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was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1976th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 976th year of the 2nd millennium, the 76th year of the 20th century, and the 7th year of the 1970s decade.
- January – The Cray-1, the first commercially developed supercomputer, is released by Seymour Cray's Cray Research.
- January 3 – International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights entered into force.
- January 5 – The Pol Pot regime proclaims a new constitution for Democratic Kampuchea.
- January 11 – The 1976 Philadelphia Flyers–Red Army game results in a 4–1 victory for the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers over HC CSKA Moscow of the Soviet Union.
- January 12 – Crime author Agatha Christie dies aged 85 in Oxfordshire, UK
- January 14 – The Lutz family flees from 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island, New York, in the United States, 28 days after having moved in on December 18, 1975, leading to the story of The Amityville Horror.
- January 15 – Would-be Gerald Ford presidential assassin Sara Jane Moore is sentenced to life in prison.
- January 16 – The trial against jailed members of the Red Army Faction begins in Stuttgart, West Germany.
- January 18
- January 19 – Jimmy Carter wins the Iowa Democratic Caucus.
- January 21 – The first commercial Concorde flight takes off.
- January 27
- January 29 – Twelve Provisional Irish Republican Army bombs explode in the West End of London.
- January 30 – Live from Lincoln Center debuts on PBS.
- May 1 – Neville Wran becomes Premier of New South Wales.
- May 4
- The first LAGEOS (Laser Geodynamics Satellite) is launched.
- A train crash in Schiedam, the Netherlands, kills 24 people.
- May 6 – An earthquake hits the Friuli area in Italy, killing more than 900 people and making another 100,000 homeless.
- May 9 – Ulrike Meinhof of the Red Army Faction is found hanged in an apparent suicide, in her Stuttgart-Stammheim prison cell.
- May 11
- May 16 – The Montreal Canadiens sweep the Philadelphia Flyers in four games to win the Stanley Cup. Flyers' forward Reggie Leach became the only non-goaltender from a finals losing team to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs after scoring a record 19 goals in 16 playoff games.
- May 21 – The Yuba City bus disaster, the worst bus crash in U.S. history to date, with 28 students and one teacher killed.
- May 24
- Washington, D.C. Concorde service begins.
- The Judgment of Paris pits French vs. California wines in a blind taste-test in Paris, France. California wines win the contest, surprising the wine world and opening the wine industry to newcomers in several countries.
- May 25 – U.S. President Gerald Ford defeats challenger Ronald Reagan in 3 Republican presidential primaries: Kentucky, Tennessee and Oregon.
- May 30 – Indianapolis 500-Mile Race: Johnny Rutherford wins the (rain-shortened) shortest race in event history to date, at 102 laps or 408 kilometres (254 mi).
- May 31 – Syria intervenes in the Lebanese Civil War in opposition to the Palestine Liberation Organization, whom it had previously supported.
- June 1 – The UK and Iceland end the Cod War.
- June 2
- June 4 – The Boston Celtics defeat the Phoenix Suns 128–126 in triple overtime in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at the Boston Garden. In 1997, the game is selected by a panel of experts as the greatest of the NBA's first 50 years.
- June 5 – The Teton Dam collapses in southeast Idaho in the USA, killing 11 people.
- June 6 – The Double Six Crash, a plane crash in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, kills everyone on board, including Sabahan Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens.
- June 12 – Alberto Demicheli, a jurist, is inaugurated as a civilian de facto President of Uruguay after Juan María Bordaberry is deposed by the military.
- June 13 – Savage thunderstorms roll through the state of Iowa, spawning several tornadoes, including an F-5 tornado that destroys the town of Jordan, Iowa.
- June 14 – The trial begins at Oxford Crown Court of Donald Neilson, the killer known as the Black Panther.
- June 16 – The Soweto uprising in South Africa begins.
- June 17 – The National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association agree on the ABA–NBA merger.
- June 20
- Hundreds of Western tourists are moved from Beirut and taken to safety in Syria by the U.S. military, following the murder of the U.S. ambassador.
- General elections are held in Italy.
- Czechoslovakia beats West Germany 5–3 on penalties to win Euro 76, when the game had ended 2–2 after extra time.
- June 25 – Strikes start in Poland (Ursus, Radom, Płock) after communists raise food prices; they end on June 30.
