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|Centuries:||19th century – 20th century – 21st century|
|Decades:||1910s 1920s 1930s – 1940s – 1950s 1960s 1970s|
|Years:||1937 1938 1939 – 1940 – 1941 1942 1943|
|1940 by topic:|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Works and introductions categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2693|
|British Regnal year||4 Geo. 6 – 5 Geo. 6|
|Chinese calendar|| 己卯年十一月廿二日
— to —庚辰年十二月初三日
|- Vikram Samvat||1996–1997|
|- Shaka Samvat||1862–1863|
|- Kali Yuga||5041–5042|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||940–941|
|Japanese calendar|| Shōwa 15
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 13 days|
|Minguo calendar||ROC 29
|Thai solar calendar||2483|
Year 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar.
Below, the events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix.
- January 4 – WWII: Axis powers: Luftwaffe General Hermann Göring assumes control of most war industries in Germany.
- January 6 – WWII: Winter War: General Semyon Timoshenko takes command of all Russian forces.
- January 8
- WWII: Winter War – Battle of Suomussalmi: The Russian 44th Assault Division is destroyed by Finnish forces.
- WWII: Food rationing begins in Great Britain.
- January 9 – WWII; British submarine HMS Starfish (19S) is sunk.
- January 10 – WWII: Mechelen Incident: A German plane carrying secret plans for the invasion of western Europe makes a forced landing in Belgium, leading to mobilization of defense forces in the Low Countries.
- January 26 – Brisbane, Australia swelters through its hottest day ever, 43.2 degrees Celsius (109.76 Fahrenheit).
- January 27 – WWII: A peace resolution introduced in the Parliament of South Africa is defeated 81–59.
- January 29 – Three gasoline-powered trains carrying factory workers crash and explode while approaching Ajikawaguchi station, Yumesaki Line (Nishinari Line), Osaka, Japan, killing at least 181 people and injuring at least 92.
- February 1 – WWII: Winter War – Russian forces launch a major assault on Finnish troops occupying the Karelian Isthmus.
- February 2 – Vsevolod Meyerhold is executed in the Soviet Union on charges of treason and espionage. He is cleared of all charges 15 years later in the first waves of de-Stalinization
- February 7 – RKO release Walt Disney's second full-length animated film, Pinocchio.
- February 10 – Tom and Jerry make their debut in Puss Gets the Boot. However it is not until 1941 that their current names are adopted.
- February 16 – WWII: Altmark Incident: The British destroyer HMS Cossack (F03) pursues the German tanker Altmark into the neutral waters of Jøssingfjord in southwestern Norway and frees the 290 British seamen held aboard.
- February 22 – In Tibet, province of Ando, 4-year-old Tenzin Gyatso is proclaimed the tulku ( rebirth) of the fourteenth Dalai Lama.
- February 27 – Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben discover carbon-14.
- February 29 – Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African-American to win an Academy Award.
- March – Truth or Consequences debuts on NBC Radio.
- March 2 – Cartoon character Elmer Fudd makes his debut in the animated short Elmer's Candid Camera.
- March 3 – In Sweden, a time bomb destroys the office of Norrskenflamman (a Swedish communist newspaper), killing 5.
- March 5 – Katyn massacre: Members of the Soviet Politburo (Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Mikhail Kalinin, Kliment Voroshilov and Lavrenty Beria) sign an order, prepared by Beria, for the execution of 25,700 Polish intelligentsia, including 14,700 Polish POWs.
- March 11 – Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck and six others leave Monterey, California for The Sea of Cortez on a collecting expedition.
- March 12 – The Soviet Union and Finland sign a peace treaty in Moscow ending the Winter War; Finns, along with the world at large, are shocked by the harsh terms.
- March 18 – WWII: Axis powers: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet at Brenner Pass in the Alps and agree to form an alliance against France and the United Kingdom.
- March 21 – Édouard Daladier resigns as prime minister of France; Paul Reynaud succeeds him.
- March 23 – The Pakistan Resolution is rallied around by the All-India Muslim League; Muslims from every corner of India meet up around Iqbal Park, Lahore (now in modern-day Pakistan).
- March 31 – WWII: Commerce raiding German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis, leaves the Wadden Sea for what will become the longest warship cruise of the war. (622 days without in-port replenishment or repair)
- April 3 – WWII: Operation Weserübung: German ships set out for the invasion of Norway.
- April 5 – Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in what proves to be a tragic misjudgment, declares in a major public speech that Hitler has "missed the bus".
- April 7 – Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
- April 9 – WWII: Germany invades the neutral countries of Denmark and Norway in Operation Weserübung. The British campaign in Norway is simultaneously commenced.
- April 12
- The Faroe Islands are occupied by British troops, following the taking over of Denmark by Nazi Germany. This action is taken to avert a possible German occupation of the islands with serious consequences for the course of the Battle of the Atlantic.
- Opening day at Jamaica Race Course features the use of parimutuel betting equipment, a departure from bookmaking heretofore used exclusively throughout New York. Other tracks in the state follow suit later in 1940.
- April 13 – The New York Rangers win the 1940 Stanley Cup Finals in ice hockey. It will be another 54 years before their next win.
- April 21 – Take It or Leave It makes its debut on CBS Radio, with Bob Hawk as host.
- April 23 – The Rhythm Club fire at a dance hall in Natchez, Mississippi, kills 198.
- May 10 – WWII:
- May 13
- May 13– May 14 – Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and her government are evacuated to London using the British destroyer HMS Hereward.
- May 14 – WWII:
- May 15
- WWII: The Dutch army surrenders.
- The very first McDonald's restaurant opens in San Bernardino, California.
- Women's stockings made of nylon are first placed on sale across the United States. Almost five million pairs are bought on this day.
- May 16 – President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt, addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, asks for an extraordinary credit of approximately $900 million to finance construction of at least 50,000 airplanes per year.
- May 17 – Brussels falls to German forces; the Belgian government flees to Ostend.
- May 18 – Marshal Philippe Pétain is named vice-premier of France.
- May 19 – General Maxime Weygand replaces Maurice Gamelin as commander-in-chief of all French forces.
- May 20
- WWII: German forces ( 2nd Panzer division), under General Rudolf Veiel, reach Noyelles on the English Channel.
- Holocaust: The Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the German concentration camps, opens in occupied Poland near the town of Oświęcim. Between May 1940 and January 1945, around 1.1 million people will be killed here.
- May 22 – WWII: The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1940, giving the government full control over all persons and property.
- May 24 – WWII: The Anglo-French Supreme War Council decides to withdraw all forces from Norway.
- May 26
- May 28
- May 29 – The Vought XF4U-1, prototype of the F4U Corsair U.S. fighter later used in WWII, makes its first flight.
- June 3
- June 4
- WWII: The Dunkirk evacuation ends – British and Dutch forces complete evacuating 300,000 troops from Dunkirk in France to England.
- WWII: Winston Churchill tells the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, "We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight on the beaches... on the landing grounds... in the fields and the streets.... We shall never surrender."
- June 9 – WWII: The British Commandos are created.
- June 10
- WWII: Italy declares war on France and the United Kingdom.
- WWII: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt denounces Italy's actions with his "Stab in the Back" speech during the graduation ceremonies of the University of Virginia.
- WWII: Canada declares war on Italy.
- WWII: Norway surrenders to German forces.
- WWII: The French government flees to Tours.
- Marcus Mosiah Garvey died of a stroke on June 10, 1940
- June 12 – WWII: 13,000 British and French troops surrender to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel at St. Valery-en-Caux.
- June 13 – WWII: Paris is declared an open city.
- June 14
- WWII: The Soviet Union annexes three Baltic States which are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This is the most popular date to be said when the term Soviet Empire was coined.
- WWII: The French government flees to Bordeaux and Paris falls under German occupation.
- WWII: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Naval Expansion Act into law, which aims to increase the United States Navy's tonnage by 11%.
- WWII: A group of 728 Polish political prisoners from Tarnów become the first residents of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
- June 15 – WWII: Verdun falls to German forces.
- June 16 – The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held for the first time in Sturgis, South Dakota.
- June 17
- Philippe Pétain becomes Prime Minister of France and immediately asks Germany for peace terms.
- The Soviet Army enters the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
- WWII: Operation Ariel begins: Allied troops start to evacuate France, following Germany's takeover of Paris and most of the nation.
- WWII: RMS Lancastria, serving as a troopship, is bombed and sunk by Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88 aircraft while evacuating British troops and nationals from Saint-Nazaire in France with the loss of at least 4,000 lives, the largest single UK loss in any World War II event, immediate news of which is suppressed in the British press.
- June 18
- WWII: Winston Churchill tells the House of Commons of the United Kingdom: "The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin."
