The Anglo-Egyptian Condominium ends in Sudan.
Carl Perkins' record "Blue Suede Shoes" is released in the United States.
A crowd crush and stampede during a New Year's event results in 124 deaths and 77 injuries at the Yahiko Shrine in Niigata Prefecture, Japan.
January 3 – In the United States:
By popular demand, Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin, is restaged live by Producers' Showcase on NBC-TV.
Columbia Records first releases Glenn Gould's solo piano recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations.
January 8 – Operation Auca: Five U.S. evangelical Christian missionaries, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Jim Elliot and Pete Fleming, are killed for trespassing by the Huaorani people of Ecuador shortly after making contact with them.
January 16 – Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser vows to reconquer Palestine.
January 25–26 – Finnish troops reoccupy Porkkala after Soviet troops vacate its military base. Civilians can return February 4.
January 26 – The 1956 Winter Olympics open in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
February 11 – British spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean resurface in the Soviet Union after being missing for 5 years.
February 14–26 – 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
February 16 – Only a little more than four months after the release of the 70mm version of Oklahoma!, the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, is released in CinemaScope 55. MacRae and Jones had previously starred in Oklahoma! Carousel, intended for showing in 55mm, ends up being shown only in 35mm.
February 22 – Elvis Presley enters the United States music charts for the first time, with "Heartbreak Hotel".
February 23 – Norma Jean Mortenson legally changes her name to Marilyn Monroe.
February 24 – Doris Day records her most famous song, "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"; it is from Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which Day co-stars with James Stewart.
February 25 – Nikita Khrushchev attacks the veneration of Josef Stalin in a speech "On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences".
March 1 – The International Air Transport Association finalizes a draft of the radiotelephony spelling alphabet for the International Civil Aviation Organization.
March 2 – Morocco declares its independence from France.
The British deport Archbishop Makarios from Cyprus to the Seychelles.
Soviet Armed Forces suppresses mass demonstrations in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, reacting to Nikita Khrushchev's de-Stalinization policy.
March 10 – The Fairey Delta 2 broke the World Air Speed Record, raising it to 1,132 mph (1,822 km/h) or Mach 1.73, an increase of some 300 mph (480 km/h) over the previous record, and thus becoming the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) in level flight.
March 11 – After having opened in London the previous year, Laurence Olivier's film, Richard III, adapted from Shakespeare's play, has its U.S. premiere in theatres and on NBC Television on the same day. On TV it is not shown in prime time, but as an afternoon matinée, in a slightly cut version. It is one of the first such experiments of its kind. Olivier is later nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
96 U.S. Congressmen sign the Southern Manifesto, a protest against the 1954 Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Board of Education) that desegregated public education.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 500 for the first time rising 2.40 points, or 0.48%, to 500.24.
March 13 – Elvis Presley releases his first gold album titled Elvis Presley.
March 15 – The Broadway musical My Fair Lady opens in New York City.
March 19 – At age 48, Dutch boxer Bep van Klaveren contests his last match in Rotterdam.
March 20 – Tunisia gains independence from France.
March 21 – The 28th Academy Awards ceremony is held.
March 23 – Pakistan becomes the first Islamic republic, and a national holiday is observed in the country including the former East Pakistan state.
April 2 – The first episode of As the World Turns is broadcast on the CBS television network in the United States.
April 7 – Spain relinquishes its protectorate in Morocco.
April 9 – Habib Bourguiba is elected President of the National Constituent Assembly of the Kingdom of Tunisia; on April 15 he becomes Prime Minister.
April 14 – Videotape is first demonstrated at the 1956 NARTB (now NAB) convention in Chicago by Ampex. It is the demonstration of the first practical and commercially successful videotape format known as 2" Quadruplex.
April 17 – Queen Elizabeth II inaugurates the 4.9 km² Chew Valley Lake in Somerset, England, as a reservoir for the Bristol area.
April 18 – Maria Desylla-Kapodistria is elected mayor of Corfu and becomes the first female mayor in Greece.
British diver Lionel Crabb (working for MI6) dives into Portsmouth harbour to investigate a visiting Soviet cruiser and vanishes.
American actress Grace Kelly marries Rainier III, Prince of Monaco.
April 21 – Former U.S. First Daughter Margaret Truman marries Clifton Daniel.
April 27 – Heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano retires without losing a professional boxing match.
May 2 – The United Methodist Church in America decides at its General Conference to grant women full ordained clergy status. It also calls for an end to racial segregation in the denomination.
Austria and Israel form diplomatic relations.Confirmation needed
The constitutional union between Indonesia and the Netherlands is dissolved.
John Osborne's Look Back in Anger opens at the Royal Court Theatre, London, changing the scope of theatrical and other forms of drama in the UK: the theatre's press release describes the dramatist as among the angry young men of the time.
May 9 – Manaslu, eighth highest mountain in the world, is first ascended.
May 18 – Lhotse (main), the fourth highest mountain, is first ascended.
