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Bill “Bojangles” Robinson


25 May 1878 – 25 November 1949 (Aged 71)

Robinson was a famous American tap dancer, as well as a much-loved actor of stage and screen.

In a reflection of the regard in which he was held, Robinson was the highest-paid African American performer up to the time of his death.

However, despite the millions he made during his career, Robinson died broke, due to his famed generosity and having given much of his wealth to charity during his lifetime.

His birthday is celebrated as National Tap Dance in America.

Charles Ponzi


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March 3, 1882 – January 18, 1949 (Aged 66)

Ponzi was an Italian-American con artist, best known for a money-making scheme in which he swindled millions of dollars from unknowing investors.

Ponzi’s scheme ran for over a year before it collapsed, and it is estimated to have cost his “investors” over $20 million.

The case garnered such attention that similar scams are known to this day as ‘Ponzi schemes’.

In 1934, Ponzi was released from prison, followed by an immediate order to have him deported to Italy.

Ponzi spent his final years in poverty. His health deteriorated, suffering a heart attack, failing eyesight, and a brain hemorrhage paralyzed his right leg and arm.

He died in a charity hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the age of 66.

Robert Ripley


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25 December 1890 – 27 May 1949 (Aged 58)

Ripley was a newspaper cartoonist who created a feature called ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not!’. It showcased unusual and interesting facts from around the world.

The interest it created led to books, radio and television programs that would earn Ripley a fortune.

There are a string of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums around the world that showcase a collection of bizarre and interesting.

You can read more about Robert Ripley here.

Margaret Mitchell


By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Aumuller, Al / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

8 November 1900 – 16 August 1949 (Aged 48)

Mitchell was the author of ‘Gone with the Wind’ for which she won the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel of 1936.

In 1937, the book also saw her awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

However, the novel proved to be the only one she published prior to her death in 1949, after being hit by a car.

She died five days after the accident at the age of 48.

After the crash, the driver was charged with drunken driving, speeding, and driving on the wrong side of the road, but was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter, serving almost 11 months in jail.

Richard Strauss


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11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949 (Aged 85)

Strauss was a prominent German classical composer, who is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

From 1919 to 1924, Strauss was principal conductor of the Vienna State Opera, while also being a frequent guest conductor in numerous Opera Houses around the world.

During World War II, Strauss used his influence to have his daughter-in-law placed under protected house arrest instead of a camp.

However, despite his efforts, he was unable to save many more of his in-laws from being killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Strauss continued to compose into his eighties, before dying at the age of 85.

He is widely recognized as one of the most influential composers of his time.