- WWII: Appeal of 18 June: General Charles de Gaulle, de facto leader of the Free French Forces, makes his first broadcast appeal over Radio Londres from London rallying French Resistance, calling on all French people to continue the fight against Nazi Germany: "France has lost a battle. But France has not lost the war".
- June 21 – WWII: Vichy France and Germany sign an armistice at Compiegne, in the same wagon-lit railroad car used by Marshal Ferdinand Foch to accept the surrender of Germany in 1918.
- June 23 – WWII: German leader Adolf Hitler surveys newly defeated Paris in now occupied France.
- June 24
- June 28 – General Charles de Gaulle is officially recognized by Britain as the "Leader of all Free Frenchmen, wherever they may be."
- June 30
- WWII: German forces land in Guernsey, marking the start of the 5-year Occupation of the Channel Islands.
- Federal government of the United States reorganisation:
- The Civil Aeronautics Administration is placed under the Department of Commerce.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is placed under the Federal Security Agency.
- The Fish and Wildlife Service is placed under the Department of the Interior.
- July 1 – The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge opens for business, built with an 8-foot (2.4 m) girder and 190 feet (58 m) above the water, as the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
- July 2 – WWII: British-owned SS Arandora Star, carrying civilian internees and POWs of Italian and German origin from Liverpool to Canada, is torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-47 off northwest Ireland with the loss of around 865 lives.
- July 3 – WWII: British naval units sink or seize ships of the French fleet anchored in the Algerian ports of Oran and Mers-el-Kebir. The following day, Vichy France breaks off diplomatic relations with Britain
- July 6 – British submarine HMS Shark (54S) is sunk.
- July 10 – WWII: The Battle of Britain begins
- July 11
- WWII: British destroyer HMS Escort (H66) is torpedoed and sunk by an Italian submarine.
- WWII: Vichy France begins with a constitutional law which only 80 members of the parliament vote against.
- July 14 – WWII: Winston Churchill, in a worldwide broadcast, proclaims the intention of Great Britain to fight alone against Germany whatever the outcome: "We shall seek no terms. We shall tolerate no parley. We may show mercy. We shall ask none."
- July 15 – U.S. politics: The Democratic Party begins its national convention in Chicago, and nominates Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term as president.
- July 19
- WWII: Allied victory at the Battle of Cape Spada HMAS Sydney (D48) and five destroyers sink the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni.
- WWII: Adolf Hitler makes a peace appeal to Britain in an address to the Reichstag. Lord Halifax, the British foreign minister, flatly rejects peace terms in a broadcast reply on July 22.
- July 21 – The Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR and Lithuanian SSR are proclaimed in Moscow.
- July 25 – General Henri Guisan addresses the officer corps of the Swiss army at Rütli resolving to resist any invasion of the country.
- July 27 – Bugs Bunny makes his debut in the Oscar-nominated cartoon short, A Wild Hare.
- August 1 – WWII: British submarine HMS Spearfish (69S) is sunk.
- August 3 – The Lithuanian SSR, Latvian SSR ( August 5) and Estonian SSR ( August 6) are incorporated into the Soviet Union six weeks after their anaxation.
- August 4 – Gen. John J. Pershing, in a nationwide radio broadcast, urges all-out aid to Britain in order to defend the Americas, while Charles Lindbergh speaks to an isolationist rally at Soldier Field in Chicago.
- August 8 – WWII: Wilhelm Keitel signs the " Aufbau Ost" directive, which eventually leads to the invasion of the Soviet Union.
- August 10 – WWII: British armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania (F56) is torpedoed off Malin Head, Ireland, by German submarine U-56.
- August 18 – HRH The Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, is installed as Governor of the Bahamas.
- August 20
- August 21 – Leon Trotsky dies of injuries sustained.
- August 24 – Howard Florey and a team including Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, publish their laboratory results showing the in vivo bactericidal action of penicillin. They have also purified the drug.
- August 26 – WWII: Chad is the first French colony to proclaim its support for the Allies.
- August 30 – Second Vienna Award: Germany and Italy compel Romania to cede half of Transylvania to Hungary.
- September – The U.S. Army 45th Infantry Division (previously a National Guard Division in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma), is activated and ordered into federal service for 1 year, to engage in a training program in Ft. Sill and Louisiana, prior to serving in WWII.
- September 2 – WWII: An agreement between America and Great Britain is announced to the effect that 50 U.S. destroyers needed for escort work will be transferred to Great Britain. In return, America gains 99-year leases on British bases in the North Atlantic, West Indies and Bermuda.
