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- 1 Events
- 2 Births
- 3 Deaths
- 4 Nobel Prizes
- 5 References
- January 1
- January 4 – Burma gains its independence from the United Kingdom, becoming an independent republic, named the Union of Burma, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U Nu its first Prime Minister.
- January 5 – Warner Brothers shows the first color newsreel (Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl).
- January 7 – Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Thomas Mantell crashes while in pursuit of a supposed UFO.
- January 12 – Mahatma Gandhi begins his fast-unto-death in Delhi to stop communal violence during the Partition of India.
- January 17 – A truce is declared between nationalist Indonesian and Dutch troops in Java.
- January 22 – British foreign secretary Ernest Bevin proposes the formation of a Western Union between Britain, France and the Benelux countries to stand up against the Soviet Union. The Treaty of Brussels is signed March 17 as a consequence, a predecessor to NATO.
- January 26 – Teigin poison case: a man masquerading as a doctor poisons 12 of 16 bank employees of the Tokyo branch of Imperial Bank and takes the money; artist Sadamichi Hirasawa is later sentenced to death for the crime, but is never executed.
- January 29
- January 30
- January 31 – The British crown colony of the Malayan Union, Penang and Malacca form the Federation of Malaya.
- February 1
- February 4 – Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) becomes an independent kingdom within the British Commonwealth.
- February 16 – Miranda, the innermost moon of Uranus, is discovered by Gerard Kuiper.
- February 18 – Éamon de Valera, Irish head of government since 1932, loses power to an opposition coalition. John A. Costello is appointed Taoiseach by President Seán O'Kelly.
- February 19 – The Conference of Youth and Students of Southeast Asia Fighting for Freedom and Independence convenes in Calcutta.
- February 21 – The stock car racing organization NASCAR is founded by Bill France, Sr.
- February 22 – The first Ben Yehuda Street bombing kills between 49 and 58 civilians and injures between 140 and 200.
- February 25 – The Communist Party seizes control of Czechoslovakia, a day celebrated by that regime as "Victorious February" (Template:Lang-cz; Template:Lang-sk) until November 1989.
- February 28 – Riots take place in Accra, capital of the British colony of Gold Coast, when a peaceful protest march by ex-servicemen was broken up by police, leaving several members of the group dead, among them Sergeant Adjetey, one of the leaders.
- March 8 – McCollum v. Board of Education: The United States Supreme Court rules that religious instruction in public schools violates the U.S. Constitution.
- March 12 – The Costa Rican Civil War begins.
- March 16 – The largest flood in the history of Brampton, Ontario, occurs.
- March 17
- March 18 – The Round Table Conference in The Hague, Netherlands for the preparation of the decolonization process for Aruba and the other Dutch Colonies. Aruba presents the mandate of the Aruban People for Aruba to become an Independent Country, under the souvereignty of the House of Orange, based on Aruba's first state constitution presented officially since August 1947, and a (4th) Member State of the future Dutch Commonwealth.
- March 20
- Singapore holds its first elections.
- Renowned Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini makes his television debut, conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra in an all-Wagner program in the United States.
- The 20th Academy Awards ceremony is held in Los Angeles. Gentleman's Agreement wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- April 1 – Physicists Ralph Asher Alpher and George Gamow publish the Alpher–Bethe–Gamow paper about the Big Bang.
- April 3
- United States President Harry S. Truman signs the Marshall Plan, which authorizes $5 billion in aid for 16 countries.
- Jeju Uprising – residents revolt on Jeju island, South Korea, eventually leading to the deaths of between 14,000 and 30,000.
- Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is played on television in its entirety for the first time in a series of concerts featuring Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra in the United States. The chorus is conducted by Robert Shaw.
- April 5 – 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine: Haganah launches Operation Nachshon; beginning of the 1948 Palestinian exodus.
- April 7
- April 9
- April 13 – The Hadassah medical convoy massacre takes place in British Mandatory Palestine.
