Learn more about 1997
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- January 5 - NBC's Today Show host Bryant Gumbel signs off for the last time.
- January 8 - Children's television icon Mister Rogers receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- January 9 - Yachtsman Tony Bullimore is found alive, 5 days after his boat capsized in the Southern Ocean.
- January 16 - Ennis Cosby, the only son of actor Bill Cosby, is killed by a gunman while changing a flat tire in Los Angeles, California.
- January 17 - A Delta II rocket carrying a military GPS payload explodes, shortly after liftoff from Cape Canaveral.
- January 18 - In northwest Rwanda, Hutu militia members kill 3 Spanish aid workers, 3 soldiers and seriously wound another.
- January 19 - Yasser Arafat returns to Hebron after more than 30 years, and joins celebrations over the handover of the last Israeli-controlled West Bank city.
- January 20 - Bill Clinton starts his second term as President of the United States.
- January 21 - Newt Gingrich becomes the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to be internally disciplined for ethical misconduct.
- January 22 - Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State after confirmation by the United States Senate.
- January 23 - Mir Aimal Kasi receives the death sentence for a 1993 assault rifle attack outside CIA headquarters that killed 2 and wounded 3 others.
- January 26 - The Green Bay Packers defeat the New England Patriots, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI.
- January 27 - It is revealed that French museums had nearly 2,000 pieces of art that were stolen by Nazis.
- January 28 - Clive Davis receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- February 4 - O.J. Simpson is found liable in civil court for the death of Ron Goldman and for the battery of Nicole Brown Simpson. Simpson is ordered to pay $35,000,000 in damages to the families of the 2 victims.
- February 4 - On their way to Lebanon, 2 Israeli troop-transport helicopters collide, killing 73.
- February 4 - After at first contesting the results, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević recognizes opposition victories in the November 1996 elections.
- February 5 - The so-called "Big Three" banks in Switzerland announce the creation of a $71 million fund to aid Holocaust survivors and their families.
- February 5 - Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter investment banks announce a $10 billion merger.
- February 9 - The Simpsons surpasses The Flintstones as the longest-running prime-time animated series.
- February 10 - The United States Army suspends Sgt. Major Gene C. McKinney, its top-ranking enlisted soldier, after hearing allegations of sexual misconduct.
- February 10 - Sandline affair: Australian newspapers publish stories that the government of Papua New Guinea has brought mercenaries onto Bougainville Island.
- February 13 - The Washington Post reports that U.S. Justice Department investigators found evidence the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC may have coordinated financial contributions to the Democratic party in violation of U.S. law. This brings a new dimension to the growing 1996 United States campaign finance controversy.
- February 13 - STS-82: Tune-up and repair work on the Hubble Space Telescope is started by astronauts from Space Shuttle Discovery.
- February 13 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 7,000 for the first time, gaining 60.81 to 7,022.44.
- February 19 - The last of the People's Republic of China's major revolutionaries, Deng Xiaoping, dies at 92 (this is followed by weeks of mourning).
- February 22 - In Roslin, Scotland, scientists announce that an adult sheep named Dolly had been successfully cloned, and was born in July 1996.
- February 23 - A large fire occurs in the Russian space station Mir.
- February 28 - The North Hollywood shootout takes place between 2 heavily armed bank robbers and officers of the Los Angeles Police Department.
- March 1 - The Osaka Dome opens in Chiyozaki, Nishi-ku, Osaka, Japan.
- March 4 - U.S. President Bill Clinton bars federal funding for any research on human cloning.
- March 6 - Picasso's Tête de Femme is stolen from a London gallery (recovered a week later).
- March 6 - In Sri Lanka, Tamil Tigers overrun a military base and kill more than 200.
- March 9 - Rap legend Notorious B.I.G. is murdered in Los Angeles, 6 months after the killing of Tupac Shakur.
- March 10 - The main office of Fuji TV moves from Kawadacho, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan to Odaiba, Minato, Tokyo, Japan.
- March 11 - An explosion at a nuclear waste reprocessing plant in Japan exposes 35 workers to low-level radioactive contamination, in the worst nuclear accident in Japan's history.
- March 12 - Mikail Markhasev is arrested in Los Angeles, California and charged with shooting Bill Cosby's 27-year-old son, Ennis Cosby.
- March 13 - India's Missionaries of Charity chooses Sister Nirmala to succeed Mother Teresa as its leader.