- September 5 – WWII: Commerce raiding German auxiliary cruiser Komet enters the Pacific Ocean via the Bering Strait after crossing the Arctic Ocean from the North Sea with the help of Soviet icebreakers Lenin, Stalin, and Kaganovich.
- September 7
- September 12
- September 16 – WWII: The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 is signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt, creating the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.
- September 17– September 18 – WWII: SS City of Benares is torpedoed by German submarine U-48 in the Atlantic with the loss of 248 of the 406 on board, including child evacuees bound for Canada. This results in cancellation of the British Children's Overseas Reception Board's plan to relocate children overseas.
- September 26 – WWII: The United States imposes a total embargo on all scrap metal shipments to Japan.
- September 27 – WWII: Germany, Italy and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact.
- October 14 – The Balham subway station disaster in London, England, occurs during the Nazi Luftwaffe air raids on Great Britain.
- October 16 – The draft registration of approximately 16 million men begins in the United States.
- October 18– 19 – WWII: Thirty-two ships are sunk from Convoy SC 7 and Convoy HX 79 by the most effective " wolfpack" of the war including U-boat aces Kretschmer, Prien and Schepke.
- October 28 – WWII: Italian troops invade Greece, meeting strong resistance from Greek troops and civilians. This action signals the beginning of the Balkans Campaign.
- October 29 – The Selective Service System lottery is held in Washington, D.C..
- November – In Cambodia the Khmer Issarak is formed to overthrow the French Army within the nation.
- November 5 – United States presidential election, 1940: Democrat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Republican challenger Wendell Willkie and becomes the United States' first and only third-term president.
- November 6 – Agatha Christie's mystery novel And Then There Were None is published in book form in the United States.
- November 7 – In Tacoma, Washington, the 600-foot (180 m)-long centre span of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (known as Galloping Gertie) collapses.
- November 8 – MS City of Rayville is sunk by a naval mine, the first US merchant to be lost in the war off Cape Otway, Australia
- November 9 – Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez premieres in Barcelona, Spain.
- November 10 – An earthquake in Bucharest, Romania kills 1,000.
- November 11
- WWII: The Royal Navy launches the first aircraft carrier strike in history, on the Italian battleship fleet anchored at Taranto naval base.
- WWII: German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis captures top secret British mail, and sends it to Japan.
- Armistice Day Blizzard: An unexpected blizzard kills 144 in the Midwestern United States.
- November 13 – Walt Disney's Fantasia is released. It is the first box office failure for Disney, though it eventually recoups its cost years later, and becomes one of the most highly regarded of Disney's films.
- November 14 – WWII: The city of Coventry, England is destroyed by 500 Luftwaffe bombers: 150,000 fire bombs, 503 tons of high explosives, and 130 parachute mines level 60,000 of the city's 75,000 buildings; 568 people are killed, during the Coventry Blitz.
- November 16
- WWII: In response to Germany levelling Coventry 2 days before, the Royal Air Force begins to bomb Hamburg (by war's end, 50,000 Hamburg residents will have died from Allied attacks).
- An unexploded pipe bomb is found in the Consolidated Edison office building (only years later is the culprit, George Metesky, apprehended).
- The Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers is founded.
- November 18 – WWII: German leader Adolf Hitler and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano meet to discuss Benito Mussolini's disastrous invasion of Greece.
- November 20 – WWII: Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join the Axis Powers.
- November 25 – Patria disaster: As British authorities attempt to deport Jewish refugees (originating from German-occupied Europe) from Mandatory Palestine to Mauritius aboard the requisitioned emigrant liner SS Patria (1913) at Haifa, the Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah sinks the ship with a bomb, killing around 250 refugees and crew.
- November 27
- December – Timely Comics' Captain America Comics #1 (cover dated March 1941), first appearance of Captain America and Bucky, hits newsstands in the United States.
- December 1 – Manuel Ávila Camacho takes office as President of Mexico.
- December 6 – British submarine HMS Regulus (N88) is sunk near Taranto.
- December 8 – The Chicago Bears, in what will become the most one-sided victory in National Football League history, defeat the Washington Redskins 73–0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game.
- December 9 – WWII: Operation Compass – British forces in North Africa begin their first major offensive with an attack on Italian forces at Sidi Barrani, Egypt.
- December 12 and December 15 – WWII: " Sheffield Blitz" – The Yorkshire city of Sheffield is badly damaged by German air-raids.