- June 26 – The CN Tower is built in Toronto; the tallest free-standing land structure opens to the public.
- June 27
- June 29
- July 2 – North Vietnam dissolves the Provisional Government of South Vietnam and unites the two countries to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
- July 3
- July 4
- July 6 – The first class of women is inducted at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
- July 7
- German left-wing women terrorists Monika Berberich, Gabriella Rollnick, Juliane Plambeck and Inge Viett escape from the Lehrter Straße maximum security prison in West Berlin.
- David Steel becomes leader of the UK's Liberal Party in the aftermath of the scandal which forced out Jeremy Thorpe.
- July 10
- Four mercenaries, three British and one American, are shot by firing squad in Angola.
- An explosion in Seveso, Italy, causes extended pollution to a large area in the neighborhood of Milano, with many evacuations and a large number of people affected by the toxic cloud.
- July 12
- July 15
- July 16–20 – Albert Spaggiari and his gang break into the vault of the Société Generale Bank in Nice, France.
- July 17
- July 18 – Nadia Comăneci earns the first of seven perfect scores of 10 at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
- July 19 – Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal is created.
- July 20
- July 21 – An IRA bomb kills Christopher Ewart-Biggs, British ambassador to the Irish Republic, and Judith Cooke, a Northern Ireland Office private secretary; two others are seriously wounded but survive.
- July 26 – In Los Angeles, Ronald Reagan announces his choice of liberal U.S. Senator Richard Schweiker as his vice presidential running mate, in an effort to woo moderate Republican delegates away from President Gerald Ford.
- July 27
- July 28 – The Tangshan earthquake flattens Tangshan, China, killing 242,769 people, and injuring 164,851.
- July 29 – In New York City, the "Son of Sam" pulls a gun from a paper bag, killing one and seriously wounding another, in the first of a series of attacks that terrorize the city for the next year.
- July 30
- July 31
- August 1
- August 2 – A gunman murders Andrea Wilborn and Stan Farr and injures Priscilla Davis and Gus Gavrel, in an incident at Priscilla's mansion in Fort Worth, Texas. T. Cullen Davis, Priscilla's husband and one of the richest men in Texas, is tried and found innocent for Andrea's murder, involvement in a plot to kill several people (including Priscilla and a judge), and a wrongful death lawsuit. Cullen goes broke afterwards.
- August 5 – The Great Clock of Westminster (or Big Ben) suffers internal damage and stops running for over 9 months.
- August 6 – Former UK Postmaster General John Stonehouse is sentenced to 7 years' jail for fraud, theft and forgery.
- August 7 – Viking program: Viking 2 enters into orbit around Mars.
- August 8 – As part of the American Basketball Association–National Basketball Association merger, a dispersal draft was conducted to assign teams for the players on the two ABA franchises which had folded.
- August 11 – A sniper rampage in Wichita, Kansas on a Holiday Inn results in 3 deaths while 7 others are wounded.
- August 14
- August 16 – The Ramones make their first "professional" performance at CBGB.
- August 18 – At Panmunjom, North Korea, two United States soldiers are killed while trying to chop down part of a tree in the Korean Demilitarized Zone which had obscured their view.
- August 19 – U.S. President Gerald Ford edges out challenger Ronald Reagan to win the Republican Party presidential nomination in Kansas City.
- August 24 – In Uruguay, the army captures Marcelo Gelman and his pregnant wife. Gelman is later killed and his wife disappears.
- August 25
- August 26
- August 28 - Actress Anissa Jones, famous for playing Buffy Davis in the TV series Family Affair, was found dead of an accidental overdose in Oceanside, California.
- August 30 – James Alexander George Smith McCartney is sworn in as the first Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
- September 1
- Cigarette and tobacco advertising is banned on Australian television and radio.
- Aparicio Méndez, a jurist, is inaugurated as a civilian de facto President of Uruguay in the framework of a dictatorship.
- The state of emergency, being in force since 1939, is lifted in the Republic of Ireland.
- September 3 – Viking program: The Viking 2 spacecraft lands at Utopia Planitia on Mars, taking the first close-up color photos of the planet's surface.
- September 6
- September 10
- September 13 – The Muppet Show is broadcast for the first time on ITV.
