|Centuries:||19th century – 20th century – 21st century|
|Decades:||1900s 1910s 1920s – 1930s – 1940s 1950s 1960s|
|Years:||1936 1937 1938 – 1939 – 1940 1941 1942|
|1939 by topic:|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Works and introductions categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2692|
|British Regnal year||3 Geo. 6 – 4 Geo. 6|
|Chinese calendar|| 戊寅年十一月十一日
— to —己卯年十一月廿一日
|- Vikram Samvat||1995–1996|
|- Shaka Samvat||1861–1862|
|- Kali Yuga||5040–5041|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||939–940|
|Japanese calendar|| Shōwa 14
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 13 days|
|Minguo calendar||ROC 28
|Thai solar calendar||2482|
Year 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. This year also marks the start of the Second World War, the deadliest human conflict in history.
Below, events of World War II have the WWII prefix.
- January 1 – Hewlett-Packard is founded as an electronics company in Palo Alto, California.
- January 5 – Amelia Earhart is officially declared dead after her disappearance.
- January 6 – Naturwissenschaften publishes evidence that nuclear fission has been achieved by Otto Hahn.
- January 13 – Black Friday: 71 people die across Victoria in one of Australia's worst ever bushfires.
- January 23 – "Dutch War Scare": Admiral Wilhelm Canaris of the Abwehr leaks misinformation to the effect that Germany plans to invade the Netherlands in February, with the aim of using Dutch air-fields to launch a strategic bombing offensive against Britain. The "Dutch War Scare" leads to a major change in British policies towards Europe.
- January 24 – An earthquake kills 30,000 in Chile, and razes about 50,000 sq mi (130,000 km2).
- January 25 – Refik Saydam forms the new government of Turkey. (11 th government)
- January 26
- Spanish Civil War: Spanish Nationalist troops, aided by Italy, take Barcelona.
- In Paris, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet, in response to rumours (which are true) that he is seeking to end the French alliance system in Eastern Europe, gives a speech highlighting his government's commitment to the cordon sanitaire.
- January 27 – Adolf Hitler orders Plan Z, a 5-year naval expansion programme intended to provide for a huge German fleet capable of crushing the Royal Navy by 1944. The Kriegsmarine is given the first priority on the allotment of German economic resources.
- January 30 – Hitler gives a speech before the Reichstag calling for an "export battle" to increase German foreign exchange holdings. The same speech also sees Hitler's "prophecy" where he warns that if "Jewish financers" start a war against Germany, the...result will be the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe".
- February 2 – Hungary joins the Anti-Comintern Pact.
- February 6
- British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain states in the House of Commons that any German attack on France will be automatically considered an attack on Britain.
- In a response to Georges Bonnet's speech of January 26, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, referring to Bonnet's alleged statement of December 6, 1938 accepting Eastern Europe as being in Germany's exclusive sphere of influence, protests that all French security commitments in that region are "now off limits".
- February 10 – Spanish Nationalists complete their offensive in Catalonia.
- February 21 – The Golden Gate International Exposition opens in San Francisco, California.
- February 27
- March – The 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine ends.
- March 1 – A Japanese Imperial Army ammunition dump explosion on the outskirts of Osaka kills 94.
- March 2 – Pope Pius XII (Cardinal Pacelli) succeeds Pope Pius XI as the 260th pope.
- March 3
- In Bombay, Mohandas Gandhi begins a fast protesting against British rule in India.
- Students at Harvard University demonstrate the new tradition of swallowing goldfish to reporters.
- In Durban, South Africa the Timeless Test begins between England and South Africa, the longest game of cricket ever played. It is abandoned twelve days later when the English team has to catch the last ferry home.
- March 13
- March 14 – The Slovak provincial assembly proclaims independence; priest Jozef Tiso becomes the president of the independent Slovak government.
- March 15 – German troops occupy the remaining part of Bohemia and Moravia; Czechoslovakia ceases to exist. The Ruthenian region of Czechoslovakia declares independence as Carpatho-Ukraine.
- March 16
- Princess Fawzia of Egypt marries Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran.
- Hungary invades Carpatho-Ukraine; final resistance ends on March 18.
- March 17 – British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gives a speech in Birmingham, stating that Britain will oppose any effort at world domination on the part of Germany.
- March 18 – "Romanian War Scare": Virgil Tilea, the Romanian Minister in London, spreads false rumours that Romania is on the verge of a German attack.
- March 19 – Hitler sends a registered letter to the government of Lithuania stating that Germany intends to annex the port of Memel.