- December 14
- WWII British destroyers HMS Hereward (H93) and HMS Hyperion (H97) sink an Italian submarine off Bardia.
- Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish based on Malta bomb Tripoli.
- Plutonium is first synthesized in the laboratory by a team led by Glenn T. Seaborg and Edwin McMillan at the University of California, Berkeley.
- December 16 – WWII: Operation Abigail Rachel – RAF bombing of Mannheim.
- December 17 – President Roosevelt, at his regular press conference, first sets forth the outline of his plan to send aid to Great Britain that will become known as Lend-Lease.
- December 23 – WWII: Winston Churchill, in a broadcast address to the people of Italy, blames Benito Mussolini for leading his nation to war against the British, contrary to Italy's historic friendship with them: "One man has arrayed the trustees and inheritors of ancient Rome upon the side of the ferocious pagan barbarians."
- December 24 – Mahatma Gandhi, Indian spiritual non-violence leader writes his second letter to Adolf Hitler addressing him "My friend", requesting him to stop the war Germany had begun.
- December 29
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a fireside chat to the nation, declares that the United States must become "the great arsenal of democracy."
- WWII: " Second Great Fire of London" – Luftwaffe carries out a massive incendiary bombing raid, starting 1,500 fires. Many famous buildings, including the Guildhall and Trinity House, are either damaged or destroyed.
- December 30
- California's first modern freeway, the future State Route 110, opens to traffic in Pasadena, California, as the Arroyo Seco Parkway (now the Pasadena Freeway).
- In Sweden, Victor Hasselblad forms the Victor Hasselblad AB Camera Company.
- In Korea, the Hunminjeongeum ( 1446) is discovered, explaining the basis of the Hangul alphabet.
- US historian Arthur Marder publishes The Anatomy of British Sea Power: a history of British naval policy in the pre-Dreadnought era, 1880-1905.
- Olympic Games, assigned to Tokyo, Japan, and later to Helsinki, Finland, are suspended due to WWII.
- January 2 – Jim Bakker, American televangelist and former husband of Tammy Faye
- January 4
- January 6 – Penny Lernoux, American journalist and author (d. 1989)
- January 9 – Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Costa Rican politician, lawyer, economist, and businessman
- January 14 – Julian Bond, American civil rights activist
- January 19 – Mike Reid, English actor (d. 2007)
- January 20 – Carol Heiss, American figure skater
- January 21
- Jeremy Jacobs, American businessman, owner ( Boston Bruins)
- Jack Nicklaus, American golfer
- January 22 – John Hurt, English actor
- January 27 – James Cromwell, American actor
- January 28 – Carlos Slim, Mexican businessman
- February 1
- February 2 – David Jason, English actor
- February 3 – Fran Tarkenton, American football player
- February 4 – George A. Romero, American film writer and director
- February 5 – H. R. Giger, Swiss artist
- February 6
- Tom Brokaw, American television news reporter
- Jimmy Tarbuck, English comedian
- February 8
- Ted Koppel, American journalist
- Joe South, American singer and songwriter
- February 9
- Brian Bennett, British drummer and songwriter ( The Shadows)
- J. M. Coetzee, South African writer, Nobel Prize laureate
- February 12
- February 17 – Gene Pitney, American singer (d. 2006)
- February 18 – Fabrizio De André, Italian singer-songwriter (d. 1999)
- February 19 – Smokey Robinson, American musician
- February 20 – Jimmy Greaves, English footballer
- February 21
- Akihiko Kumashiro, Japanese politician
- James Wong, Hong Kong composer (d. 2004)
- February 22
- Judy Cornwell, English actress
- Johnson Mlambo, South African politician
- Billy Name, American photographer and Warhol archivist
- February 23 – Peter Fonda, American actor
