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1931 ( MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1931st year of the Common Era (CE) and (AD) designations, the 931st year of the Anno Domini 2nd millennium, the 31st year of the 20th century, and the 2nd year of the 1930s decade.
February 3 - Hawke's Bay earthquake: Much of the New Zealand cities of Napier and Hastings are destroyed in an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, killing 256 people.
February 4 - Soviet leader Joseph Stalin gives a speech calling for rapid industrialization, arguing that only strong industrialized countries will win wars, while "weak" nations are "beaten". Stalin states: "We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they will crush us." The first five-year plan in the Soviet Union is intensified, for the industrialization and collectivization of agriculture.
February 10 - Official inauguration ceremonies for New Delhi as the capital of India begin. 
February 11 - National Socialist (NSDAP) and German National People's Party (DNVP) members walk out of the German Reichstag, in protest against changes in the parliament's protocol, intended to limit heckling.
February 12 - first broadcasts. Vatican Radio
February 14 - The original film version of , with Dracula Bela Lugosi, is released in the United States.
February 16 - Pehr Evind Svinhufvud is elected president of Finland.
February 20 - California gets the go-ahead by the United States Congress, to build the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. February 21 - Peruvian revolutionaries hijack a Ford Trimotor aeroplane, and demand that the pilot drop propaganda leaflets over Lima.
April 1 - The Second Encirclement Campaign against Jiangxi Soviet in China is launched by the Kuomintang government, to destroy the Communist forces in Jiangxi Province.
April 6 - The Portuguese government declares martial law in Madeira and in the Azores, because of the Madeira uprising in Funchal.
April 12 - Municipal elections in Spain, which are treated as a virtual referendum on the monarchy, result in the triumph for the republican parties.
April 14 - The Second Spanish Republic is proclaimed in Madrid. Meanwhile, as a result of the victory of the Republican Left of Catalonia, Francesc Macià proclaims in Barcelona the Catalan Republic, as a state of the Iberian Federation.
April 15 - The Castellammarese War ends with the murder of Joe "The Boss" Masseria, briefly leaving Salvatore Maranzano as capo dei capi ("boss of all bosses") of the American Mafia. Maranzano is himself murdered less than 6 months later, leading to the creation of the Commission.
April 17 - After the negotiations between the republican ministers of Spain and Catalonia, the Catalan Republic becomes the Generalitat of Catalonia, a Catalan autonomous government inside the Spanish Republic.
April 22 - Austria, the UK, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United States recognize the Spanish Republic. April 25 - The automobile manufacturer Porsche is founded by Ferdinand Porsche in Stuttgart.
June 3 - Salvador Dalí's is put on display for the first time in Paris at the Galerie Pierre Colle. The Persistence of Memory
June 5 - German Chancellor Dr. Heinrich Brüning visits London, where he warns the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald that the collapse of the Austrian banking system, caused by the bankruptcy of the Creditanstalt, has left the entire German banking system on the verge of collapse.
June 12 - English cricketer Charlie Parker equals J. T. Hearne's record for the earliest date to reach 100 wickets.
June 14 - Saint-Philibert disaster: The overloaded pleasure craft Saint-Philibert, carrying trippers home to Nantes from the Île de Noirmoutier, sinks at the mouth of the River Loire in France; over 450 drown.
June 23- July 1 - Wiley Post and Harold Gatty accomplish the first round-the-world flight in a single-engine plane, flying eastabout from Roosevelt Field, New York, in 8 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes. 
October - The Caltech Department of Physics faculty and graduate students meet with Albert Einstein as a guest.
October 4 - , the comic strip detective character created by cartoonist Dick Tracy Chester Gould, makes his debut appearance in the newspaper. Detroit Mirror
October 5 - American aviators Clyde Edward Pangborn and Hugh Herndon, Jr., complete the first non-stop flight across the Pacific Ocean, from Misawa, Japan, to East Wenatchee, Washington, in 41½ hours. 
October 11 - A rally in Bad Harzburg, Germany leads to the Harzburg Front being founded, uniting the NSDAP, the DNVP, the Stahlhelm and various other right-wing factions.
October 24 - The George Washington Bridge across the Hudson River in the United States is dedicated; it opens to traffic the following day. At 3,500 feet (1,100 m), it nearly doubles the previous record for the longest main span in the world. October 27 - The United Kingdom general election results in the victory of the National Government, and the defeat of Labour Party, in the country's greatest ever electoral landslide.
December 5 - The original Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow ( 1883) is dynamited, by order of Joseph Stalin.
December 8 - Carl Friedrich Goerdeler is appointed Reich Price Commissioner, in Germany to enforce the deflationary policies of the Brüning government.
