- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian bodybuilder and actor
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, American basketball player
- P. J. O'Rourke, journalist and satirist
- David Letterman - US entertainer
- David Bowie - Pop star
- Elton John - Pop star
- September 21 - Stephen King, author
- April 15 - In the United States, Jackie Robinson, an African-American, takes the field at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers major-league baseball team, breaking that sport's color line.
- August 15 - India obtains independence from the British rule. Pakistan splits from India.
- October 14, American test pilot, Captain Chuck Yeager flies a Bell X-1 faster than the speed of sound, the first man to do so in level flight.
- The House Un-American Activities Committee begin their investigations of communism in Hollywood.
- Cambridge University begins to admits women as full students.
- Mikhail Kalashnikov designs the AK-47 assault rifle
- Walter Morrison invents the Frisbee.
- Physics - Sir Edward Victor Appleton
- Chemistry - Sir Robert Robinson
- Medicine - Carl Ferdinand Cori, Gerty Theresa, née Radnitz Cori, Bernardo Alberto Houssay
- Literature - André Paul Guillaume Gide
- Peace - The Friends Service Council (UK) and The American Friends Service Committee (USA), on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers.