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1956 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– 26 – 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
February 16 – Only a little more than four months after the release of the 70mm 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 55mm, ends up being shown only in 35mm.
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 Josef Stalin in a speech " On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences".
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 broke 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 Television on the same day. On TV 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.
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.
March 23 – Pakistan becomes the first Islamic republic, and a national holiday is observed in the country including the former East Pakistan state.
June 1 – Vyacheslav Molotov resigns as foreign minister of the Soviet Union; he later becomes ambassador in Mongolia.
June 3 – British Rail renames 'Third Class' passenger facilities as 'Second Class' (Second Class facilities had been abolished in 1875, leaving just First Class and Third Class).
June 4 – Montgomery Bus Boycott the related civil suit was heard in federal district court and the court ruled in Browder v. Gayle (1956) that Alabama's racial segregation laws for buses were unconstitutional.
June 5 – Elvis Presley performs " Hound Dog", on , scandalizing the audience with his suggestive hip movements. The Milton Berle Show
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", 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 foreign troops leave 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.
Poznań 1956 protests: Labour riots in Poznań, 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 lab experiment involving scrap thorium at Sylvania Electric Products in Bayside, New York, results in an explosion.
July 4 – The first Lockheed U-2 spy plane 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 Agean Sea with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX ( Violent). The shaking and the subsequent tsunami leave fifty-three 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 in Hanover, NH. USA.
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.
November 4 – 1956 Hungarian Revolution: 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 – United States presidential election, 1956: Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower defeats Democrat challenger Adlai E. 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 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 14 – Fighting ends in Hungary. Confirmation needed
November 15 – Middle East Technical University is founded in Ankara, Turkey.
November 18 – At a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow Nikita Khrushchev utters his famous phrase " We will bury you".
November 20 – In Yugoslavia, former prime minister Milovan Đilas 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 – Floyd Patterson wins the world heavyweight boxing championship that is vacant after the retirement of Rocky Marciano.
January 14 – Ronan Bennett, Northern Irish writer
January 16 – Martin Jol, Dutch football manager
January 17 – Paul Young, English musician
January 18 – Tom Bailey, English musician
January 19 – Adriana Acosta, Argentine militant and field hockey player
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
March 2 – Eduardo Rodríguez, President of Bolivia
March 7 – Bryan Cranston, American actor
March 11 – Rob Paulsen, American voice actor
March 12 – Steve Harris, British musician, composer ( Iron Maiden)
March 13 – Dana Delany, American actress
March 18 – Ingemar Stenmark, Swedish alpine skier
March 19 – Yegor Gaidar, Russian economist and politician
March 24 – Steve Ballmer, American businessman, former CEO of Microsoft (2000–2014), and current 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 5 – Diamond Dallas Page, former American professional wrestler
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 26 – Koo Stark, British actress
April 27 – Bryan Harvey, American musician (d. 2006)
April 28 – Hanka Paldum, Bosnian singer
April 30 – Lars von Trier, Danish film director
May 1 – Alexander Ivanov, Russian-born American chess grandmaster
May 5 – Lisa Eilbacher, American actress
May 6 – Vladimir Lisin, Russian business oligarch
May 9 – Wendy Crewson, Canadian actress
May 15 – Dan Patrick, American sports commentator
May 24 – Michael Jackson, Irish Anglican bishop
May 26 – Lisa Niemi, American actress and dancer, widow of Patrick Swayze
May 27 – Giuseppe Tornatore, Italian film director
May 29 – La Toya Jackson, African-American singer
May 31 – Yoshiko Sakakibara, Japanese voice actress
June 3 – George Burley, Scottish football manager
June 4 – Keith David, American actor and voice actor
June 5 – Kenny G, American saxophonist
June 7 – Antonio M. Reid, American record executive
June 8 – Udo Bullmann, German politician
June 9 – Patricia Cornwell, American novelist
