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Hedy Lamarr


9 November 1914 – 19 January 2000 (Aged 85)

Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress during Hollywood’s Golden Age, renowned for her stunning beauty.

Away from the film world, Lamarr helped invent an early technique for spread spectrum communications, later used in Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi technology.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Lamarr rose to fame with a German film called Ecstasy, before marrying Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy munitions manufacturer.

In 1937, Lamarr fled from Mandl’s possessive control, meeting the head of MGM in London.

Louis B. Mayer was immediately enchanted by Lamarr’s beauty and got her to sign with his company. She moved to Hollywood, going on to star in films such as AlgiersBoom TownCome Live With Me, and Samson and Delilah. 

Lamarr’s striking looks were among the inspiration for Snow White and Catwoman. Her film career began to decline in the 1950s, with her last film being 1958’s The Female Animal.

In 1942, during World War II, Hedy and composer George Antheil patented what they called the “Secret Communication System.”

Their radio guidance system for torpedoes used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming.

However, the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, while the principles of their work were incorporated into Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi technology. Meanwhile, Lemarr helped to raise tens of millions in war bonds during the war.

Between 1933 and 1965, Lemarr was married 6 times.

In her later years, she became a recluse, communicating with anyone almost exclusively by phone, while she also had failed plastic surgery in an attempt to preserve her appearance.

Lemarr died from heart disease at the age of 85. Her son, Anthony, scattered her ashes in Austria’s Vienna Woods, as she had wished. 

Lemarr and Antheil were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Alec Guinness


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2 April 1914 – 5 August 2000 (Aged 86)

Guinness was a famous British actor best known for his roles in films like Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago and Star Wars.

He won an Academy Award for Best Actor in the Bridge on the River Kwai.

During World War II, Guinness served in the Royal Naval Reserve and commanded a landing craft during the Allied invasion of Sicily and Elba.

Widely decorated during his career, Guinness was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, received the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

At the age of 86, Guinness died from liver cancer.

His wife, actress Merula Salaman, following 62 years of marriage, died only two months after Guinness.

Pierre Trudeau

(Canadian Prime Minister)

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18 October 1919 – 28 September 2000 (Aged 80)

Trudeau was a Canadian statesman who served as the 15th Prime Minister of Canada (1968–1979 & 1980–1984).

He is the third longest-serving Prime Minister in Canadian history.

Trudeau fought for and kept Quebec part of Canada, and Canada’s patriation from Great Britain.

In 1981, Canada’s House of Commons approved Trudeau’s reform to officially separate Canada from Great Britain.

Shortly before his 81st birthday, Trudeau died from prostate cancer, while having also been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. 

His eldest son, Justin, became the 23rd Canadian Prime Minister in 2015.

Stanley Matthews


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1 February 1915 – 23 February 2000 (Aged 85)

Matthews was a gifted English footballer. He is regarded as one of the greatest British players of all time. He is the only player to have been knighted while still playing football.

In 1956, at the age of 41, Matthews became the first winner of both the European Footballer of the Year, ahead of Real Madrid’s Alfredo di Stefano.

Incredibly, Matthews played top-level football until he was 50 years old. He is the oldest player ever to play in England’s top football division and the oldest player ever to represent the country.

Perhaps his finest hour came in 1953 when he helped Blackpool to win the FA cup 4-3 with a sensational personal performance in the “Matthews Final”.

Matthews gave up his summers each year between 1953 and 1978 to coach poor children in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Tanzania. 

In 1975, he ignored South African apartheid laws to form a team of black schoolboys in Soweto called “Stan’s Men”.

The members of his team told him that it was their dream to play in Brazil, so Matthews organized a trip there. This trip meant they were the first black team ever to tour outside of South Africa.

There is a statue of Matthews outside Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium, where an inscription reads, “His name is symbolic of the beauty of the game, his fame timeless and international, his sportsmanship and modesty universally acclaimed. A magical player, of the people, for the people.”

Matthews died at the age of 85, while on holiday in Tenerife.

John Gielgud


John Gielgud
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14 April 1904 – 21 May 2000 (Aged 96)

Gielgud was a lauded Shakespearean stage actor, whose esteemed career spanned across eight decades.

Among his most famous productions were BeckettCaligulaThe Elephant ManWar and Remembrance, and Arthur, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 1953, Gielgud received a knighthood, while he also has a theatre named in his honor in London’s West End.