- September 15 – Darryl Sittler scores the winning goal in the 1976 Canada Cup for Canada to win over Czechoslovakia in overtime, to win the first Canada Cup, which stayed in Canada.
- September 16
- September 17 – The space shuttle Enterprise is rolled out of a Palmdale, California hangar.
- September 20 – The International Organization of Space Communications (Intersputnik) is founded.
- September 20–21 – The semi-legendary 100 Club Punk Festival ignites the careers of several influential punk and post-punk bands, arguably sparking the punk movement's introduction into mainstream culture.
- September 21
- September 24 – Patty Hearst is sentenced to seven years in prison for her role in a 1974 bank robbery (an executive clemency order from U.S. President Jimmy Carter will set her free after only 22 months).
- September 25 – Irish rock band U2 is formed after drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. posts a note seeking members for a band on the notice board of his Dublin school.
- September 28 – American singer Stevie Wonder releases his hit album Songs in the Key of Life.
- October 4 – The InterCity 125 high-speed train is introduced in the United Kingdom.
- October 6
- October 8 – Thorbjörn Fälldin replaces Olof Palme as Prime Minister of Sweden.
- October 10 – Taiwan Governor Hsieh Tung-min is injured by a letter bomb from a pro-independence activist.
- October 12 – The People's Republic of China announces that Hua Guofeng is the successor to Mao Zedong, as Chairman of the Communist Party of China.
- October 13 – The United States Commission on Civil Rights releases the report, Puerto Ricans in the Continental United States: An Uncertain Future, that documents that Puerto Ricans in the United States have a poverty rate of 33 percent in 1974 (up from 29 percent in 1970), the highest of all major racial-ethnic groups in the country (not including Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory).
- October 18 – Ford officially launches volume production of the Fiesta car at its Valencia plant.
- October 19
- October 20 – The Mississippi River ferry MV George Prince is struck by a ship while crossing from Destrehan, Louisiana to Luling, Louisiana, killing 78 passengers and crew.
- October 22 – Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, the 5th President of Ireland, resigns after being publicly insulted by the Minister for Defense.
- October 25 – Clarence Norris, the last known survivor of the Scottsboro Boys, is pardoned.
- October 26 – Transkei gains independence from South Africa.
- February 1
- February 2
- February 3
- February 4 – Cam'ron, African-American rapper
- February 5
- February 6
- February 9 – Charlie Day, American actor
- February 10 – Lance Berkman, American baseball player
- February 11 – Brice Beckham, American actor
- February 12
- February 14 – Erica Leerhsen, American actress
- February 15 - Brandon Boyd, American singer-songwriter and author
- February 16
- February 17 – Svein Berge, Norwegian musician (Röyksopp)
- February 20
- February 21 – Michael McIntyre, British stand-up comedian
- February 23
- February 24 – Zach Johnson, American golfer
- February 25 – Rashida Jones, American actress, writer, model, and musician
- February 27 – Yukari Tamura, Japanese voice actress and songwriter
- February 28
- February 29
- April 1
- April 2
- April 3 – Will Mellor, English actor
- April 4 – James Roday, American actor, director and screenwriter
- April 5
- April 6 – Candace Cameron Bure, American actress
- April 7 – Eric Wareheim, American comedian
- April 9 – Kris Radlinski, English rugby league player
- April 10 – Jan Werner Danielsen, Norwegian singer (d. 2006)
- April 12 – Andrei Lipanov, Russian ice skater
- April 13
- April 14 – Anna DeForge, American basketball player
- April 15
- April 16
- April 17 – Kim Young-oh, South Korean illustrator
- April 18
- April 19 – Wyatt Cenac, American actor, writer and director
- April 20
- April 21 – Rommel Adducul, Filipino basketball player
- April 22 – Michał Żewłakow, Polish footballer
- April 23 – Darren Huckerby, English footballer
- April 24 – George P. Bush, American attorney and politician
- April 25
- April 26 – Elisabet Reinsalu, Estonian actress
- April 27 – Sally Hawkins, English actress
- April 29
- June 1 – Angela Perez Baraquio, Miss America 2001
- June 2
- June 3 – Jamie McMurray, American race car driver
- June 4 – Alexei Navalny, Russian lawyer and political activist
- June 5
- Joe Gatto, American Comedian
- June 6
- June 8 – Lindsay Davenport, American tennis player
- June 9
- June 10
- June 11 – Gran Naniwa, Japanese professional wrestler
- June 13
- June 14 – Alan Carr, English comedian
- June 17
- June 18 – Blake Shelton, American singer
- June 19 – Anar Baghirov, Azerbaijani lawyer
- June 20 – Juliano Belletti, Brazilian footballer
- June 21 – Antonio Cochran, American football player
- June 22
- June 23
- June 24 – Suhaimi Mat Hassan, Malaysian football referee
- June 26 – Alexander Zakharchenko, Ukrainian separatist rebel (d. 2018)
- June 27 – Joseph Sikora, American actor
- June 28
- June 29
- June 30
- August 1
- August 2 – Sam Worthington, English-born Australian actor
- August 4 – David Lewis, Canadian actor
- August 5 – Napoleon Beazley, convicted juvenile offender, executed by lethal injection in Texas. (d. 2002)
- August 6
- August 8
- August 9
- August 11 – Will Friedle, American actor and voice actor
- August 12
- August 14
- August 15 – Boudewijn Zenden, Dutch football player
- August 16 – Kadri Rämmeld, Estonian actress
- August 18
- August 19 – Michael M. Wartella, American underground cartoonist
- August 24 – Yang Yang, Chinese short track skater
- August 25 – Alexander Skarsgård, Swedish actor
- August 27
- August 30
- September 1
- September 3
- September 4 – Brian Myrow, American baseball player
- September 5 – Carice van Houten, Dutch actress
- September 6
- September 7 – Stevie Case, American video game celebrity
- September 8 – Sjeng Schalken, Dutch tennis player
- September 9
- September 10 – Gustavo Kuerten, Brazilian tennis player
- September 12 – Maciej Żurawski, Polish footballer
- September 13 – Puma Swede, Swedish pornographic actress
- September 15 – Rob Wiethoff, American actor
- September 16 – Tina Barrett, English singer (S Club 7)
- September 17 – Nicole Reinhart, American professional track and road racing cyclist (d. 2000)
- September 18 – Ronaldo, Brazilian footballer
- September 19
- September 20
- September 23 – Rob James-Collier, British actor and model
- September 24 – Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, American wrestling promoter
- September 25
- September 26
- September 27 – Francesco Totti, Italian footballer
- September 28 – Fedor Emelianenko, Russian mixed martial arts fighter
- September 29 – Andriy Shevchenko, Ukrainian footballer
- October 1
- October 2 – Anita Kulcsár, Hungarian handball player (d. 2005)
- October 3 – Seann William Scott, American actor and producer
- October 4
- October 6
- October 7
- October 9
- October 10
- October 11 – Emily Deschanel, American actress
- October 14 – Chang Chen, Taiwanese actor
- October 15 – Yoon Son-ha, South Korean actress
- October 18 – Galder, Norwegian musician
- October 19
- October 20 – Plamen Goranov, Bulgarian photographer, mountain climber and a Varna-based local protest leader (d. 2013)
- October 21
- October 23
- October 25 – Steve Jones, Northern Irish footballer
- October 26
- October 29 – Stephen Craigan, Northern Irish footballer
- October 31 – Piper Perabo, American actress
- November 1 – Chad Lindberg, American actor
- November 5
- November 6
- Sal Vulcano, American Comedian
- November 7 – Mark Philippoussis, Australian tennis player
- November 8 – Brett Lee, Australian cricket player
- November 9 – Josh Kaufman, American singer-songwriter; winner of The Voice season 6
- November 11
- November 12 – Mirosław Szymkowiak, Polish footballer
- November 16 – Mario Barravecchia, Italian singer
- November 17 – Diane Neal, American actress
- November 18
- November 19
- November 20
- November 22
- November 23 – Tony Renna, American race car driver (d. 2003)
- November 24
- November 25
- November 26
- November 27 – Jaleel White, African-American actor
