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1956 ( MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1956th year of the Common Era (CE) and (AD) designations, the 956th year of the Anno Domini 2nd millennium, the 56th year of the 20th century, and the 7th year of the 1950s decade.
February 11 - British spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean resurface in the Soviet Union, after being missing for 5 years.
February 14 - 25 - The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is held in Moscow.
February 16 - Only a little more than four months after the release of the 70 mm version of , the film version of Oklahoma! Rodgers and Hammerstein's , starring Carousel Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, is released in CinemaScope 55. MacRae and Jones had previously starred in Oklahoma! Carousel, intended for showing in 55 mm, ends up being shown only in 35 mm.
February 22 - Elvis Presley enters the United States music charts for the first time, with " Heartbreak Hotel".
February 23 - Norma Jean Mortenson legally changes her name to Marilyn Monroe.
February 24 - Doris Day records her most famous song, " Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"; it is from Alfred Hitchcock's , in which Day co-stars with The Man Who Knew Too Much James Stewart. February 25 - Nikita Khrushchev attacks the veneration of Joseph Stalin, in a speech " On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences", at a secret session concluding the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
March 1 - The International Air Transport Association finalizes a draft of the radiotelephony spelling alphabet, for the International Civil Aviation Organization.
March 2 - Morocco declares its independence from France.
March 10 - The Fairey Delta 2 breaks the World Air Speed Record, raising it to 1,132 mph (1,822 km/h) or Mach 1.73, an increase of some 300 mph (480 km/h) over the previous record, and thus becoming the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) in level flight.
March 11 - After having opened in London the previous year, Laurence Olivier's film, , adapted from Richard III Shakespeare's play, has its U.S. premiere in theatres and on NBC-TV on the same day. On television it is not shown in prime time, but as an afternoon matinée, in a slightly cut version. It is one of the first such experiments of its kind. Olivier is later nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
March 13 - Elvis Presley releases his first gold album titled "Elvis Presley" in the United States.
March 15 - The Broadway musical opens in New York City. My Fair Lady
March 19 - At age 48, Dutch boxer Bep van Klaveren contests his last match in Rotterdam.
March 20 - Tunisia gains independence from France.
March 21 - The 28th Academy Awards Ceremony is held in Los Angeles. is awarded Marty Best Picture. March 23 - Pakistan becomes the first Islamic republic, and a national holiday is observed in the country, including the state of East Pakistan.
June 1 - Vyacheslav Molotov resigns as foreign minister of the Soviet Union; he later becomes ambassador to Mongolia.
June 3 - British Railways rename 'Third Class' passenger facilities 'Second Class'.
June 4 - Montgomery bus boycott: The related civil suit is heard in federal district court; the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in November.
June 6 - In Singapore, chief minister David Marshall resigns, after the breakdown of talks about internal self-government in London.
June 8 - General Electric/Telechron introduces model 7H241 "The Snooz Alarm", the first snooze alarm clock ever. 
June 10 - 1956 Summer Olympics: Equestrian events open in Stockholm, Sweden (all other events are held in November in Melbourne, Australia).
June 14 - The Flag of the United States Army is formally dedicated. 
June 15 - Eindhoven University of Technology is founded in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
June 18 - The last British troops departed Egypt.
June 21 - Playwright Arthur Miller appears before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, D.C.
June 23 - Gamal Abdel Nasser becomes the 2nd president of Egypt, a post he holds until his death in 1970.
Pozna? 1956 protests: Labour riots in Pozna?, Poland, are crushed with heavy loss of life. Soviet troops fire at a crowd protesting high prices, killing 53 people. The film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's , starring The King and I Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, is released only a few months after the film version of R&H's Carousel. It becomes the most financially successful film version of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical up to this time, and the only one to win an acting Oscar (Yul Brynner wins Best Actor for his performance as the King of Siam). It is also one of two Rodgers and Hammerstein films to be nominated for Best Picture (which it does not win).
June 30 - 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision: A TWA Lockheed Constellation and United Airlines Douglas DC-7 collide in mid-air over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, killing all 128 people aboard both aircraft, in the deadliest civil aviation disaster to date; the accident leads to sweeping changes in the regulation of cross-country flight and air traffic control over the United States.
July 2 - A laboratory experiment involving scrap thorium at Sylvania Electric Products in Bayside, New York, results in an explosion.
July 4 - An American Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft makes its first flight over the Soviet Union.
July 8 - The mountain Gasherbrum II, on the border of Pakistan and China, is first ascended, by an Austrian expedition.
