On This Day

Famous Deaths on May 21

  • 987 Louis V, last Carlovingians King of France (966-987), dies
  • 1254 Conrad IV, King of Germany, Jerusalem and Sicily, dies at 26
  • 1471 King Henry VI of England (1422-1471) is executed in the Tower of London at 49
  • 1481 Christian I, king of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, dies at 55
  • 1512 Pandolfo Petrucci, Italian ruler of the Republic of Siena (1500-12) during the Renaissance, dies at 60
  • 1524 Thomas Howard 2nd duke of Norfolk, general/premier, dies at about 80

Hernando de Soto

1542 Hernando de Soto, Spanish conquistador and 1st European to discover the Mississippi River, dies while searching for gold, near the Mississippi River at about 46

  • 1607 John Rainolds, English scholar (b. 1549)
  • 1639 Tommaso Campanella, Italian theologian, philosopher and poet, dies at 70
  • 1647 Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, Dutch poet and playwright (Warenar), dies at about 65
  • 1650 James Graham, Marquis of Montrose "the Great Montrose", Scottish general, hanged at 37
  • 1664 Elizabeth Poole, English born Puritan American settler, first woman to found a town (Taunton), dies at 65
  • 1670 Niccolò Zucchi, Italian astronomer, dies at 83
  • 1686 Otto von Guericke, German scientist, inventor, and politician, dies at 83
  • 1690 John Eliot, English missionary in Massachusetts, dies at 85
  • 1703 Roemer Vlacq, Dutch admiral, dies in battle
  • 1719 Pierre Poiret, French mystic, dies at 73
  • 1725 Robert Haley, 1st Earl of Oxford and English premier (Whig, 1710-14), dies at 63
  • 1742 Lars Roberg, Swedish physician (b. 1664)
  • 1771 Christopher Smart, English poet & journalist (Ceremony of Carols), dies at 49
  • 1786 Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Swedish pharmacist and chemist (lemon acid), dies of mercury poisoning at 43
  • 1790 Thomas Warton, English critic and poet (Pleasures of Melancholy) British Poet Laureate (1785-90), dies at 62
  • 1806 Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily, Princess of Asturias, dies at 21
  • 1810 Chevalier d'Éon [Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont], French spy, dies at 81
  • 1810 Chevalier d'Éon, French diplomat & spy, dies at 81
  • 1812 Joseph Wolfl, Austrian composer, dies at 38
  • 1815 Roman Hoffstetter, German classical composer, dies at 73
  • 1817 Johann Friedrich Christmann, German composer, dies at 64
  • 1844 Guiseppi Baini, Italian composer and priest, dies at 68
  • 1860 Johannes Frederik Fröhlich, Danish violinist and composer, dies at 53
  • 1862 John Drew, Irish-born American actor and theatre manager, dies from head injuries at 34
  • 1865 Christian Jürgensen Thomsen, Danish Archaeologist, created Stone, Bronze, Iron age system, dies at 76
  • 1879 Arturo Prat, Chilean naval officer (b. 1848)
  • 1885 Gavril Yakimovich Lomakin, Russian composer and teacher, dies at 73
  • 1894 August Kundt, German physicist, (sound vibration, test of Kundt), dies at 54
  • 1894 Emile Henry, French anarchist (b. 1872)
  • 1895 Franz von Suppé, Austrian composer (Poet und Bauer), dies at 76
  • 1895 Mary Harris Thompson, 1st American woman surgeon, dies at 66
  • 1897 Karol Mikuli, Polish composer, dies at 77
  • 1911 Williamina Fleming, Scottish-born astronomer (b. 1857)
  • 1915 Leonid Gobyato, Russian general (designed the portable mortar), dies in combat at 40
  • 1919 Victor Segalen [Max Anely], French ship's doctor and writer, dies
  • 1919 Yevgraf Fyodorov, Russian mathematician (b. 1853)
  • 1920 Venustiano Carranza, Mexican President (1917-1920), executed by army generals after his decision that the next President be a civilian (61)
  • 1922 Sidney Ainsworth, British silent film actor (Not in the News, The Rajah's Tunic), dies at 49
  • 1924 Bobby Franks, American school boy killed by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, at 14
  • 1924 Charley Barrett, American College Football Hall of Fame quarterback (Cornell undefeated National C'ship 1915), dies from effects of war injuries at 30
  • 1926 Georgy Catoire, Russian composer, dies at 65
  • 1926 Ronald Firbank, British novelist (The Flower Beneath the Foot), dies at 40
  • 1929 V P F A Royle, cricketer (one Test England v Australia 1879), dies
  • 1933 John Henry Mackay, Scottish German author (Der Schwimmer), dies at 69
  • 1935 Hugo de Vries, botanist Gruppenweise Artbildung, dies at 87