- March 20 – At an emergency meeting in London to deal with the Romanian crisis, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet suggests to Lord Halifax that the ideal state for saving Romania from a German attack is Poland.
- March 21 – In London: the Ordo Templi Orientis publish Aleister Crowley's Eight Lectures on Yoga.
- March 22 – After an ultimatum of March 20, Nazi Germany takes Memelland from Lithuania.
- March 23 – The Slovak-Hungarian War begins.
- March 24 – Marks the seventh successive year of the world wide boycott of all German exports initiated by front page declarations in Britain and the U.S. 'Judea declares war on Germany'
- March 28
- Dictator Francisco Franco assumes power in Madrid.
- American adventurer Richard Halliburton delivers a last message from a Chinese junk, before he disappears on a voyage across the Pacific Ocean.
- March 31 – Neville Chamberlain gives a speech in the House of Commons offering the British "guarantee" of the independence of Poland.
- April 1 – The Spanish Civil War comes to an end when the last of the Republican forces surrender.
- April 3 – Adolf Hitler orders the German military to start planning for Fall Weiss, the codename for the invasion of Poland.
- April 3 – Refik Saydam forms the new government in Turkey. (12 th government; Refik Saydam had served twice as a prime minister )
- April 4
- Faisal II becomes King of Iraq.
- The Slovak-Hungarian War ends with Slovakia ceding eastern territories to Hungary.
- April 7 – Italy invades Albania; King Zog flees.
- April 9 – African-American singer Marian Anderson performs before 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after having been denied the use both of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and of a public high school by the federally controlled District of Columbia.
- April 11 – Hungary leaves the League of Nations.
- April 13 – Britain offers a "guarantee" to Romania and Greece.
- April 14
- John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath is first published.
- At a meeting in Paris, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet meets with Soviet Ambassador Jakob Suritz, and suggests that a "peace front" comprising France, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, Poland and Romania would deter Germany from war.
- April 18 – The Soviet Union proposes a "peace front" to resist aggression.
- April 20 – Billie Holiday records " Strange Fruit", the first anti-lynching song.
- April 25 – The Federal Security Agency (FSA) is founded in the USA, along with the Civilian Conservation Corps and Public Health Service.
- April 27 – Ely Racecourse in Cardiff closes.
- April 28 – In a speech before the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler renounces the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact.
- April 30 – The 1939 New York World's Fair opens.
- May 1 – Batman, created by Bob Kane (and, unofficially, Bill Finger) makes his first appearance in a comic book.
- May 2 – Major League Baseball's Lou Gehrig, the legendary Yankee first baseman known as "The Iron Horse", ends his 2,130 consecutive games played streak after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The record stands for 56 years before Cal Ripken, Jr. plays 2,131 consecutive games.
- May 3
- Vyacheslav Molotov succeeds Maxim Litvinov as Soviet Foreign Commissar.
- The All India Forward Bloc is formed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
- May 6 – Carl Friedrich Goerdeler tells the British government that the German and Soviet governments are secretly beginning a rapprochement with the aim of dividing Eastern Europe between them. Goerdeler also informs the British of German economic problems which he states threaten the survival of the Nazi regime, and advises that if a firm stand is made for Poland, then Hitler will be deterred from war.
- May 9 – Spain leaves the League of Nations.
- May 14 – Lina Medina, a 5-year old Peruvian girl, gives birth to a baby boy, becoming the youngest confirmed mother in medical history.
- May 17
- King George VI and Queen Elizabeth arrive in Quebec City to begin the first-ever tour of Canada by Canada's monarch.
- The British government issues the White Paper of 1939, sharply restricting Jewish immigration to the Palestine Mandate.
- Sweden, Norway, and Finland refuse Germany's offer of non-aggression pacts.
- May 20 – Pan-American Airways begins trans-Atlantic mail service with the inaugural flight of its Yankee Clipper from Port Washington, New York.
- May 22 – Germany and Italy sign the Pact of Steel.
- May 29 – Albanian fascist leader Tefik Mborja is appointed as member of the Italian Chamber of Fasces and Corporations.
- June 3 – The Soviet government offers its definition of what constitutes "aggression", upon which the projected Anglo-Soviet-French alliance will come into effect. The French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet accepts the Soviet definition of aggression at once. The British reject the Soviet definition, especially the concept of "indirect aggression", which they feel is too loose a definition and phrased in such a manner as to imply the Soviet right of inference in the internal affairs of nations of Eastern Europe.