July 9 - The 7.7 M w Amorgos earthquake shakes the Cyclades island group in the Aegean Sea, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX ( Violent). The shaking and the subsequent tsunami leave 53 people dead.
July 10 - The British House of Lords defeats the abolition of the death penalty.
July 13 - John McCarthy (Dartmouth), Marvin Minsky (MIT), Claude Shannon (Bell Labs) and Nathaniel Rochester (IBM) assemble the first coordinated research meeting on the topic of artificial intelligence, at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, in the United States.
July 16 - With the closing of its "Big Tent" show in Pittsburgh, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announces all subsequent circuses will be "arena shows", due to changing economics.
July 24 - At New York City's Copacabana nightclub, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis perform their last comedy show together (their act started on July 25, 1946).
July 25 - The Italian ocean liner SS sinks after colliding with the Swedish ship Andrea Doria SS in heavy fog 72 kilometers (45 mi) south of Stockholm Nantucket island, killing 51.
July 26 - Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal, sparking international condemnation.
July 30 - A joint resolution of Congress is signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing " In God we trust" as the U.S. national motto. July 31
August 6 - After going bankrupt in 1955, the American broadcaster DuMont Television Network airs its final broadcast, an episode of its sports series . Boxing from St. Nicholas Arena
August 7 – Seven ammunition trucks loaded with 1,053 boxes of dynamite explode in Cali, Colombia. Death estimates range from 1,300 to 10,000, in a city that at the time had 120,000 inhabitants. 
August 8 - 262 miners (chiefly Italian nationals) die in a fire at the Bois du Cazier coal mine, in Marcinelle, Belgium.
August 9 - The exhibition opens at This Is Tomorrow Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.
August 12 - Around 5,000 members of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church hold a mass outside Cluj-Napoca Piarists' Church to demonstrate that their church, proscribed by the government in 1948, has not ceased to exist as the regime claims. August 17 - West Germany bans the Communist Party of Germany.
States Reorganisation Act of India reforms the boundaries and names of Indian states. Three new states, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, are formed.
City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco publishes by Howl and Other Poems Allen Ginsberg, a key work of the Beat Generation. The film (1955), previously released to select cities in Oklahoma! Todd-AO, now receives a U.S. national release in CinemaScope, since not all theatres are yet equipped for Todd-AO. To accomplish this, the film has actually been shot twice, rather than printing one version in two different film processes, as is later done.
November 4 - Hungarian Revolution of 1956: More Soviet troops invade Hungary, to crush a revolt that started on October 23. Thousands are killed, more are wounded, and nearly a quarter million leave the country.
November 6 - 1956 United States presidential election: Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower defeats Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson, in a rematch of their contest 4 years earlier.
November 7 - Suez Crisis: The United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution calling for the United Kingdom, France and Israel to withdraw their troops from Arab lands immediately.
November 11 - Hungarian Revolution of 1956: Last insurgents succumb to the invading Soviet army. 
November 12 - Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia join the United Nations.
November 13 - : The Browder v. Gayle United States Supreme Court declares illegal the state and municipal laws requiring segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama, thus ending the Montgomery bus boycott.
November 15 - Middle East Technical University is founded in Ankara, Turkey.
November 18 - At a reception for Western ambassadors at the Polish embassy in Moscow, Nikita Khrushchev utters his famous phrase " We will bury you".
November 20 - In Yugoslavia, former prime minister Milovan ?ilas is arrested after he criticizes Josip Broz Tito.
November 22 - The 1956 Summer Olympics begin in Melbourne, Australia.
November 23 - The Suez Crisis causes petrol rationing in Britain. 
November 25 - Fidel Castro and Che Guevara depart from Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico, en route to Santiago de Cuba aboard the yacht , with 82 men. Granma
November 28 - Roger Vadim's drama film , released in France as And God Created Woman Et Dieu ... créa la femme, propels Brigitte Bardot into the public spotlight as a " sex kitten". November 30 - African-American Floyd Patterson wins the world heavyweight boxing championship that is vacant after the retirement of Rocky Marciano.
December 3 - The 1956 Bush Terminal explosion occurs in Brooklyn.
December 4 - The Million Dollar Quartet ( Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash) get together at Sun Studio, for the first and last time in history.
December 9 - Trans-Canada Air Lines Flight 810, a Canadair North Star, crashes into Slesse Mountain near Chilliwack, British Columbia. All 62 people aboard, including five Canadian Football League players, are killed.
December 12 - Japan becomes a member of the United Nations.
December 18 - debuts on To Tell the Truth CBS-TV in the United States.
