of Independence), dies at 83
  • 1825 Elias Mann, American composer, dies at 75
  • 1825 Stanislao Mattei, Italian composer, teacher, musicologist, and monk dies at 75
  • 1838 Jędrzej Śniadecki, Polish writer, physician, chemist (creation of modern Polish terminology in the field of chemistry), dies at 69
  • 1843 Johann Georg Lickl, Austrian composer, dies at 74
  • 1843 Charlotte von Kalb, German writer, dies at 81
  • 1845 August Wilhelm Schlegel, German poet, translator and critic, dies at 77
  • 1845 János Bacsanyi, Hungarian poet (b. 1763)
  • 1852 John Richardson, Canadian writer (War of 1812), dies at 55
  • 1856 Jacques Philippe Marie Binet, French mathematician (b. 1786)
  • 1860 Charles Barry, British architect (rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, dies at 64
  • 1861 Christian Heinrich Hohmann, German composer, dies at 50
  • 1864 Abner Monroe Perrin, Confederate brigadier general, dies in battle at 37

J.E.B. Stuart

1864 J.E.B. Stuart [James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart], Confederate General in the American Civil War, is killed in action at 31

  • 1867 Friedrich William Eduard Gerhard, German archaeologist (b. 1795)
  • 1871 Daniel François Esprit Auber, French opera composer (Fra Diavolo), dies at 89
  • 1871 John F. W. Herschel, British astronomer (Catalogue of Nebulae), dies at 79
  • 1876 Henri-François-Alphonse Esquiros, French poet and writer (Evangile du peuple), dies at 63
  • 1876 Georgi Benkovski, Bulgarian revolutionary, brutally killed by the Turks (b. 1843)
  • 1878 Catherine Beecher, American educator (championed higher education for women), dies at 77
  • 1884 [Friedrich] Bedřich Smetana, Czech composer (The Bartered Bride; Má Vlast; Moldau), dies at 60
  • 1896 Juan Morel Campos, Puerto Rican composer (Danza), dies at 38
  • 1897 Ulrika "Minna" Cant-Johnstown, Finnish playwright, dies at 53
  • 1897 Willem Roelofs, Dutch painter and lithographer, dies at 75
  • 1906 Gabriel C. Wharton, American civil engineer and Brigadier General (Confederate Army), dies at 81
  • 1907 Joris-Karl Huysmans, French writer (Against the Grain), dies at 59
  • 1908 Melesio Morales, Mexican composer, dies at 69
  • 1909 Bertha Townsend, American tennis player (US Nat C'ship 1888-89), dies at 40
  • 1916 James Connolly, Irish socialist (founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party), dies at 47
  • 1918 Abel Hoadley, Australian confectioner (Violet Crumble), dies at 73
  • 1921 Emilia Pardo Bazán, Spanish countess and writer (Pascual López: Autobiography of a Medical Student), dies at 68
  • 1924 Henri Maréchal, French composer and music critic, dies at 82
  • 1925 Alfred Milner, British governor (Cape Colony) and colonial administrator, dies at 71
  • 1925 Amy Lowell, American imagist poet (Pulitzer Prize for Poetry) 1926, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at 51
  • 1925 Arthur Napoleao dos Santos, Portuguese composer, dies at 82
  • 1931 Eugène Ysaÿe, Belgian composer and violinist, dies at 72

Józef Piłsudski

1935 Józef Piłsudski, Father of the Second Polish Republic who served as its Chief of State (1918-22), Marshall of Poland and later its de facto leader (1926-35), dies at 67