- June 4 – The St. Louis, a ship carrying a cargo of 907 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida after already having been turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, many of its passengers later die in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.
- June 12 – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is officially dedicated in Cooperstown, New York.
- June 14 – Tientsin Incident: The Japanese blockade the British concession in Tianjin, China, beginning a crisis which almost causes an Anglo-Japanese war in the summer of 1939.
- June 17 – In the last public guillotining in France, murderer Eugen Weidmann is decapitated by the guillotine.
- June 23 – Talks are completed in Ankara between French Ambassador René Massigli and Turkish Foreign Minister Şükrü Saracoğlu, resolving the Hatay dispute in Turkey's favour. Turkey annexes Hatay.
- June 24 – The government of Siam changes its name to Thailand, which means 'Free Land'.
- June 29 – Ford 9N tractor with Ferguson hydraulic three-point hitch first demonstrated at Dearborn, Michigan.
- July 2 – The 1st World Science Fiction Convention opens in New York City.
- July 2 – Theodore Roosevelt's head is dedicated at Mount Rushmore.
- July 4
- Lou Gehrig gives his last public speech, following a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In it, he says, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
- The Neuengamme concentration camp becomes autonomous.
- July 6 – The last remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany are closed by the Nazis.
- July 23 – Mahatma Gandhi the spiritual leader from India writes a personal letter to Adolf Hitler addressing him "My friend", requesting to prevent any possible war.
- July 27 – The first recorded snowfall in Auckland, New Zealand since records began in 1853.
- August 2 – Albert Einstein writes to President Franklin Roosevelt about developing the atomic bomb using uranium. This leads to the creation of the Manhattan Project.
- August 4 – Neville Chamberlain dismisses Parliament until October 3.
- August 15 – MGM's classic musical film The Wizard of Oz, based on L. Frank Baum's famous novel, and starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, premieres at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
- August 19 – Hitler, after evaluating the pace of the non-aggression negotiations with the Soviet Union, orders the Kriegsmarine to begin the opening operations for Fall Weiss, the invasion of Poland. The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, along with the German pocket battleship Deutschland, as well as dozens of u-boats, cast off for their advance positions. According to William L. Shirer, Hitler spends the next few days worrying that the Russians will not come to terms in time for the rest of the invasion plans to unfold as scheduled.
- August 20 – Armored forces under the command of Soviet General Georgi Zhukov deliver a decisive defeat to Japanese Imperial Army forces in the Japanese-Soviet border war in Inner Mongolia.
- August 23 – Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed between Germany and the Soviet Union, a neutrality treaty that also agreed to division of spheres of influence (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, eastern Poland and Bessarabia (today Moldova), north-east province of Romania to the Soviet Union; Lithuania and western Poland to Germany).
- August 24 – As details of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact become public, Neville Chamberlain recalls the Parliament of the United Kingdom several weeks early. In a burst of legislation, a War Powers Act is approved; and HMG order the Royal Navy to be put on a war footing, all leaves to be cancelled, and the Naval and coast defense reserves to be called up, especially radar and anti-aircraft units. In addition, the last British and French private citizens in Germany are ordered home by their respective Governments.
- August 25 – The German Foreign Ministry cuts off all telegraph and telephone communication with the outside world in accordance with the plan for Fall Weiss. At approximately 1830 Central European time, Adolf Hitler postpones Fall Weiss for 5 days, after receiving a message from Benito Mussolini that he will not honour the Pact of Steel if Germany attacks Poland, and because Chamberlain's government has not fallen as a result of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. Some units already in their forward positions (the attack is scheduled for 0430 the next day) do not get the word in time and attack various targets along the border. That same day, Neville Chamberlain gives Edward Rydz-Śmigły his "ironclad guarantee" of assistance if Poland is attacked by Germany.
- August 25
- August 26
- Division of Grazing renamed U.S. Grazing Service.
- The Kriegsmarine orders all German-flagged merchant ships to head to German ports immediately in anticipation of the invasion of Poland.
- August 27 – A Heinkel 178, the first turbojet-powered aircraft, flies for the first time with Captain Erich Warsitz in command.
- August 30 – Poland begins a mobilization against Nazi Germany.
- September 1 – Beginning of WWII:
- Opening shots of World War II and Invasion of Poland: At 4:45am Central European Time, under cover of darkness, the German WW1-era battleship Schleswig-Holstein quietly slips her moorings at her wharf in Danzig harbor, drifts into the centre of the channel, and commences firing on the fortress Westerplatte, a Polish army installation at the mouth of the port of Danzig, Poland. Simultaneously, shock-troops of the German Wehrmacht begin crossing the border into Poland.