December 19 - British doctor John Bodkin Adams is arrested for the murder of 2 patients in Eastbourne.
December 23 - British and French troops leave the Suez Canal region. December 31 - Bob Barker makes his television debut, as host of the game show in the United States. Truth or Consequences
January 4 - Bernard Sumner, British musician
January 12 - Nikolai Noskov, Soviet and Russian rock singer and songwriter
January 13 - Janet Hubert, African-American actress
January 14 - Ronan Bennett, Northern Irish writer
January 15 - Vitaly Kaloyev, Russian convicted murderer, architect deputy minister of construction of North Ossetia-Alania
January 16 - Martin Jol, Dutch football manager
January 17 - Paul Young, English musician
January 19 - Adriana Acosta, Argentine militant and field hockey player (d. 1978)
January 20 - Bill Maher, American actor, comedian and political analyst
January 24 - Lounès Matoub, Algerian Berber Kabyle singer (d. 1998)
January 25 - Bronwyn Pike, Australian politician
January 26 - Pat Musick, American voice actress
January 28 - Peter Schilling, German singer
January 30 - Keiichi Tsuchiya, Japanese race car driver January 31
February 1 - Mike Kitchen, Canadian ice hockey player and coach
February 6 - Jon Walmsley, British actor
February 10 - Enele Sopoaga, 12th Prime Minister of Tuvalu
February 14 - Tom Burlinson, Australian actor
February 15 - Desmond Haynes, West Indian cricketer
February 20 - François Bréda, Romanian essayist, poet, literary critic, literary historian, translator and theatrologist (d. 2018)
March 2 - Eduardo Rodríguez, President of Bolivia
March 3 - Frank Giroud, French comics writer (d. 2018)
March 8 - John Kapelos, Canadian actor
March 11 - Rob Paulsen, American voice actor and singer
March 13 - Dana Delany, American actress
March 18 - Ingemar Stenmark, Swedish alpine skier
March 19 - Yegor Gaidar, Russian economist and politician (d. 2009) 
March 24 - Steve Ballmer, American businessman, CEO of Microsoft (2000-2014), owner of the Los Angeles Clippers
March 25 - Matthew Garber, English child actor (d. 1977)
March 29 - Evie, American Christian musician March 30 - Shahla Sherkat, Iranian feminist journalist
April 7 - Christopher Darden, African-American attorney, author, actor and lecturer
April 9 - Edmund Chong Ket Wah, Malaysian politician (d. 2010)
April 13 - Possum Bourne, New Zealand rally car driver (d. 2003)
April 14 - Barbara Bonney, American soprano
April 19 - Sue Barker, British tennis player and television presenter
April 21 - Phillip Longman, American demographer
April 22 - Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Finnish conductor
April 23 - Greg Colson, American artist
April 26 - Koo Stark, British actress
April 27 - Bryan Harvey, American musician (d. 2006)
April 30 - Lars von Trier, Danish film director and screenwriter
May 5 - Lisa Eilbacher, American actress
May 12 - J?nis Boj?rs, Latvian shot putter (d. 2018)
May 15 - Dan Patrick, American sports commentator
May 19 - Steven Ford, American actor
May 24 - Michael Jackson, Irish Anglican bishop
May 26 - Lisa Niemi, American actress and dancer, spouse of Patrick Swayze
May 27 - Giuseppe Tornatore, Italian film director
May 29 - La Toya Jackson, African-American singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman and television personality May 31 - Yoshiko Sakakibara, Japanese voice actress
June 2 - Mani Ratnam, Indian film director, screenwriter and producer
June 3 - George Burley, Scottish football manager
June 4 - Keith David, African-American actor and voice actor
June 5 - Kenny G, American saxophonist
June 9 - Patricia Cornwell, American novelist
June 10 - Borwin, Duke of Mecklenburg, German head of the House of Mecklenburg
June 13 - Yurik Vardanyan, Soviet weightlifter (d. 2018)
June 14 - King Diamond, Danish heavy metal musician
June 15 - Robin Curtis, American actress
June 17 - Kelly Curtis, American actor
June 20 - Cho Chikun, Korean Go player
June 21 - Thomas James O'Leary, American actor
Randy Jackson, African-American musician and talent judge Mai Yamani, Saudi Arabian independent scholar, author and anthropologist
June 24 - Turid Leirvoll, Norwegian-Danish politician
June 28 - Noel Mugavin, Australian rules football player
July 4 - Bárbara Bruno, Brazilian actress, director and producer