- February 24
- Pete Duel, American actor (d. 1971)
- Denis Law, Scottish football player
- February 25 – Ron Santo, American baseball player (d. 2010)
- February 27 – Howard Hesseman, American actor
- February 28 – Mario Andretti, American race car driver
- March 3
- Germán Castro Caycedo, Colombian writer and journalist
- Owen Spencer-Thomas, English broadcaster, journalist and clergyman
- March 6 – Willie Stargell, American baseball player (d. 2001)
- March 7 – Rudi Dutschke, German radical student leader (d. 1979)
- March 8 – Susan Clark, Canadian actress (Webster)
- March 9 – Raúl Juliá, Puerto Rican actor (d. 1994)
- March 10
- Chuck Norris, American actor and martial artist
- Dean Torrence, American singer ( Jan and Dean)
- March 12 – Al Jarreau, American singer
- March 13 – Candi Staton, American singer
- March 15 – Phil Lesh, American musician ( Grateful Dead)
- March 16
- Bernardo Bertolucci, Italian writer and film director
- Jan Pronk, Dutch politician and diplomat
- March 17 – Mark White, Governor of Texas
- March 21 – Solomon Burke, American singer and songwriter (d. 2010)
- March 22 – Haing S. Ngor, Cambodian actor (d. 1996)
- March 25 – Anita Bryant, American entertainer
- March 26
- James Caan, American actor
- Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
- March 27 – Cale Yarborough, American race car driver
- March 29 – Ray Davis, American musician ( P-Funk) (d. 2005)
- March 30 – Astrud Gilberto, Brazilian-born singer
- April 1 – Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmentalist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (d.2011)
- April 2 – Penelope Keith, English actress
- April 8 – John Havlicek, American basketball player
- April 12
- John Hagee, American televangelist
- Herbie Hancock, American musician
- April 13 – Max Mosley, British motorsport boss
- April 16 – Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
- April 18 – Joseph L. Goldstein, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- April 25 – Al Pacino, American actor
- April 26 – Giorgio Moroder, Italian film composer
- May 1 – Elsa Peretti, Italian jewelry designer
- May 2 – Jo Ann Pflug, American former actress and motivational speaker
- May 5 – Lance Henriksen, American actor and potter
- May 7 – Jim Connors, American radio personality (d. 1987)
- May 8
- May 9
- May 11 – Juan Downey, Chilean-born video artist (d. 1993)
- May 14 – 'H'. Jones, British soldier (VC recipient) (d. 1982)
- May 15
- Lainie Kazan, American actress and singer
- Don Nelson, American basketball player and coach
- May 17
- Alan Kay, American computer scientist
- Reynato Puno, Filipino Supreme Court Chief Justice
- May 18 – Lenny Lipton, American inventor
- May 20
- Stan Mikita, Slovakian-born Canadian hockey player
- Sadaharu Oh, Japanese baseball player
- May 22 – Bernard Shaw, American journalist and television news reporter
- May 24 – Joseph Brodsky, Russian-born poet, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1996)
- May 29 – Farooq Leghari, President of Pakistan (d. 2010)
- June 1 – Rene Auberjonois, American actor
- June 2 – King Constantine II of Greece
- June 4 – Ludwig Schwarz, Austrian bishop
- June 6 – Richard Paul, American actor (d. 1998)
- June 7 – Tom Jones, Welsh singer
- June 8
- Carole Ann Ford, British actress
- Nancy Sinatra, American singer
- June 16
- Neil Goldschmidt, Governor of Oregon
- Taylor Gun-Jin Wang, Chinese-American astronaut
- June 17
- George Akerlof, American economist, Nobel Prize laureate
- Alan Murray, Australian professional golfer
- June 20 – John Mahoney, English-born actor
- June 21 – Mariette Hartley, American actress
- June 22
- Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film producer
- Esther Rantzen, British broadcaster
- June 23
- June 25 – A. J. Quinnell, English writer (d. 2005)
- June 27 – Anil Karanjai, Indian painter of the Hungry generation movement.