- March 16 - Sandline affair - On Bougainville Island, soldiers of commander Jerry Singirok arrest Tim Spicer and his mercenaries of the Sandline International.
- March 18 - The tail of a Russian An-24 charter plane breaks off while en-route to Turkey, causing the plane to crash, killing all 50 on board, and resulting in the grounding of all An-24s.
- March 21 - In Zaire, Etienne Tshiksekedi is appointed new prime minister; he ejects supporters of Mobutu Sese Seko from his cabinet.
- March 21 - Mercenaries of Sandline International withdraw from Papua New Guinea.
- March 22 - Tara Lipinski, 14, becomes the youngest women's world figure skating champion.
- March 22 - The comet Hale-Bopp makes its closest approach to Earth.
- March 24 - Roberto Sanchez Vilella, the second democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico, dies at age 84.
- March 26 - In San Diego, California, 39 Heaven's Gate cultists commit mass suicide at their compound.
- March 26 - The survey of a claimed gold site of Bre-X Minerals in Indonesia reveals it is worthless; Bre-X complains and accuses Internet rumours.
- March 26 - Julius Chan resigns as prime minister of Papua New Guinea, ending the Sandline affair.
- April 1 - Comic strip switcheroo: Cartoonists of popularly syndicated comic strips swap cartoons for the day.
- April 3 - The Thalit massacre in Algeria: All but 1 of the 53 inhabitants of Thalit are killed by guerrillas.
- April 11 - Fire damages the Turin Cathedral in Italy.
- April 14 - Fire breaks out in a pilgrim camp on the Plain of Mena, 7 miles from Mecca; 343 die.
- April 14 - Former SS Captain Erich Priebke is retried; on July 22 he is sentenced to 5 years in prison.
- April 16 - Houston, Texas socialite Doris Angleton is murdered in her River Oaks home. Roger Angleton later admits to the crime in his suicide note. Despite being found innocent of the crime by a Texas jury, he is later arrested by the United States Department of Justice on similar charges.
- April 18 - The Red River of the North breaks through dikes and floods Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota, causing US$2 billion in damage.
- April 21 - A Pegasus rocket carries the remains of 24 people into earth orbit, in the first space burial .
- April 22 - Haouch Khemisti massacre in Algeria; 93 villagers killed.
- April 22 - A 126-day hostage crisis at the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima, Peru ends after government commandos storm and capture the building, rescuing 71 hostages. One hostage dies of a heart attack, 2 soldiers are killed from rebel fire, and all 14 Tupac Amaru rebels are slain.
- April 22 - France supports the new transitional government in Zaire, withdrawing its support of Mobutu Sese Seko.
- April 23 - Omaria massacre in Algeria; 42 villagers killed.
- April 27 - Andrew Cunanan murders Jeffrey Trail, beginning a murder spree that will last until July and end with the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace.
- May 1 - Tasmania becomes the last state in Australia to decriminalize homosexuality.
- May 1 - United Kingdom general election, 1997: The United Kingdom's Labour Party ends 18 years of Conservative rule.
- May 1 - HM Prison Pentridge in Melbourne, Australia, is officially closed.
- May 2 - Tony Blair is appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- May 3 - Katrina and the Waves win Eurovision 1997 for the UK with Love Shine A Light, the most successful Eurovision entry ever.
- May 10 - An earthquake near Ardekul, in northeastern Iran, kills at least 2,400.
- May 11 - IBM's Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in the last game of the rematch, the first time a computer beat a chess World champion in a match.
- May 12 - The Russian-Chechen Peace Treaty is signed.
- May 14 - The Star Alliance is formed between Air Canada, Lufthansa, SAS, Thai Airways International and United Airlines.
- May 14 - Laurent Kabila does not attend a second meeting with Mobutu.
- May 16 - Mobutu Sese Seko leaves Kinshasa (eventually settles in Morocco).
- May 16 - U.S. President Bill Clinton issues a formal apology to the surviving victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and their families, 25 years after the 40-year "study" was exposed by reporter Jean Heller.
- May 17 - Troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa.
- May 22 - Women in the military: Kelly Flinn, the U.S. Air Force's first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepts a general discharge in order to avoid a court martial.
- May 25 - Strom Thurmond becomes the longest serving member in the history of the United States Senate (41 years and 10 months).
- May 25 - A military coup in Sierra Leone replaces President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah with Major Johnny Paul Koromah.