- April 16 – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is founded as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC).
- April 18 – Italian general election, 1948:: The first democratic general election with universal suffrage is held in Italy. The Christian Democracy party achieves a majority over the Popular Democratic Front Communist-Socialist coalition.
- April 22 – Civil War in Mandatory Palestine: Battle of Haifa – The Jewish paramilitary group Haganah captures Haifa from the Arab Liberation Army.
- April 24 – The Costa Rican Civil War ends.
- April 30 – Organization of American States (OAS) founded.
- April 30 – The English-built Land Rover is unveiled at the Amsterdam Motor Show.
- May – The RAND Corporation is established as an independent nonprofit policy research and analysis institution.
- May 4 – Laurence Olivier's film version of Hamlet makes its world premiere in London.
- May 11 – Luigi Einaudi becomes President of the Italian Republic.
- May 14 – The Israeli Declaration of Independence is made.
- May 15
- 1948 Arab–Israeli War: The British Mandate of Palestine is officially terminated; expeditionary forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria and Iraq invade Israel and clash with Israeli forces.
- The murder of a 3-year-old girl in Blackburn, England leads to the fingerprinting of more than 40,000 men in the city in an attempt to find the murderer.
- May 16 – Chaim Weizmann is elected as the first President of Israel.
- May 18 – The first Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China officially convenes in Nanking.
- May 22 – The Soviets launched the largest Lithuanian deportation to Siberia.
- May 25 – The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) was founded on this date at Ellinwood Malate Church in Manila, Philippines.
- May 26 – The U.S. Congress passes Public Law 557, which permanently establishes the Civil Air Patrol as the auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
- May 28 – Daniel François Malan defeats Jan Smuts and becomes Prime Minister of South Africa, ushering in the era of apartheid, which is finally dismantled by F. W. de Klerk in 1994.
- May 30 – A dike along the Columbia River breaks, obliterating Vanport, Oregon within minutes; 15 people die and tens of thousands are left homeless.
- June 3 – The Palomar Observatory telescope is finished in California.
- June 10 – Hasan Saka forms the new government of Turkey. (17th government; Hasan Saka had served twice as a prime minister)
- June 11 – The first monkey astronaut, Albert I, is launched into space from White Sands, New Mexico.
- June 16
- June 17 – A Douglas DC-6 carrying United Airlines Flight 624 crashes near Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, killing all 43 people on board.
- June 18
- June 20 – The U.S. Congress recesses for the remainder of 1948, after an overtime session closes at 7:00 a.m. D.C. time (to be shortly interrupted by Truman's recall from Congressional recess for July 20, 1948).
- June 21 – The Deutsche Mark becomes official currency of the future Federal Republic of Germany.
- June 22 – The ship Template:MV brings a large group of Afro-Caribbean immigrants to Tilbury near London, the start of a large wave of immigration to Britain.
- June 24
- June 26 – William Shockley files the original patent for the grown-junction transistor, the first bipolar junction transistor.
- June 28
- The Cominform Resolution marks the beginning of the Informbiro period in Yugoslavia and the Soviet/Yugoslav split.
- David Lean's Oliver Twist, based on Charles Dickens's famous novel, premieres in the UK. It is banned for 3 years in the U.S. because of alleged antisemitism in depicting master criminal Fagin, played by Alec Guinness.
- 1948 Fukui earthquake strikes Fukui, Japan. 3,769 dead, 22,203 injured.
- July 5 – The National Health Service Acts are enacted in United Kingdom.
- July 6 – The world's first Air Car-ferry service is flown by a Bristol Freighter of Silver City Airways from Lympne to Le Touquet.
- July 13 – The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches reach an agreement leading to the promotion of the Ethiopian church to the rank of an autocephalous Patriarchate. Five bishops are immediately consecrated by the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the successor to Abuna Qerellos IV is granted the power to consecrate new bishops, who are empowered to elect a new Patriarch for their church.