- June 28 – Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank, Nobel Prize laureate
- June 29 – Vyacheslav Artyomov, Russian composer
- July 3 – César Tovar, Venezuelan baseball player (d. 1994)
- July 6 – Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan
- July 7 – Ringo Starr, British drummer (The Beatles)
- July 10
- Gene Alley, American baseball player
- Helen Donath, American soprano
- Sir Tom Farmer, Scottish entrepreneur
- July 13
- Paul Prudhomme, American celebrity chef and cookbook author
- Patrick Stewart, English actor
- July 17
- Tim Brooke-Taylor, English comedian
- Verne Lundquist, American sportscaster
- July 18
- James Brolin, American actor and director
- Joe Torre, American baseball player and manager
- July 22
- George Clinton, American musician
- Alex Trebek, Canadian game show host
- July 24 – Stanley Hauerwas, American theologian
- July 26 – Mary Jo Kopechne, American aide to Ted Kennedy (d. 1969)
- July 27
- Pina Bausch, German choreographer (d. 2009)
- Bharati Mukherjee, Indian-born novelist
- July 31 – Roy Walker, Northern Irish comedian
- August 1 – Ram Loevy, Israeli screenwriter and director
- August 3 – Martin Sheen, American actor
- August 7 – Jean-Luc Dehaene, Prime Minister of Belgium
- August 8 – Dilip Sardesai, former Indian cricketer (d. 2007)
- August 9 – Beverlee McKinsey, American actress
- August 10 – Bobby Hatfield, American singer ( Righteous Brothers) (d. 2003)
- August 14 – Galen Hall, American football coach
- August 19 – Jill St. John, American actress
- August 20
- Musa Geshaev, Chechen poet and historian
- Rubén Hinojosa, American politician
- August 25 – José Van Dam, Belgian bass-baritone
- August 28 – Tom Baker, American actor (d. 1982)
- August 29
- Bennie Maupin, American musician
- Johnny Paris, American musician ( Johnny and the Hurricanes) (d. 2006)
- August 31 – Jack Thompson, Australian actor
- September 3 – Joseph C. Strasser, American admiral
- September 5 – Raquel Welch, American actress
- September 7 – Abdurrahman Wahid, former President of Indonesia (d. 2009)
- September 10 – David Mann, American artist (d. 2004)
- September 11 – Brian De Palma, American film director
- September 12
- Linda Gray, American model and actress
- Skip Hinnant, American actor
- Mickey Lolich, American baseball player
- September 13 – Óscar Arias, Costa Rican politician, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
- September 14 – Larry Brown, American basketball coach
- September 20 – Taro Aso, Prime Minister of Japan
- September 23 – Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, Iranian traditional singer
- September 24 – Michiko Suganuma, Urushi Japanese lacquer artist
- October 9 – John Lennon, British musician and singer (The Beatles) (d. 1980)
- October 13 – Pharoah Sanders, American saxophonist
- October 15 – Peter C. Doherty, Australian immunologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- October 16 – Ivan Della Mea, Italian singer-songwriter (d. 2009)
- October 19 – Michael Gambon, Irish actor
- October 20 – Robert Pinsky, Poet Laureate of the United States
- October 21
- Geoffrey Boycott, English cricketer
- Manfred Mann, South African rock musician
- October 23 – Pelé, Brazilian footballer
- October 25 – Bobby Knight, American basketball coach
- October 27 – John Gotti, American gangster (d. 2002)
- November 1 – Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, Chief Justice of India
- November 12 – Glenn Stetson, Canadian singer
- November 15
- Roberto Cavalli, Italian designer
- Sam Waterston, American actor
- November 17 – Luke Kelly, Irish ballad singer ( The Dubliners)
- November 18 – Qaboos bin Said al Said, sultan Oman
- November 21 – Richard Marcinko, U.S. Navy SEAL team member and author
- November 25 – Joe Gibbs, American football coach
- November 27 – Bruce Lee, Chinese-American martial artist and actor (d. 1973)
- November 29 – Chuck Mangione, American flugelhorn player
- December 1 – Richard Pryor, American actor and comedian (d. 2005)
- December 4
- Freddy Cannon, American singer
- Gary Gilmore, American murderer (d. 1977)
- December 5 – Peter Pohl, Swedish writer
- December 11 – Donna Mills, American actress and dancer
- December 12
- Sharad Pawar, Indian politician
- Dionne Warwick, American singer
- December 20 – Pat Chapman, English author
- December 21 – Frank Zappa, American musician, composer, and satirist (d. 1993)
- December 22 – Noel Jones, British ambassador to Kazakhstan (d. 1995)
- December 23
- Jorma Kaukonen, American musician ( Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna)
- Robert Labine, former mayor of Gatineau, Quebec
- December 24 – Janet Carroll, American actress and singer (d. 2012)
- December 26 – Edward C. Prescott, American economist, Nobel Prize laureate
- Christopher Awdry, English children's writer & son of Wilbert Awdry
- Seamus Deane, Irish poet and novelist
- January – Fusajiro Yamauchi, Japanese business executive (b. 1859)
- January 4 – Flora Finch, English-born actress and comedian (b. 1869)
- January 18 – Kazimierz Tetmajer, Polish poet and writer (b. 1865)
- January 27 – Isaac Babel, Ukrainian writer (b. 1894)
- February 1 – Philip Francis Nowlan, science fiction writer, creator of Buck Rogers (b. 1888)
- February 2 – Vsevolod Meyerhold, Russian Theatre Practitioner (b. 1874)
- February 4 – Samuel M. Vauclain, American engineer (b. 1856)
- February 11 – John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, Governor General of Canada (b. 1875)
- February 26 – Michael Hainisch, 2nd President of Austria (b. 1858)
- February 29 – Edward Frederic Benson, English writer
- March 1 – Anton Hansen Tammsaare, Estonian writer (b. 1878)
- March 5
- March 10 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian writer (b. 1891)
- March 11 – John Monk Saunders, American writer (b. 1897)
- March 16 – Selma Lagerlöf, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1858)
- March 20 – Alfred Ploetz, German physician, biologist, and eugenicist (b. 1860)
- March 26 – Spiridon Louis, Greek runner (b. 1873)
- March 27
- March 31 – Tinsley Lindley, English footballer (b. 1865)
- April 1 – John A. Hobson, English economist (b. 1858).