Jane Addams

1935 Jane Addams, American pacifist, social activist, feminist, author, co-founder of ACLU (Nobel Prize for Peace, 1931), dies at 65 [1]

  • 1949 Klaus Mann, German-American author (Mephisto), dies at 42
  • 1952 John Garfield [Jacob Garfinkle], American actor (Four Daughters, Body and Soul), dies of coronary thrombosis at 39
  • 1954 János Hammerschlag, Hungarian composer, dies at 68
  • 1957 Edwin St Hill, Trinidadian cricketer (two Tests for West Indies 1930-31), dies at 53
  • 1957 Aleksandr Vertinsky, Russian singer (b. 1889)
  • 1964 James Franck, German-born American physicist (Nobel Prize for Physics 1925), dies at 81
  • 1965 Geoffrey de Havilland, British aircraft designer, dies at 82
  • 1966 Pat O'Malley, silent film actor (Wild One, Quiet Man), dies at 75
  • 1968 Doris Lloyd, English American actress (Oliver Twist), dies of heart strain at 71
  • 1970 Vinton Hayworth, American actor (Gen Schaeffer-I Dream of Jeannie), dies at 63
  • 1970 E. L. Grant Watson, Australian biologist (b. 1885)
  • 1971 Dennis King, English actor (Devil's Brother), dies of heart ailment at 73
  • 1973 Carlo E. Gadda, Italian engineer and writer (War Diary), dies at 79
  • 1973 Vaughn Monroe, American singer and orchestra leader (Vaughn Monroe Show), dies at 61
  • 1973 George Breakston, French-American producer, actor and director (Jungle Stampede, It Happened One Night), dies at 53
  • 1976 Sulo Nikolai Salonen, Finnish composer, dies at 77
  • 1976 Harold Blair, Australian tenor and Aboriginal activist, dies at 51
  • 1978 Jo Spier [Joseph Spier], Dutch cartoonist and water color painter, dies at 77
  • 1979 Blue [Richard Allen] Mitchell, American jazz musician (Riverside, Blue Note), dies of cancer at 79
  • 1980 Ida Kamińska, Polish stage and screen actress, director, and writer (The Shop on Main Street; Mother Courage and Her Children), dies at 80
  • 1981 Yuki Shimoda, actor (Farewell to Manzanar), dies
  • 1981 Patsy O'Hara, Irish hunger striker (b. 1957)
  • 1981 Raymond Mccreesh, Irish hunger striker (b. 1957)
  • 1983 Finn Einar Mortensen, Norwegian composer, music critic, and educator, dies at 61
  • 1983 Kenneth Clark, English art historian (Civilisation), dies at 79
  • 1984 Andrea Leeds, actress (Stage Door, Earthbound), dies of cancer at 70
  • 1984 Ann Little, actress (Roaring Road), dies at 93
  • 1987 Alejandro Rey, Argentine-American actor and director (Carlos-Flying Nun), dies lung cancer at 57
  • 1988 Dino Conte Grandi, Italian Fascist politician and delegate to league of nations (1925-32), dies at 92
  • 1988 Bruno Frei [Benedikt Freistadt], Austrian Marxist journalist, dies at 91
  • 1988 Sammy Davis Sr., American vaudeville dancer (Mr. Wonderful), dies at 87
  • 1990 Franklyn Seales, American actor (Silver Spoon, Onion Field), dies of AIDS at 37
  • 1990 Mary Victor Bruce, who flew around empire state bldg in 1930, dies
  • 1990 Moelvi Mohammed Farouk, Indian spiritual leader, murdered
  • 1991 Jean Van Joutte, Prime Minister of Belgium (1952-54), dies
  • 1992 Brendan Mulholland, British reporter jailed for refusing to name his sources (Daily Mail), dies at 59
  • 1992 Elizabeth David, British cookbook writer (English Bread and Yeast Cookery), dies after a series of strokes at 72
  • 1992 Mrithi, gorilla (Gorilla in the Mist), dies at 24
  • 1993 John Frost, English soldier who led the defence of Arnhem Bridge during Operation Market Garden, dies at 80
  • 1993 John Holland, American actor (My Fair Lady, Chinatown), dies at 65
  • 1994 Cliff Wilson, snooker player, dies at 60
  • 1994 Forsyth Hardy, documentary film pioneer, dies at 84
  • 1994 Giovanni Goria, Prime Minister of Italy (1987-88), dies
  • 1994 John Henry Weidner, Dutch/US resistance fighter, dies at 81
  • 1995 Kieron Walsh, academic, dies at 46
  • 1995 Les Aspin, American politician, (Rep-D-Wisc, 1971-93) US Secretary of Defense (1993-95), dies of stroke at 56
  • 1996 Bobby Tulloch, ornithologist, dies at 67
  • 1996 Laurence Dowdall, Scottish lawyer, dies at 91
  • 1996 Mary Perot Nichols, American journalist, dies at 79
  • 1996 Peter Fletcher, British orchestral and choral conductor, music educator and author (Roll Over Rock), dies at 60
  • 1996 Alfred "Lash" LaRue, American actor (Lash of the West, Wyatt Earp), dies of emphysema at 78
  • 1998 Douglas Fowley, American actor (Singin' in the Rain, Pistols 'n' Petticoats), dies at 86
  • 1999 Karnail "Bugz" Pitts, American rapper (D12), killed in a picnic dispute at 21
  • 1999 Vanessa Brown [Smylla Brind], Austrian-born American actress (My Favorite Husband), dies at 71
  • 2000 Barbara Cartland, English romance author (Camfield #69), dies at 98

