United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces that the United States has severed diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba. Cuba–United States relations are later restored in 2015.
At the National Reactor Testing Station near Idaho Falls, atomic reactor SL-1 explodes, killing three military technicians.
Aero Flight 311 (Koivulahti air disaster): Douglas DC-3C OH-LCC of Finnish airline Aero crashes near Kvevlax (Koivulahti) on approach to Vaasa Airport in Finland killing all 25 on board, due to pilot error: an investigation finds that the captain and first officer were both exhausted for lack of sleep and had taken excessive alcohol at the time of the crash. It remains the deadliest air disaster to occur in the country.
Italian sculptor Alfredo Fioravanti marches into the U.S. Consulate in Rome, and confesses that he was part of the team that forged the Etruscan terracotta warriors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Cemal Gürsel forms the new government of Turkey (25th government).
January 7 – Following a four-day conference in Casablanca, five African chiefs of state announce plans for a NATO-type African organization to ensure common defense. The Charter of Casablanca involves the Casablanca Group: Morocco, the United Arab Republic, Ghana, Guinea, and Mali.
January 8 – In France, a referendum supports Charles de Gaulle's policies on independence for Algeria.
January 9 – British authorities announce that they have discovered a large Soviet spy ring in London.
President Dwight Eisenhower gives his final State of the Union Address to Congress. In a Farewell Address the same day, he warns of the increasing power of a "military–industrial complex."
Patrice Lumumba of Republic of Congo is assassinated.
January 20 – John F. Kennedy is sworn in as President of the United States.
January 24 – A B-52 Stratofortress, with two nuclear bombs, crashes near Goldsboro, North Carolina.
In Washington, D.C., President John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential news conference. In it, he announces that the Soviet Union has freed the two surviving crewmen of a USAF RB-47 reconnaissance plane shot down by Soviet flyers over the Barents Sea July 1, 1960 (see RB-47H shot down).
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is released in cinemas.
Acting to halt 'leftist excesses', a junta composed of two army officers and four civilians takes over El Salvador, ousting another junta that had ruled for three months.
Jânio Quadros is elected president of Brazil. He later resigns on August 25.
January 26 – President John F. Kennedy appoints Janet G. Travell to be his physician, the first woman to hold this appointment.
January 28 – Supercar, the first family sci-fi TV series filmed in Supermarionation debuts on ATV.
January 30 – President John F. Kennedy delivers his first State of the Union Address.
January 31 – Ham the Chimp, a 37-pound (17-kg) male, is rocketed into space aboard Mercury-Redstone 2, in a test of the Project Mercury capsule, designed to carry United States astronauts into space.
February 1 – The United States tests its first Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile.
February 3 – China buys grain from Canada for $60 million.
February 4 – The Portuguese Colonial War begins in Angola.
February 5 – February 9 – In Congo, President Joseph Kasa-Vubu names Joseph Iléo as the new Prime Minister.
February 9 – The Beatles perform for the first time at The Cavern Club.
February 12 – The USSR launches Venera 1 towards Venus.
February 13 – The Congo government announces that villagers have killed Patrice Lumumba.
February 14 – Discovery of the chemical elements: Element 103, Lawrencium, is first synthesized in Berkeley, California.
President Kennedy warns the Soviet Union to avoid interfering with the United Nations pacification of the Congo.
A Sabena Boeing 707 crashes near Brussels, Belgium, killing 73, including the entire United States figure skating team and several coaches.
A total solar eclipse occurs in the southern part of Europe.
February 25 – The last public trams in Sydney, Australia, cease operation, bringing to an end the Southern Hemisphere's largest tramway network.
February 26 – Hassan II is pronounced King of Morocco.
March–April – Drilling for Project Mohole is undertaken off the coast of Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
March 1 – United States President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.
March 3 – Hassan II is crowned King of Morocco.
Max Conrad circumnavigates the earth in 8 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes, setting a new world record.
The first U.S. Polaris submarines arrive at Holy Loch.
Black and white £5 notes cease to be legal tender in the UK.
A dam bursts in Kiev, USSR, killing 145.
United States delegate to the United Nations Security Council Adlai Stevenson votes against Portuguese policies in Africa.
United States President John F. Kennedy proposes a long-term "Alliance for Progress" between the United States and Latin America.
Cyprus joins the Commonwealth of Nations, becoming the first small country in the Commonwealth.
Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, takes in its first students.
A second B-52 crashes near Yuba City, California after cabin pressure is lost and the fuel runs out. Two nuclear weapons are found unexploded.
South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth of Nations. The nation rejoins the organization in 1994.
The Union of Peoples of Angola, led by Holden Roberto, attacks strategic locations in the north of Angola. These events result in the beginning of the colonial war with Portugal.
A ceasefire takes effect in the Algerian War of Independence.
Nous les amoureux by Jean-Claude Pascal (music by Jacques Datin, text by Maurice Vidalin) wins the Eurovision Song Contest 1961 for Luxembourg.
March 29 – The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to vote in presidential elections.
March 30 – The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is signed at New York.
April 5 – The New Guinea Council of Western Papua is installed.
April 8 – The British passenger ship Dara blows up and sinks off Dubai; 238 passengers and crew are killed.
April 11 – The trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann begins in Jerusalem.
Vostok 1: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human in space, orbiting the Earth once.
Albert Kalonji takes the title Emperor Albert I Kalonji of South Kasai.
April 13 – In Portugal, a coup attempt against António de Oliveira Salazar fails.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba begins; it fails by April 19.
The 33rd Academy Awards ceremony is held.
