- February 11 - Mary Docter, American speed skater.
- February 11 - Becky LeBeau, vocalist.
- February 11 - Carey Lowell, actress.
- July 1 - Diana, English princess
- September 2 - Carlos Valderrama, footballer
- February 11 - Eduard R Verkade, Dutch actor/director.
- February 11 - Patrice Lumumba, 1st premier of Congo (Kinshasa)?.
- June 1 - Melvin Jones, founder of Lions Clubs International.
- October 11 - Chico Marx, member of the Marx Brothers
- February 11 - Trial of Adolf Eichmann begins in Jerusalem.
- August 13 - Construction of the Berlin Wall begins. Movement between East Berlin and West Berlin remains restricted for the next 28 years, until November 9, 1989.
- Change of US presidency from Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) to John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
- JFK begins the Apollo program of U.S. manned spaceflight
- The first quasar is discovered by Allen Rex Sandage at Mt Palomar, California.
- Baseball player Roger Maris hits 61 home runs in a season, beating Babe Ruth's mark of 60, that had stood since 1927
- South Africa withdraws from the British Commonwealth.
- Physics - Robert Hofstadter, Rudolf Ludwig Mössbauer
- Chemistry - Melvin Calvin
- Medicine - Georg von Békésy
- Literature - Ivo Andric
- Peace - Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld - awarded posthumously