- July 15
- July 20 – Cold War:
- President Harry S. Truman issues the second peacetime military draft in the United States, amid increasing tensions with the Soviet Union (the first peacetime draft occurred in 1940 under President Roosevelt)
- Eugene Dennis, William Z. Foster, and ten other CPUSA leaders are arrested and charged under the Alien Registration Act
- July 22 – The Dominion of Newfoundland votes to join Canada after a referendum.
- July 26 – U.S. President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, ending racial segregation in the United States Armed Forces.
- July 28 – Around 200 die in explosion at a chemical plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
- July 29 – The 1948 Summer Olympics begin in London, the first since the 1936 Summer Olympics
- July 31 –
- August 1 – The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations is founded.
- August 3 – Whittaker Chambers appears under subpoena before HUAC and alleges that several former U.S. Federal official were communists, including Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss
- August 5 – Alger Hiss appears before HUAC to deny the allegations of Whittaker Chambers
- August 10 – August 23 – The Herrenchiemsee Convent prepares the draft for the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
- August 13 – Harry Dexter White and Donald Hiss refute allegations of Communism by Whittaker Chambers before HUAC
- August 14 – 1948 Ashes series: The Australian batsman Don Bradman, playing his last Test cricket match, against England at The Oval, is bowled by Eric Hollies for a duck; however, "The Invincibles" win the match by an innings and 149 runs, and The Ashes 4-0.
- August 15 – The southern half of Korea is established as South Korea.
- August 16 – Babe Ruth dies in his sleep at the age of 53.
- August 17 – HUAC holds a private session between Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers
- August 18 – Danube Commission created by Belgrade Convention (enters into force 11 May 1949).
- August 20 – Lee Pressman, Nathan Witt, and John Abt, represented by Harold I. Cammer, plead the Fifth Amendment in response to allegations of Communism by Whittaker Chambers before HUAC
- August 23 – The World Council of Churches is established.
- August 24 – The first meeting of the charter members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) is held.
- August 25 – HUAC holds its first-ever televised congressional hearing, featuring "Confrontation Day" between Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss
- August 27 – Whittaker Chambers states that Alger Hiss was a communist on Meet the Press radio
- September 4 – Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands abdicates for health reasons.
- September 5 – Robert Schuman becomes Prime Minister of France.
- September 6 – Juliana is formally inaugurated as Queen of the Netherlands.
- September 9 – The northern half of Korea is formally declared North Korea, with Kim Il-sung as prime minister.
- September 11 – Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder and first Governor-General of Pakistan, dies. Pakistan is in a state of shock as it mourns the departure of the father of the nation. The day is a public holiday nationwide.
- September 12 – The State of Hyderabad is invaded by the Indian Army on the day after Pakistani leader Jinnah's death, to assist damage control. Operation Polo leads to the independence of Hyderabad state and its amalgamation into the Indian union.
- September 17 – Lehi members, also known as the Stern Gang, assassinate Swedish count Folke Bernadotte, United Nations Mediator in Palestine, in Jerusalem.
- September 20 – Establishment of the city Rabwah, Pakistan
- September 27 – Alger Hiss files a slander suit against Whittaker Chambers for his August 27 radio statement
- September 29 – Laurence Olivier's Hamlet opens in the United States.
- October 6 – The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake kills 110,000.
- October 10 – R-1 missile on test becomes the first Soviet launch to enter space.
- October 16 – The 57th Street Art Fair, the oldest juried art fair in the American Midwest, is founded.
- October 26 – Killer smog settles into Donora, Pennsylvania.
- October 28 – The Al-Dawayima massacre begins.
- November 1
- November 2 – United States presidential election, 1948: Democratic incumbent Harry S. Truman defeats Republican Thomas E. Dewey and "Dixiecrat" Strom Thurmond.
- November 12 – In Tokyo, an international war crimes tribunal sentences seven Japanese military and government officials to death, including General Hideki Tojo, for their roles in World War II.