April 18 – Portugal sends to Angola its first military reinforcement.
April 20 – Fidel Castro announces that the Bay of Pigs Invasion has been defeated.
April 22 – Algiers putsch: Four French generals who oppose de Gaulle's policies in Algeria fail in a coup attempt.
April 23 – Judy Garland performs in a legendary comeback concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
April 24 – The Swedish ship Vasa is removed from the water after being sunk 333 years earlier.
President Kennedy urges newspapers to consider national interest in times of struggle against "a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy" in an address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association.
Sierra Leone becomes independent from the United Kingdom.
May 4 – U.S. Freedom Riders begin interstate bus rides to test the new U.S. Supreme Court integration decision.
May 5 – Mercury program: Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space aboard Mercury-Redstone 3.
May 6 – Tottenham Hotspur F.C. becomes the first team in the 20th century to win the English league and cup double. This being the last time Tottenham won the English League.
May 8 – Briton George Blake is sentenced to 42 years imprisonment for spying.
May 9 – In a speech on "Television and the Public Interest" to the National Association of Broadcasters, FCC chairman Newton N. Minow describes commercial television programming as a "vast wasteland".
May 14 – African-American Civil Rights Movement: A Freedom Riders bus is fire-bombed near Anniston, Alabama and the civil rights protestors are beaten by an angry mob of Ku Klux Klan members.
May 15 – J. Heinrich Matthaei alone performs the Poly-U-Experiment and is the first person to recognize and understand the genetic code. This is the birthdate of modern genetics.
May 16 – Park Chung-hee takes over in a military coup in South Korea.
May 19 – Venera 1 becomes the first man-made object to fly-by another planet by passing Venus (however, the probe had lost contact with Earth a month earlier and does not send back any data).
May 21 – African-American Civil Rights Movement: Alabama Governor John Patterson declares martial law in an attempt to restore order after race riots break out.
May 22 – An earthquake rocks New South Wales.
May 24 – African-American Civil Rights Movement: Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for "disturbing the peace" after disembarking from their bus.
May 25 – Apollo program: President Kennedy announces before a special joint session of Congress his goal to put a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.
May 27 – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaya, holds a press conference in Singapore, announcing his idea to form the Federation of Malaysia, comprising Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo (Sabah).
May 28 – Peter Benenson's article "The Forgotten Prisoners" is published in several internationally read newspapers. This is later considered the founding of the human rights organization Amnesty International.
May 30 – Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, totalitarian despot of the Dominican Republic since 1930, is killed in an ambush, putting an end to the second longest-running dictatorship in Latin American history.
In France, rebel generals Maurice Challe and Andre Zelelr are sentenced to 15 years in prison.
South Africa officially leaves the Commonwealth of Nations.
President John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle meet in Paris.
Benfica beats Barcelona 3-2 at Wankdorf Stadium, Bern and wins the 1960–61 European Cup (football).
June 1 – Ethiopia experiences its most devastating earthquake of the 20th century, with a magnitude of 6.7. The town of Majete is destroyed, 45% of the houses in Karakore collapse, 17 kilometers (11 mi) of the main road north of Karakore are damaged by landslides and fissures, and 5,000 inhabitants in the area are left homeless.
June 4 – Vienna summit: John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev meet during two days in Vienna. They discuss nuclear tests, disarmament and Germany.
June 16 – Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev requests asylum in France while in Paris with the Kirov Ballet.
A Paris-to-Strasbourg train derails near Vitry-le-François; 24 are killed, 109 injured.
The New Democratic Party of Canada is founded with the merger of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.
June 19 – The British protectorate ends in Kuwait and it becomes an emirate.
June 22 – Moise Tshombe is released for lack of evidence of connection to the murder of Patrice Lumumba.
June 23 – The Antarctic Treaty comes into effect.
June 25 – Iraqi president Abd al-Karim Qasim announces he is going to annex Kuwait (such an annexation of Kuwait would occur in 1990).
June 27 – Kuwait requests British help; the United Kingdom sends in troops.
July 4 – The Soviet submarine K-19 reactor leak occurs in the North Atlantic.
July 5 – The first Israeli rocket, Shavit 2, is launched.
July 8 – A mine explosion in Czechoslovakia leaves 108 dead.
July 12 – A Czechoslovakian Ilyushin Il-18 crashes while attempting to land at Casablanca, Morocco, killing all 72 persons on board.
July 17 – Baseball legend Ty Cobb dies at the age of 74 at Emory University Hospital.
July 21 – Mercury program: Gus Grissom, piloting the Mercury-Redstone 4 capsule Liberty Bell 7, becomes the second American to go into space (sub-orbital). Upon splashdown, the hatch prematurely opens, and the capsule sinks (it is recovered in 1999).
July 25 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy gives a widely watched TV speech on the Berlin crisis, warning "we will not be driven out of Berlin." Kennedy urges Americans to build fallout shelters, setting off a four-month debate on civil defense.
At Fenway Park in Boston, the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game tie occurs, when the game is stopped in the 9th inning due to rain (the only tie until 2002).
Ireland submits the first application from a non-founding country to join the European Economic Community.
August – The United States founds the Alliance for Progress.
August 1 – The Six Flags Over Texas theme park officially opens to the public.
August 6 – Vostok 2: Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov becomes the second human to orbit the Earth, and the first to be in outer space for more than one day.
August 7 – Vostok 2 (with Titov on board) lands in the Soviet Union.
August 10 – The United Kingdom applies for membership in the European Economic Community.