July 9 - Tom Hanks, American actor and director
July 10 - K. Rajagopal, Malaysian football manager and national player
July 12 - Mel Harris, American actress
July 17 - Robert Romanus, American actor and musician
July 18 - Sheila Aldridge, American singer
July 20 - Thomas N'Kono, Cameroonian footballer
July 25 - Frances Arnold, American biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
September 1 - Bernie Wagenblast, American editor and broadcaster
September 3 - Pat McGeown, Provisional Irish Republican Army member (d. 1996)
September 6 - Bill Ritter, American politician, 41st Governor of Colorado
September 7 - Michael Feinstein, American singer and pianist
September 8 - Maurice Cheeks, American basketball player and coach
September 11 - Phillip D. Bissett, American politician
September 13 - Ilie Balaci, Romanian football player (d. 2018)
September 15 - George Howard, American jazz saxophone musician (d. 1998)
September 18 - Tim McInnerny, English actor
September 21 - Jack Givens, American basketball player
September 24 - Greg Panos, American futurist, writer, inventor
September 25 - Jamie Hyneman, American television co-host
September 26 - Linda Hamilton, American actress
September 29 - Sebastian Coe, Baron Coe, British athlete; co-ordinator of the London 2012 Olympic Games  September 30 - Gordon Elliott, British-Australian television personality and talk show host
October 2 - Charlie Adler, American voice actor and director
October 3 - Ralph Morgenstern, German actor
October 4 - Christoph Waltz, German-Austrian actor
October 10 - Amanda Burton, Irish actress
October 11 - Nicanor Duarte, 47th President of Paraguay
October 12 - Tr?n i Quang, President of Vietnam (d. 2018)
October 16 - Rudra Mohammad Shahidullah, Bangladeshi poet (d. 1991)
Craig Bartlett, American animator, writer, storyboard artist, director and voice actor Martina Navratilova, Czech-American multiple Grand Slam title winning tennis player
October 21 - Carrie Fisher, American actress and novelist (d. 2016)
October 22 - Marvin Bush, American businessman
October 26 - Rita Wilson, American actress and producer
October 28 - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 6th President of Iran October 29 - Wilfredo Gómez, Puerto Rican boxer
November 4 - Igor Talkov, Russian singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1991)
November 5 - Rob Fisher, British keyboardist and songwriter ( Climie Fisher) (d. 1999)
Sinbad, African-American stand-up, comedian and actor
Mohsen Badawi, Egyptian entrepreneur, political activist and writer Peter Rangmar, Swedish actor, comedian and baritone (d. 1997)
November 11 - Talat Aziz, ghazal singer
November 13 - Charlie Baker, American politician, 72nd Governor of Massachusetts
November 16 – Terry Labonte, American Race Car Driver
November 21 - Terri Welles, American actress and adult model
November 22 - Richard Kind, American actor
November 24 - Jouni Kaipainen, Finnish composer
November 26 - Dale Jarrett, American Race Car Driver
December 4 - Bernard King, American basketball player and commentator
December 10 - Rod Blagojevich, American politician and convicted felon, Governor of Illinois (2003-2009)
December 11 - Lani Brockman, American playwright
December 13 - Majida El Roumi, Lebanese singer
December 14 - Béla Réthy, German sports journalist
December 16 - Duncan Faure, South African musician
December 18 - Ron White, American comedian
December 21 - Anna Erlandsson, Swedish filmmaker and animator
December 29 - Fred MacAulay, Scottish comedian
January 5 - Mistinguett, French singer and actress (b. 1875)
January 9 - Marion Leonard, American actress (b. 1881)
January 12 - Norman Kerry, American actor (b. 1894)
January 13 - Lyonel Feininger, German painter (b. 1871)
January 14 - Sheila Kaye-Smith, English writer (b. 1887)
January 18 - Konstantin Päts, 1st President of Estonia (b. 1874)
January 21 - Sam Langford, Canadian boxer (b. 1883)
January 23 - Sir Alexander Korda, Hungarian-born film director (b. 1893)
January 27 - Erich Kleiber, German conductor (b. 1890)
January 29 - H. L. Mencken, American writer (b. 1880) January 31 - A. A. Milne, English author ( Winnie The Pooh) (b. 1882)
March 9 - Arthur Leopold Busch, English-born American submarine pioneer (b. 1866) 