- May 27 - Jarrell Tornado): The second deadliest tornado of the 1990s hits in Jarrell, Texas, killing 27 people.
- May 31 - Official opening of the Confederation Bridge, the longest bridge spanning ice covered waters, between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
- June 1 - Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraqi military escorts on board an UNSCOM helicopter try to physically prevent the UNSCOM pilot from flying the helicopter in the direction of its planned destination, threatening the safety of the aircraft and their crews.
- June 1 - Chivas wins their 10th Verano '97 championship 7-2 against Toros Neza.
- June 2 - In Denver, Colorado, Timothy McVeigh is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
- June 5 - Kim Hyun Chul, son of Kim Young Sam, president of South Korea, is charged with bribery and corruption related to the awarding of government contracts.
- June 6 - In Lacey Township, New Jersey, high school senior Melissa Drexler kills her newborn baby in a toilet.
- June 7 - A computer user known as "_eci" publishes his Microsoft C source code on a Windows 95 and Windows NT exploit, which would later become WinNuke. The source code gets wide distribution across the internet, and Microsoft is forced to release a security patch.
- June 10 - Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot orders the killing of his defense chief, Son Sen, and 11 of Sen's family members, before Pol Pot flees his northern stronghold (the news does not reach outside Cambodia for 3 days).
- June 11 - The British House of Commons votes for a total ban on handguns.
- June 12 - The United States Department of the Treasury unveils a new $50 bill, meant to be more counterfeit-resistant.
- June 13 - A jury sentences Timothy McVeigh to the death penalty for his part in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
- June 16 - Dairat Labguer massacre in Algeria; some 50 people killed.
- June 16 - Radiohead's landmark third album OK Computer is released.
- June 19 - The fast food chain McDonald's wins a partial victory in its libel trial, known as the McLibel case, against 2 environmental campaigners. The judge decides it was true that McDonald's targeted its advertising at children, who pestered their parents into visiting the company's restaurants.
- June 21 - French musician Jean Michel Jarre's "Oxygene Tour" concert is held in the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland, for deaf and poorly hearing European children.
- June 25 - An unmanned Progress spacecraft collides with the Russian Space station, Mir.
- June 30 - The first book in the award winning Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling is published.
- July 1 - The United Kingdom hands sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China.
- July 4 - NASA's Pathfinder space probe lands on the surface of Mars.
- July 5 - In Cambodia, Hun Sen of the Cambodian People's Party overthrows Norodom Ranariddh in a coup.
- July 6 - A major wildfire burns approximately 40% of Seich Sou, a forest just north of Thessaloniki, also posing a significant threat to several areas in the city.
- July 8 - Mayo Clinic researchers warn that the dieting drug "fen-phen" can cause severe heart and lung damage.
- July 8 - NATO invites the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to join the alliance in 1999.
- July 10 - In London, scientists report their DNA analysis findings from a Neanderthal skeleton, which support the out of Africa theory of human evolution, placing an "African Eve" at 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
- July 10 - Miguel Ángel Blanco is kidnapped in Ermua, Spain and murdered by the ETA. At this time the "Ermua spirit" is born.
- July 13 - The remains of Che Guevara are returned to Cuba for burial, alongside some of his other comrades.
- July 15 - Serial killer Andrew Phillip Cunanan shoots fashion designer Gianni Versace to death outside Versace's Miami, Florida residence.
- July 16 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average gains 63.17 to close at 8,038.88. It is the Dow's first close above 8,000. The Dow has doubled its value in 30 months.
- July 17 - The F.W. Woolworth Company closes after 117 years in business.
- July 21 - The fully restored USS Constitution (aka "Old Ironsides") celebrates her 200th birthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years.
- July 22 - The second Blue Water Bridge opens between Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario.
- July 23 - Digital Equipment Corporation files antitrust charges against chipmaker Intel.
- July 23 - Serial killer Andrew Cunanan commits suicide in a Miami, Florida houseboat.
- July 25 - K.R. Narayanan is sworn-in as India's 10th president and the first member of the Dalit caste to hold this office.
- July 27 - Si Zerrouk massacre in Algeria; about 50 people killed.
- August 1 - Boeing and McDonnell Douglas complete their merger.
- August 2 - Australian ski instructor Stuart Diver is rescued as the sole survivor from the Thredbo landslide in New South Wales, Australia, in which 18 lives were lost.