August 13 – Construction of the Berlin Wall begins, restricting movement between East Berlin and West Berlin and forming a clear boundary between West Germany and East Germany, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. On August 22 Ida Siekmann jumps from a window in her tenement building trying to flee to the West, becoming the first of at least 138 people to die at the Wall.
August 21 – Jomo Kenyatta is released from prison in Kenya.
August 25 – João Goulart replaces Jânio Quadros as President of Brazil. He is ousted in 1964.
The Eritrean War of Independence officially begins with the shooting of the Ethiopian police by Hamid Idris Awate.
The first meeting is held of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Soviet Union resumes nuclear testing, escalating fears over the ongoing Berlin crisis.
September 7 – Tom and Jerry make a return with their first episode since 1958, Switchin' Kitten. The new creator, Gene Deitch, makes 12 more Tom and Jerry episodes until 1962.
September 10 – During the F1 Italian Grand Prix on the circuit of Monza, German Wolfgang von Trips, driving a Ferrari, crashes into a stand, killing 14 spectators and himself.
The new military government of Turkey sentences 15 members of the previous government to death.
The Focolare Movement opens its first North American center in New York.
September 17 – Military rulers in Turkey hang former prime minister Adnan Menderes.
September 18 – United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld dies in an air crash en route to Katanga, Congo.
September 21 – In France, the OAS slips an anti-de Gaulle message into TV programming.
The old Deutsche Opernhaus in the Berlin neighborhood of Charlottenburg is returned to its newly rebuilt house as the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
In the U.S., the Walt Disney anthology television series, renamed Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, moves from ABC to NBC after seven years on the air, and begins telecasting its programs in color for the first time. Years later, after Disney's death, the still-on-the-air program will be renamed The Wonderful World of Disney.
September 28 – A military coup in Damascus, Syria effectively ends the United Arab Republic, the union between Egypt and Syria.
September 30 – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is formed to replace the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC).
October 1 – Baseball player Roger Maris of the New York Yankees hits his 61st home run in the last game of the season, against the Boston Red Sox, setting a new record for the longer baseball season. The record for the shorter season was still held by Babe Ruth.
October 10 – A volcanic eruption on Tristan da Cunha causes the whole population to be evacuated.
October 12 – The death penalty is abolished in New Zealand.
October 17 – Paris massacre of 1961: French police in Paris attack about 30,000 protesting a curfew applied solely to Algerians. The official death toll is 3, but human rights groups claim 240 dead.
October 18 – West Side Story is released as a film in the United States.
October 19 – The Arab League takes over protecting Kuwait; the last British troops leave.
October 25 – The first edition of Private Eye, the British satirical magazine, is published.
October 26 – Cemal Gürsel becomes the fourth president of Turkey. (His former title was head of state and government. By constitution referendum, he is elected as president.)
An armistice begins in Katanga, Congo.
Mongolia and Mauritania join the United Nations.
Confrontation at Checkpoint Charlie: A standoff between Soviet and American tanks in Berlin, Germany heightens Cold War tensions.
Fahrettin Özdilek becomes the acting prime minister of Turkey.
DZBB-TV Channel 7, the Philippines' third TV station, is launched.
Devrim has been released. The project was completed only in 130 days almost from scratch and this period includes decision of the project, research, design, development and production of four cars.
Nuclear weapons testing: The Soviet Union detonates a 58-megaton yield hydrogen bomb known as Tsar Bomba over Novaya Zemlya. It remains the largest ever man-made explosion.
The Note Crisis: The Soviet Union issues a diplomatic note to Finland proposing military co-operation.
Hurricane Hattie devastates Belize City, Belize killing over 270. After the hurricane, the capital moves to the inland city of Belmopan.
Joseph Stalin's body is removed from the Lenin Mausoleum.
The Hungry generation Movement is launched in Calcutta, India.
The Interstate Commerce Commission's federal order banning segregation at all interstate public facilities officially comes into effect.
The Madame Alexander Doll Club is founded by Margaret Doris Winson of Sweet Springs, MO.
November 2 – Kean opens at Broadway Theater in New York City for 92 performances.
November 3 – The United Nations General Assembly unanimously elects U Thant to the position of acting Secretary-General.
November 6 – The U.S. government issues a stamp honoring the 100th birthday of James Naismith.
November 8 – Imperial Airlines Flight 201/8 crashes while attempting to land at Richmond, Virginia, killing 77 persons on board.
November 9 – Neil Armstrong records a world record speed in a rocket plane of 6,587 km/h flying a X-15.
November 10 – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is first published.
Congolese soldiers murder 13 Italian United Nations pilots.
Stalingrad is renamed Volgograd.
November 17 – Michael Rockefeller, son of New York Governor and later Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, disappears in the jungles of New Guinea.
November 18 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.
The funeral of longtime House Speaker Sam Rayburn is held in Washington, D.C. Two former Presidents (Truman, Eisenhower) and one future one (Lyndon B. Johnson) join President Kennedy in paying their respects.
İsmet İnönü of CHP forms the new government of Turkey (26th government, first coalition in Turkey, partner AP)
November 21 – The "La Ronde" opens in Honolulu, the first revolving restaurant in the United States
November 24 – The World Food Programme (WFP) is formed as a temporary United Nations program.
November 30 – The Soviet Union vetoes Kuwait's application for United Nations membership.
December 1 – Netherlands New Guinea raises the new Morning Star flag and changes its name to West Papua.
December 2 – Cold War: In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro announces he is a Marxist–Leninist, and that Cuba will adopt socialism.
December 5 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy gives support to the Volta Dam project in Ghana.
Tanganyika gains independence and declares itself a republic, with Julius Nyerere as its first President.
The Australian government of Robert Menzies is re-elected for a sixth term.