- November 15 – Louis Stephen St. Laurent becomes Canada's 12th prime minister.
- November 16
- November 17
- November 20 – Geoffrey B. Orbell rediscovers the Takahē, last seen 50 years previously, near Lake Te Anau, New Zealand.
- November 24 – In Venezuela, president Rómulo Gallegos is ousted by a military junta.
- November 27 – The Calgary Stampeders defeat the Ottawa Rough Riders 12–7 before 20,013 fans at Toronto's Varsity Stadium to capture their first Grey Cup and complete the only perfect season to date in Canadian Football.
- December 1 – José Figueres Ferrer abolishes the army in Costa Rica, making it the first country in history to do so
- December 2 – HUAC subpoenas and retrieves the "Pumpkin Papers" from the farm of Whittaker Chambers
- December 6 – Richard Nixon parades microfilm from the "Pumpkin Papers" to the press
- December 10 – The United Nations General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- December 11–12 – Malayan Emergency: Batang Kali massacre: Scots Guards shoot 24 Chinese villagers in Malaya
- December 15 – The United States Department of Justice indicts Alger Hiss on two counts of perjury
- December 19 – in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 to win the championship.
- December 20 – Laurence Duggan falls to his death from the 16th storey window of his Manhattan office
- December 26 – The last Soviet troops withdraw from North Korea
- December 28 – A Muslim Brotherhood member assassinates Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi
- December 30 – The musical Kiss Me, Kate opens for the first of 1,077 performances
- December 31 – 1948 Arab–Israeli War: Israeli troops drive the Egyptians from Negev
- Brandeis University is founded in Massachusetts, USA.
- Casimir effect discovered by Dutch physicist Hendrik Casimir.
- The Fresh Kills Landfill, the world's largest, opens on Staten Island, New York.
- The Oakridge Transit Centre opens in Vancouver, British Columbia.
- The Slovak city Gúta is renamed Kolárovo.
- The Tunnel of Vielha is opened in the Aran Valley, Spanish Pyrenees.
- Last recorded sighting of the Caspian tiger in Kazakhstan.
- A pack of wolves kills about 40 children in Darovskoy District, in Russia.
- Charles Warrell creates the first I-Spy books.
- Rev. W. Awdry's third book, James the Red Engine, is published.
- Last edition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum is published in the Vatican.
- The first Kinsey Report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, is published.
- Inspired by World War II fighter planes, Cadillac introduces the first automobile to sport tailfins.
- The inaugural Six Hours of Watkins Glen endurance race is held.
- January 2
- January 5
- January 7
- January 10
- January 12
- January 14
- January 15 – Ronnie Van Zant, American rock musician (d. 1977)
- January 16
- January 17 – Davíð Oddsson, Prime Minister of Iceland
- January 19
- January 23
- January 27 – Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russian-born dancer
- January 28 – Charles Taylor, Liberian president
- January 29 – Marc Singer, Canadian actor
- January 30 – Paul Magee, Provisional Irish Republican Army member
- January 31
- February 1 – Rick James, Motown performer (d. 2004)
- February 2 – Ina Garten, American cooking author
- February 3
- February 4
- February 5
- February 10 – John Magnier, Irish businessman and thoroughbred racehorse breeder
- February 11 – Chris Rush, American stand-up comedian
- February 12 – Raymond Kurzweil, American inventor and author
- February 13 – Kitten Natividad, Mexican-American film actress
- February 14
- February 17
- February 18 – Sinéad Cusack, Irish actress
- February 19
- February 20 – Jennifer O'Neill, American model and actress
- February 22
- February 24
- February 25 – Danny Denzongpa, Indian actor
- February 28