December 9 - The Spanish Constituent Cortes approves the Spanish Constitution of 1931, effectively establishing the Second Spanish Republic.
December 11 - The Parliament of the United Kingdom enacts the Statute of Westminster, which establishes a status of legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, the Dominion of New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.
December 13 - Wakatsuki Reijir? resigns as Prime Minister of Japan.
December 19 - The UAP/ Country Coalition, led by Joseph Lyons, defeats the Australian Labor Government, led by Prime Minister James Scullin. Coming in the aftermath of two splits in the Labor Party, the election comes about due to the defeat of the Scullin Government on the floor of the House of Representatives - to date, it is the last federal election where a one-term government was defeated. Lyons will be sworn in January 6th the following year, but not before disbanding the Coalition, after the UAP wins enough seats to form a government in its own right. December 26 - Phi Iota Alpha, the oldest surviving Latino fraternity, is founded in the United States.
January 1 - Mohammad Ali Samatar, 5th Prime Minister of Somalia (d. 2016)
January 2 - Toshiki Kaifu, 2-time Prime Minister of Japan
January 8 - Bill Graham, German concert promoter (d. 1991)
January 10 - Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Malaysian politician, Muslim cleric (d. 2015)
January 12 - Roland Alphonso, Jamaican musician (d. 1998)
January 13 - Ian Hendry, English actor (d. 1984)
January 14 - Caterina Valente, French singer and actress
January 17 - James Earl Jones, African-American actor
January 18 - Chun Doo-hwan, President of South Korea
January 19 - Pat Hunt, New Zealand National Party politician
January 22 - Sam Cooke, African-American singer (d. 1964)
January 24 - Lars Hörmander, Swedish mathematician (d. 2012)
January 25 - Dean Jones, American actor (d. 2015)
January 26 - Kaare Ørnung, Norwegian pianist, music teacher (d. 2013)
January 27 - Mordecai Richler, Canadian author (d. 2001)
January 28 - Lucia Bosè, Italian actress
January 29 - Ferenc Mádl, President of Hungary (d. 2011) January 31 - Ernie Banks, African-American baseball player (d. 2015)
March 1 - Lamberto Dini, Italian politician, economist and 51st Prime Minister of Italy
March 2 - Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
March 3 - John Smith, American actor (d. 1995)
March 5 - Barry Tuckwell, Australian horn player (d. 2020)
March 8 - Neil Postman, American media theorist and cultural critic (d. 2003)
March 9 - León Febres Cordero, President of Ecuador (d. 2008)
March 10 - Kovambo Nujoma, First Lady of Namibia
March 12 - Herb Kelleher, American businessman (d. 2019)
March 14 - Lisbet Palme, Swedish child psychologist (d. 2018)
March 15 - D. J. Fontana, American drummer (d. 2018)
March 18 - Vlastimil Bubník, Czech ice hockey and football player (d. 2015)
March 24 - Connie Hines, American actress (d. 2009)
March 26 - Leonard Nimoy, American actor, film director ( ), and singer (d. Star Trek 2015)
March 27 - David Janssen, American actor ( ) (d. The Fugitive 1980)
March 28 - Anatoly Lein, Russian-born American chess Grandmaster (d. 2018) March 29
April 2 - Joseph Joffo, French author (d. 2018)
April 8 - John Gavin, American actor and diplomat (d. 2018)
April 12 - Chico Anysio, Brazilian actor, comedian, writer and composer (d. 2012)
April 13 - Dan Gurney, American race car driver (d. 2018)
April 17 - Esteban Siller, Mexican voice actor (d. 2013)
April 19 - Kobie Coetsee, South African politician (d. 2000)
April 26 - John Cain, Australian politician (d. 2019)
April 27 - Igor Oistrakh, Ukrainian violinist April 29
June 2 - Viktor Tsaryov, Russian footballer (d. 2017)
June 4 - D. M. Jayaratne, Sri Lankan politician (d. 2019)
June 7 - Andrea Gemma, Italian bishop (d. 2019)
June 8 - Dana Wynter, German-born American actress (d. 2011)
June 9 - Jackie Mason, American comedian
June 10 - João Gilberto, Brazilian singer-songwriter and guitarist, pioneer of bossa nova (d. 2019)
June 16 - Ivo Petri?, Slovenian composer (d. 2018)
June 18 - Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 34th President of Brazil
June 21 - Margaret Heckler, American Secretary of Health and Human Services (d. 2018)
June 22 - Ian Browne, Australian track cyclist
June 23 - Ola Ullsten, Swedish politician and diplomat (d. 2018)
June 25 - V. P. Singh, Prime Minister of India (d. 2008)
June 26 - Colin Wilson, British writer (d. 2013)