December 10 – The Soviet Union severs diplomatic relations with Albania.
The American involvement in the Vietnam War officially begins, as the first American helicopters arrive in Saigon along with 400 U.S. personnel.
Adolf Eichmann is pronounced guilty of crimes against humanity by a panel of three Israeli judges.
December 14 – Walt Disney's first live-action Technicolor musical, Babes in Toyland, a remake of the famous Victor Herbert operetta, is released, but flops at the box office.
December 15 – An Israeli war crimes tribunal sentences Adolf Eichmann to death for his part in The Holocaust.
December 17 – A circus tent fire in Niterói, Brazil kills 323.
December 18 – India opens hostilities in its annexation of Portuguese India, the colonies of Goa, Damao and Diu.
The Portuguese surrender Goa to India after 400 years of Portuguese rule.
Indonesian president Sukarno announces that he will take West Irian by force if necessary.
December 21 – In Congo, Katangan prime minister Moise Tshombe recognizes the Congolese constitution.
December 23 – Luxembourg's national holiday, the Grand Duke's Official Birthday, is set on June 23 by Grand Ducal decree.
December 30 – Congolese troops capture Albert Kalonji of South Kasai (who soon escapes).
December 31 – Ireland's first national television station, Telefís Éireann (later RTÉ), begins broadcasting.
"Barbie" gets a boyfriend when the "Ken" doll is introduced in the United States.
Sheila Burnford's The Incredible Journey, a story of three pets travelling through the Canadian wilderness, is published in the United Kingdom.
Sergei Babayan, American classical pianist
Sam Backo, Australian rugby league footballer
Neil Dudgeon, English actor
Todd Haynes, American film director
January 5 – Iris DeMent, American singer-songwriter
January 7 – Supriya Pathak,Indian actress
January 8 – Calvin Smith, American athlete
Candi Milo, American voice actress
Al Jean, American television writer
January 10 – Mark Venturini, American actor (d. 1996)
Jasper Fforde, British fantasy novelist
Karl Habsburg-Lothringen, Austrian politician and noble
January 12 – Sean Blowers, English actor
Wayne Coyne, American musician and frontman of the band The Flaming Lips
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, American actress, producer and comedian
Suggs, British singer and TV presenter
January 14 – Mike Tramp, Danish rock singer (White Lion)
January 16 – Peter Tanfield, British concert violinist
January 17 – Maia Chiburdanidze, Georgian chess player
Peter Beardsley, English footballer
Mark Messier, Canadian hockey player
January 19 – William Ragsdale, American actor
Daniel Johnston, American singer-songwriter, musician, and artist
Shigeru Nakahara, Japanese voice actor
January 24 – Guido Buchwald, German football player
Sharyl Attkisson, American author and former television journalist and investigative correspondent
Wayne Gretzky, Canadian hockey player
Li Cunxin, Artistic Director for Queensland Ballet
January 28 – Arnaldur Indriðason, Icelandic writer
January 29 – Petra Thümer, German swimmer
January 30 – Dexter Scott King, son of Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 31 – Lloyd Cole, British singer and songwriter
February 1 – Volker Fried, German field hockey player
February 3 – Jim Balsillie, Canadian CEO and philanthropist
February 6 – Yuko Kobayashi, Japanese voice actress
February 8 – Vince Neil, American singer
John Kruk, American baseball player and commentator
Jussi Lampi, Finnish musician and actor
February 10 – George Stephanopoulos, American political consultant and commentator
February 11 – Mary Docter, American speed skater
February 13 – Henry Rollins, American musician and activist
February 14 – Latifa, Tunisian singer
Meir Kessler, Israeli rabbi
Andrey Korotayev, Russian anthropologist, economic historian, and sociologist
February 18 – Hironobu Kageyama, Japanese singer
Phil Powers, American alpinist
Dwayne McDuffie, American writer of comics and television (d. 2011)
February 21 – Geoff Moore, American Christian musician
February 22 – Akira Takasaki, Japanese guitarist
February 25 – Davey Allison, American race car driver (d. 1993)
February 27 – James Worthy, American basketball player and analyst
February 28 – Mark Latham, Australian politician
Mary Page Keller, American actress
John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer
Ray Mancini, American boxer
Steven Weber, American actor
Roger Wessels, South African golfer
Mike Leach, American college football coach
Rick Steiner, American professional wrestler
Mike Bullard, American hockey player
Laurel Clark, American astronaut (d. 2003)
Mitch Gaylord, American gymnast
Kim Boyce, American Christian musician
Gary Dell'Abate, American radio producer
Marc Koska, English businessman and inventor
Brett Kenny, Australian rugby league player
Michiru Ōshima, Japanese composer
Umayya Abu-Hanna, Palestine-born Finnish writer and politician
Alexander Bard, Swedish musician (Army of Lovers)
Sam Bowie, American basketball player
Dana Reeve, American actress, singer and activist (d. 2006)
Lothar Matthäus, German footballer
Kassie DePaiva, American actress
Ali Hewson, Irish activist and businesswoman
Helmi Johannes, Indonesian television newscaster
March 24 – Yanis Varoufakis, Greek economist, current Greek Finance Minister
March 25 – Reggie Fils-Aimé, American businessman
March 27 – Tak Matsumoto, Japanese guitarist (B'z)
March 28 – Byron Scott, American basketball player and coach