- Steven Chu, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
- Mike Figgis, American director, screenwriter and composer
- Kjell Isaksson, Swedish pole vaulter
- Bernadette Peters, American actress and singer
- Mercedes Ruehl, American actress
- Alfred Sant, Leader of Malta Labour Party (1992–) and Prime Minister of Malta (1996–1998)
- February 29 – Henry Small, American-born Canadian singer
- March 2
- March 4
- March 5
- March 6 – Anna Maria Horsford, American actress
- March 9
- March 11 – Dominique Sanda, French actress
- March 12 – James Taylor, American singer-songwriter
- March 14 – Billy Crystal, American actor and comedian
- March 15 – Sérgio Vieira de Mello, Brazilian diplomat (d. 2003)
- March 17 – William Gibson, American/Canadian writer
- March 20
- March 22
- March 25 – Bonnie Bedelia, American actress
- March 26 – Steven Tyler, Lead singer of American rock group Aerosmith
- March 28
- March 29 – Bud Cort, American actor
- March 30 – Eddie Jordan, Irish founder of Jordan Grand Prix
- March 31
- April 1 – Jimmy Cliff, Jamaican singer and actor
- April 2 – Roald Als, Danish cartoonist
- April 4
- April 7 – John Oates, American rock singer and guitarist (Hall & Oates)
- April 12
- April 13
- April 15 – Michael Kamen, American composer (d. 2003)
- April 16
- April 17 – Jan Hammer, Czechoslovakian composer, pianist and keyboardist
- April 21 – Josef Flammer, Swiss ophthalmologist (after whom Flammer syndrome is named)
- April 27
- April 28
- April 29 – Michael Karoli, German musician (d. 2001)
- May 2
- May 3
- May 4
- May 5
- May 8
- May 9
- May 11 – Shigeru Izumiya, Japanese musician
- May 12
- May 14 – Bob Woolmer, Indian-born English cricket coach (d. 2007)
- May 15
- May 16 – Jesper Christensen, Danish actor
- May 18 – Mikko Heiniö, Finnish composer
- May 19 – Grace Jones, Jamaican singer and actress
- May 20 – Tesshō Genda, Japanese voice actor
- May 21
- May 25 – Klaus Meine, Lead singer of German rock group Scorpions
- May 26
- May 27 – Wubbo de Boer, Dutch civil servant
- May 29 – Michael Berkeley, English composer
- May 31
- June 1
- June 2 – Jerry Mathers, American actor
- June 4
- June 6 – Richard Sinclair, English musician (Caravan)
- June 8- Jürgen von der Lippe, German television presenter, actor and comedian
- June 9
- June 11 – Dave Cash, American baseball player
- June 13 – Garnet Bailey, Canadian hockey player and scout (d. 2001)
- June 14 – Laurence Yep, American author
- June 15 – Paul Michiels, Belgian singer-songwriter
- June 17 – Dave Concepción, Venezuelan baseball player
- June 19
- June 20 – Ludwig Scotty, President of Nauru
- June 21
- June 22 – Todd Rundgren, American rock singer and record producer
- June 23
- Luther Kent, American blues singer
- Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- June 24 – Patrick Moraz, Swiss keyboard player
- June 27 – Camile Baudoin, American rock guitarist
- June 28 – Kathy Bates, American actress
- June 29 – Fred Grandy, American actor and politician
- June 30 – Vladimir Yakunin, Russian official, head of state-run Russian Railways company
- July 1 – John Ford (musician), Best known for penning Part of the Union whilst in Strawbs
- July 3 – Tarmo Koivisto, Finnish comics artist
- July 8 – Raffi, Egyptian-born children's entertainer
- July 12 – Richard Simmons, American television personality and fitness expert
- July 15 – Richard Franklin, Australian film director (d. 2007)
- July 16 – Pinchas Zukerman, Israeli violinist
- July 18 – Hartmut Michel, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
- July 20 – Muse Watson, American actor
- July 21
- July 22
- July 23 – John Cushnahan, Northern Irish politician
- July 25 – Steve Goodman, Grammy Award-winning folk music singer and songwriter (d. 1984)
- July 27 – Peggy Fleming, American figure skater
- July 28
- July 30
