- February 11 - George O'Hanlon, actor/director.
- February 27 -- Konrad Lorenz
- June 28 - Joris Ivens, filmmaker
- December 25 - Nicolae Ceaucescu, former ruler of Romania is executed
- February 11 - Barbara Clementine Harris is consecrated 1st female bishop in the Episcopalian Church.
- February 11 - US female Figure Skating championship won by Jill Trenary.
- [March 1] - The Berne Convention is ratified and enters into force with regard to the United States.
- November 9 The Berlin Wall comes down.
- George Bush succeeds Ronald Reagan as President of the United States of America.
- Rice University celebrates its demisequicentenial.
- Fernando Collor de Mello wins the first elections in Brazil in 29 years.
- Physics - Norman F. Ramsey, Hans G. Dehmelt, Wolfgang Paul
- Chemistry - Sidney Altman, Thomas R Cech
- Medicine - J Michael Bishop, Harold E Varmus
- Literature - Camilo José Cela
- Peace - Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
- Economics - Trygve Haavelmo