May 22 – The NBC Peacock debuts On Television
May 23 – French minister Pierre Mendès France resigns due to his government's policy on Algeria.
May 24 – The first Eurovision Song Contest is broadcast from Lugano, Switzerland. The winning song is the host country's Refrain by Lys Assia (music by Géo Voumard, text by Émile Gardaz).
May 25 – India announces the institution of diplomatic relations with Spain (still under Franco's rule)
June 1 – Vyacheslav Molotov resigns as foreign minister of the Soviet Union; he later becomes ambassador in Mongolia.
June 3 – British Rail renames 'Third Class' passenger facilities as 'Second Class' (Second Class facilities had been abolished in 1875, leaving just First Class and Third Class).
June 5 – Elvis Presley performs "Hound Dog", on The Milton Berle Show, scandalizing the audience with his suggestive hip movements.
June 6 – In Singapore, chief minister David Marshall resigns after the breakdown of talks about internal self-government in London.
June 8 – General Electric/Telechron introduces model 7H241 "The Snooz Alarm", first snooze alarm clock ever.
June 10 – 1956 Summer Olympics: Equestrian events open in Stockholm, Sweden (all other events are held in November in Melbourne, Australia).
International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO).
Real Madrid beats Stade Reims 4-3 at Parc des Princes, Paris and wins the 1955–56 European Cup (football).
June 14 – The Flag of the United States Army is formally dedicated.
June 15 – Eindhoven University of Technology is founded in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
June 18 – The last foreign troops leave Egypt.
June 21 – Playwright Arthur Miller appears before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.
June 23 – Gamal Abdel Nasser becomes the 2nd president of Egypt.
MP Sydney Silverman's bill for the abolition of the death penalty in the UK passes the British House of Commons.
Labour riots in Poznań, Poland, are crushed with heavy loss of life. Soviet troops fire at a crowd protesting high prices, killing 53 people.
The film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I, starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, is released only a few months after the film version of R&H's Carousel. It becomes the most financially successful film version of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical up to that time, and the only one to win an acting Oscar (Yul Brynner wins Best Actor for his performance as the King of Siam). It is also one of two Rodgers and Hammerstein films to be nominated for Best Picture (which it does not win).
Actress Marilyn Monroe marries playwright Arthur Miller.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Federal Aid Highway Act, creating the Interstate Highway System.
June 30 – A TWA Lockheed Constellation and United Airlines Douglas DC-7 collide in mid-air over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, killing all 128 people aboard both aircraft in the deadliest civil aviation disaster to date; the accident leads to sweeping changes in the regulation of cross-country flight and air traffic control over the United States.
July 2 – A lab experiment involving scrap thorium at Sylvania Electric Products in Bayside, New York, results in an explosion.
July 4 – The first Lockheed U-2 spy plane flight over the Soviet Union.
July 8 – The mountain Gasherbrum II, on the border of Pakistan and China, is first ascended by an Austrian expedition.
July 9 – The 7.7 Mw Amorgos earthquake shakes the Cyclades island group in the Agean Sea with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). The shaking and the destructive tsunami that followed left fifty-three people dead.
July 10 – The British House of Lords defeats the abolition of the death penalty.
July 16 – With the closing of its "Big Tent" show in Pittsburgh, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announces all subsequent circuses will be "arena shows" due to changing economics.
July 24 – At New York City's Copacabana nightclub, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis perform their last comedy show together (their act started on July 25, 1946).
July 25 – The Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria sinks after colliding with the Swedish ship SS Stockholm in heavy fog 72 kilometers (45 mi) south of Nantucket island, killing 51.
July 26 – Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal sparking international condemnation.
July 30 – A joint resolution of Congress is signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing "In God we trust" as the U.S. national motto.
Cricket: Jim Laker sets an extraordinary record at Old Trafford in the fourth Test between England and Australia, taking 19 wickets in a first class match (the previous best was 17).
Luzhniki Stadium, as well known for sports venues of Russia (former part of Soviet Union), officially open in Moscow.
August 6 – After going bankrupt in 1955, the American broadcaster DuMont Television Network airs its final broadcast, an episode of its sports series Boxing from St. Nicholas Arena.
August 8 – 262 miners die in a fire in a coal mine in Marcinelle, Belgium.
August 9 – The exhibition This Is Tomorrow opens at Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.
August 12 – Around 5,000 members of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church hold a mass outside Cluj-Napoca Piarists' Church to demonstrate that their church, proscribed by the government in 1948, has not ceased to exist as the regime claims.
August 17 – West Germany bans the Communist Party of Germany.
September 9 – Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.
September 13 – The hard disk drive is invented by an IBM team led by Reynold B. Johnson.
September 16 – Television broadcasting commences in Australia.
September 21 – Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza García is assassinated.
September 25 – The submarine transatlantic telephone cable opens.
September 27 – The Bell X-2 becomes the first manned aircraft to reach Mach 3.