- July 31 – Jonathan Dollimore, English academic sociologist and cultural theorist
- August 1 – Jim Carroll, American author, poet and musician (d. 2009)
- August 2
- August 3 – Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Prime Minister of France
- August 13 – Kathleen Battle, American soprano
- August 15 – George Ryton, Singapore-born English Formula One engineer
- August 18 – Joseph Marcell, English actor
- August 19 – Robert Hughes, Australian actor
- August 20
- August 23 – Lev Zeleny, Soviet and Russian physicist
- August 24
- August 27 – Sgt. Slaughter, American professional wrestler
- August 30
- August 31
- September 2
- September 3
- September 4 – Samuel Hui, Hong Kong singer
- September 5 – Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austrian diplomat and politician
- September 7 – Susan Blakely, American actress
- September 8 – Great Kabuki, Japanese professional wrestler
- September 10
- September 11 – John Martyn, born Iain McGeachy, British folk-rock guitarist (d. 2009)
- September 13
- September 16 – Ron Blair, American bassist (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
- September 17 – John Ritter, American actor (d. 2003)
- September 19
- September 20 – George R. R. Martin, American speculative fiction author
- September 22
- September 24 – Phil Hartman, Canadian actor and comedian (d. 1998)
- September 25
- September 26
- September 27 – Michele Dotrice, English actress
- September 29
- October 1 – Sir Peter Blake, New Zealand yachtsman (d. 2001)
- October 2
- October 4 – Meg Bennett, American soap opera writer
- October 6 – Gerry Adams, Northern Irish politician
- October 7 – Diane Ackerman, American poet and essayist
- October 8
- October 9
- October 11 – Cynthia Clawson, American gospel singer
- October 13
- October 14
- October 15 – Chris de Burgh, born Christopher Davison, Argentine-born Anglo-Irish singer-songwriter
- October 16 – Leo Mazzone, American baseball coach
- October 17
- October 18 – Hans Köchler, Austrian philosopher
- October 19 – Patrick Simmons, American musician (The Doobie Brothers)
- October 21
- October 22 – Lynette Fromme, American attempted assassin of Gerald Ford
- October 23 – Sir Gerry Robinson, Irish-born British businessman
- October 25
- October 26 – Toby Harrah, American baseball player
- October 28 – Telma Hopkins, American actress and singer
- October 29 – Kate Jackson, American actress
- November 1 – Anna Stuart, American actress
- November 3 – Lulu, born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, Scottish singer and actress
- November 4 – Amadou Toumani Touré, President of Mali
- November 5
- November 6 – Glenn Frey, American guitarist and singer (The Eagles) (d. 2016)
- November 7 – Jim Houghton, American actor and director
- November 9 – Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazilian football player and manager
- November 10 – Vincent Schiavelli, American actor (d. 2005)
- November 12
- November 13
- November 14
- November 15 – James Kemsley, Australian cartoonist and actor (d. 2007)
- November 16
- November 17 – Howard Dean, American politician
- November 20
- November 21 – Michel Suleiman, President of Lebanon
- November 23
- November 24 – Joe Howard, American actor
- November 26 – Elizabeth Blackburn, Australian-American biologist and winner of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- November 27 – James Avery, American actor (d. 2013)
- November 28 – Agnieszka Holland, Polish director and screenwriter
- December 2
- December 3
- December 6
- December 7
- December 10 – Abu Abbas, founder of the Palestine Liberation Front (d. 2004)
- December 11 – Chester Thompson, American rock drummer
- December 13
- December 14
- December 19 – Ken Brown, Canadian ice hockey player
- December 20 – Alan Parsons, English songwriter, musician and record producer
- December 21
- December 22