- The Reichstag passes a statement stating that Hitler's second-in-command Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring should be appointed as Hitler's successor as Führer should Hitler die during the War. Rudolf Hess is to be appointed in Göring's place should anything befall Göring.
- Norway, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland declare their neutrality.
- September 2 – WWII:
- September 3 – WWII:
- The United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Australia declare war on Germany.
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt advocates neutrality in a Nation-wide radio address.
- British liner SS Athenia becomes the first civilian casualty of the war when she is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-30 in the eastern Atlantic. Of the 1,418 aboard, 98 passengers and 19 crew are killed.
- Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, in English, and Justice Minister Ernest Lapointe, in French, give an international radio address, stating its intentions to declare war against Nazi Germany.
- September 4 – WWII: Nepal declares war on Germany.
- September 5 – WWII: The United States declares its neutrality in the war.
- September 6 – WWII: South Africa declares war on Germany.
- September 8
- Little Sisters of Jesus founded in Algeria by Little Sister Magdeleine.
- WWII: Forward elements of General Hoeppner's XVI Panzerkorps take up positions outside Warsaw. The world is stunned by the rapidity of the German advance and the Polish High Command is effectively isolated, but lack of infantry support and effective civilian resistance cause Hoeppner to halt outside the city itself.
- WWII: Polish troops on the Westerplatte are forced, due to lack of food and ammunition, to surrender. The garrison of about two hundred had held out against thousands of German forces (many of them Naval officer cadets from the Schleswig-Holstein,) for seven days.
- September 9 – WWII: Troops of the Polish Poznan Army under the command of General Kutrzeba open the Battle of the Bzura, the largest and best organized counter-attack mounted by the Polish forces in the campaign of 1939. For the first few days all goes well and the Germans are forced to retreat; but quick reaction by mechanized units and the Luftwaffe soon take their toll and the operation bogs down.
- September 10 – WWII: Canada declares war on Germany.
- September 15 – WWII: Diverse elements of the German Wehrmacht surround Warsaw and demand its surrender. The Poles refuse and the siege begins in earnest.
- September 16 – A ceasefire ends the undeclared Border War between the Soviet Union (and Mongolian allies) and Japan.
- September 17 – WWII:
- September 19 – WWII: The Poznan pocket collapses, and the Germans capture, according to many sources, over 150,000 men. Many elements of General Kutrzeba's forces work their way into Warsaw under extreme difficulty.
- September 21
- Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Security Police, sends a directive, the Schnellbrief, explaining that Jews living in towns and villages in the Polish occupation zones are to be transferred to ghettos, and Jewish councils, Judenräte, will be established to carry out the German authorities’ orders.
- Radio station WJSV in Washington, D.C. records an entire broadcast day for preservation in the National Archives.
- September 22 – WWII: Joint victory parade of Wehrmacht and Red Army in Brest-Litovsk at the end of the Invasion of Poland.
- September 28 – WWII:
- September 29 – Gerald J. Cox, speaking at an American Water Works Association meeting, becomes the first person to publicly propose the fluoridation of public water supplies in the United States.
- October 8 – WWII: Germany annexes Western Poland.
- October 11 – Manhattan Project: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is presented a letter signed by Albert Einstein, urging the United States to rapidly develop the atomic bomb.
- October 14 – The German submarine U-47 sinks the British battleship HMS Royal Oak.
- October 15 – The New York Municipal Airport (later renamed La Guardia Airport) is dedicated.
- October 24 – Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time anywhere in Wilmington, Delaware.
- October 25 – The Time of Your Life, a drama by William Saroyan, debuts in New York City.
- November 1– 2 – WWII: Physicist Hans Ferdinand Mayer writes the Oslo Report on German weapons systems and passes it to the British Secret Intelligence Service.
- November 4 – WWII: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the United States Customs Service to implement the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash-and-carry purchases of weapons to non-belligerent nations.
- November 4 Stewart Menzies appointed head of MI6
- November 6
- Hedda Hopper's Hollywood debuts on radio with Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper as host (the show runs until 1951, making Hopper a powerful figure in the Hollywood elite).
- WWII – Sonderaktion Krakau: Germans take action against scientists from the University of Kraków and other Kraków universities at the beginning of WWII.