June 10 – Borwin, Duke of Mecklenburg, German head of the House of Mecklenburg
June 14 – King Diamond, Danish heavy metal musician
June 15 – Robin Curtis, American actress
June 20 – Cho Chikun, Korean professional Go player
June 21 – Thomas James O'Leary, American actor
June 22 – Abdulbaset Sieda, Kurdish-Syrian academic and politician
June 23 – Randy Jackson, American musician and talent judge
June 28 – Noel Mugavin, Australian rules football player
June 30 – David Alan Grier, American actor and comedian
July 1 – Alan Ruck, American actor
July 2 – Jerry Hall, American model and actress
July 3 – Rick Ducommun, Canadian actor and comedian
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 14 – Vladimir Kulich, Czechoslovakian actor
July 18 – Sheila Aldridge, American singer
July 19 – Yoshiaki Yatsu, Japanese professional wrestler
July 30 – Delta Burke, American actress
August 2 – Jim Neidhart, American professional wrestler
August 4 – Gerry Cooney, American boxer
August 6 – Stepfanie Kramer, American actress
August 8 – Chris Foreman, English rock guitarist
August 12 – Bruce Greenwood, Canadian actor
August 17 – Dave Jones, English football manager
August 19 – Adam Arkin, American actor
August 20 – Joan Allen, American actress
August 21 – Kim Cattrall, English-born Canadian actress
August 22 – Paul Molitor, American baseball player
August 25 – Henri Toivonen, Finnish rally car driver (d. 1986)
August 26 – Mark Mangino, American football coach
August 29 – Mark Morris, American choreographer
September 1 – Bernie Wagenblast, American editor and broadcaster
September 2 – Angelo Fusco, Provisional Irish Republican Army member
September 3 – Pat McGeown, Provisional Irish Republican Army member (d. 1996)
September 11 – Phillip D. Bissett, American politician
September 15 – George Howard, American jazz saxophone musician (d. 1998)
September 18 – Tim McInnerny, English actor
September 21 – Jack Givens, American basketball player
September 23 – Paolo Rossi, Italian soccer player
September 24 – Gregory Peter 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 8 – Stephanie Zimbalist, American actress
October 10 – Amanda Burton, Irish actress
October 11 – Nicanor Duarte, President of Paraguay
October 12 – Trần Đại Quang, President of Vietnam
October 16 – Rudra Mohammad Shahidullah, Bangladeshi poet (d. 1992)
October 19 – Carlo Urbani, Italian physician (d. 2003)
October 21 – Carrie Fisher, American actress and novelist (d. 2016)
October 23 – Dwight Yoakam, American country singer, musician and actor
October 26 – Rita Wilson, American actress and producer
October 28 – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 6th President of Iran
November 5 – Rob Fisher, British keyboardist and songwriter ( Climie Fisher) (d. 1999)
November 7 – Judy Tenuta, American comedian
November 8 – Richard Curtis, English film director, producer and screenwriter
Sinbad, American stand-up, comedian and actor
Mohsen Badawi, Egyptian entrepreneur, political activist, and writer
November 17 – Kelly Ward, American actor
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
January 5 – Mistinguett, French singer and actress (b. 1875)
January 9 – Marion Leonard, American actress (b. 1881)
January 10 – Karl Ludwig Schmidt, German theologian (b. 1891)
January 12 – Norman Kerry, American actor (b. 1894)
January 13 – Lyonel Charles 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 12 – Bolesław Bierut, Polish Communist politician and statesman, former Prime Minister and Presdident of Poland (b. 1892)
March 14 – David Browning, American Olympic diver (b. 1931)
March 18 – Louis Bromfield, American writer (b. 1896)
March 21 – Edwin Thanhouser, American actor, businessman, and film producer, founder of the Thanhouser Company (b. 1865)
March 22 – Eduardo Lonardi, Argentine military officer, (de facto) 30th President of Argentina (b. 1896)
March 28 – Thomas de Hartmann, Russian composer (b. 1885)
March 30 – Edmund Clerihew Bentley, English inventor (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)
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 – Don Lorenzo Perosi, Italian composer (b. 1872)
October 14 – Don Jules Richard, French mathematician (b. 1862)
October 16 – Don Jules Rimet, French football administrator, 3rd president of FIFA (b. 1873)
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 19 – Francis L. Sullivan, English actor (b. 1903)
November 22 – Theodore Kosloff, Russian-born ballet dancer, choreographer and actor (b. 1882)
November 24 – Guido Cantelli, Italian conductor (b. 1920)
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, British baker, Tiranic survivor (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 26 – Holmes Herbert, English actor (b. 1882)
December 30 – Ruth Draper, American actress (b. 1884)
London Institute of World Affairs,
The Year Book of World Affairs 1957 (London 1957) full text online, comprehensive reference book covering 1956 in diplomacy, international affairs and politics for major nations and regions