- December 23 – Jim Ferguson, American guitarist, composer, educator, author and music journalist
- December 25 – Barbara Mandrell, American country singer
- December 27 – Gérard Depardieu, French actor
- December 28
- December 29 – Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland First Minister
- December 31
- Archana Bhattacharyya, Indian physicist
- Miguel Cabrera Cabrera, Spanish architect and politician
- Vicatan, born Vicente Doria Catan Jr., Filipino comic book artist (d. 2004)
- John Blair Moore, American comic book artist
- Johnny Nicholas, American blues musician
- Judy Nylon, American artist and musician
- Edward Rutherfurd, born Francis Edward Wintle, English novelist
- Gudo Hoegel, German actor and voice actor
- January 1 – Edna May, American actress (b. 1878)
- January 2 – Vicente Huidobro, Chilean poet (b. 1893)
- January 5 – Mary Dimmick Harrison, wife of President Benjamin Harrison (b. 1858)
- January 8
- January 21 – Eliza Moore last person born into slavery in the United States (b. 1843)
- January 21 – Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Italian composer (b. 1876)
- January 24 – Bill Cody, American actor (b. 1891)
- January 26 – Georg Bruchmüller, influential German artillery officer (b. 1863)
- January 29 – King Tomislav II of Croatia (b. 1900)
- January 30
- Nigel De Brulier, English actor (b. 1877)
- Arthur Coningham, British air force air marshal (disappeared) (b. 1895)
- Mahatma Gandhi, Leader of Indian independence movement, (assassinated) (b. 1869)
- Herb Pennock, American baseball player (New York Yankees) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1894)
- Orville Wright, American co-inventor of the airplane (b. 1871)
- January 31 – John T. Daniels, American Coast Guardsman, took the Wright brothers first flight photograph (b. 1873)
- February 1 – Jatindramohan Bagchi, Indian (Bengali) poet (b. 1878)
- February 2 – Bevil Rudd, South African athlete (b. 1894)
- February 9
- February 11
- February 14 – Mordecai Brown, American baseball player (Chicago Cubs) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1876)
- February 23 – John Robert Gregg, Irish-born inventor of shorthand (b. 1866)
- February 25
- March 4 – Antonin Artaud, French playwright, actor and director (b. 1896)
- March 6 – Ross Lockridge, Jr., American novelist (suicide) (b. 1914)
- March 10
- March 23 – Kōzō Satō, Japanese admiral (b. 1871)
- March 24
- March 31 – Egon Erwin Kisch, Austrian journalist and author (b. 1885)
- April 9
- April 15 – Manuel Roxas, 5th President of the Philippines (b. 1892)
- April 17 – Kantarō Suzuki, 42nd Prime Minister of Japan (b. 1868)
- April 20 – Mitsumasa Yonai, 37th Prime Minister of Japan (b. 1880)
- April 24 – Manuel Ponce, Mexican composer (b. 1882)
- May 3 – Ernst Tandefelt, Finnish nobleman, assassin of Minister Ritavuori (b. 1876)
- May 9 – Viola Allen, American actress (b. 1867)
- May 13 – Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington (b. 1920)
- May 15 – Father Edward J. Flanagan, Irish-born priest and founder of Boys Town (b. 1886)
- May 21 – Jacques Feyder, French filmmaker (b. 1885)
- May 22 – Claude McKay, Jamaican-American writer and poet (b. 1889)
- May 28 – Unity Mitford, British socialite; friend of Adolf Hitler (b. 1914)
- May 29 – Dame May Whitty, British actress (b. 1865)
- May 30 – József Klekl, Slovene politician in Hungary (b. 1874)
- June 2 – Viktor Brack, German doctor (b. 1904), executed by hanging for warcrimes
- June 6 – Louis Lumière, French film pioneer (b. 1864)
- June 13 – Osamu Dazai, Japanese writer (b. 1909)
- June 25 – William C. Lee, American general (b. 1895)
- June 26 – Lilian Velez, Filipino actress (murder) (b. 1924)
- July 2 – Baba Sawan Singh, Indian saint known as "The Great Master" (b. 1858)
- July 5
- July 9 – James Baskett, American actor (Uncle Remus in Disney's Song of the South) (b. 1904)