- November 8 – WWII: In Munich, an attempt to kill Adolf Hitler is made by Georg Elser while Hitler is celebrating the 16th anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch.
- November 9 – WWII: Venlo Incident: Two British agents of SIS are captured by the Germans.
- November 15 – In Washington, D.C., U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt lays the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial.
- November 16 – Al Capone is released from Alcatraz, due to deteriorating health caused by syphilus.
- November 17 – WWII: To punish protests against the Nazi occupation of the Czech homeland, the Nazis murder 9 Czech graduate students, send over 1200 to concentration camps, and close all Czech universities.
- November 30
- December 2 – La Guardia Airport opens for business in New York City.
- December 4 – WWII: HMS Nelson is struck by a mine (laid by U-31) off the coast of Scotland and is laid up for repairs until August 1940.
- December 12 – WWII: HMS Duchess sinks after a collision with HMS Barham off the coast of Scotland with the loss of 124 men.
- December 13 – WWII – Battle of the River Plate: The German heavy cruiser Admiral Graf Spee is trapped by cruisers HMS Ajax, HMNZS Achilles, and HMS Exeter after a running battle off the coast of Uruguay. The Graf Spee is scuttled by its crew off Montevideo harbour on December 17.
- December 14 – WWII – Winter War: The League of Nations expels the USSR for attacking Finland.
- December 15 – The film Gone with the Wind, starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, premieres at Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. It is based on Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel. It is the longest American film made up to that time (nearly four hours).
- December 18 – WWII – Battle of the Heligoland Bight: RAF Bomber Command, on a daylight mission to attack Kriegsmarine ships in the Heligoland Bight, is repulsed by Luftwaffe fighter aircraft.
- December 26 – Miners strike in Borinage, Belgium.
- December 27 – The Erzincan earthquake in eastern Anatolia, Turkey, kills 30,000.
- CBS Television begins transmission.
- Kirlian photography is invented by Semyon Kirlian.
- A logging crew sets off a second forest fire in the Tillamook Burn, which destroys 190,000 acres (770 km2).
- Sandia View Academy, a private Adventist school, is founded in Corrales, New Mexico,
- General Motors introduces the Hydra-Matic drive, the first mass-produced, fully automatic transmission, as an option in 1940 model year Oldsmobile automobiles.
- In Australia the Australian Frontier Wars ends after 151 years.
- January 3
- Bobby Hull, Canadian hockey player
- Ruben Reyes, Filipino Supreme Court jurist
- Gene Summers, American rock 'n roll singer (member of Rockabilly Hall of Fame)
- January 6
- Valeri Lobanovsky, Ukrainian footballer and manager (d. 2002)
- Murray Rose, Australian swimmer
- January 9
- Jimmy Boyd, American singer, musician and actor
- Malcolm Bricklin, American automotive pioneer
- Rik Kemp, Australian cartoonist
- Tadahiro Matsushita, Japanese politician
- Susannah York, British actress (d. 2011)
- January 10
- Sal Mineo, American actor (d. 1976)
- Bill Toomey, American athlete
- January 11 – Ann Heggtveit, Canadian skier
- January 12 – William Lee Golden, American country and gospel singer, member of the Oak Ridge Boys
- January 17
- Archbishop Christodoulos of Greece
- Maury Povich, American talk show host
- January 18 – James Gritz, U.S. Presidential candidate
- January 19 – Phil Everly, American rock 'n' roll musician (member of Rockabilly Hall of Fame)
- January 20 – Chandra Wickramasinghe, British astronomer and poet
- January 22 – Ray Stevens, American musician
- January 25 – Jake O'Donnell, American sports official
- January 29 – Germaine Greer, Australian feminist writer
- February 1
- February 6 – Mike Farrell, American actor
- February 10
- Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada
- Peter Purves, British actor and television presenter
- February 12 – Ray Manzarek, American keyboardist (The Doors)
- February 13 – Beate Klarsfeld, German-born Nazi hunter
- February 16 – Adolfo Azcuna, Filipino Supreme Court jurist
- February 20 – Frank Arundel, English footballer
- February 21 – Gert Neuhaus, German artist
- February 26 – Josephine Tewson, British actress
- February 27 – David Mitton, British producer, director, model maker, and author (d. 2008)
- February 28