October 5 – Cecil B. DeMille's epic film The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston as Moses, is released in the United States. It will be in the top ten of the worldwide list of highest-grossing films of all time adjusted for inflation.
October 8 – Baseball pitcher Don Larsen of the New York Yankees throws the only perfect game in World Series history in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Yogi Berra catches the game. Dale Mitchell is the final out. The New York Yankees win the series. Larsen is named series MVP.
Finland joins UNESCO.
The prototype Lockheed L-1649 Starliner, the final Lockheed Constellation model, makes its first flight.
Indira Kala Sangeet University, Khairagarh is inaugurated by Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi.
Dalit Buddhist movement: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Indian Dalit leader, converts to Buddhism along with 385,000 followers.
October 15 – The British Royal Air Force retires its last Avro Lancaster bomber.
The world's first commercial nuclear power plant is opened at Calder Hall in England.
The Game of the Century (chess): 13-year-old Bobby Fischer beats grandmaster Donald Byrne in the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament in New York City.
October 22 – Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom, France, and Israel secretly meet in and make plans to invade Egypt.
October 23 – Hungarian Revolution breaks out against the pro-Soviet government, originating as a student demonstration in Budapest. Hungary attempts to leave the Warsaw Pact.
October 26 – Red Army troops invade Hungary.
Suez Crisis: Israel invades the Sinai Peninsula and pushes Egyptian forces back toward the Suez Canal.
Tangier Protocol: The international city Tangier is reintegrated into Morocco.
The Huntley-Brinkley Report debuts on NBC-TV in the United States.
Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom and France begin bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.
A United States Navy team becomes the third group to reach the South Pole (arriving by air) and commences construction of the first permanent Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station.
The States Reorganisation Act of India reforms the boundaries and names of Indian states. Three new states, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, are formed.
City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco publishes Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg, a key work of the Beat Generation.
The film Oklahoma! (1955), previously released to select cities in Todd-AO, now receives a U.S. national release in CinemaScope, since not all theatres are yet equipped for Todd-AO. To accomplish this, the film had to be actually shot twice, rather than printing one version in two different film processes as was later done.
Khan Yunis massacre (Suez Crisis) – Israeli soldiers shoot dead hundreds of Palestinian refugees and local inhabitants in Khan Yunis Camp.
MGM's film The Wizard of Oz is the first major Hollywood film running more than ninety minutes to be televised uncut in one evening.
November 4 – 1956 Hungarian Revolution: More Soviet troops invade Hungary to crush a revolt that started on October 23. Thousands are killed, more are wounded, and nearly a quarter million leave the country.
November 6 – United States presidential election, 1956: Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower defeats Democrat challenger Adlai E. Stevenson in a rematch of their contest 4 years earlier.
November 7 – Suez Crisis: The United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution calling for the United Kingdom, France and Israel to withdraw their troops from Arab lands immediately.
November 13 – Browder v. Gayle: The United States Supreme Court declares illegal the state and municipal laws requiring segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama, thus ending the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
November 14 – Fighting ends in Hungary.Confirmation needed
November 15 – Middle East Technical University is founded in Ankara, Turkey.
November 18 – At a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow Nikita Khrushchev utters his famous phrase "We will bury you".
November 20 – In Yugoslavia, former prime minister Milovan Đilas is arrested after he criticizes Josip Broz Tito.
November 22 – The 1956 Summer Olympics begin in Melbourne, Australia.
November 23 – The Suez Crisis causes petrol rationing in Britain.
November 25 – Fidel Castro and Che Guevara depart from Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico, en route to Santiago de Cuba aboard the yacht Granma with 82 men.
November 28 – Roger Vadim's drama film And God Created Woman, released in France as Et Dieu ... créa la femme, propels Brigitte Bardot into the public spotlight as a "sex kitten".
November 30 – Floyd Patterson wins the world heavyweight boxing championship that is vacant after the retirement of Rocky Marciano.
Fidel Castro and his followers land in Cuba in the boat Granma.
A pipe bomb planted by George Metesky explodes at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, injuring 6 people.
December 3 – 1956 Bush Terminal explosion in Brooklyn
December 4 – The Million Dollar Quartet (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash) get together at Sun Studio for the first and last time in history.
December 5 – Rose Heilbron becomes Britain's first female judge.
December 9 – Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 810 crashes into a mountain in British Columbia. All 62 people on board are killed.
December 12 – Japan becomes a member of the United Nations.
December 18 – To Tell the Truth debuts on CBS-TV.
December 19 – John Bodkin Adams is arrested for the murder of 2 patients in Eastbourne, Great Britain.
December 23 – British and French troops leave the Suez Canal region.
December 31 – Bob Barker makes his TV debut as host of the game show Truth or Consequences.
Asian flu pandemic originates in China.
Minamata disease is discovered.
The Alpine Club of Canada, Toronto section, is founded.
