Famous People Who Died In 1986

Discover the most famous people died who died in the year 1986. This list includes people like Cary Grant, Desi Arnaz, Gia Carangi, Harold Macmillan, James Cagney and many more. This list of celebrities is loosely sorted by popularity. People featured on this list, include novelists, poets, political leaders and actresses who died in 1986. This list includes people from United States, United Kingdom, France & Germany and many more countries.
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 1 
Desi Arnaz
(Actor, Producer and Bandleader Best Known for His TV Sitcom ‘I Love Lucy’)
Desi Arnaz
40
Birthdate: March 2, 1917
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Died: December 2

Desi Arnaz was born wealthy but lost everything in the 1933 Cuban Revolution. He paired up with his first wife, Lucille Ball, in I Love Lucy, thus inventing the modern sitcom/syndicated show format, with live audiences. He owned a production company and was the bandleader of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra.

 2 
Cary Grant
(One of the Leading Men of Classic Hollywood Cinema)
Cary Grant
32
Birthdate: January 18, 1904
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Horfield, Bristol, England
Died: November 29

Considered one of the greatest actors ever, Cary Grant’s good looks, popular appeal and a knack for romantic comedy made him an enduring Hollywood star from the 1930s to the 1960s. Penny Serenade, An Affair to Remember, To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest and Charade are some of his classic films. He was bestowed an honorary Oscar in 1970.

 3 
Georgia O'Keeffe
(American Modernist Artist Known for Her Flowers and New York Skyscrapers Paintings)
Georgia O'Keeffe
25
Birthdate: November 15, 1887
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 6
Artist Georgia O'Keeffe enriched American modernism and precisionism with her artwork, mostly water color and charcoal paintings. She was the first female artist to have a retrospective at New York’s MOMA. Her paintings focused on the cityscapes and landscapes of New York and New Mexico, and abstract flowers.
 4 
Donna Reed
(American Actress Known for Her Portrayal of 'Mary Hatch Bailey' in 'It’s a Wonderful Life')
Donna Reed
12
Birthdate: January 27, 1921
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Denison, Iowa, United States
Died: January 14

Donna Reed was an American actress whose career spanned over four decades. She is best remembered for her performance in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity, which earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Donna Reed is also remembered for her TV work and received the Golden Globe Award for her role in The Donna Reed Show.

 5 
Cliff Burton
(Bass Guitarist for the American heavy metal band Metallica.)
Cliff Burton
24
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: February 10, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Castro Valley, California, United States
Died: September 27

Cliff Burton was an American songwriter and musician. He was part of the famous heavy metal band Metallica as the bassist from 1982 until his death in 1986. He died in a bus crash when Metallica was touring in support of their third studio album. Regarded as one of the greatest bassists of all time, Burton remains an influential musician.

 6 
James Cagney
(One of the Greatest Male Stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood)
James Cagney
18
Birthdate: July 17, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lower East Side, New York, United States
Died: March 30

James Cagney was an American dancer and actor who won the Academy Award for his performance in the 1942 musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy. In 1984, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the entertainment industry. In 1999, he was named in the American Film Institute's Greatest Male Stars of the Classical Hollywood Cinema list.

 7 
Gia Carangi
(First Women to Be Titled as Supermodel)
Gia Carangi
44
Listed In: Fashion
Birthdate: January 29, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: November 18

A model who was active during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gia Carangi was considered by many to be one of the first supermodels. She was featured on the covers of multiple fashion magazines, including editions of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. She also worked with various famous designers. She died of AIDS at the young age of 26.