- Daniel C. Tsui, Chinese-born physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
- Tommy Tune, American dancer, choreographer, and actor
- March 1 – Leo Brouwer, Cuban composer and guitarist
- March 3 – Bill Frindall, English cricket scorer and statistician (d. 2009)
- March 4
- Jack Fisher, former American Major League baseball pitcher
- Carlos Vereza, Brazilian actor
- March 8
- Lidia Skoblikova, Russian speed-skater
- Robert Tear, Welsh tenor
- March 12 – Johnny Callison, American baseball player (d. 2006)
- March 13 – Neil Sedaka, American singer-songwriter
- March 15 – Alicia Freilich, Venezuelan writer and novelist
- March 16 – Carlos Bilardo, Argentine football player and manager
- March 17
- Jim Gary, American sculptor (d. 2006)
- Giovanni Trapattoni, Italian football player and manager
- March 20 – Brian Mulroney, 18th Prime Minister of Canada
- March 28 – Leila Kasra, Persian poet and lyricist (d. 1989)
- March 31
- Zviad Gamsakhurdia, President of Georgia (d. 1993)
- Volker Schlöndorff, German film director
- April 1 – Spider Martin, American Photographer (d. 2003)
- April 2 – Marvin Gaye, American singer (d. 1984)
- April 4 – Hugh Masakela, South African musician
- April 7
- Francis Ford Coppola, American film director
- Sir David Frost, English television personality
- April 10 – Claudio Magris, Italian author
- April 13
- Seamus Heaney, Irish writer, Nobel Prize laureate
- Paul Sorvino, American actor
- April 16 – Dusty Springfield, English singer (d. 1999)
- April 20 – Elspeth Ballantyne, Australian actress
- April 22
- April 23 – Lee Majors, American actor
- April 25 – Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate
- April 27
- Erik Pevernagie, Belgian painter
- Joao Bernardo Vieira, President of Guinea-Bissau (d. 2009)
- May 1 – Judy Collins, American singer and songwriter
- May 2 – Taomati Iuta, Vice President of Kiribati (1991–94)
- May 4 – Paul Gleason, American actor (d. 2006)
- May 7
- Sidney Altman, Canadian-born chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
- Ruud Lubbers, Dutch politician, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 1982–94
- Jimmy Ruffin, American singer
- May 9
- Ralph Boston, American athlete
- Pierre Desproges, French humorist (d. 1988)
- May 11 – Dante Tinga, Filipino Supreme Court jurist
- May 12 – Ron Ziegler, White House Press Secretary (d. 2003)
- May 13 – Harvey Keitel, American actor
- May 14 – Veruschka von Lehndorff, German model, actress and artist
- May 19
- Livio Berruti, Italian athlete
- Sonny Fortune, American jazz musician
- James Fox, English actor
- Nancy Kwan, American actress
- Dick Scobee, American astronaut (d. 1986)
- May 21 – Heinz Holliger, Swiss oboist and composer
- May 22 – Paul Winfield, American actor (d. 2004)
- May 23 – Reinhard Hauff, German film director
- May 25
- May 26 – Brent Musburger, American sports announcer
- May 29 – Al Unser, American race car driver
- May 30 – Michael J. Pollard, American actor
- June 1 – Cleavon Little, American actor (d. 1992)
- June 6
- Louis Andriessen, Dutch composer
- Lawrence Stephen, Nauruan politician
- June 9
- Ileana Cotrubaş, Romanian soprano
- Dick Vitale, American basketball broadcaster
- June 11 – Jackie Stewart, Scottish race car driver
- June 14 – Steny Hoyer, American Democrat U.S. Representative for Maryland's 5th congressional district
- June 15 – Brian Jacques, British writer (d. 2011)
- June 18 – Jack Herer, American cannabis activist (d. 2010)
- June 24 – Michael Gothard, British actor (d. 1992)
- July 5 – Booker Edgerson, American football player
- July 6 – Jet Harris, British bassist, singer and songwriter ( The Shadows)
- July 14
- Sid Haig, American actor
- George E. Slusser, American scholar and writer
- July 15 – Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal and former Prime Minister
- July 16 – Corin Redgrave, British actor and political activist (d. 2010)
- July 17
- Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran
- Milva, Italian actress and singer
- July 21 – John Negroponte, U.S. Director of National Intelligence
- July 22 – Terence Stamp, English actor
- July 23 – Raine Karp, Estonian architect
- July 26
- John Howard, 25th Prime Minister of Australia
- Bob Lilly, American football player
- July 27
- William Eggleston, American photographer
- Michael Longley, Northern Irish poet
- July 31
- Susan Flannery, American soap opera actress
- France Nuyen, French actress
- August 1 – Terry Kiser, American actor