  • 1941 Ruth Stonehouse, American silent film actress and director, dies at 48
  • 1943 Albert Stoessel, American violinist, conductor, composer, and educator, dies of a heart attack on the podium at 48
  • 1944 Arthur Quiller-Couch, Cornish novelist and editor (The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900), dies at 80
  • 1948 Isidor Achron, American composer, dies of a heart attack at 55
  • 1951 Oscar DePriest, American politician (Rep-D-Ill), dies at 80
  • 1956 Hendrik P. Marchant, Dutch minister of Education, dies at 87
  • 1956 Louis Calhern, American actor (Julius Caesar, Blackboard Jungle), dies at 61
  • 1956 Vladimír Ambros, Czech composer, dies at 65
  • 1957 Erich von Stroheim, Austrian-American film director and actor (Greed; La Grande Illusion; Sunset Boulevard), dies of prostate cancer at 71
  • 1957 Alfonso de Portago, Spanish bobsledder and race car driver (b. 1928)
  • 1960 (Cecil) Armstrong Gibbs, English composer, dies of pneumonia at 70
  • 1960 Prince Aly Khan [Ali Salman Aga Khan], Pakistani socialite, jockey, political ambassador and husband to Rita Hayworth, dies from injuries sustained in a car accident at 48
  • 1962 Dick Calkins, American comic strip artist and co-author of Buck Rogers), dies at 67
  • 1963 Stanisław Wiechowicz, Polish composer, dies at 69
  • 1963 Robert Kerr, Canadian runner (1908 Olympics), dies at 80
  • 1965 Roger Vailland, French playwright (La Truite), dies at 57
  • 1966 Felix Martin Julius Steiner, German Heer and Waffen-SS officer (b. 1896)
  • 1967 Julius Kalas, Czech composer, dies at 64
  • 1967 John Masefield, British writer and poet (Salt-Water Ballads), Poet Laureate (1930-67), dies at 88

Nelly Sachs

1970 leonie "Nelly" Sachs, German Swedish poet and playwright (Nobel prize for Literature 1966), dies at 78