Mark R. Hughes, American entrepreneur (d. 2000)
Kōji Yakusho, Japanese actor
Christine Lagarde, French lawyer and politician
Andrew Lesnie, Australian cinematographer (d. 2015)
Mel Gibson, American-born Australian/Irish actor and director
Tomiko Suzuki, Japanese voice actress (d. 2003)
Celso Blues Boy, Brazilian singer and guitarist (d. 2012)
Chen Kenichi, Japan-born Chinese chef
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German politician
David Caruso, American actor (NYPD Blue)
Uwe Ochsenknecht, German actor
Johnny Owen, Welsh professional boxer (d. 1980)
Kimberly Beck, American actress
Imelda Staunton, English actress
Nikolai Noskov, Soviet and Russian rock singer and songwriter
Ronan Bennett, Northern Irish writer
Martyn Davies, Welsh weather presenter, meteorologist and former child actor
January 16 – Martin Jol, Dutch football manager
January 17 – Paul Young, English musician
January 18 – Tom Bailey, English musician
January 19 – Adriana Acosta, Argentine militant and field hockey player
January 20 – Bill Maher, American actor, comedian, and political analyst
January 21 – Geena Davis, American actress
January 24 – Lounès Matoub, Algerian Berber Kabyle singer
January 25 – Bronwyn Pike, Australian politician
Susanne Blakeslee, American actress
Mimi Rogers, American actress
January 28 – Peter Schilling, German singer
Jan Jakub Kolski, Polish film director
Irlene Mandrell, American musician, actress
January 31 – John Lydon, British punk musician and TV personality
February 1 – Mike Kitchen, Canadian ice hockey player and coach
February 2 – Philip Franks, English actor and director
Nathan Lane, American actor
Lee Ranaldo, American musician
February 6 – Jon Walmsley, British actor
February 7 – Heather Jones, Australian writer
February 10 – Enele Sopoaga, Tuvaluan politician and diplomat
Catherine Hickland, American actress
Didier Lockwood, French jazz violinist
Yiannis Kouros, Greek-Australian ultra marathoner
Jay Nixon, 55th Governor of Missouri
Paul Stojanovich, American television producer
February 14 – Tom Burlinson, Australian actor
February 15 – Desmond Haynes, West Indian cricketer
February 18 – Thomas Gradin, Swedish hockey player
Kathleen Beller, American actress
Roderick MacKinnon, American biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Dave Wakeling, English musician
Reinhold Beckmann, German television presenter
Judith Butler, American philosopher
Paula Zahn, American television journalist
Davie Cooper, Scottish footballer (d. 1995)
Michel Friedman, German lawyer, politician and talk show host
Kevin Dunn, American actor
Michel Houellebecq, French author
Keisuke Kuwata, Japanese musician
Mike Compton, American mandolinist
Bob Speller, Canadian politician
Aileen Wuornos, American serial killer (d. 2002)
Tim Daly, American screen actor
Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania
March 2 – Eduardo Rodríguez, President of Bolivia
Teena Marie, American singer (d. 2010)
Marco Paolini, Italian stage actor, dramaturge and author
March 7 – Bryan Cranston, American actor
March 11 – Rob Paulsen, American voice actor
March 12 – Steve Harris, British musician, composer (Iron Maiden)
March 13 – Dana Delany, American actress
March 16 – Vladimír Godár, Slovak composer
March 18 – Ingemar Stenmark, Swedish alpine skier
March 19 – Yegor Gaidar, Russian economist and politician
Catherine Ashton, British politician
Naoto Takenaka, Japanese actor, comedian, singer and director
José Manuel Barroso, Prime Minister of Portugal
Ingrid Kristiansen, Norwegian runner
Win Lyovarin, Thai author
March 24 – Steve Ballmer, American businessman, former CEO of Microsoft (2000–2014), and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers
Susan Ershler, American mountaineer
Evelin Jahl, German athlete
March 29 – Evie, American Christian musician
March 30 – Shahla Sherkat, Iranian feminist journalist
Ray Combs, American game show host and comedian (d. 1996)
Boris Miljković, Serbian TV & theatre director and video artist
Kerry Chikarovski, Australian politician
David E. Kelley, American writer and television producer
April 5 – Diamond Dallas Page, former American professional wrestler
Sebastian Spreng, American-Argentinean visual artist
Dilip Vengsarkar, Indian cricketer
Andy García, Cuban-American actor
Herbert Grönemeyer, German musician and actor
Yasuo Tanaka, Japanese politician, novelist
April 13 – Possum Bourne, New Zealand rally car driver (d. 2003)
April 14 – Barbara Bonney, American soprano
David McDowell Brown, American astronaut (Columbia Disaster) (d. 2003)
Lise-Marie Morerod, Swiss skier
John James, American actor
Melody Thomas Scott, American actress
Eric Roberts, American actor
April 19 – Sue Barker, British tennis player and television presenter