- August 3 - Oued El-Had and Mezouara massacre in Algeria; 40-76 villagers killed.
- August 4 - 185,000 Teamsters Union UPS drivers walk off the job.
- August 6 - Microsoft buys a $150 million share of financially troubled Apple Computer.
- August 13 - In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Cruzeiro wins Sporting Cristal of Peru by 1-0 and are Copa Libertadores de América champions by second time.
- August 13 - South Park premieres on Comedy Central.
- August 15 - India celebrates 50 years of independence from British rule.
- August 20 - Souhane massacre in Algeria; over 60 people killed, 15 kidnapped.
- August 25 - Egon Krenz, the former East German leader, is convicted of a shoot-to-kill Berlin Wall policy.
- August 26 - Beni-Ali massacre in Algeria; 60-100 people killed.
- August 26 - The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning is set up in Northern Ireland, as part of the peace process.
- August 29 - Rais massacre in Algeria; over 98 (and possibly up to 400) people killed.
- August 29 - Christopher Maier of Lexington, Kentucky is bludgeoned to death by serial killer Angel Maturino Resendiz. Angel also rapes and beats Christopher's girlfriend, who survives. This is the first of a string of murders that Angel commits.
- August 31 - Diana, Princess of Wales is taken to a hospital after a car crash shortly after midnight in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris. She is pronounced dead at 4:00 am that morning.
- September 3 - Arizona Governor Fife Symington is convicted for various crimes tied to his real estate business, effectively forcing him out of office.
- September 4 - In Lorain, Ohio, the last Ford Thunderbird for three years rolls off the assembly line.
- September 5 - Beni-Messous massacre in Algeria; over 87 killed.
- September 5 - The IOC picks Athens, Greece to be the host city for the 2004 Summer Olympics.
- September 5 - Mother Theresa of Calcutta dies of heart failure in Kolkata, India.
- September 6 - The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales takes place at Westminster Abbey, watched by over 1 billion people worldwide.
- September 6 - A Jean Michel Jarre Oxygene in Moscow concert, celebrating the city's 850th anniversary, draws 3.5 million people.
- September 7 - First test flight of the F-22 Raptor.
- September 11 - Scotland votes to create its own Parliament after 290 years of union with England.
- September 13 - Iraq disarmament crisis: An Iraqi military officer attacks an UNSCOM weapons inspector on board an UNSCOM helicopter while the inspector was attempting to take photographs of unauthorized movement of Iraqi vehicles inside a site designated for inspection
- September 15 - Norwegian parliamentary election, 1997
- September 17 - Iraq disarmament crisis: While waiting for access to a site, UNSCOM inspectors witness and videotape Iraqi guards moving files, burning documents, and dumping waste cans into a nearby river.
- September 18 - Wales votes in favour of devolution and the formation of a National Assembly.
- September 19 - Guelb El-Kebir massacre in Algeria; 53 killed.
- September 21 - The AIS, the FIS' armed wing, declares a unilateral ceasefire in Algeria.
- September 22 - Bentalha massacre in Algeria; over 200 villagers killed.
- September 25 - Iraq disarmament crisis: UNSCOM inspector Dr. Diane Seaman catches several Iraqi men sneaking out the back door of an inspection site, with log books for the creation of prohibited bacteria and chemicals.
- September 26 - An air crash in Indonesia kills 234 people (likely caused by smoke rising from numerous forest fires in the area).
- [[ An earthquake strikes the Italian regions of Umbria and Marche, causing part of the Basilica of St. Francis at Assisi to collapse.
- September 27 - The Požega Diocese (Catholic) is founded.
- October 1 - The main office of Kansai TV moves from Nishi-Temma, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan to Ogimachi, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan.
- October 1 - Luke Woodham walks into Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi and opens fire, killing 2 girls, after killing his mother earlier that morning .
- October 2 - UK scientists Moira Bruce and John Collinge, with their colleagues, independently show that the new variant form of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the same disease as Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad-cow disease".
- October 4 - One million men gather for Promise Keepers' "Stand in the Gap" event in Washington, DC.
- October 11 - The mixed martial arts organisation PRIDE Fighting Championships holds its inaugural event at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. In the main event Rickson Gracie defeats Nobuhiko Takada by armbar.
- October 12 - Sidi Daoud massacre in Algeria: 43 are killed at a fake roadblock.