- August 2 – John W. Snow, 73rd United States Secretary of the Treasury
- August 5 – Princess Irene of the Netherlands
- August 12
- Skip Caray, American baseball broadcaster (d. 2008)
- George Hamilton, American actor
- David Jacobs, American producer and writer
- August 19 – Ginger Baker, English drummer
- August 21 – Clarence Williams III, American actor
- August 22 – Valerie Harper, American actress
- August 22 – Carl Yastrzemski, American baseball player
- August 29 – Joel Schumacher, American film producer and director
- August 30
- John Peel, English disc jockey (d. 2004)
- Elizabeth Ashley, American actress
- September 1 – Lily Tomlin, American actress
- September 5
- September 6
- Brigid Berlin, American actress and artist
- Susumu Tonegawa, Japanese biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- September 8 – Carsten Keller, German field hockey player
- September 9 – Ron McDole, American football player
- September 13
- Richard Kiel, American actor
- Guntis Ulmanis, former President of Latvia
- September 15 – Ron Walker, former Lord Mayor of Melbourne and Australian businessman
- September 16 – Breyten Breytenbach, South African writer and painter
- September 18
- Frankie Avalon, American singer and actor
- Fred Willard, American comedic actor
- September 18 – Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal
- September 23 – Janusz Gajos, Polish actor
- September 26 – Ricky Tomlinson, British actor
- September 29 – Larry Linville, American actor (d. 2000)
- September 30 – Jean-Marie Lehn, French chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
- October 1 – George Archer, American golfer (d. 2005)
- October 4 – Ivan Mauger, New Zealand Speedway Rider 6 times World Speedway Champion
- October 5 – Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Filipino Supreme Court jurist
- October 7
- John Hopcroft, American computer scientist
- Harold Kroto, English chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
- Bill Snyder, American football coach
- October 8 – Paul Hogan, Australian actor
- October 11 – Austin Currie, Irish politician
- October 13 – T. J. Cloutier, American poker player
- October 14 – Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer
- October 18
- Flavio Cotti, Swiss Federal Councilor
- Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy (d. 1963)
- October 22
- Joaquim Chissano, President of Mozambique
- George Cohen, English footballer
- October 24 – F. Murray Abraham, American actor
- October 27
- John Cleese, British comedic actor
- Suzy Covey, American scholar (d. 2007)
- October 28 – Jane Alexander, American actress
- October 29 – Malay Roy Choudhury, Bengali poet and novelist who created the Indian Hungry generation literary and cultural movement.
- October 30
- Jean Chapman, British writer
- Leland H. Hartwell, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- Grace Slick, American singer
- October 31 – Ron Rifkin, American actor
- November 1 – Barbara Bosson, American actress
- November 2 – Richard Serra, American sculptor
- November 6
- Athanasios Angelopoulos, Greek academic
- Carlos Emilio Morales, Cuban jazz guitarist
- Leonardo Quisumbing, Filipino Supreme Court jurist
- November 8
- Elizabeth Dawn, British actress
- Laila Kinnunen, Finnish singer (d. 2000)
- November 9 – Paul Cameron, American psychologist
- November 10 – Russell Means, Native American activist
- November 14 – Wendy Carlos, American electronic composer
- November 16 – Michael Billington, British drama critic
- November 18
- Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist
- Amanda Lear, French model and singer
- Brenda Vaccaro, American actress
- November 21 – Mulayam Singh Yadav, Indian politician
- November 22 – Stefan Dimitrov, Bulgarian opera basso singer
- November 23 – Bill Bissett, Canadian poet
- November 26 – Tina Turner, American singer
- November 27
- Laurent-Désiré Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (d. 2001)
- Ulla Strömstedt, Swedish actress (d. 1986)
- December 2
- Yael Dayan, Israeli writer and politician
- Harry Reid, American politician and U.S. Senate Majority Leader
- December 5 – Minita Chico-Nazario, Filipino Supreme Court jurist
- December 8 – James Galway, Irish flautist
- December 11 – Thomas McGuane, American writer
- December 14 – Ernie Davis, American Football Player
- December 17 – Eddie Kendricks, American singer ( The Temptations)
- December 18
- Alex Bennett, American radio personality
- Robert T. Bennett, American politician