April 21 – Phillip Longman, American demographer
April 22 – Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Finnish conductor
April 26 – Koo Stark, British actress
April 28 – Hanka Paldum, Bosnian singer
April 30 – Lars von Trier, Danish film director
May 1 – Alexander Ivanov, Russian-born American chess grandmaster
David Guterson, American writer
Ulrike Meyfarth, German high jumper
May 5 – Lisa Eilbacher, American actress
May 6 – Vladimir Lisin, Russian business oligarch
Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands (2002–2010)
Jean Lapierre, Canadian politician and television host
May 9 – Wendy Crewson, Canadian actress
May 10 – Vladislav Nikolayevich Listyev, Russian journalist (d. 1995)
Kenneth Eriksson, Swedish rally driver
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Indian guru
Kirk Thornton, American voice actor
May 15 – Dan Patrick, American sports commentator
Sugar Ray Leonard, African American boxer
Bob Saget, American actor and television host
Ingvar Ambjørnsen, Norwegian author
Dean Butler, American actor and producer
Ursula Plassnik, Austrian politician
Buck Showalter, American baseball player and manager
May 24 – Michael Jackson, Irish Anglican bishop
May 26 – Lisa Niemi, American actress and dancer, widow of Patrick Swayze
Jerry Douglas, American dobro player
John O'Donoghue, former Irish Fianna Fáil politician
Sayuri Yamauchi, Japanese voice actress (d. 2012)
May 29 – La Toya Jackson, African-American singer
May 31 – Yoshiko Sakakibara, Japanese voice actress
June 3 – George Burley, Scottish football manager
June 5 – Kenny G, American saxophonist
Christopher Adamson, British actor
Björn Borg, Swedish tennis player
June 7 – Antonio M. Reid, American record executive
June 8 – Udo Bullmann, German politician
June 9 – Patricia Cornwell, American novelist
June 10 – Borwin, Duke of Mecklenburg, German head of the House of Mecklenburg
Joe Montana, American football player
Arthur Porter, Canadian physician (d. 2015)
June 14 – King Diamond, Danish heavy metal musician
June 15 – Robin Curtis, American actress
June 17 – Andrew Bicknell, English actor
June 20 – Cho Chikun, Korean professional Go player
June 23 – Randy Jackson, African American musician and talent judge
Anthony Bourdain, American chef, author and television personality
Boris Trajkovski, President of the Republic of Macedonia (d. 2004)
Chloe Webb, American actress and singer
Catherine Samba-Panza, former President of the Central African Republic
Chris Isaak, American musician
June 27 – Heiner Dopp, German field hockey player
June 28 – Noel Mugavin, Australian rules football player
July 1 – Alan Ruck, American actor
July 2 – Jerry Hall, American model and actress
July 3 – Rick Ducommun, Canadian actor and comedian
July 5 – Sheila Walsh, Scottish Christian artist and former talk-show hostess
July 9 – Tom Hanks, American actor and director
Amitav Ghosh, Indian-American fiction writer
Sela Ward, American actress
July 12 – Mel Harris, American actress
July 13 – Günther Jauch, German television host
July 14 – Vladimir Kulich, Czech actor
Ian Curtis, English rock musician (Joy Division) (d. 1980)
Barry Melrose, Canadian hockey player, coach, and commentator
Toshihiko Seko, Japanese long-distance runner
Jerry Doyle, American talk show host and actor (d. 2016)
Tony Kushner, American playwright
July 18 – Sheila Aldridge, American singer
July 19 – Yoshiaki Yatsu, Japanese professional wrestler
Charlie Crist, American politician
Pat Finn, American game show host and producer
Carmen Nebel, German television presenter
Andy Goldsworthy, British sculptor and photographer
Dorothy Hamill, American figure skater and Olympic Gold medalist
July 30 – Delta Burke, American actress
Michael Biehn, American actor
Deval Patrick, American politician; first African-American Governor of Massachusetts
August 2 – Jim Neidhart, American professional wrestler
August 4 – Gerry Cooney, American boxer
Ferdi Bolland, Dutch musician, songwriter, and music producer (Bolland & Bolland)
Maureen McCormick, American actress
August 6 – Stepfanie Kramer, American actress
August 7 – Ernie Johnson, Jr., American sportscaster
August 8 – Chris Foreman, English rock guitarist
Fred Ottman, American professional wrestler
Charlie Peacock, American Christian producer, singer-songwriter
August 12 – Bruce Greenwood, Canadian actor
Jackée Harry, American actress and television personality
Rusty Wallace, American NASCAR race car driver
August 17 – Dave Jones, English football manager
August 19 – Adam Arkin, American actor
August 20 – Joan Allen, American actress
August 21 – Kim Cattrall, English-born Canadian actress
August 22 – Paul Molitor, American baseball player
August 23 – Andreas Floer, German mathematician (d. 1991)