- October 15 - Andy Green sets the first supersonic land speed record for the ThrustSSC team, led by Richard Noble of the United Kingdom. ThrustSSC goes through the flying mile course at Black Rock Desert, Nevada at an average speed of 1,227.985 km/h (763.035 mph).
- October 15 - NASA launches the Cassini-Huygens probe to Saturn.
- October 17 - The remains of Che Guevara are laid to rest with full military honours in a specially built mausoleum in the city of Santa Clara, Cuba, where he had won the decisive battle of the Cuban Revolution 39 years before.
- October 27 - The Florida Marlins win Game 7 of the 1997 World Series agaist the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in 11 innings.
- October 27 - Stock markets around the world crash because of a global economic crisis scare. The Dow Jones Industrial Average follows suit and plummets 554.26, or 7.18%, to 7,161.15. The points loss exceeds the loss from Black Monday. Officials at the New York Stock Exchange for the first time invoke the "circuit breaker" rule to stop trading (this was a very controversial move and prompted a quick change in the rule; trading stops will only occur when the DJIA drops at least 10 or 20 percent) (see October 27, 1997 mini-crash).
- October 28 - The bulls come running back as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gains a record 337.17 to 7,498.32. One billion shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time ever.
- October 29 - Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraq says it will begin shooting down U-2 surveillance planes being used by UNSCOM inspectors.
- October 30 - In Newton, Massachusetts, British au pair Louise Woodward is found guilty of the baby-shaking death of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen.
- November 3 - In France, striking truck drivers blockade ports during a pay dispute.
- November 9 - BBC News 24 is launched.
- November 10 - Telcoms WorldCom and MCI Communications announce a US$37 billion merger to form MCI WorldCom (the largest merger in US history).
- November 10 - A Fairfax, Virginia juryfinds Mir Aimal Kasi guilty of murdering 2 CIA employees in 1993.
- November 11 - Mary McAleese is elected the 8th President of Ireland.
- November 11 - The last Pentium 586 MMX cpu (233 MHz) is made (until the Pentium II).
- November 12 - Ramzi Yousef is found guilty of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
- November 16 - After nearly 18 years of incarceration, the People's Republic of China releases Wei Jingsheng, a pro-democracy dissident, from jail for medical reasons.
- November 17 - In Luxor, Egypt, 62 people are killed by 6 Islamic militants outside the Temple of Hatshepsut (police kill the assailants).
- November 19 - In Carlisle, Iowa, Bobbi McCaughey gives birth to septuplets in the second known case where all 7 babies were born alive.
- November 22 - Australian singer Michael Hutchence, 37, is found hanged in a Sydney hotel room.
- November 27 - Second Souhane massacre in Algeria: 25 killed.
- December 1 - Heath High School shooting: Michael Carneal fires at his classmates at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, leaving 3 dead and 5 wounded.
- December 3 - In Ottawa, Canada, representatives from 121 countries sign a treaty prohibiting the manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel land mines. The United States, the People's Republic of China, and Russia do not sign the treaty, however.
- December 5 - John O'Shaugnessey, 32, admits the rape and murder of 9-year-old Kayleigh Ward at Chester Crown Court. The trial judge sentences O'Shaugnessey, of Blacon, Chester, to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he should serve at least 30 years before being considered for parole.
- December 16 - An episode of Pokémon (called Electric Soldier Porygon) in Japan causes 6085 children to have epileptic seizures. The majority of these seizures are later determined to be the result of collective hysteria.
- December 24 - Sid El-Antri massacre in Algeria: 50-100 villagers are killed.
- December 27 - Loyalist paramilitary leader Billy Wright is assassinated in Northern Ireland, inside Long Kesh prison.
- December 29 - Hong Kong begins to kill all the chickens within its territory (1.25 million) to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.
- December 30 - Wilaya of Relizane massacres of December 30, 1997: In the worst incident in Algeria's insurgency, 400 people are killed from 4 villages in the wilaya of Relizane: Khrouba (176 deaths), Sahnoun (113 deaths), El-Abadel (73 deaths), and Ouled-Tayeb (50 deaths). Six days later they are followed by another set of local massacres.
- December 31 - After 26 years in operation, the Opryland USA theme park in Nashville, Tennessee closes permanently.
 Unknown Dates
- Miami police arrests Russian criminal who tries to sell a Russian submarine to the Colombian drug cartels.
- The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger in December 1997.
- The Toyota Prius comes to showrooms, only in Japan. The Prius was the first hybrid vehicle to go into full production. The Prius would come to US showrooms in 2000.