June 29 - Alina Obidniak, Polish actress and theatre director June 30 - Gerda Herrmann, German composer and poet
July 4 - Stephen Boyd, Irish actor ( ) (d. Ben-Hur 1977)
July 5 - Ismail Mahomed, South African, Namibian Chief Justice (d. 2000)
July 8 - Thorvald Stoltenberg, Norwegian politician (d. 2018)
Nick Adams, American actor (d. 1968)
Morris Chang, Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. (TSMC) in 1987
Jerry Herman, American composer, lyricist (d. 2019)
Julian May, American science fiction, fantasy, horror, and science writer (d. 2017) Alice Munro, Canadian writer, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature
July 11 - Tab Hunter, American actor, singer (d. 2018)
July 13 - Frank Ramsey, American professional basketball player, coach (d. 2018)
July 17 - Caroline Graham, English playwright, screenwriter and novelist
July 22 - Guido de Marco, Maltese politician, 6th President of Malta (d. 2010)
July 23 - Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, M?ori queen (d. 2006)
July 25 - Paul Danblon, Belgian composer, opera director, administrator and journalist (d. 2018) July 27 - Jerry Van Dyke, American comedian, actor (d. 2018)
August 1 - Hal Connolly, American athlete (d. 2010)
August 3 - Vladimir Trusenyov, Russian discus thrower (d. 2001)
August 6 - Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi Kani, Iranian cleric, writer and politician (d. 2014)
August 9 - Mário Zagallo, Brazilian football player, manager
August 10 - Tom Laughlin, American actor ( ) (d. Billy Jack 2013)
August 12 - William Goldman, American author (d. 2018)
August 18 - Hans van Mierlo, Dutch politician, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister (d. 2010)
August 19 - Willie Shoemaker, American jockey (d. 2003)
August 20 - Don King, American boxing promoter
August 24 - Ciputra, Indonesian businessman and philanthropist (d. 2019)
August 25 - Regis Philbin, American television personality
August 28 - Shunichiro Okano, Japanese football player, manager (d. 2017)
September 2 - Zoltán Latinovits, Hungarian actor (d. 1976)
September 3 - Paulo Maluf, Brazilian politician
September 4 - Mitzi Gaynor, American actress, singer and dancer
September 5 - Moshé Mizrahi, Israeli film director (d. 2018)
September 7 - Josep Lluís Núñez, Spanish businessman and football club president (d. 2018)
September 13 - Barbara Bain, American actress ( ) Mission: Impossible
September 16 - E. C. George Sudarshan, Indian theoretical physicist (d. 2018)
September 22 - Fay Weldon, British author
September 24 - Tom Adams, 2nd Prime Minister of Barbados (d. 1985)
September 27 - Freddy Quinn, Austrian singer, actor
September 30 - Angie Dickinson, American actress
October 2 - Jakob Schönenberger, Swiss banker, politician (d. 2018)
October 3 - Denise Scott Brown, American architect
October 6 - Riccardo Giacconi, Italian-born astrophysicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (d. 2018)
October 15 - A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of India (d. 2015)
October 17 - José Alencar, Brazilian politician (d. 2011)
October 21 - Shammi Kapoor, Indian film actor, director (d. 2011)
October 22 - Ann Rule, American true-crime writer (d. 2015)
October 24 - Ken Utsui, Japanese actor (d. 2014)
October 25 - Jimmy McIlroy, Irish footballer and manager
October 26 - Suhaila Noah, spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia (d. 2014)
October 28 - Analía Gadé, Argentine actress (d. 2019)
October 29 - Franco Interlenghi, Italian actor (d. 2015)
October 30 - Dick Gautier, American actor (d. 2017) October 31
November 1 - Shunsuke Kikuchi, Japanese composer
November 2 - Phil Woods, American saxophonist (d. 2015)
November 4 - Bernard Francis Law, American cardinal (d. 2017)
November 5 - Ike Turner, African-American singer, songwriter (d. 2007)
November 16 - Hubert Sumlin, American blues musician (d. 2011)
November 21 - Malcolm Williamson, Australian composer (d. 2003)
November 26 - Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentine activist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
November 29 - Shintaro Katsu, Japanese actor (d. 1997)
December 3 - Jaye P. Morgan, American singer, chanteuse
December 5 - Jayant Ganpat Nadkarni, Indian Navy admiral (d. 2018)
December 7 - Carmela Rey, Mexican singer, actress (d. 2018)
December 9 - Ladislav Smoljak, Czech film, theater director, actor and screenwriter (d. 2010)
December 11 - Rita Moreno, Puerto-Rican actress ( ) West Side Story
December 15 - Klaus Rifbjerg, Danish writer (d. 2015)
