Special Report

Very Famous People Who Died on Their Birthdays

Henk Lindeboom / Public Domain / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons

Birthdays are usually a day to celebrate life, but for some notable individuals, they can mean saying goodbye to the world. 

24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of famous people who died on the same date that they were born, gathering information from sources including Britannica and Biography

Most of these esteemed figures died at advanced ages of various illnesses or natural causes. There are certainly exceptions, however. The great Renaissance artist Raphael died at 37 from mysterious causes. William Shakespeare survived the bubonic plague ravaging Europe but then died at 52 from a fever that rapidly came on after drinking with companions.  

Some celebrated people who died on their birthdays were admirable for their accomplishments, including a Dutch watchmaker who was a member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II and an agricultural scientist who helped revolutionize American agriculture. Others are more infamous than famous – like gangster Machine Gun Kelly or a member of the Chicago White Sox that helped the team throw the 1919 World Series. 

Click here to see 30 famous people who died on their birthdays

Our list also includes actors and singers, some of whom died long after their glory days. (In contrast, these are some movie and TV stars who died far too young)

These famous people who died on their birthdays – a random assortment over many centuries and in many different fields – share an odd footnote in their notable lives. For a more pleasant list of natal coincidences, see our list of famous people born on major holidays.

Source: Davide Zanin / iStock via Getty Images

Raphael
> Lifespan: April 6, 1483-1520
> Known as: Renaissance painter
> Cause of death: Mysterious causes

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, commonly known simply as Raphael, was one of the most famous painters and architects of the Italian Renaissance. He died at only 37, but left an enormous body of work. His birthday is sometimes given as March 28, but April 6 is favored by some historians, and that’s the date of his death.

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Source: duncan1890 / iStock via Getty Images

William Shakespeare
> Lifespan: April 23, 1564-1616
> Known as: Playwright
> Cause of death: Fever

The most famous playwright in the English language died on his birthday at the age of 52. He retired from writing at 49 and died three years later of a sudden fever.

Source: cornelluniversitylibrary / Flickr

Levi P. Morton
> Lifespan: May 16, 1824-1920
> Known as: Vice-president under Benjamin Harrison
> Cause of death: Pneumonia

Morton served between 1889 and 1893 as the 22nd vice-president of the United States. He had previously been twice elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and worked as a cotton merchant and investment banker.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Kamehameha V
> Lifespan: Dec. 11, 1830-1872
> Known as: King of Hawai’i
> Cause of death: Unknown

Kamehameha V was the fifth monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, reigning from 1863 until his death in 1872. He left no heir to the throne and the next ruler of the island was determined by an election, which chose Kamehameha’s cousin William Charles Lunalilo to succeed him.

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Source: missouristatearchives / Flickr

George Washington Carver
> Lifespan: Jan. 5, 1864-1943
> Known as: American botanist and inventor
> Cause of death: Complications from a fall

Carver was the most prominent Black scientist in the United States during his lifetime and helped to revolutionize agriculture by promoting the growth of alternative crops to fight soil depletion. At the age of 79 he had a bad fall down the stairs in his home and died later of his injuries.

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

Joe Tinker
> Lifespan: July 27, 1880-1948
> Known as: Chicago professional baseball player and manager
> Cause of death: Complications from diabetes

Tinker played for the Chicago Cubs when they won four pennants and two World Series in the 1900s. In 1948, Tinker developed a toe infection related to diabetes that eventually spread to the rest of his body.

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Edna May Oliver
> Lifespan: Nov. 9, 1883-1942
> Known as: Oscar-nominated actress
> Cause of death: Intestinal illness

Oliver was a stage and screen actress who played a range of characters throughout her prolific career. She was nominated for Best Support Actress for her role in “Drums Along the Mohawk” in 1939. She died at the age of 59 from an intestinal illness.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Otto Kruger
> Lifespan: Sept. 6, 1885-1974
> Known as: Actor
> Cause of death: Stroke and cerebrovascular complications

Kruger was a Broadway, film, and TV star, who often played charismatic villains throughout his career. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for film and the other for television.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Gertrude Astor
> Lifespan: Nov. 8, 1887-1977
> Known as: Actress
> Cause of death: Stroke

Astor began her entertainment career as a trombone player but then switched to acting and appeared in over 250 movies. She died of a stroke on her 90th birthday.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Corrie ten Boom
> Lifespan: April 15, 1892-1983
> Known as: Dutch woman who protected Jews during the Holocaust
> Cause of death: Multiple strokes

Ten Boom was a watchmaker from the Netherlands during World War II. Her family was contacted by a Jewish woman fleeing persecution. The ten Bloom family agreed to help and soon became involved in the Dutch Resistance and in helped many Jews escape to safety.

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

Swede Risberg
> Lifespan: Oct. 13, 1894-1975
> Known as: Chicago White Sox shortstop
> Cause of death: Unknown

Risberg played shortstop for the “Black Sox,” the name given to the Chicago White Sox after they threw the 1919 World Series. When he died at 81, he was the last surviving member of the infamous team.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

George Barnes, aka Machine Gun Kelly
> Lifespan: July 18, 1895-1954
> Known as: Gangster
> Cause of death: Heart attack

Kelly was an infamous bootlegger and criminal whose exploits include kidnapping and ransoming an oil tycoon for $200,000 ($4 million today). He received a life sentence in 1933 and eventually died in prison in 1954.

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

Sidney Bechet
> Lifespan: May 14, 1897-1959
> Known as: Jazz saxophonist
> Cause of death: Lung cancer

Bechet was an acclaimed jazz saxophonist and clarinet player, known for his fiery temper. He spent much of his later life in France, where he eventually passed away at the age of 62.