 8 
Christa McAuliffe
(American Astronaut Who was Killed on the Space Shuttle 'Challenger' on Mission STS-51-L)
Christa McAuliffe
14
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: September 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: January 28

Christa McAuliffe was an American astronaut and teacher who died while serving as a payload specialist on board Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded during STS-51-L. McAuliffe was all set to become the first teacher in space as she was part of the NASA Teacher in Space Project. In 2004, she was posthumously honored with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

 9 
Phil Lynott
(Lead Vocalist of the Irish Hard Rock Band 'Thin Lizzy')
Phil Lynott
14
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: August 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England
Died: January 4
Phil Lynott was the frontman of the rock band Thin Lizzy, which delivered hits such as Whiskey in the Jar and Jailbreak. After the group disbanded, Phil had a successful solo career, published two poetry books, and led the band Grand Slam. He struggled with heroin addiction throughout his life.
 10 
Simone de Beauvoir
(French Existentialist Philosopher, Writer, Social Theorist, and Feminist Activist)
Simone de Beauvoir
22
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 14
French author and existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir is best remembered for her feminist treatise The Second Sex and her novels The Mandarins and She Came to Stay. Her literary contributions also include essays, biographies, and her autobiographical works. She won the Prix Goncourt and the Jerusalem Prize.
 11 
Scatman Crothers
(Actor and Musician)
Scatman Crothers
10
Birthdate: May 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States
Died: November 22

Scatman Crothers was an American musician and actor. Also a prolific voice-over actor, Crothers contributed immensely to the success of several animated TV series, such as Harlem Globetrotters, The Transformers, and Hong Kong Phooey. For his contribution to the American TV and film industry, Scatman Crothers was awarded a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 12 
Ted Knight
(Known for Playing Comedic Roles in Various Sitcoms)
Ted Knight
7
Birthdate: December 7, 1923
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Plymouth, Connecticut, United States
Died: August 26

Ted Knight was an American actor known for portraying comedic roles in TV series like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Too Close for Comfort. For his contributions to the TV industry, Knight was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in January 1985. After his death, his hometown of Terryville dedicated a bridge in his memory.

 13 
Benny Goodman
(Bandleader and clarinetist)
Benny Goodman
9
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: May 30, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: June 13
 14 
Vincente Minnelli
(Film director)
Vincente Minnelli
6
Birthdate: February 28, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: July 25
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
 15 
Len Bias
(Basketball player)
Len Bias
20
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: November 18, 1963
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Landover, Maryland, USA
Died: June 9
Height: 6'8" (203 cm)
 16 
Keenan Wynn
(American Character Actor)
Keenan Wynn
5
Birthdate: July 27, 1916
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: October 14
Keenan Wynn, son of vaudeville performer Ed Wynn, gained prominence as a character actor. He started as a Broadway actor and then appeared in popular movies such as Once Upon a Time in the West, The Great Race, and Son of Flubber. He was also seen in the soap Dallas
 17 
Elsa Lanchester
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1902
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lewisham, London, England, United Kingdom
Died: December 26

Elsa Lanchester was an English actress whose career spanned more than 50 years. Apart from her acting skills, Lanchester was also known for her skills as a dancer. After starting her career in the British entertainment industry, Lanchester moved to Hollywood in the 1930s, owing to her success in American films. She was also nominated for an Oscar in 1949.

 18 
Sterling Hayden
(Actor, Author, Sailor and an Office of Strategic Services' Agent During World War II)
Sterling Hayden
11
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: March 26, 1916
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montclair, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 23

Sterling Hayden mostly appeared in Westerns and film noir of the 1950s. He had also served in World War II. He gained fame with Stanley Kubrick's The Killing and Dr. Strangelove. He was also a sailor and once sailed to Tahiti to shoot a film that eventually remained unfinished.

 19 
Tommy Douglas
(Canadian Politician Who was Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961)
Tommy Douglas
7
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: October 20, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Camelon, Falkirk, Scotland
Died: February 24

Tommy Douglas was a Scottish Canadian politician. From 1944 to 1961, he served as premier of Saskatchewan. His cabinet was the first to introduce North America's first single-payer, universal health care program. His life and career inspired a TV miniseries titled Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story, in which Douglas was played by actor Michael Therriault.

 20 
Andrei Tarkovsky
(One of the Greatest and Most Influential Filmmakers in Soviet and World Cinema)
Andrei Tarkovsky
9
Birthdate: April 4, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zavrazh'ye, Russia
Died: December 29

Andrei Tarkovsky was a Soviet and Russian writer, theatre director, filmmaker, and film theorist. Renowned for making movies that explored metaphysical and spiritual themes, Tarkovsky is often regarded as one of the most influential and greatest directors in the history of world cinema. The recipient of many prestigious awards, Andrei Tarkovsky's work continues to influence several filmmakers around the world.

 21 
Ronald McNair
(American NASA Astronaut and Physicist)
Ronald McNair
5
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: October 21, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lake City, South Carolina, United States
Died: January 28

A doctorate in physics from MIT Cambridge, Ronald McNair worked on chemical lasers before joining NASA and in 1984 flew as a mission specialist on STS-41-B aboard Challenger, becoming the second African-American to do so. In January 1986, he was selected to fly on STS-51-L, but was killed along with rest of the crews when Challenger disintegrated soon after liftoff.

 22 
Frank Herbert
(Science Fiction Author Best Known for His 1965 Novel 'Dune' & Its Sequels)
Frank Herbert
15
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: October 8, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington, United States
Died: February 11

American author, newspaper-journalist, book-reviewer, lecturer, photographer, and ecological consultant Franklin Herbert is most noted for his 1965 sci-fi novel Dune and its five sequels. Dune won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award and spearheaded the Dune franchise. The novel is cited as the best-selling sci-fi novel in history while the series is counted among the classics of the genre.

 23 
Ray Milland
(Actor and Director Best Known for His Films: ‘The Lost Weekend’ and ‘Reap the Wild Wind’)
Ray Milland
11
Birthdate: January 3, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Neath, Glamorgan, Wales
Died: March 10

Welsh-American actor-director Ray Milland is best remembered for his Oscar-winning role of Don Birnam in The Lost Weekend. Fans also loved him in films such as Dial M for Murder and The Jungle Princess. He was previously part of the British Army’s Household Cavalry, as a marksman, pilot, and horseman.

 24 
Dick Scobee
(Officer, Astronaut)
Dick Scobee
3
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: May 19, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cle Elum
Died: January 28
 25 
Broderick Crawford
5
Birthdate: December 9, 1911
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: April 26
 26 
Judith Resnik
(Engineer)
Judith Resnik
9
Listed In: Engineers
Birthdate: April 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States
Died: January 28

Judith Resnik was an American software engineer, electrical engineer, pilot, biomedical engineer, and NASA astronaut. She was the fourth woman and the first Jewish woman in space, logging 145 hours in orbit. Resnik, who died during the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, received several posthumous honors. Judith Resnik’s life and career inspired the 1990 TV movie Challenger.

 27 
Forrest Tucker
9
Birthdate: February 12, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Plainfield, Indiana, United States
Died: October 25
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
 28 
Robert Alda
(Actor)
Robert Alda
6
Birthdate: February 23, 1914
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: May 3
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
 29 
Kate Smith
(Singer)
Kate Smith
1
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: May 1, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Greenville, Virginia, USA
Died: June 17
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 30 
Michael J. Smith
Michael J. Smith
4
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaufort
Died: January 28
 31 
Murray Hamilton
4
Birthdate: March 24, 1923
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Washington, North Carolina, United States
Died: September 1
Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
 32 
Otto Preminger
(Director and Producer Best Known for His Film ‘Anatomy of a Murder’)
Otto Preminger
7
Birthdate: December 5, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vyzhnytsya, Ukraine
Died: April 23

While he initially wished to follow in his prosecutor father’s footsteps to be a lawyer, Otto Preminger later discovered his love for theater. A master stage director, he later signed with Fox as one of its first independent filmmakers. He soared to fame with the 1944 film Laura.  

 33 
V. C. Andrews
(Novelist)
V. C. Andrews
6
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: June 6, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Died: December 19
 34 
Gordon MacRae
(Actor)
Gordon MacRae
5
Birthdate: March 12, 1921
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: East Orange, New Jersey, USA
Died: January 24
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
 35 
Olof Palme
(Prime Minister of Sweden from 1969 to 1976 and 1982 to 1986)
Olof Palme
9
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: January 30, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Östermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
Died: February 27

Former prime minister of Sweden, Olof Palme led the Swedish Social Democratic Workers’ Party and rose to be one of Sweden’s most internationally renowned politicians. A prominent lawyer, he started his political career as PM Tage Erlander’s personal secretary. He had also held the ministries of education and communications.