August 24 – John Culberson, American politician
August 26 – Mark Mangino, American football coach
August 29 – Mark Morris, American choreographer
Masashi Tashiro, Japanese television performer
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwanese president
September 1 – Bernie Wagenblast, American editor and broadcaster
September 2 – Angelo Fusco, Provisional Irish Republican Army member
September 3 – Pat McGeown, Provisional Irish Republican Army member (d. 1996)
September 11 – Phillip D. Bissett, American politician
Leslie Cheung, Hong Kong actor (d. 2003)
Ricky Rudd, American race car driver
Walter Woon, law professor and former Nominated Member of Parliament and Attorney-General of Singapore
Kostas Karamanlis, Greek politician
Ray Wilkins, English footballer and coach
September 15 – George Howard, American jazz saxophone musician (d. 1998)
Sergei Beloglazov, Russian free-style wrestler
David Copperfield, American illusionist
Ross Greenberg, American journalist and antivirus pioneer (d. 2017)
Brian Andreas, American writer, sculptor, painter, and publisher
Almazbek Atambayev, 3-Time Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan and 4th President of Kyrgyzstan
September 18 – Tim McInnerny, English actor
Gary Cole, American actor
Debbi Morgan, African-American actress
September 21 – Jack Givens, American basketball player
September 23 – Paolo Rossi, Italian soccer player
September 24 – Gregory Peter Panos, American futurist, writer, inventor
September 25 – Jamie Hyneman, American television co-host
September 26 – Linda Hamilton, American actress
September 29 – Sebastian Coe, Baron Coe, British athlete; co-ordinator of the London 2012 Olympic Games
September 30 – Gordon Elliott, British-Australian television personality and talk show host
Tara Buckman, American actress
Andrus Ansip, Estonian politician, 10th Prime Minister of Estonia
Theresa May, 74th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
October 2- Charlie Adler, American voice actor and director
October 3 – Ralph Morgenstern, German actor
October 4 – Christoph Waltz, German-Austrian actor
October 8 – Stephanie Zimbalist, American actress
October 10 – Amanda Burton, Irish actress
October 11 – Nicanor Duarte, President of Paraguay
October 12 – Trần Đại Quang, President of Vietnam
October 16 – Rudra Mohammad Shahidullah, Bangladeshi poet (d. 1992)
October 17 – Mae Jemison, African American astronaut
October 18 – Martina Navratilova, Czech-American tennis player
October 19 – Carlo Urbani, Italian physician (d. 2003)
October 20 – Danny Boyle, English film director
October 21 – Carrie Fisher, American actress and novelist (d. 2016)
October 23 – Dwight Yoakam, American country singer, musician and actor
October 26 – Rita Wilson, American actress and producer
October 28 – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 6th President of Iran
November 5 – Rob Fisher, British keyboardist and songwriter (Climie Fisher) (d. 1999)
November 8 – Richard Curtis, English film director, producer and screenwriter
November 10 – Mohsen Badawi, Egyptian entrepreneur, political activist, and writer
Avi Cohen, Israeli football player (d. 2010)
Peter R. de Vries, crime reporter
November 17 – Kelly Ward, American actor
Noel Brotherston, Irish footballer (d. 1995)
Warren Moon, American football player
Bo Derek, American actress and model
Olli Dittrich, German actor, comedian, television personality and musician
November 21 – Terri Welles, American actress and adult model
November 22 – Richard Kind, American actor
Shane Gould, Australian swimmer
Nikolay Sidorov, Soviet athlete
Jimmy Hibbert, British comedian and script writer and script editor
November 24 – Jouni Kaipainen, Finnish composer
November 26 – Dale Jarrett, American race car driver
Nazrin Shah of Perak, 35th Sultan of Perak
William Fichtner, American actor
Kristine Arnold, American singer (Sweethearts of the Rodeo)
Lucy Gutteridge, English actress
Eric Laakso, American football player
Leo Laporte, American author and television host
Klaus Allofs, German football player
Krystian Zimerman, Polish pianist
Peter Buck, American guitarist
Randy Rhoads, American guitarist (d. 1982)
Larry Bird, American basketball player
Iveta Radičová, Prime Minister of Slovakia
December 9 – Jean-Pierre Thiollet, French writer
December 11 – Lani Brockman, American playwright
Ana Alicia, Mexican actress
Johan van der Velde, Dutch cyclist
December 13 – Majida El Roumi, Lebanese singer
December 14 – Béla Réthy, German sports journalist
December 16 – Duncan Faure, South African musician
December 18 – Ron White, American comedian
Masami Akita, Japanese noise musician (also known as Merzbow)
Jimmy Cauty, British musician (The KLF, The Timelords)
December 21 – Anna Erlandsson, Swedish filmmaker and animator