- April 26 – Carl Bosch, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1874)
- April 28 – Luisa Tetrazzini, Italian opera singer (b. 1871)
- May 11 – Chujiro Hayashi, Japanese Reiki Master (b. 1880)
- May 14 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born anarchist (b. 1869)
- May 15 – Menno ter Braak, Dutch writer (b. 1902)
- May 19 – Diego Mazquiarán, Spanish matador (b. 1895)
- May 20 – Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
- May 25 – Joe De Grasse, Canadian film director (b. 1873)
- May 26 – Wilhelm of Prussia, Prussian prince (b. 1906)
- May 28
- May 29 – Mary Anderson, American stage actress (b. 1859).
- June 7
- June 10 – Marcus Garvey, Jamaican-born publisher, entrepreneur, and black nationalist (b. 1887)
- June 11 – Alfred S. Alschuler, American architect (b. 1876)
- June 13 – George Fitzmaurice, American director (b. 1885)
- June 14 – Henry W. Antheil, Jr., American diplomat (b. 1912)
- June 17 – Arthur Harden, English chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
- June 19 – Maurice Jaubert, French composer (b. 1900)
- June 20 – Charley Chase, American comedian (b. 1893)
- June 21
- June 29 – Paul Klee, Swiss artist (b. 1879)
- July 1 – Ben Turpin, American actor (b. 1869)
- July 15 – Robert Pershing Wadlow, tallest man ever (infection) (b. 1918)
- July 30 – Spencer S. Wood, United States Navy rear admiral (b. 1861)
- August 5 – Frederick Albert Cook, American explorer (b. 1865)
- August 8 – Johnny Dodds, American jazz clarinetist (b. 1892)
- August 18 – Walter Chrysler, American automobile pioneer (b. 1875)
- August 21
- August 22
- Gerald Strickland, 4th Prime Minister of Malta, 23rd Governor of New South Wales, 15th Governor of Western Australia and 9th Governor of Tasmania (b. 1861
- Mary Vaux Walcott, American artist and naturalist (b. 1860)
- August 30 – J.J. Thomson, English physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1856)
- September 2 – Eddie Collins, American vaudeville-veteran comic (b. 1883)
- September 4 – George William de Carteret, author from Jersey island (b. 1869)
- September 5 – Charles de Broqueville, Prime Minister of Belgium (b. 1860)
- September 25 – Marguerite Clark, American actress (b. 1883)
- September 27 – Julius Wagner-Jauregg, Austrian neuroscientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1857)
- October 5
- October 9 – Wilfred Grenfell, English medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador (b. 1865)
- October 10 – Berton Churchill, Canadian actor (b. 1876)
- October 12 – Tom Mix, American actor (b. 1880)
- November 5 – Otto Plath, father of American Poet, Sylvia Plath, and entomologist (b. 1885)
- November 9
- November 17
- November 19 – Ralph W. Barnes, American journalist (b. 1899)
- December 5 – Jan Kubelík, Czech violinist (b. 1880)
- December 14 – Anton Korošec, Slovenian political leader (b. 1872)
- December 15 or December 16 (unclear) – Billy Hamilton, American baseball player (b. 1866)
- December 19 – Kyösti Kallio, President of Finland (b. 1873)
- December 21 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer (b. 1896)
- December 22 – Nathanael West, American writer (b. 1903)
- December 23 – Eddie August Schneider, American aviator (b. 1911)
- December 25 – Agnes Ayres, American actress (b. 1898)
- December 26 – Daniel Frohman, American theatre producer (b. 1851)