Along with Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, Gielgud is widely recognized as one of the three giants of the British stage during the 20th century.

Gielgud died at the age of 96, after which there was a private ceremony and his ashes were scattered in the rose garden of his home, in accordance to his wishes.

Loretta Young


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6 January 1913 – 12 August 2000 (Aged 87)

Young was a famous American actress. Her career started as a child actress in 1917, going on to star in the film world until 1953.

In 1947, she won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Farmer’s Daughter. 

From 1953 to 1961, she was the star of the television series The Loretta Young Show, which earned three Emmy Awards.

In 1935, Young had a child after filming The Call of the Wild with the father being her co-star Clark Gable.

The identity of the father and even the pregnancy itself was hidden by Young at the time, due to fears it would affect her career.

Young died of ovarian cancer at the age of 87.

Reggie Kray


24 October 1933 – 1 October 2000 (Aged 66)

Reggie Kray, along with his twin brother Ronnie, became one of England’s most notorious gangsters of all time.

In his early years, Reggie showed promise as a boxer but instead chose a life of crime.

The twin brothers built up their own gang, known as “The Firm”, who took part in a number of illegal enterprises, from extortion to murder.

In 1968, Reggie was arrested on murder charges and was convicted the following year, spending almost the rest of his life in jail.

During his incarceration, Reggie Kray became a born-again Christian. 

He was freed on 26 August 2000, on compassionate grounds, following the diagnosis of terminal bladder cancer, and died shortly after at the age of 66.

He is buried beside his brother, Ronnie, in Chingford Mount Cemetery.

Kirsty MacColl


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10 October 1959 – 18 December 2000 (Aged 41)

McColl was an English singer and songwriter. She recorded several pop hits in the 1980s and 1990s, most notably “Fairytale of New York” with The Pogues.

On 18 December 2000, McColl and her sons were on holiday and went diving at a reef, part of the National Marine Park of Cozumel, in Mexico, in a designated area that watercraft were restricted from entering.

As they were surfacing, a powerboat entered the restricted area, which MacColl saw coming before her sons did.

She was able to push her son Jamie, then 15, out of the way but she was struck by the boat which ran over her.

MacColl suffered severe chest injuries and died instantly. MacColl’s body was repatriated to the United Kingdom and cremated.

In 2001, a memorial bench was placed in London’s Soho Square, engraved with a lyric from one of her songs, “One day I’ll be waiting there. No empty bench in Soho Square”.

Hafez al-Assad

(Syrian President)

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6 October 1930 – 10 June 2000 (Aged 69)

Assad was a Syrian politician who served as President of Syria from 1971 to 2000.

Assad participated in the 1963 Syrian coup d’état, after which the new leadership appointed him Commander of the Syrian Air Force.

In 1966, Assad took part in a second coup, which toppled the traditional leaders of the Ba’ath Party and bringing to power a radical faction, headed by Salah Jadid. Assad was then appointed as defense minister.

Then, in 1970, Assad initiated the Corrective Revolution which ousted Jadid and appointed himself as the undisputed leader of Syria.

As his country’s leader, Assad was widely criticized for brutal tactics to consolidate power, while also being praised for bringing stability to Syria, and for improving relations between Syria and Western powers.

After his death, Hafez’s son, Bashar, succeeded him as President.

Emil Zátopek


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19 September 1922 – 22 November 2000 (Aged 78)

Zatopek was a Czechoslovak long-distance runner, famous for being the only person to win and break Olympic records in the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, and marathon, in the same Olympics.

In the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Zatopek won gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters runs, before deciding at the last minute to compete in the marathon for the first time in his life.

Incredibly, Zatopek not only won the marathon but set an Olympic record. In 1954, he became the first runner to break the 29-minute barrier in the 10,000 meters.

Widely recognized as one of the greatest runners of the 20th century, Zatopek was also renowned for his tough training regimes.

He is seen as the pioneer of interval and hypoventilation training.

Zátopek was known for his friendly and affable personality, his ability to speak six languages, and his willingness to always give advice to other runners.

His wife Dana Zátopková, born on the same day and year as Emil, also won a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics, in the javelin. Emil died after suffering from a stroke at the age of 78.

A life-size bronze statue of Zátopek was erected at the Stadium of Youth in Zlín, Czech Republic.