Amy Sedaris, American actress, comedian and writer
Gerardo Teissonniere, Puerto Rican pianist
Susan Boyle, Scottish singer
Kujira, Japanese voice actress
April 2 – Christopher Meloni, American actor
April 3 – Eddie Murphy, African-American actor and comedian
April 5 – Lisa Zane, American actress
April 6 – Gene Eugene, Canadian actor and singer (d. 2000)
April 7 – Thurl Bailey, American basketball player
April 11 – Vincent Gallo, American actor
April 12 – Lisa Gerrard, Australian musician
Robert Carlyle, Scottish film and television actor
Neil Dougherty, American basketball coach (d. 2011)
Frank J. Christensen, American labor leader
Daphna Kastner, Canadian actress
April 18 – Jane Leeves, English actress
Konstantin Lavronenko, Russian actor
Don Mattingly, American baseball player
April 21 – Cathy Cavadini, American voice actress
Dirk Bach, German actor and comedian (d. 2012)
George Lopez, American actor and comedian
April 26 – Anthony Cumia, American radio personality
April 27 – Moana Pozzi, Italian porn actress (d. 1994)
April 28 – Futoshi Matsunaga, Japanese serial killer
April 29 – Fumihiko Tachiki, Japanese voice actor
April 30 – Isiah Thomas, African-American basketball player, coach, and team owner
May 1 – Marilyn Milian, American judge
May 2 – Steve James, English snooker player
Joe Murray, American animator
David Vitter, U.S. Senator (R-LA)
Jay Aston, British singer (Bucks Fizz)
Mary Elizabeth McDonough, American actress, producer, director and author
Hiroshi Hase, Japanese professional wrestler
Sarah Zivale, American actress
May 6 – George Clooney, American actor
May 7 – Robert Spano, American conductor and pianist
Janet McTeer, British actress
Akira Taue, Japanese professional wrestler
May 9 – Rene Capo, American judoka (d. 2009)
May 10 – Danny Carey, American drummer (Tool, Pigmy Love Circus)
Paul Begala, American political commentator
Lar Park Lincoln, American actress
May 12 – Billy Duffy, British guitarist (The Cult)
May 13 – Dennis Rodman, American basketball player and actor
Tim Roth, English actor
Urban Priol, German Kabarett artist and comedian
Kevin McDonald, Canadian comedian and actor
Charles Wright, American professional wrestler
May 17 – Enya, Irish musician
May 18 – Jim Bowden, American baseball executive
May 20 – Clive Allen, British footballer
May 22 – Mike Breen, American sports announcer
May 23 – Karen Duffy, American actress
May 27 – Peri Gilpin, American actress
May 28 – Roland Gift, British singer and musician (Fine Young Cannibals)
May 29 – Melissa Etheridge, American musician
Ralph Carter, American actor
Harry Enfield, English comedian, actor, writer and director
Ray Cote, Canadian ice hockey player
Justin Madden, Australian footballer and politician
Lea Thompson, American actress
June 1 – Paul Coffey, Canadian hockey player
June 2 – Dez Cadena, American musician
Lawrence Lessig, American academic and political activist
Ed Wynne, English musician (Ozric Tentacles)
June 4 – El DeBarge, African-American singer
Mary Kay Bergman, American voice actress (d. 1999)
Anthony Burger, American musician and singer (d. 2006)
Rosie Kane, Member of Scottish Parliament
June 6 – Tom Araya, Chilean-born rock musician (Slayer)
June 8 – Katy Garbi, Greek singer
Michael J. Fox, Canadian-American actor, producer, and author
Aaron Sorkin, American screenwriter, producer, and playwright
Kim and Kelley Deal, American musicians
Maxi Priest, born Max Elliott, British reggae singer
June 14 – Boy George, born George O'Dowd, British singer-songwriter and music producer
June 15 – Dave McAuley, Northern Irish boxer
June 17 – Kōichi Yamadera, Japanese voice actor
Andrés Galarraga, Venezuelan baseball player
Alison Moyet, English singer-songwriter
June 19 – Bidhya Devi Bhandari, 2nd President of Nepal
June 20 – Karin Kania, German speed skater
Manu Chao, French singer
Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia
Zoran Janjetov, Serbian comic artist
David Leavitt, American novelist
Lisa Bevill, American Christian musician
Curt Smith, British musician and lead singer and keyboardist of rock group Tears For Fears
Mike Breen, American broadcaster
Ricky Gervais, English comedian, actor, writer and director. Former singer in Seona Dancing
June 26 – Greg LeMond, American cyclist
June 27 – Meera Syal, British-Indian comedian and actress
Jeff Malone, American basketball player
Eliezer Melamed, Israeli rabbi
June 29 – Greg Hetson, American rock guitarist (Bad Religion, Circle Jerks)
Vito Bratta, American rock guitarist (White Lion)
Diana, Princess of Wales, British Princess and first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (d. 1997)
Carl Lewis, American athlete
July 4 – Andrew Zimmern, American television personality (Bizarre Foods)
July 5 – Patrizia Scianca, Italian voice actress
July 7 – Eric Jerome Dickey, American writer
July 8 – Toby Keith, American country music singer
July 10 –
Jacky Cheung, Hong Kong singer and actor
Ulla Kock am Brink, German television presenter
July 14 – Jackie Earle Haley, American actor
July 15 – Forest Whitaker, American actor and film director
July 16 – J. Alan Brogan, Irish programmer
Guru, American emcee (d. 2010)
Jonathan Potts, Canadian actor
António Costa, Portuguese politician, 119th Prime Minister (2015–present)
Maria Filatova, Soviet gymnast
Benoît Mariage, Belgian film director
Noriyuki Abe, Japanese anime director
July 22 – Keith Sweat, American singer
Milind Gunaji, Indian actor, model, television show host
Woody Harrelson, American actor and comedian