Source: cizauskas / Public Domain / Flickr

Ella Baker
> Lifespan: Dec. 13, 1903-1986
> Known as: Civil rights activist
> Cause of death: Unknown

Baker worked largely behind the scenes as a civil rights activist for over five decades, operating mainly in New York City and the American South. She died in New York at the age of 83.

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Walter Diemer
> Lifespan: Jan. 8, 1903-1998
> Known as: Inventor of bubble gum
> Cause of death: Heart failure

Diemer was an accountant by trade but liked to experiment with gum recipes and invented bubble gum doing just that. The cheap treat quickly took off during the Great Depression. He died at the age of 94 in Pennsylvania.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

Johnny Longden
> Lifespan: Feb. 14, 1907-2003
> Known as: Jockey
> Cause of death: Various health problems

Longden was one of the greatest jockeys of his time, winning the Triple Crown of horse racing in 1943. Born on Valentine’s Day, Longden would die on February 14 at the age of 96.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Grace Bradley
> Lifespan: Sept. 21, 1913-2010
> Known as: Actress
> Cause of death: Age-related causes

Bradley made her Broadway debut at the age of 17. After a few plays, she transitioned to film where she acted in dozens of movies in the 1930s and early ’40s. She passed away at the age of 97 in California.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.
> Lifespan: Aug. 17, 1914-1988
> Known as: Congressman, son of U.S. president
> Cause of death: Lung cancer

Son of the longest-serving president in U.S. history, F.D.R. Jr. served in Congress and as under-secretary of commerce under President Kennedy. On his 74th birthday he lost his battle with lung cancer.

Source: Henk Lindeboom / Public Domain / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons

Ingrid Bergman
> Lifespan: Aug. 29, 1915-1982
> Known as: Three-time Oscar winner
> Cause of death: Breast cancer

Bergman, born in Stockholm, starred in such classic movies as “Casablanca,” “Gaslight,” and “Anastasia.” Her acting career spanned five decades, and she won three Academy Awards along the way. She died in London at the age of 67.

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Nan Grey
> Lifespan: July 25, 1918-1993
> Known as: Film actress
> Cause of death: Heart attack

Grey was an actress who appeared in several films in the 1930s and voiced a character in the NBC radio soap opera “Those We Love.” She also invented and sold cosmetic mirrors for near-sighted women. She died at the age of 75.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Allen Drury
> Lifespan: Sept. 2, 1918-1998
> Known as: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
> Cause of death: Heart failure

Drury was a novelist and reporter who covered the U.S. Senate. He wrote 20 novels – including the Pulitzer-winning “Advise and Consent” – and several non-fiction works, often dealing with the topics of government and politicians. He completed his final novel two weeks before he died.

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Source: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Betty Friedan
> Lifespan: Feb. 4, 1921-2006
> Known as: Founder of National Organization for Women
> Cause of death: Congestive heart failure

Friedan was a feminist writer and activist who is credited with helping spark the second wave of American feminism. She died in Washington D.C. on her 85th birthday.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Mike Douglas
> Lifespan: Aug. 11, 1925-2006
> Known as: Talk-show host
> Cause of death: Unknown

Douglas was a genial singer, actor, and talk show host, best known for “The Mike Douglas Show.” His cause of death was never revealed, but his wife said he became dehydrated after golfing and never recovered.

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

Fran Warren
> Lifespan: March 4, 1926-2013
> Known as: Singer
> Cause of death: Natural causes

Born Francis Wolff, Fran Warren started out as a big band singer and eventually went solo with some success, and acted in three movies. She passed away in Connecticut at the age of 87.

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Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Max Julien
> Lifespan: Jan. 1, 1934-2022
> Known as: Actor
> Cause of death: Unknown

Julien was an actor, sculptor, and clothing designer. His largest film role was as Goldie in the 1973 Richard Pryor blaxploitation film “The Mack,” and he appeared in other films and TV shows over the years. He died in Los Angeles at the beginning of this year.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Mel Street
> Lifespan: Oct. 21, 1935-1978
> Known as: Country singer
> Cause of death: Self-inflicted gunshot wound

Mel Street was a country music singer who had over 10 top-20 Billboard 200 hits. He suffered from depression and alcoholism for much of his life and eventually committed suiсide at the age of 43.

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Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Merle Haggard
> Lifespan: April 6, 1937-2016
> Known as: Country singer
> Cause of death: Pneumonia

Haggard was a country singer/songwriter and guitarist, who after a few stints in prison early in his life, went on to become a successful musician. He had dozens of No. 1 hits on the country charts and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Ian Marter
> Lifespan: Oct. 28, 1944-1986
> Known as: Actor
> Cause of death: Heart attack

The English-born Marter started as a stage actor before transitioning into television. He was involved with several series, notably writing for and acting in “Dr. Who.” He died suddenly of a diabetic heart attack on his 42nd birthday.

Source: Archive Photos / Getty Images

Maury Chaykin
> Lifespan: July 27, 1949-2010
> Known as: Actor
> Cause of death: Complications of a heart valve infection

Chaykin was most Known as his portrayal of the titular detective in television show “Nero Wolfe.” Chaykin grew up in New York City but moved to Toronto as an adult until he died of a heart valve infection at the age of 61.

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Source: Johnny Nunez / Getty Images

Frankie Lons
> Lifespan: July 18, 1960-2021
> Known as: Reality TV star
> Cause of death: Drug overdose

Frankie Lons was the mother of singer Keyshia Cole, and originally became known for her appearances in the reality series “Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is.” Lons eventually got her own BET reality series, “Frankie & Neffie,” alongside Cole’s sister, Neffeteria Pugh.

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