December 17 - Dave Madden, Canadian, American actor ( ) (d. The Partridge Family 2014)
December 22 - Carlos Graça, 6th Prime Minister of São Tomé and Príncipe (d. 2013)
December 23 - Ronnie Schell, American actor
December 26 - Roger Piantoni, French footballer (d. 2018)
December 28 - Martin Milner, American actor ( ) (d. Adam-12 2015)
December 31 - Bob Shaw, Irish writer (d. 1996)
February 1 - Prince Emmanuel, Duke of Vendome (b. 1872)
February 11 - Sir Charles Parsons, British inventor (b. 1854)
February 13 - Martin von Feuerstein, German painter (b. 1865)
February 16 - Wilhelm von Gloeden, German photographer (b. 1856)
February 18 - Louis Wolheim, American actor (b. 1880)
February 19 - Tovmas Nazarbekian, Armenian general (b. 1855)
February 24 - Frederick Augustus II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg (b. 1852)
February 26 - Otto Wallach, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1847) February 28 - Thomas S. Rodgers, American admiral (b. 1858)
March 5 - Arthur Tooth, Anglican clergyman (b. 1839)
March 11 - F. W. Murnau, German director (b. 1888)
March 16 - Sir Charles Eliot, British diplomat (b. 1862)
March 22 - James Campbell, 1st Baron Glenavy, Irish lawyer, politician (b. 1851)
March 24 - Robert Edeson, American actor (b. 1868)
March 25 - Ida Wells, African-American anti-lynching crusader (b. 1862)
March 27 - Arnold Bennett, British novelist (b. 1867)
March 28 - Ban Johnson, American baseball executive (b. 1864) March 31 - Knute Rockne, American football coach (b. 1888)
April 1 - Macklyn Arbuckle, American actor (b. 1866)
April 8 - Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Swedish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1864)
April 9 - Nicholas Longworth, American politician, Speaker of the House (b. 1869)
April 10 - Khalil Gibran, Lebanese poet, painter (b. 1883)
April 14 - Richard Armstedt, German historian (b. 1851)
April 17 - Ernesto Rossi, American gangster (b. 1903)
April 20 - Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, British baronet, survivor (b. Titanic 1862)
April 26 - George Herbert Mead, American philosopher, sociologist and psychologist (b. 1863)
April 27 - Albert, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein (b. 1869) April 30 - Sammy Woods, English cricketer (b. 1867)
September 4 - Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria (b. 1863)
September 5 - John Thomson, Scottish footballer (b. 1909)
September 7 - Federico Tinoco Granados, 21st President of Costa Rica (b. 1868)
September 8 - Susan Augusta Pike Sanders, American teacher, clubwoman, and author (b. 1842)
September 9 - Lujo Brentano, German economist (b. 1844)
September 10 - Salvatore Maranzano, Italian mobster (b. 1886)
September 13 - Prince Friedrich Leopold of Prussia (b. 1866)
September 16 - Omar Mukhtar, Libyan resistance leader (b. 1858)
September 18 - Geli Raubal, German niece of Adolf Hitler (b. 1908)
September 19 - David Starr Jordan, American ichthyologist, educator, eugenicist, and peace activist (b. 1851) September 29 - William Orpen, Irish artist (b. 1878)
November 3 - George Vakayil, Indian Roman Catholic priest and servant of God (b. 1883)
November 4 - Buddy Bolden, American musician (b. 1877)
November 6 - Jack Chesbro, American baseball player, MLB Hall of Famer (b. 1874)
November 11 - Shibusawa Eiichi, Japanese industrialist (b. 1840)
November 13 - Ivan Fichev, Bulgarian general, minister of defense, military historian, and academician (b. 1860)
November 14 - Sir William Peyton, British army general (b. 1866)
November 20 - Julius Drewe, British businessman, retailer and entrepreneur (b. 1856)
November 21 - Bruno von Mudra, German general (b. 1851) November 27 - Robert Ames, American actor (b. 1889)
December 2 - Vincent d'Indy, French composer (b. 1851)
December 5 - Vachel Lindsay, American poet (b. 1879)
December 9 - Antonio Salandra, Italian statesman, 21st Prime Minister of Italy (b. 1853)
December 18 - Jack Diamond, American gangster (b. 1897)
December 23 - Tyrone Power Sr, English-born American actor (b. 1869)
December 24 - Carlo Fornasini, micropalaeontologist (b. 1854)
December 26 - Melvil Dewey, American librarian, inventor of the Dewey Decimal Classification (b. 1851) December 27 - José Figueroa Alcorta, Argentine politician, 16th President of Argentina (b. 1860)
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"Pangborn-Herndon Memorial Site". Aviation: From Sand Dunes To Sonic Booms. National Park Service . Retrieved 2012.
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