July 25 – Hugo Teufel III, 2nd Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security
Keiko Matsui, Japanese pianist and composer
Gary Cherone, American rock singer and songwriter
July 30 – Laurence Fishburne, American actor and film director
August 3 – Nick Harvey, English politician
Robin Carnahan, Secretary of State of Missouri
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
Lauren Tom, American actress
August 5 – Clayton Rohner, American actor
Brian Conley, English presenter, comedian, singer and actor
Yelena Davydova, Soviet gymnast
The Edge, Irish rock guitarist (U2)
Bruce Matthews, American football player
Rikki Rockett, American rock drummer (Poison)
August 9 – John Key, 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand
Sunil Shetty, Indian Bollywood film actor
Jukka Tapanimäki, Finnish game programmer (d. 2000)
August 14 – Susan Olsen, American actress and animal welfare advocate
Elpidia Carrillo, Mexican-American actress
Urara Takano, Japanese voice actress
Huw Edwards, BAFTA award-winning Welsh journalist and presenter
Bob Woodruff, American television journalist
August 21 – Stephen Hillenburg, American marine biologist, cartoonist, and animator
August 22 – Roland Orzabal, British musician and songwriter
August 24 – Jared Harris, English actor
August 25 – Billy Ray Cyrus, American actor and singer
August 27 – Tom Ford, American fashion designer and film director
August Date Unknown– Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army
Bam Bam Bigelow, American professional wrestler (d. 2007)
Cécilia Rodhe, Miss Sweden
Carlos Valderrama, Colombian footballer
Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Hong Kong actor
September 4 – Felix Wong, Hong Kong actor
September 5 – Karim Abdul Razak, Ghanaian footballer
Akira Kuroiwa, Japanese speed skater
Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, Norwegian rock musician and songwriter (A-ha)
September 7 – Kevin Kennedy, British actor
Elizabeth Daily, American voice actress and singer
Virginia Madsen, American actress
September 12 – Mylène Farmer, Canadian singer and songwriter
September 13 – Dave Mustaine, American metal singer, guitarist (Megadeth)
September 14 – Martina Gedeck, German actress
Dan Marino, American football player
Lidia Yusupova, Chechen human-rights lawyer
September 16 – Jen Tolley, American-Canadian voice actress
September 18 – James Gandolfini, American actor (d. 2013)
September 20 – Caroline Flint, British Labour MP
Bonnie Hunt, American actress, comedian, writer, director and television producer
Catherine Oxenberg, British actress
September 23 – William C. McCool, U.S. Army Commander and astronaut (d. 2003)
September 24 – Jack Dee, English stand-up comedian, actor and writer
Heather Locklear, American actress
Steve Scott, British journalist and presenter
September 26 – Edward M. Kennedy Jr., son of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy
September 27 – Andy Lau, Hong Kong actor and singer
Yordanka Donkova, Bulgarian athlete
Wayne Westner A South African Golfer who won twice on the European Tour (d. 2017)
September 29 – Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia
Crystal Bernard, American actress and singer
Eric Stoltz, American actor and director
Sally Yeh, Hong Kong singer and actress
Gary Ablett, Australian rules footballer
Rico Constantino, American professional wrestler
Robert Rey, Brazilian-American plastic surgeon and television personality
October 2 – Edmond Yu, Chinese student (d. 1997)
October 3 – Ludger Stühlmeyer, German cantor, composer and musicologist
Philippe Russo, French singer
Jon Secada, Cuban-American singer and songwriter
October 5 – Matthew Kauffman, American journalist and George Polk Award winner
October 6 – Mark Shasha, American artist, author, illustrator
October 10 – Jodi Benson, American actress and singer
Amr Diab, Egyptian singer
Steve Young, American football player
Rachel De Thame, English gardener and television presenter
Doc Rivers, American basketball player and coach
October 14 – Jim Burns, British science-fiction illustrator
October 16 – Randy Vasquez, American actor
Wynton Marsalis, African-American trumpeter and composer
Rick Moody, American writer
October 20 – Michie Tomizawa, Japanese voice actress
October 24 – Dave Meltzer, American wrestling journalist
Pat Sharp, British radio DJ and host
Chad Smith, American musician
Ward Burton, American NASCAR driver
October 26 – Dylan McDermott, American actor
October 29 – Randy Jackson, African-American musician
Alonzo Babers, American runner
Peter Jackson, New Zealand film director
Larry Mullen, Jr., Irish rock drummer (U2)
November 1 – Anne Donovan, American basketball player
November 2 – k.d. lang, Canadian singer and songwriter
Daron Hagen, American composer
Dominic Heale, British journalist and newsreader
Ralph Macchio, American actor
Jeff Probst, American television personality
Jerry Sadowitz, American-born British stand-up comic and card magician
Nigel Worthington, Northern Irish footballer and football manager
Jill Dando, British journalist and television presenter (d. 1999)
Jackie Kay, Scottish poet and novelist
November 12 – Nadia Comăneci, Romanian gymnast
Jurga Ivanauskaitė, Lithuanian writer (d. 2007)
D. B. Sweeney, American actor
November 16 – Corinne Hermès, French singer, Eurovision Song Contest 1983 winner
Jan Kuehnemund, American guitarist (Vixen) (d. 2013)
Steven Moffat, Scottish screenwriter
Anthony Warlow, Australian singer
November 19 – Meg Ryan, American actress and film director