John Gielgud

2000 Sir John Gielgud, British stage and screen actor and director (Hamlet, Arthur, Ages of Man), dies at 96

  • 2000 Mark R. Hughes, American entrepreneur (b. 1956)
  • 2002 Niki de Saint Phalle, French sculptor, dies at 71
  • 2003 Frank D. White, American politician (b. 1933)
  • 2003 Alejandro de Tomaso, Argentine-Italian racing driver and car manufacturer, dies at 74
  • 2005 Howard Morris, American comedic actor and director (The Andy Griffith Show, High Anxiety), dies of a heart disease at 85
  • 2006 Katherine Dunham, American dancer (Casbah; Stormy Weather), choreographer (Metroplitan opera, 1963; Joplin's Treemonisha, 1972), and social activist, dies at 96
  • 2006 Cherd Songsri, Thai film director (Plae Kao), dies at 74
  • 2006 Billy Walker, American country music singer and guitarist ("Charlie's Shoes"), dies, along with his wife and two band members, in a single vehicle car accident, at 77
  • 2008 Brian Keenan, Irish Provisional IRA member who played a key role in Northern Ireland's peace process (1998), dies of cancer at 66
  • 2009 Joan Alexander [Louise Abrass], American actress (The New Adventures of Superman, The Tales of Hoffmann), dies of an intestinal ailment at 94
  • 2009 Allen Greenwood, British aeronautical engineer and aerospace executive, dies at 91
  • 2010 Trevor Meale, New Zealand cricketer (batted in 2 Tests NZ v England 1958), dies at 81
  • 2013 Trevor Bolder, British rock bassist (The Spiders From Mars; Uriah Heep, 1976-2013), and record producer, dies from pancreatic cancer at 62
  • 2013 Frank Comstock, American arranger (Les Brown), and theme composer (Rocky and His Friends), dies at 90
  • 2014 Teodor Grigoriu, Romanian composer, dies at 87
  • 2015 Louis Johnson, American rock bassist and vocalist (Brothers Johnson), dies at 60
  • 2016 Marco Pannella, Italian politician and activist, dies at 86
  • 2016 Jim Ray Hart, American baseball player (Giants), dies at 74
  • 2016 Nick Menza, American musician and drummer (Megadeth), dies at 51
  • 2020 Gerhard Strack, German soccer defender (10 caps; 1. FC Köln, FC Basel, Fortuna Düsseldorf), dies of a heart attack at 64
  • 2020 Oliver Williamson, American economist (Nobel Prize for Economics 2009), dies at 87
May 21 Highlights