Michele Alboreto, Italian race car driver (d. 2001)
Dave Murray, British musician (Iron Maiden)
Michael Jones (aka Kashif), 59, musician, singer-songwriter (B.T. Express) (d. 2016)
David Sedaris, American essayist
Nigel Kennedy, English violinist
Jimmy Nicholl, Canadian-born footballer
December 29 – Fred MacAulay, Scottish comedian
Patricia Kalember, American actress
Sheryl Lee Ralph, African American actress
December 31 – Hussein Ahmed Salah, Djiboutian marathon player
Gilma Jiménez, Colombian politician (d. 2013)
Nancy Lynn, American aerobatic pilot (d. 2006)
Shelagh Rogers, Canadian radio host
Miladin Šobić, Montenegrin singer
Susan Solomon, American atmospheric chemist
Alexander Gretchaninov, Russian composer (b. 1864)
Joseph Wirth, former Chancellor of Germany (b. 1876)
January 5 – Mistinguett, French singer and actress (b. 1875)
January 9 – Marion Leonard, American actress (b. 1881)
January 10 – Karl Ludwig Schmidt, German theologian (b. 1891)
January 12 – Norman Kerry, American actor (b. 1894)
January 13 – Lyonel Charles Feininger, German painter (b. 1871)
January 14 – Sheila Kaye-Smith, English writer (b. 1887)
January 18 – Konstantin Päts, 1st President of Estonia (b. 1874)
January 21 – Sam Langford, Canadian boxer (b. 1883)
January 23 – Sir Alexander Korda, Hungarian-born film director (b. 1893)
January 27 – Erich Kleiber, German conductor (b. 1890)
January 29 – H. L. Mencken, American writer (b. 1880)
January 31 – A. A. Milne, English author (Winnie The Pooh) (b. 1882)
Bob Burns, American comedian (b. 1890)
Charles Grapewin, American actor (b. 1869)
February 3 – Robert Yerkes, American psychologist and ethologist (b. 1876)
February 8 – Connie Mack, American baseball executive and manager (Philadelphia Athletics) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1862)
February 10 – Hugh Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard, British marshal of the Royal Air Force (b. 1873)
February 18 – Gustave Charpentier, French composer (b. 1860)
Heinrich Barkhausen, German physicist (b. 1881)
James Cousins, Irish writer (b. 1873)
February 26 – Elsie Janis, American singer and actress (b. 1889)
February 29 – Elpidio Quirino, 6th President of the Philippines (b. 1890)
March 12 – Bolesław Bierut, Polish Communist politician and statesman, former Prime Minister and Presdident of Poland (b. 1892)
March 14 – David Browning, American Olympic diver (b. 1931)
Fred Allen, American comedian (b. 1894)
Irène Joliot-Curie, French physicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (b. 1897)
March 18 – Louis Bromfield, American writer (b. 1896)
Fanny Durack, Australian swimmer (b. 1889)
Wilhelm Miklas, 3rd President of Austria (b. 1889)
March 22 – Eduardo Lonardi, Argentine military officer, (de facto) 30th President of Argentina (b. 1896)
Lou Moore, American racing driver and team owner (b. 1904)
Robert Newton, English film actor (b. 1905)
March 28 – Thomas de Hartmann, Russian composer (b. 1885)
March 30 – Edmund Clerihew Bentley, English inventor (b. 1875)
March 31 – Ralph DePalma, Italian-born race car driver (b. 1884)
April 6 – Pío Valenzuela, Filipino physician and one of the leaders of the Katipunan (b. 1869)
April 13 – Emil Nolde, German-Danish painter (b. 1867)
April 15 – Kathleen Howard, Canadian-born American actress and opera singer (b. 1884)
April 19 – Ernst Robert Curtius, Alsatian philologist (b. 1886)
Samuel Gottesman, American pulp-paper merchant (b. 1885)
Charles MacArthur, American playwright and screenwriter (b. 1895)
April 24 – Henry Stephenson, British character actor (b. 1871)
April 26 – Edward Arnold, American actor (b. 1890)
June 28 – Friedrich Schmidt-Ott, German lawyer, scientific organizer, and science policymaker (b. 1860)
Harold Bride, English-born junior radio officer on RMS Titanic (b. 1890)
Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, German field marshal (b. 1876)
April 30 – Alben W. Barkley, 35th Vice President of the United States (b. 1877)
Rodney Collin, British writer (b. 1909)
Peter Watson, English art collector and benefactor (b. 1908)
May 12 – Louis Calhern, American actor (b. 1895)
May 15 – Austin Osman Spare, English artist and occultist (b. 1886)
May 18 – Maurice Tate, English cricketer (b. 1895)
Max Beerbohm, English essayist, parodist and caricaturist (b. 1872)
Zoltán Halmay, Hungarian Olympic swimmer (b. 1881)
May 23 – Gustav Suits, Estonian poet (b. 1883)
May 24 – Guy Kibbee, American actor (b. 1882)
May 26 – Al Simmons, American baseball player (Philadelphia Athletics) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1902)
May 29 – Frank Beaurepaire, Australian Olympic swimmer (b. 1891)
May 31 – Diedrich Hermann Westermann, German linguist (b. 1875)
Richard S. Edwards, American admiral (b. 1885)