- Michael Moorcock, English science fiction writer
- Harold E. Varmus, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- December 22 – Alfred J. Ferrara, American baseball player
- December 27 – John Amos, American actor
- December 28 – Michelle Urry, American editor of Playboy
- January 2 – Roman Dmowski, Polish politician (b. 1864)
- January 8 – Charles Alexander Eastman, Native American author, physician, reformer, helped found the Boy Scouts of America (b. 1858)
- January 18 – Ivan Mozzhukhin, Russian actor (b. 1889)
- January 23 – Matthias Sindelar, Austrian footballer (b. 1903)
- January 24 – Maximilian Bircher-Benner, Swiss physician and nutritionist (b. 1867)
- January 28 – William Butler Yeats, Irish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
- February 10 – Pope Pius XI (b. 1857)
- February 11 – Franz Schmidt, Austrian composer (b. 1874)
- February 12 – S. P. L. Sørensen, Danish chemist (b. 1868)
- February 22 – Antonio Machado, Spanish poet (b. 1875)
- February 27 – Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, Russian Marxist revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin's widow (b. 1869)
- March 2 – Howard Carter, British archaeologist (b. 1874)
- March 5 – Herbert Mundin, British actor (b. 1898)
- March 19 – Lloyd L. Gaines, American civil rights activist
- March 21 – Evald Aav, Estonian composer (b. 1900)
- March 28 – Francis Matthew John Baker, Australian politician (b. 1903)
- April 3 – Joaquín García Morato, Spanish fighter ace (b. 1904)
- April 4 – Ghazi of Iraq, King of Iraq (b. 1912)
- April 6 – Bennie Dickson, American bank robber (b. unknown)
- April 7 – Joseph Lyons, 10th Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1879)
- April 25
- May 2 – Phillips Smalley, American actor and director (b. 1875)
- May 10 – James Parrott, American actor (b. 1898)
- May 22 – Ernst Toller, German playwright (b. 1893)
- May 23 – Witmer Stone, American ornithologist and botanist (b. 1866)
- May 27 – Alfred A. Cunningham, American aviator, the first United States Marine Corps aviator (b. 1882)
- June 4 – Tommy Ladnier, American jazz trumpeter (b. 1900)
- June 6 – George Fawcett, American actor (b. 1860)
- June 9 – Owen Moore, American actor (b. 1886)
- June 16 – Chick Webb, American musician (b. 1905)
- June 19 – Grace Abbott, American social worker and activist (b. 1878)
- June 26 – Ford Madox Ford, English writer (b. 1873)
- June 28 – Bobby Vernon, American actor (b. 1898)
- July 14 – Alfons Mucha, Czech painter and decorative artist (b. 1860)
- July 28 – Beryl Mercer, Spanish actress (b. 1882)
- August 2 – Harvey Spencer Lewis, American mystic (b. 1883)
- August 11 – Jean Bugatti, German automobile designer (b. 1909)
- August 23 – Sidney Howard, American writer (b. 1891)
- August 30 – Wilhelm Bölsche, German journalist and science writer (b. 1861)
- September 6 – Arthur Rackham, British artist (b. 1867)
- September 18 – Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Polish writer and painter (b. 1885)
- September 23 – Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist (b. 1856)
- September 24 – Carl Laemmle, German film producer (b. 1867)
- October 1 – Conway Tearle, American actor (b. 1878)
- October 3 – Fay Templeton, American musical comedy star (b. 1865)
- October 6 – Giulio Gavotti, Italian aviator (b. 1882)
- October 7 – Harvey Cushing, American neurosurgeon (b. 1869)
- October 13 – Ford Sterling, American actor (b. 1882)
- October 23 – Zane Grey, American writer (b. 1872)
- October 28 – Alice Brady, American actress (b. 1892)
- October 29 – Dwight B. Waldo, American educator and historian (b. 1864)
- November 12 – Norman Bethune, Canadian humanitarian (b. 1890)
- November 13 – Lois Weber, American actress (b. 1881)
- November 24 – John Harron, American actor (b. 1903)
- November 28 – James Naismith, Canadian inventor of basketball (b. 1861)
- November 29 – Philipp Scheidemann, Chancellor of Germany (b. 1865)
- December 3 – Princess Louise of the United Kingdom, second youngest daughter of Queen Victoria (b. 1848)
- December 12 – Douglas Fairbanks, American actor (b. 1883)
- December 19 – Reginald F. Nicholson, United States Navy admiral (b. 1852)
- December 22 – Ma Rainey, American blues singer (b. 1886)
- December 23 – Anthony Fokker, Dutch-American aircraft manufacturer (b. 1890)
- Keeleri Kunhikannan, father of the Kerala Circus
- Percy Douglas, chairman of the British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE) Advisory Committee