On This Day

Deaths in History on December 16

  • 705 Wu Zetian, Chinese Empress (690-705) - only woman to rule China (b. 625)
  • 714 Pepin/Pippin II, of Herstal/Héristal, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia and Duke and Prince of the Franks, dies
  • 867 Eberhard of Friuli, Frankish Duke and catholic saint, dies at about 51
  • 875 Ado of Vienne, French archbishop of Vienne, dies at about 75
  • 882 John VIII, Italian Pope (872-82), dies
  • 999 Saint Adelaide, Holy Roman Empress, wife of Emperor Otto I and regent to Otto II, dies at about 68
  • 1263 Hakon IV, Gamli, King of Norway (1217-63), dies
  • 1325 Charles, Count of Valois (1284-1325), son of King Philip III of France, dies at 55
  • 1378 Secondotto [Otto], Margrave of Montferrat (1372-78)
  • 1379 John Fitzalan, Marshal of England
  • 1404 Albrecht of Bavaria, duke of Bavaria, dies at about 74
  • 1470 John II, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1425)
  • 1598 Yi Sun-sin, Korean Naval Commander, shot at the naval Battle of Noryang at 53
  • 1669 Nathaniel Fiennes, English politician (b. circa 1608)
  • 1670 Dorothy, 1st English marquis of Halifax, dies
  • 1672 John II Casimir Vasa [Jan Kazimierz], King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1648-68), dies at 63

  • 1687 William Petty, English political economist and statistician (Treatise of Taxes and Contributions), dies at 64
  • 1719 Adrian "Aart" van Wijck, Dutch theologist (anti-jansenism), dies at 78
  • 1751 Leopold II of Anhalt-Dessau, Prussian general (b. 1700)
  • 1765 Peter Frederick Haldimand, Swiss military officer and surveyor
  • 1774 Francois Quesnay, French personal physician of Louis XIV, dies at 80
  • 1783 Sir William James, British naval commander (b. 1720)
  • 1798 Thomas Pennant, Welsh naturalist, dies at 72
  • 1809 Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy, French chemist (b. 1755)
  • 1852 Andries H Potgieter, South African/Transvaal explorer, dies at 59
  • 1858 Richard Bright, English physician (Bright's disease/nephritis), dies at 69

Person of interestWilhelm Grimm

1859 Wilhelm Grimm, German writer (Grimm's Fairy Tales), dies at 73

  • 1871 Willibald Alexis, German writer (Schloss Avalon), dies at 73
  • 1874 Abraham Capadose, Dutch physician and missionary, dies at 79
  • 1897 Alphonse Daudet, French writer (Tartarin sur les Alpes), dies at 57
  • 1898 Pavel Tretyakov, Russian businessman and art collector, dies at 65
  • 1916 Friedrich Ernst Dorn, German physicist who discovered that radon is emitted from radium, dies at 68
  • 1920 Ma Yuanzhang, Chinese Muslim rebel and Sufi master, crushed to death during the 1920 Haiyuan earthquake at an unknown age
  • 1922 Gabriel Narutowicz, 1st President of Poland (Dec 7-16, 1922), assassinated
  • 1928 Elinor Wylie, American poet and writer (b. 1885)
  • 1931 Gustave J Waffelaert, Flemish theologist and bishop of Bruges, dies at 82

  • 1940 M Eugene F T Dubois, geologist/paleontologist (Wadjakmens), dies
  • 1944 Elisabeth ten Boom dies at 59
  • 1945 Fumimaro Konu, Japanese prince/PM (1937-39, 40-41), commits harakiri
  • 1945 Giovanni Agnelli, Italian industrialist and founder of Fiat, dies at 79
  • 1949 Traitsjo Kostov, Bulgarian communist vice-premier, executed
  • 1951 Dorothy Dix [Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer], American journalist and columnist, dies at 81
  • 1956 Nina Hamnett, Welsh artist and writer, dies at 66
  • 1965 William Somerset Maugham, English author (Razor's Edge), dies at 91
  • 1974 Kostas Varnalis, Greek poet, dies at 90
  • 1976 George, a goose that lived to 49 years 8 months, dies
  • 1976 Réal Caouette, French Canadian politician (Social Credit Party of Canada), dies at 59

Person of interestColonel Sanders

1980 Colonel Harland Sanders, American founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, dies at 90

Businessman and Restaurateur Colonel Sanders
Businessman and Restaurateur
Colonel Sanders
  • 1980 Hellmuth Walter, German engineer and inventor (b. 1900)
  • 1982 Colin Chapman, English engineer and automobile manufacturer, founder of Lotus Cars, dies at 54
  • 1983 Kusan Sunim, found Milae Sa temple/Bulsung Sa Zen in Korea, dies at 74
  • 1985 Paul Castellano, American organized-crime chief, shot dead at a NYC restaurant at 70
  • 1985 Thomas Bilotti, American mafioso (b. 1940)
  • 1987 Albert P Morano, (Rep-R-Conn, 1951-59), dies at 79
  • 1990 Douglas Campbell, American aviator and World War I flying ace, dies at 94
  • 1992 Anton [Tom] Koolhaas, Dutch writer (Gekke Witte), dies at 80
  • 1993 Bentri Seddik, Algerian court judge, murdered at 46
  • 1993 Kakuei Tanaka, Japanese Prime Minister (1972-74), convicted of bribe-taking, dies at 75
  • 1993 Ratu Penaia Ganilau, president of Fiji (1987-93), dies at 75
  • 1993 Richard AFM Auwerda, Dutch journalist/writer (Volkskrant), dies at 68
  • 1993 Charizma, American Hip-Hop MC (b. 1973)
  • 1994 Mary Durack, Australian author and historian (Kings in Grass Castles and Keep Him My Country), dies at 81
  • 1995 Johnny Moss, American poker player (b. 1907)
  • 1996 Laurens Jan van der Post, South African writer, explorer and conservationist, dies at 90
  • 1996 Jean-Pierre Levy, French resistance leader during WWII, dies at 85
  • 1996 Joe Coral [Joseph Kagarlitski], British bookmaker (Gala Coral Group), dies at 92
  • 1996 Quentin Bell, artist author/teacher, dies at 86
  • 1998 William Gaddis, American writer (b. 1922)
  • 2001 Stefan Heym, German-American author (Crusaders, Family Benda), dies at 88
  • 2003 Robert Stanfield, Premier of Nova Scotia (b. 1914)
  • 2004 Peter Coker, English painter, dies at 78
  • 2004 Agnes Martin, Canadian-American abstract painter dies aged 92
  • 2005 Kenneth Bulmer, English author (b. 1921)
  • 2009 Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, controversial South African Health Minister (b. 1940)
  • 2009 Yegor Gaidar, Russian politician (b. 1956)
  • 2010 Melvin E. Biddle, American soldier and Medal of Honor recipient (b. 1923)
  • 2018 Colin Kroll, American co-founder of Vine and HQ Trivia, dies of a drug overdose at 34
  • 2018 Oribe Canales, Cuban American celebrity hairdresser, dies of cancer at 62
  • 2018 John Ford Noonan, American playwright (A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking), dies at 77