November 20 – Dave Watson, English footballer
November 21 – Maria Kawamura, Japanese voice actress
Mariel Hemingway, American actress
Randal L. Schwartz, American computer programmer
November 24 – Arundhati Roy, Indian writer and activist
November 28 – Alfonso Cuarón, Mexican film director, screenwriter and producer
December 3 – Marcelo Fromer, Brazilian guitarist
Roy Dennis, disabled American boy (d. 1978)
Frank Reich, American football player
December 8 – Ann Coulter, American author, conservative commentator and attorney
December 10 – Nia Peeples, American actress
Daniel O'Donnell, Irish singer
Sarah Sutton, British actress
December 13 – Karen Witter, American actress and model
December 15 – Karin Resetarits, Austrian journalist and politician
December 16 – Bill Hicks, American comedian (d. 1994)
Eric Allin Cornell, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
Matthew Waterhouse, British actor
Reggie White, American football player (d. 2004)
December 20 – Mohammad Fouad, Arab singer and actor
December 21 – Francis Ng, Hong Kong actor
December 23 – Ezzat el Kamhawi, Egyptian novelist
December 24 – Ilham Aliyev, 7th Prime Minister of Azerbaijan and 4th President of Azerbaijan
December 25 – Íngrid Betancourt, Colombian senator
December 26 – John Lynch, Northern Irish actor
December 27 – Guido Westerwelle, German politician (d. 2016)
December 29 – Jim Reid, Scottish musician
Douglas Coupland, Canadian author
Bill English, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Matt Goldman, American performance artist
Sean Hannity, American radio/television host and conservative commentator
Ben Johnson, Canadian athlete
Judie Bamber, American artist
Jaime Crespo, Mexican-American artist
James Rolfe, Canadian composer
Acharya S, American writer and proponent of the Christ myth theory (d. 2015)
Lefred Thouron, French cartoonist
January 4 – Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1887)
January 9 – Emily Greene Balch, American writer and pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1867)
January 10 – Dashiell Hammett, American writer (b. 1894)
January 13 – Blanche Ring, American singer and actress (b. 1871)
January 14 – Barry Fitzgerald, Irish actor (b. 1888)
January 17 – Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo (b. 1925)
January 18 – Thomas Anthony Dooley III, physician (b. 1927)
Blaise Cendrars, Swiss writer (b. 1887)
John J. Becker, American composer and pianist (b. 1886)
January 24 – Alfred Carlton Gilbert, American swimmer and inventor (b. 1884)
January 26 – Stan Nichols, English cricketer (b. 1900)
January 29 – Jesse Wallace, American naval officer, 29th Governor of American Samoa (b. 1899)
January 30 – Dorothy Thompson, American journalist (b. 1893)
February 2 – Anna May Wong, Chinese-American actress (b. 1905)
February 3 – Viscount Dunrossil, Australian Governor-General (b. 1893)
February 7 – William Duncan, American actor (b. 1879)
February 9 – Carlos Luz, 19th President of Brazil (b. 1894)
February 12 – Richmond K. Turner, American admiral (b. 1885)
February 13 – Arthur Ripley, American film director (b. 1897)
February 15 – Laurence Owen, American Figure Skater (b. 1944)
February 16 – Dazzy Vance, American baseball player (Brooklyn Dodgers) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1891)
February 17 – Nita Naldi, American actress (b. 1897)
February 20 – Percy Grainger, Australian composer (b. 1882)
Nick LaRocca, American jazz musician (b. 1889)
George de Cuevas, Chilean-American ballet impresario and choreographer (b. 1885)
Karl Albiker, German sculptor (b. 1878)
King Mohammed V of Morocco (b. 1909)
February 28 – Aaron S. "Tip" Merrill, American admiral (b. 1890)
March 3 – Paul Wittgenstein, Austrian-born pianist (b. 1887)
March 6 – George Formby, British singer, comedian & actor (b. 1904)
Sir Thomas Beecham, English conductor (b. 1879)
Gala Galaction, Romanian writer (b. 1879)
Victor d'Arcy, British Olympic athlete (b. 1887)
Belinda Lee, English actress (b. 1935)
March 17 – Susanna M. Salter, first woman mayor in the United States (b. 1860)
March 23 – Valentin Bondarenko, Russian cosmonaut (b. 1937)
March 25 – Arthur Drewry, English administrator, 5th President of FIFA (b. 1891)
March 26 – Carlos Duarte Costa, founder of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (b. 1888)
April 6 – Jules Bordet, Belgian immunologist and microbiologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1870)
April 7 – Vanessa Bell, English artist and interior designer (b. 1879)
April 9 – Ahmet Zog, King of Albania (b. 1895)
April 21 – James Melton, American tenor (b. 1904)
April 24 – Lee Moran, American actor (b. 1888)
Robert Garrett, American athlete (b. 1875)
George Melford, American actor (b. 1877)
Roy Del Ruth, American film director (b. 1893)
Minoru Sasaki, Japanese general (b. 1893)
May 3 – Maurice Merleau-Ponty, French phenomenological philosopher (b. 1908)
May 6 – Lucian Blaga, Romanian poet and philosopher (b. 1895)
May 13 – Gary Cooper, American actor (High Noon) (b. 1901)
May 14 – Albert Sévigny, Canadian politician (b. 1881)
May 16 – George A. Malcolm, American jurist & educator (b. 1881)
May 22 – Joan Davis, American actress (b. 1907)
May 30 – Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, 2-Time President of the Dominican Republic (b. 1891)
May 31 – Walter Little, Canadian politician (b. 1877)
June 2 – George S. Kaufman, American playwright (b. 1889)
June 6 – Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist (b. 1875)