- July 11
- July 14 – Harry Brearley, English inventor of stainless steel (b. 1871)
- July 15 – John J. Pershing, American general (b. 1860)
- July 18 – May Moss, Australian women's rights activist (b. 1869)
- July 21 – Arshile Gorky, Armenian-born painter (b. 1904)
- July 23 – D. W. Griffith, American film director (The Birth Of A Nation) (b. 1875)
- July 27
- July 31 – Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd, mistress of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (b. 1891)
- August 3 – Tommy Ryan, American boxing champion (b. 1870)
- August 10
- August 16 – Babe Ruth, American baseball player (New York Yankees) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1895)
- August 17 – Ettie Garner, Second Lady of the United States (b. 1869)
- August 27 – Charles Evans Hughes, Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1862)
- September 1 – Muhammad VII al-Munsif, ruler of Tunisia 1942–43 (b. 1881)
- September 2 – Sylvanus G. Morley, American scholar and World War I spy (b. 1883)
- September 3 – Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia (b. 1884)
- September 5 – Richard C. Tolman, American mathematical physicist (b. 1881)
- September 10 – Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Tsar of Bulgaria (b. 1861)
- September 11 – Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder and first Governor General of Pakistan (b. 1876)
- September 12 – Rupert D'Oyly Carte, English hotelier, theatre owner and impresario (b. 1876)
- September 13 – Paul Wegener, German actor and film director (b. 1874)
- September 17
- September 20 – Husain Salaahuddin, Famous Mahl writer (b. 1881)
- September 24 – Warren William, American actor (b. 1894)
- September 26 – Gregg Toland, American cinematographer (b. 1904)
- September 30 – Edith Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States (b. 1861)
- October 1 – Phraya Manopakorn Nititada, 1st Prime Minister of Siam (b. 1884)
- October 12 – Susan Sutherland Isaacs, British educational psychologist and psychoanalyst (b. 1885)
- October 13 – Samuel S. Hinds, American actor (b. 1875)
- October 15 – Edythe Chapman, American actress (b. 1863)
- October 18 – Walther von Brauchitsch, German field marshal (b. 1881)
- October 21 – Elissa Landi, Italian actress (b. 1904)
- October 22 – William Royland, British baronet
- October 24 – Franz Lehár, Hungarian composer (b. 1870)
- October 31 – Mary Nolan, American actress (b. 1905)
- November 4 – Albert Stanley, 1st Baron Ashfield, British-American businessman (b. 1874)
- November 9 – Edgar Kennedy, American actor (b. 1890)
- November 10 – Julius Curtius, German politician and diplomat (b. 1877)
- November 11 – Fred Niblo, American film director (b. 1874)
- November 21 – Béla Miklós, Hungarian military officer and politician, former Prime Minister (b. 1890)
- November 23 – Hack Wilson, American baseball player (Chicago Cubs) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1900)
- November 28 – D. D. Sheehan, Irish politician (b. 1873)
- December 2 – Chano Pozo, Cuban percussionist (b. 1915)
- December 20 – C. Aubrey Smith, British actor (b. 1863)
- December 23 – Japanese war leaders (hanged):
- December 28 – Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha, Prime Minister of Egypt (assassinated) (b. 1888)
- December 31 – Sir Malcolm Campbell, English land and water racer (b. 1885)
- Physics – Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett
- Chemistry – Arne Tiselius
- Medicine – Paul Hermann Müller
- Literature – T. S. Eliot
- Peace – not awarded
- Cabinet Memorandum by the Secretary of State for the Colonies (UK). 21 February 1956. Template:Sourcetext
- Moore, P. (1995) The Guinness Book of Astronomy (5th ed.) Enfield, UK: Guinness Publishing, p. 110.
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