 36 
Tenzing Norgay
(Nepali-Indian Sherpa Mountaineer One of the First People to Set Foot on the Summit of Mount Everest)
Tenzing Norgay
26
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: May 29, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Khumbu, Nepal
Died: May 9

Nepali-Indian Sherpa mountaineer, Tenzing Norgay, was one of the first two individuals known to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the other being Edmund Hillary. He was named one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century by Time magazine. In his later years, he became the first Director of Field Training of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.

 37 
Chiune Sugihara
(Diplomat)
Chiune Sugihara
3
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: January 1, 1900
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kozuchi Town (now Mino, Gifu Prefecture), Japan
Died: July 31

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat best remembered for helping thousands of Jews flee Europe during the Second World War. He did so by issuing transit visas to the Jews, enabling them to travel through Japanese territory. Sugihara helped the Jews despite knowing that he was risking the lives of his family and his job. 

 38 
Hermione Baddeley
2
Birthdate: November 13, 1906
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Broseley, Shropshire, England
Died: August 19
Height: 5'3" (160 cm)
 39 
Lilli Palmer
(Actress)
Lilli Palmer
2
Birthdate: May 24, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Poznań, Poland
Died: January 27
 40 
J. Allen Hynek
(Astronomer, Ufologist)
J. Allen Hynek
5
Listed In: Scientists
Birthdate: May 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: April 27

When the American government, baffled by unexplained sightings of flying objects, assigned J. Allen Hynek the task of solving the mystery, Hynek was sceptical. However, he later became the first person to scientifically analyze such sightings. He also established the "Close Encounter" classification system to study UFOs.

 41 
Perry Ellis
(Fashion designer)
Perry Ellis
3
Listed In: Fashion
Birthdate: March 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Died: May 30
 42 
Hank Greenberg
(Baseball player)
Hank Greenberg
1
Listed In: Sportspersons
Birthdate: January 1, 1911
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Greenwich Village, New York, United States
Died: September 4
Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
 43 
W Averell Harriman
(Former Governor of New York)
W Averell Harriman
2
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: November 15, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: July 26
 44 
Marlin Perkins
(American Zoologist)
Marlin Perkins
2
Birthdate: March 28, 1905
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Missouri
Died: June 14
 45 
Ellison Onizuka
(Astronaut, engineer, and USAF test pilot from Kealakekua, Hawaii, who successfully flew into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-51-C)
Ellison Onizuka
3
Listed In: Miscellaneous
Birthdate: June 24, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kealakekua, Hawaii, United States
Died: January 28
 46 
Ella Baker
(American activist)
Ella Baker
8
Listed In: Activists
Birthdate: December 13, 1903
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Died: December 13
 47 
Mircea Eliade
(Historian of Religion and Author)
Mircea Eliade
6
Birthdate: March 13, 1907
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bucharest, Romania
Died: April 22

Mircea Eliade was a Romanian fiction writer, historian of religion, professor at the University of Chicago, and philosopher. His stories and novels have been adapted into films, such as The Bengali Night, which was directed by Nicolas Klotz. His works have also influenced writers all over the world.

 48 
Virginia Gregg
(Actress)
Virginia Gregg
2
Birthdate: March 6, 1916
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Harrisburg, Illinois, United States
Died: September 15
Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
 49 
Hyman Rickover
(United States Navy Admiral)
Hyman Rickover
4
Listed In: Leaders
Birthdate: January 27, 1900
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Makow Mazowiecki, Poland
Died: July 8

Hyman Rickover was an admiral who served in the U.S. Navy. Rickover is credited with overseeing the development of naval nuclear propulsion before controlling its operations for 30 years. He also supervised the development of the first commercial pressurized water reactor, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station. Hyman Rickover is one of only four people to receive two Congressional Gold Medals.

 50 
Christopher Isherwood
(Novelist)
Christopher Isherwood
1
Listed In: Writers
Birthdate: August 26, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cheshire, England, UK
Died: January 4
Height: 5'6" (168 cm)