June 9 – Camille Guérin, French bacteriologist and immunologist (b. 1872)
June 14 – Eddie Polo, Austro-American dramatist (b. 1875)
June 15 – Peyami Safa, Turkish journalist and writer (b. 1899)
June 16 – Marcel Junod, Swiss physician (b. 1904)
Jeff Chandler, American actor (b. 1918)
Thomas Darden, American Rear admiral, 37th Governor of American Samoa (b. 1900)
William J. Connors, American politician (b. 1891)
George Washington Vanderbilt III, American philanthropist (b. 1914)
June 25 – John A D McCurdy, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia & pilot (b. 1886)
June 30 – Lee de Forest, American inventor (b. 1873)
July 1 – Louis-Ferdinand Céline, French writer (b. 1894)
July 2 – Ernest Hemingway, American writer, Nobel Prize laureate (suicide) (b. 1899)
July 4 – Franklyn Farnum, American actor (b. 1878)
July 6 – Woodall Rodgers, Mayor of Dallas, Texas (b. 1890)
July 17 – Ty Cobb, American baseball player (Detroit Tigers) and a member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1886)
Esther Dale, American actress (b. 1885)
Valentine Davies, American screenwriter (b. 1905)
August 4 – Maurice Tourneur, French film director (b. 1873)
August 8 – Mei Lanfang, Beijing opera star (b. 1894)
August 9 – Walter Bedell Smith, American general and diplomat (b. 1895)
Henri Breuil, French priest, archaeologist, anthropologist and ethnologist (b. 1877)
Clark Ashton Smith, American writer and sculptor (b. 1893)
August 20 – Percy Williams Bridgman, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1882)
Gotthard Sachsenberg, German World War I naval aviator and fighter ace (b. 1891)
Beals Wright, American tennis player (b. 1879)
Howard P. Robertson, American physicist (b. 1903)
Gail Russell, American actress (b. 1924)
August 30 – Charles Coburn, American actor (b. 1877)
September 1 – Eero Saarinen, Finnish architect (b. 1910)
September 10 – Leo Carrillo, American actor (b. 1880)
September 11 – George Irving, American actor (b. 1874)
September 17 – Adnan Menderes, 9th Prime Minister of Turkey (b. 1899)
September 18 – Dag Hammarskjöld, 2nd Secretary General of the United Nations, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1905)
September 22 – Marion Davies, American actress (b. 1897)
September 24 – Sumner Welles, American diplomat (b. 1892)
September 25 – Frank Fay, American actor (b. 1897)
Robert L. Eichelberger, American general (b. 1886)
Juanita Hansen, American actress (b. 1895)
October 1 – Donald Cook, American actor (b. 1901)
October 2 – Essington Lewis, Australian industrialist (b. 1881)
Metropolitan Benjamin (Fedchenkov), Eastern Orthodox missionary and writer, Exarch of Russian Church in North America (b. 1880)
Max Weber, Polish-American artist (b. 1881)
Lucy Tayiah Eads, Kaw tribal chief (b. 1888)
Chico Marx, American comedian (b. 1887)
Maya Deren, Russian-born filmmaker (b. 1917)
Zoltán Korda, Hungarian screenwriter and director (b. 1895)
Dun Karm Psaila, Maltese writer (b. 1871)
October 14 – Harriet Shaw Weaver, English political activist (b. 1876)
Şemsettin Günaltay, Turkish historian, politician and 8th Prime Minister of Turkey (b. 1883)
Sergio Osmena, 4th President of the Philippines (b. 1878)
October 22 – Joseph Schenck, Russian-born film studio executive (b. 1878)
November 1 – Mordecai Ham, American evangelist (b. 1877)
James Thurber, American humorist (b. 1894)
Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa I, 12th Hakim of Bahrain (b. 1894)
November 9 – Ferdinand Bie, Norwegian athlete (b. 1888)
Elsie Ferguson, American actress (b. 1883)
Johanna Westerdijk, Dutch plant pathologist (b. 1883)
November 16 – Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (b. 1882)
November 24 – Ruth Chatterton, American actress (b. 1893)
Anna Gould, American heiress and socialite; daughter of financier Jay Gould (b. 1875)
Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, German scientist (b. 1899)
December 2 – Herbert Pitman, British sailor, third officer of the RMS Titanic (b. 1877)
December 6 – Frantz Fanon, philosopher (b. 1925)
December 13 – Anna Mary Robertson Moses aka Grandma Moses, painter (b. 1860)
Moss Hart, American dramatist (b. 1904)
Earle Page, 11th Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1880)
December 23 – Kurt "Panzermeyer" Meyer, German Generalmajor der Waffen-SS and war criminal (b. 1910)
December 25 – Otto Loewi, German-born pharmacologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1873)
December 28 – Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, First Lady of the United States from 1915-21 (b. 1872)
Anton Flettner, German aviation engineer and inventor (b. 1885)
Sibyl Morrison, first female barrister in New South Wales, Australia (b. 1895)
František Flos, Czech novelist
Wyncie King, American illustrator
Physics – Robert Hofstadter, Rudolf Mössbauer
Chemistry – Melvin Calvin
Physiology or Medicine – Georg von Békésy
Literature – Ivo Andrić
Peace – Dag Hammarskjöld (posthumously)
1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (dominical letter A) of the Gregorian calendar, the 1961st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 961st year of the 2nd millennium, the 61st year of the 20th century, and the 2nd year of the 1960s decade. As MAD Magazine pointed out on its cover for the March 1961 issue, this was the first "upside-up" year — i.e., one in which the numerals that form the year look the same as when the numerals are rotated upside down, a strobogrammatic number — since 1881. The next such year will be 6009.