- January 13 - Marius Borg Høiby, son of Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway
- January 24 - Jonah Bobo, American actor
- March 3 - Maria Francisca Isabel de Bragança, daughter of Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza
- March 27 - Princess Aisha of Jordan
- March 27 - Princess Sara of Jordan
- April 13 - Sloane Momsen, American actor
- May 1 - Ariel Gade, American actor
- July 15 - Prince Lukás of Bulgaria
- July 20 - Billi Bruno, American actor
- October 8 - Connor Carmody, American actor
- October 12 - Prince Boris of Bulgaria, 2nd in line to the Bulgarian throne
- November 13 - Brent Kinsman, American actor
- November 13 - Shane Kinsman, American actor
- November 19 - McCaughey septuplets, the world's first surviving set of septuplets
- January 6 - Catherine Scorsese, Italian-American actress (b. 1912)
- January 10 - Sheldon Leonard, American producer, actor, director (b. 1907)
- January 10 - Alexander R. Todd, Baron Todd, Scottish chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1907)
- January 12 - Charles B. Huggins, Canadian-born cancer researcher, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1901)
- January 17 - Clyde Tombaugh, American astronomer (b. 1906)
- January 19 - James Dickey, American poet and novelist (b. 1923)
- January 20 - Curt Flood, American baseball player (b. 1938)
- January 21 - Colonel Tom Parker, Dutch-born celebrity manager (b. 1909)
- January 30 - Nicholas Mallett, TV director
- February 1 - Herb Caen, American newspaper columnist (b. 1916)
- February 2 - Chico Science, Brazilian musician (automobile accident) (b. 1967)
- February 5 - Pamela Harriman, U.S. Ambassador to France (b. 1920)
- February 11 - Don Porter, American actor (b. 1912)
- February 19 - Deng Xiaoping, leader of the People's Republic of China (b. 1904)
- February 23 - Tony Williams, American musician (b. 1945)
- March 4 - Robert H. Dicke, American experimental physicist (b. 1916)
- March 4 - Carey Loftin, American actor and stuntman (b. 1914)
- March 6 - Cheddi Jagan, President of Guyana (b. 1918)
- March 7 - Edward Mills Purcell, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1912)
- March 7 - Martin Kippenberger, German artist (b. 1953)
- March 9 - The Notorious B.I.G., American rapper (b. 1972)
- March 10 - La Vern Baker, American singer (b. 1929)
- March 14 - Fred Zinnemann, Austrian-born director (b. 1907)
- March 19 - Willem de Kooning, Dutch artist (b. 1904)
- March 20 - Tony Zale, American boxer (b. 1913)
- March 21 - W.V. Awdry, British children's writer (b. 1911)
- April 5 - Allen Ginsberg, American poet (b. 1926)
- April 7 - Witto Aloma, Cuban Major League Baseball player (b. 1923)
- April 7 - Georgi Shonin, cosmonaut (b. 1935)
- April 12 - George Wald, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1903)
- April 16 - Doris Angleton, American socialite (b. 1951)
- April 16 - Roland Topor, French illustrator (b. 1938)
- May 2 - John Carew Eccles, Australian neurophysiologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1903)
- May 5 - Walter Gotell, German actor (b. 1924)
- May 14 - Harry Blackstone Jr., American magician (b. 1934)
- May 22 - Alfred Hershey, American biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1908)
- May 23 - James Lee Byars, American artist (b. 1932)
- May 24 - Edward Mulhare, Irish actor (b. 1923)
- May 29 - Jeff Buckley, American musician (drowned) (b. 1966)
- May 31 - James Bennett Griffin, American archaeologist (b. 1905)
- June 3 - Dennis James, American game show host. (b. 1917)
- June 22 - Gérard Pelletier, French journalist, politician and diplomat (b. 1919)
- June 23 - Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X (b. 1936)
- June 24 - Brian Keith, American actor (b. 1921)
- June 26 - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Hawaiian singer (b. 1959)
- June 28 - Mrs. Miller, American singer (b. 1907)
- July 1 - Robert Mitchum, American actor (b. 1917)
- July 2 - James Stewart, American actor (b. 1908)
- July 4 - Charles Kuralt, American television reporter (b. 1934)
- July 4 - John Zachary Young, British biologist (b. 1907)
- July 15 - Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer (murdered) (b. 1946)
- July 20 - John Akii-Bua Ugandan hurdler (b. 1949)
