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Guglielmo Marconi


25 April 1874 – 20 July 1937 (Aged 63)

Marconi was a renowned Italian inventor, most famous for his groundbreaking work on long-distance radio transmission and the first to achieve radio transmission.

Marconi completed the first successful wireless transatlantic transmission from Cornwall, England to Newfoundland, Canada, on December 12, 1901.

For his contribution to wireless technology, he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun.

In his later years, Marconi became a member of the Italian Fascist Party, with Benito Mussolini appointing him as a member of the Fascist Grand Council.

He died of a heart attack in Rome, aged 63.

Bessie Smith


Carl Van Vechten / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

15 April 1894 – 26 September 1937 (Aged 43)

Smith was a powerful American blues singer, who enjoyed great popularity during the 1920s and ’30s.

She is seen as one of the most talented and influential jazz singers of all time.

On 26 September 1937, Smith was critically injured in a car crash between Memphis, Tennessee, and Clarksdale, Mississippi. Her partner, Richard Morgan, who was driving, escaped without injuries.

Smith’s grave was unmarked until on August 7, 1970, when a tombstone was erected and paid for by the singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green.

Ernest Rutherford


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30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937 (Aged 66)

Rutherford is known as the father of nuclear physics, as a result of his work in which he was the first-ever person to split the atom.

His pioneering work saw him win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908.

Rutherford died from a strangulated hernia at the age of 66.

In honor of his achievements, he was interred in Westminster Abbey, near the tomb of Isaac Newton.

In 1997, the chemical element rutherfordium was named after him.

J.M. Barrie


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9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937 (Aged 77)

Barrie was a Scottish author, best known for creating the world of Peter Pan.

He was born in Scotland, before moving to London where he met the Llewelyn Davies boys, who provided the inspiration for the story and several of the characters within Peter Pan.

Following the deaths of the boys’ parents, Barrie became their guardian.

Before his death, Barrie gave the rights of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.

The hospital benefits from this generous gesture to the present day.

Jean Harlow


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3 March 1911 – 7 June 1937 (Aged 26)

Harlow was one of the biggest stars of the late 1930s in Hollywood, known as a talented comedic actress and her blonde bombshell looks.

Despite the on-screen success, her private life saw her marry three times in her short life, while also suffering from numerous health problems.

At the age of only 26, Harlow died from kidney failure.

She fell ill while filming Saratoga with Clark Gable in 1937. The film was finished by using two body doubles after Harlow’s death.

George Gershwin


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26 September 1898 – 11 July 1937 (Aged 38)

Gershwin, along with his brother Ira, was a highly influential American composer and pianist during his lifetime.

Gershwin provided many popular stage and screen compositions, making him one of the most popular composers of the twentieth century.

He died from a brain tumor at the tender age of 38.

In 1985, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George and Ira Gershwin, while a special Pulitzer Prize was posthumously awarded to Gershwin in 1998.

In 2007, the U.S. Library of Congress named their Prize for Popular Song after George and Ira Gershwin.