Jean Hersholt, Danish actor (b. 1886)
June 4 – Katherine MacDonald, American silent film actress (b. 1891)
Hiram Bingham, American explorer, discoverer of Machu Picchu (b. 1875)
Margaret Wycherly, English stage and film actress (b. 1881)
Frank Brangwyn, Anglo-Welsh artist (b. 1867)
Ralph Morgan, American actor (b. 1883)
June 17 – Paul Rostock, German official, surgeon, and university professor (b. 1892)
June 22 – Walter de la Mare, English poet, short story writer, and novelist (b. 1873)
June 23 – Reinhold Glière, Russian composer (b. 1875)
June 25 – Ernest King, American Fleet Admiral (b. 1878)
June 26 – Clifford Brown, American jazz trumpeter (b. 1930)
July 7 – Gottfried Benn, German poet (b. 1886)
July 8 – Giovanni Papini, Italian essayist, poet, novelist (b. 1881)
July 10 – Joe Giard, American baseball player (b. 1898)
July 11 – John T. Raulston, Scopes Monkey Trial judge (b. 1868)
July 20 – James Alexander Calder, Canadian politician (b. 1868)
August 2 – Albert Woolson, last surviving Union veteran of the American Civil War (b. 1847)
Jackson Pollock, American painter (b. 1912)
Mincho Neychev, former Chairman of the Presidium of the National Assembly (head of state) of Bulgaria (b. 1887)
Bertolt Brecht, German playwright (b. 1898)
Konstantin von Neurath, Nazi German diplomat and foreign minister (b. 1873)
Bela Lugosi, Hungarian-born film actor (Dracula) (b. 1882)
Lynde D. McCormick, American admiral (b. 1895)
August 23 – Peaches Browning, American actress (b. 1910)
August 24 – Kenji Mizoguchi, Japanese film director (b. 1898)
August 25 – Alfred Kinsey, American sex researcher (b. 1894)
Lee Jung-seob, Korean oil painter (b. 1872)
Felix Borowski, British-American composer and teacher (b. 1872)
Billy Bishop, Canadian World War I flying ace (b. 1894)
Lucien Febvre, French historian (b. 1878)
September 20 – Flora Eldershaw, Australian novelist, critic, and historian (b. 1897)
September 22 – Frederick Soddy, English chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1877)
Milburn G. Apt, American test pilot (b. 1924)
Babe Zaharias, American golfer (b. 1911)
September 29 – Anastasio Somoza García, President of Nicaragua (assassinated) (b. 1896)
October 1 – Albert Von Tilzer, American songwriter (b. 1878)
October 2 – George Bancroft, American actor (b. 1882)
October 9 – Marie Doro, American stage & silent film actress (b. 1882)
October 12 – Don Lorenzo Perosi, Italian composer (b. 1872)
October 17 – Anne Crawford, British actress (b. 1920)
October 19 – Isham Jones, American musician (b. 1894)
October 22 – Hannah Mitchell, English socialist and suffragette (b. 1872)
October 25 – Risto Ryti, 23rd Prime Minister of Finland and 5th President of Finland (b. 1889)
October 26 – Walter Gieseking, French conductor (b. 1895)
Pietro Badoglio, Italian general and 28th Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1871)
Tommy Johnson, American musician (b. 1896)
November 5 – Art Tatum, American jazz pianist (b. 1909)
November 6 – Paul Kelly, American stage and film actor (b. 1899)
Harry F. Sinclair, American entrepreneur (b. 1876)
Victor Young, American composer (b. 1900)
November 19 – Francis L. Sullivan, English actor (b. 1903)
November 22 – Theodore Kosloff, Russian-born ballet dancer, choreographer and actor (b. 1882)
November 24 – Guido Cantelli, Italian conductor (b. 1920)
November 26 – Tommy Dorsey, American trombonist and bandleader (b. 1905)
November 27 – Hugo Ballin, American artist, film production designer, and director (b. 1879)
December 2 – Dell Henderson, Canadian actor (b. 1883)
December 6 – Dr B. R. Ambedkar, A founding father of modern India, the architect of its constitution and Indian dalit leader (b. 1891)
December 7 – Huntley Gordon, Canadian actor (b. 1887)
December 10 – David Shimoni, Israeli poet and writer (b. 1891)
December 14 – Juho Kusti Paasikivi, 2-Time Prime Minister of Finland and 7th President of Finland (b. 1870)
December 16 – Nina Hamnett, Welsh artist (b. 1890)
December 17 – Eddie Acuff, American actor (b. 1903)
December 26 – Holmes Herbert, English actor (b. 1882)
December 30 – Ruth Draper, American actress (b. 1884)
Lotte Herrlich, female photographer of German naturism
Physics – William Shockley, John Bardeen, Walter Houser Brattain
Chemistry – Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood, Nikolay Semyonov
Physiology or Medicine – André Frédéric Cournand, Werner Forssmann, Dickinson W. Richards
Literature – Juan Ramón Jiménez
Peace – Not Awarded
1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday (dominical letter AG) of the Gregorian calendar, the 1956th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 956th year of the 2nd millennium, the 56th year of the 20th century, and the 7th year of the 1950s decade.