- July 23 - Chuhei Nambu, Japanese athlete (b. 1904)
- July 24 - William J. Brennan, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (b. 1906)
- August 2 - William S. Burroughs, American author (b. 1914)
- August 2 - Fela Kuti, Nigerian musician and political activist (b. 1938)
- August 4 - Jeanne Calment, French supercentenarian (b. 1875)
- August 8 - Sviatoslav Richter, Ukrainian pianist (b. 1915)
- August 10 - Conlon Nancarrow, American-born composer (b. 1912)
- August 12 - Luther Allison, American musician (b. 1939)
- August 23 - John Kendrew, British molecular biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (b. 1917)
- August 24 - Louis Essen, English physicist (b. 1908)
- August 31 - Diana, Princess of Wales, (automobile accident) (b. 1961)
- August 31 - Dodi Al-Fayed, Egyptian businessman (automobile accident) (b. 1955)
- September 2 - Rudolph Bing, Austrian opera manager (b. 1902)
- September 2 - Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist (b. 1905)
- September 5 - Georg Solti, Hungarian conductor (b. 1912)
- September 5 - Mother Teresa, Albanian missionary and humanitarian, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1910)
- September 9 - Burgess Meredith, American actor (b. 1907)
- September 17 - Red Skelton, American comedian (b. 1913)
- September 18 - Jimmy Witherspoon, blues singer (d. 1920)
- September 19 - Rich Mullins, American musician (b. 1955)
- September 25 - Jean Françaix, French composer (b. 1912)
- September 27 - Walter Trampler, American violist (b. 1915)
- October 1 - Jerome H. Lemelson, American inventor (b. 1923)
- October 4 - Gunpei Yokoi, Japanese video game franchise creator (automobile accident) (b. 1941)
- October 5 - Brian Pillman, Professional wrestler (overdose) (b.1962)
- October 6 - Adrienne Hill, British actress
- October 6 - Johnny Vander Meer, baseball player (b. 1914)
- October 12 - John Denver, American musician (b. 1943)
- October 19 - Glen Buxton, American guitarist (b. 1947)
- October 23 - Bert Haanstra, Dutch filmmaker (b. 1916)
- October 24 - Don Messick, American voice actor (b. 1926)
- October 29 - Anton Szandor LaVey, American founder of the Church of Satan (b. 1930)
- November 5 - James Robert Baker, American novelist, screenwriter, (b. 1946)
- November 5 - Sir Isaiah Berlin, Russian historian of ideas (b. 1909)
- November 11 - Rodney Milburn, American athlete (b. 1950)
- November 12 - Carlos Surinach, Spanish composer (b. 1915)
- November 15 - Douglas MacArthur II, nephew of World War II General Douglas MacArthur
- November 17 - John Wimber, American leader of the Vineyard Movement (b. 1934)
- November 21 - Robert Simpson, English composer (b. 1921)
- November 22 - Michael Hutchence, Australian musician (b. 1960)
- November 25 - Monique Serf, French singer (b. 1930)
- November 30 - Kathy Acker, American author (b. 1947)
- December 2 - Shirley Crabtree, British wrestler best known as Big Daddy (b. 1930)
- December 18 - Chris Farley, American actor and comedian (b. 1964)
- December 19 - David Schramm, American astrophysicist (b. 1945)
- December 20 - Denise Levertov, English-born American poet (b. 1923)
- December 21 - Amie Comeaux, American country singer (b. 1976)
- December 25 - Denver Pyle, American actor (b. 1920)
- December 27 - Billy Wright, Irish paramilitary leader (b. 1960)
 Unknown date
- Laurence Henry Hicks, Australian composer (b. 1912)
 Nobel prizes
- Physics - Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, William D. Phillips
- Chemistry - Paul D. Boyer, John E. Walker, Jens C. Skou
- Medicine - Stanley B. Prusiner
- Literature - Dario Fo
- Peace - International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Jody Williams
- Economics - Robert C. Merton, Myron Scholes
 Templeton Prize
 1997 in fiction
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): On January 12, the computer HAL 9000 comes online (in the film, 1992)
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991): On August 29, the computer network Skynet becomes self-aware and launches nuclear weapons against mankind.
 Computer and video games
- Crystalis (1990): The "end day" occurs on October 1.
- Duke Nukem: Dr. Proton begins his assault on the Earth.
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