March 11 - Aleksanteri Aava, Finnish poet (b. 1883)
March 12 - Boles?aw Bierut, Polish Communist politician and statesman, former Prime Minister and President of Poland (b. 1892)
March 14 - David Browning, American Olympic diver (b. 1931)
March 21 - Edwin Thanhouser, American actor, businessman, and film producer, founder of the Thanhouser Company (b. 1865)
March 28 - Thomas de Hartmann, Russian composer (b. 1885)
March 30 - Edmund Clerihew Bentley, English writer (b. 1875) March 31 - Ralph DePalma, Italian-born race car driver (b. 1884)
April 6 - Pío Valenzuela, Filipino physician and one of the leaders of the Katipunan (b. 1869)
April 13 - Emil Nolde, German-Danish painter (b. 1867)
April 15 - Kathleen Howard, Canadian-born American actress and opera singer (b. 1884)
April 19 - Ernst Robert Curtius, Alsatian philologist (b. 1886)
April 24 - Henry Stephenson, British character actor (b. 1871)
April 26 - Edward Arnold, American actor (b. 1890)
June 28 - Friedrich Schmidt-Ott, German lawyer, scientific organizer, and science policymaker (b. 1860)
April 30 - Alben W. Barkley, 35th Vice President of the United States (b. 1877)
July 1 - Tawfik Abu Al-Huda, 4-Time Prime Minister of Jordan (b. 1894)
July 7 - Gottfried Benn, German poet (b. 1886)
July 8 - Giovanni Papini, Italian essayist, poet, novelist (b. 1881)
July 10 - Joe Giard, American baseball player (b. 1898)
July 11 - John T. Raulston, American Scopes Monkey Trial judge (b. 1868)
July 12 - Sprague Cleghorn, Canadian ice hockey player (b. 1890)
July 20 - James Alexander Calder, Canadian politician (b. 1868)
July 24 - Géza Zemplén, Hungarian chemist (b. 1883) July 29 - Ludwig Klages, German philosopher and psychologist (b. 1872)
October 1 - Albert Von Tilzer, American songwriter (b. 1878)
October 2 - George Bancroft, American actor (b. 1882)
October 9 - Marie Doro, American stage & silent film actress (b. 1882)
October 12 - Lorenzo Perosi, Italian composer (b. 1872)
October 14 - Jules Richard, French mathematician (b. 1862)
October 17 - Anne Crawford, British actress (b. 1920)
October 19 - Isham Jones, American musician (b. 1894)
October 22 - Hannah Mitchell, English socialist and suffragette (b. 1872)
October 25 - Risto Ryti, 23rd Prime Minister of Finland and 5th President of Finland (b. 1889)
October 26 - Walter Gieseking, French conductor (b. 1895)
October 27 - Charles S. Johnson, American sociologist (b. 1893) October 30 - Pío Baroja, Spanish novelist (b. 1872)
November 2 - Leo Baeck, German rabbi, scholar and theologian (b. 1873)
November 3 - Jean Metzinger, French painter, theorist and critic (b. 1883)
November 5 - Art Tatum, American jazz pianist (b. 1909)
November 6 - Paul Kelly, American stage and film actor (b. 1899)
November 12 - Juan Negrín, 67th Prime Minister of Spain (b. 1892)
November 13 - Werner Haas, German motorcycle racer (b. 1927)
November 19 - Francis L. Sullivan, English actor (b. 1903)
November 22 - Theodore Kosloff, Russian-born ballet dancer, choreographer and actor (b. 1882)
November 26 - Tommy Dorsey, American trombonist and bandleader (b. 1905) November 27 - Hugo Ballin, American artist, film production designer, and director (b. 1879)
December 2 - Dell Henderson, Canadian actor (b. 1883)
December 3 - Alexander Rodchenko, Russian artist (b. 1891)
December 6 - Dr B. R. Ambedkar, a founding father of modern India, the architect of its constitution and Indian dalit leader (b. 1891)
December 7 - Huntley Gordon, Canadian actor (b. 1887)
December 9 - Charles Joughin, English-born baker on RMS Titanic (b. 1878)
December 10 - David Shimoni, Israeli poet and writer (b. 1891)
December 12 - Ewald André Dupont, German film director (b. 1891)
December 14 - Juho Kusti Paasikivi, twice Prime Minister of Finland and 7th President of Finland (b. 1870)
December 17 - Eddie Acuff, American actor (b. 1903)
December 21 - Lewis Terman, American psychologist (b. 1877)
December 23 - Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Spanish architect (b. 1867)
December 25 - William Addison Dwiggins, American book designer, type designer, illustrator, author, marionette artist (b. 1880)
December 26 - Holmes Herbert, English actor (b. 1882) December 30 - Ruth Draper, American actress (b. 1884)
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