  • 1970 Wladyslaw Anders, Polish general (WW I, WW II), dies at 78
  • 1971 Johnny Taylor, Australian cricket batsman (20 Tests; 1 x 100, 8 x 50) and rugby union fly-half (2 caps), dies at 75
  • 1971 Heinie Manush, American baseball player (b. 1901)
  • 1971 Tor Johnson [Tore Johansson], Swedish wrestler and actor (Bride of the Monster), dies at 67
  • 1973 Frances Marion, American screenwriter (Pollyanna, Camille), dies at 85
  • 1973 Art Pollard, American racecar driver (b. 1927)
  • 1975 Joe Mooney, American jazz and pop accordionist, organist, and vocalist, dies at 64
  • 1976 Rudolf Kempe, German conductor (Tonhalle Orch 1965-72), dies at 65
  • 1977 Luc van Brabant, Flemish writer and erotic poet, dies at 67
  • 1980 Lillian Roth [Rutstein], American singer and actress (Animal Crackers; Alice Sweet Alice), dies at 69
  • 1981 Benjamin Sheares, President of Singapore (1971-81), dies at 73
  • 1982 Humphrey Searle, British composer and musicologist (Twentieth Century Counterpoint; The Music of Franz Liszt), dies at 66
  • 1984 Doris May, American silent film actress (Peck's Bad Boy), dies at 81 of heart failure
  • 1985 Jean Dubuffet, French painter and sculptor (Landscape with 2 Personages), dies at 83
  • 1986 Elisabeth Bergner, Austrian British stage actress, dies at 85
  • 1986 Lee Bonnell, American actor, dies at 67
  • 1987 Victor Feldman, British jazz pianist and drummer, dies of a heart attack at 53
  • 1988 Paul Osborn, American playwright (Mornings at 7), dies at 86
  • 1989 Joe Valdez Caballero, American creator of hard taco, shell, dies at 81
  • 1989 Marcelle de Manziarly, French pianist and composer, dies at 89
  • 1990 Andrei Kirilenko, Russian member of Central Committee of Communist Party, dies at 83
  • 1992 Joe Burke, American baseball executive (president KC Royals 1981-92), dies from lymphatic cancer at 68
  • 1992 Robert Reed, American actor (Mike-Brady Bunch, Nurse), dies of AIDs at 59
  • 1992 Lenny Montana, American actor (b. 1926)
  • 1993 Zeno Colò, Italian downhill skier (Olympic gold 1952), dies at 72
  • 1994 Alfred Lane Beit, British politician and art philanthropist, dies at 91
  • 1994 Helen Lee Mai, Hong Kong actress, dies at 63
  • 1994 John Smith, British Labour Party chairman (1992-94), dies at 55
  • 1994 Xenophon Balaskas, South Africa cricketer (9 Tests for South Africa, 22 wkts), dies at 83
  • 1994 Erik Erikson, American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst who coined the phrase "identity crisis", dies at 91
  • 1995 Arthur Lubin, American film director and producer (Francis The Talking Mule, Mr Ed), dies at 95
  • 1995 Giorgio Belladonna, Italian bridge player (16 x World C'ships; 10 x European C'ships, Italy open team-of-four), dies of lung cancer at 71
  • 1995 Reza Abdoh, Iranian born American theater director, dies of AIDs at 32
  • 1995 Marcel Rubin, Austrian composer, dies at 89
  • 1996 Hubert William Dean, British air armaments specialist, dies at 84
  • 1996 Rob Hall, New Zealand mountaineer, dies on Mt Everest at 35
  • 1998 Hermann Lenz, German writer (Swabian Chronicles), dies at 75
  • 1999 Abd-al-Aziz ibn Abd-Allah ibn Baaz, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia 1993-1999 (b. 1910)
  • 1999 Saul Steinberg, Romanian-American cartoonist and illustrator (The New Yorker), dies at 84
  • 1999 Penny Santon [Pierina Burlando], American actress (Fletch, Roll Out, Matt Houston), dies at 82
  • 2000 Adam Petty, American race car driver (b. 1980)
  • 2001 (Pierino) Perry Como, American singer ("Catch A Falling Star") and TV personality (The Perry Como Show) dies at 89
  • 2001 Alexei Tupolev, Russian aircraft designer (b. 1925)
  • 2001 Didi (Waldyr Pereira), Brazilian soccer midfielder (68 caps; Fluminense), dies at 72
  • 2002 Erich Kulas, ECW Wrestler (Mass Transit), dies after surgery at 22
  • 2003 Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, French UN High Commissioner for Refugees (b. 1933)
  • 2003 Michael Richardson, British investment banker and advisor to Margaret Thatcher known as "Mr Privatisation", dies at 78
  • 2004 John LaPorta, American jazz clarinetist and composer, dies at 84
  • 2005 Martin Lings, English Islamic scholar (b. 1909)
  • 2005 Monica Zetterlund, Swedish jazz singer (with Bill Evans - "Waltz For Debby"), and dies in an accidental apartment fire at 67
  • 2006 Sonny Montgomery, American politician (Rep-D-Mississippi 1967-97), dies at 85
  • 2007 Mullah Dadullah Akhund, Taliban military leader (b. 1966?)
  • 2007 Teddy Infuhr, American former child actor (The Bishop's Wife, They Live By Night), dies at 70
  • 2008 Robert Rauschenberg, American artist (b. 1925)
  • 2008 Irena Sendler, Polish social worker, WWII heroine (b. 1910)
  • 2009 Antonio Vega, Spanish pop-rock singer-songwriter, dies of lung cancer at 51
  • 2011 Harry Danielsen, Norwegian educator and politician, dies at 74
  • 2014 H. R. Giger, Swiss Oscar-winning surrealist artist, dies from injuries from a fall at 74
  • 2014 Cornell Borchers, German actress (The Big Lift, Floodtide, Istanbul), dies at 89
  • 2015 Ruth Mompati, South African politician and Secretary of Nelson Mandela, dies at 89
  • 2015 Mervyn Burtch, Welsh composer (The Raven King) and educator, dies at 85
  • 2016 Julius La Rosa, American singer (fired by Arthur Godfrey on the air), dies at 86
  • 2016 Delbert L. Latta, American politician (Rep-R-OH, 1959-89), dies at 96
  • 2017 Michael Jackson, American NFL wide receiver (NFL receiving TD leader 1996; Baltimore Ravens), dies in a motorcycle accident at 48
  • 2017 Mauno Koivisto, President of Finland (1982-94), dies at 93
  • 2018 Chuck Knox, American NFL coach (Rams, Bills, Seahawks), dies of dementia at 86
  • 2018 Dennis Nilsen, Scottish serial killer, dies at 72
  • 2020 Astrid Kirchherr, German photographer, helped establish The Beatles image, dies at 81
  • 2021 Jerry Burns, American football coach (University of Iowa 1961-65; Minnesota Vikings 1986-91), dies at 94
  • 2021 Higinio Vélez, Cuban baseball manager (Olympic gold 2004; Santiago de Cuba, Cuban National Series 1999–2001), dies from COVID-19 at 73
May 12 Highlights