- November 28
- November 29
- November 30 – Marco Castro, Peruvian-American director and cinematographer
- December 1
- December 3
- December 4 – Amie Comeaux, American country music singer (d. 1997)
- December 5
- December 6 – Alicia Machado, Venezuelan beauty queen, Miss Universe 1996
- December 7
- December 8
- December 13 – Radosław Sobolewski, Polish footballer
- December 14 – Leland Chapman, American bail bondsman
- December 15 – Baichung Bhutia, Indian footballer
- December 17 – Takeo Spikes, American football player
- December 18
- December 21 – Mirela Maniani, Greek javelin thrower
- December 23
- December 24 – Ángel Matos, Cuban taekwondo athlete
- December 25
- December 26
- December 27 – Fernando Pisani, Canadian ice-hockey player
- December 28 – Joe Manganiello, American actor
- December 29 – Marla Ruzicka, American activist-turned-aid worker (d. 2005)
- January 5
- January 6
- January 8 – Zhou Enlai, 1st Premier of the People's Republic of China (b. 1898)
- January 12 – Agatha Christie, English detective fiction writer (b. 1890)
- January 14 – Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysian politician, 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia (b. 1922)
- January 15 – Gengo Hyakutake, Japanese admiral (b. 1882)
- January 19 – Hidetsugu Yagi, Japanese electrical engineer (b. 1886)
- January 21 – John Gould Moyer, American naval officer, 31st Governor of American Samoa (b. 1893)
- January 22 – Hermann Jónasson, Icelandic politician, 7th Prime Minister of Iceland (b. 1896)
- January 23 – Paul Robeson, American actor, singer, writer and activist (b. 1898)
- January 26 – Gabriele Allegra, Italian Roman Catholic priest and blessed (b. 1907)
- January 27 – Kaneko Daiei, Japanese Buddhist philosopher of the early 20th century (b. 1881)
- January 31 – Ernesto Miranda, American defendant in the court case Miranda v. Arizona (b. 1941; stabbed in fight)
- April 1
- April 2 – Ruby Miller, American actress (b. 1889)
- April 4 – Harry Nyquist, American information theory pioneer (b. 1889)
- April 5 – Howard Hughes, American aviation pioneer, film director and eccentric (b. 1905)
- April 8
- April 12 – Miriam Cooper, American actress (b. 1891)
- April 13 – Sabri al-Asali, Syrian politician, 3-time Prime Minister of Syria (b. 1903)
- April 14 -Mariano Ospina Pérez, Colombian politician, 17th President of Colombia (b. 1891)
- April 16 – Nina Murdoch, Australian writer and journalist (b. 1890)
- April 18 – Henrik Dam, Danish biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1895)
- April 22 – Michael Hole, American jockey (b. 1941)
- April 25
- April 28
- July 1
- July 2 – Frances Howard, American actress (b. 1903)
- July 4
- July 5 – Harold F. Loomis, American botanist and myriapodologist (b. 1896)
- July 6
- July 7
- July 8
- July 11
- July 12
- July 13
- July 14 – Joachim Peiper, German military leader (b. 1915)
- July 15 – Paul Gallico, American novelist, short story and sports writer (b. 1897)
- July 16 – Carmelo Soria, Spanish diplomat (assassinated by the Chilean DINA) (b. 1921)
- July 17 – Arthur Hornblow, Jr., American film producer (b. 1893)
- July 18 – Charles Howson, English professional footballer (b. 1896)
- July 19 – Gene Roth, American film actor (b. 1903)
- July 20
- July 21
- July 22 – Sir Mortimer Wheeler, British archaeologist (b. 1890)
- July 23
- July 24 – Afro Basaldella, Italian painter (b. 1912)
- July 28 – Lucie Mannheim, German singer and actress (b. 1899)
- July 29 – Mickey Cohen, American gangster (b. 1913)
- July 30
- September 2 – Ludovico Camangi, Italian politician (b. 1903)
- September 5 – Arthur Gilligan, English cricket captain (b. 1894)
- September 9
- September 10 – Dalton Trumbo, American screenwriter and novelist (b. 1905)
- September 13 – Camilo Ponce Enríquez, Ecuadorian political figure, 30th President of Ecuador (b. 1912)
- September 14 – Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (b. 1893)
- September 15 – Josef Sudek Czech photographer (b. 1896)
- September 16 – Bertha Lutz, Brazilian zoologist, politician, diplomat and feminist (b. 1894)
- September 21 – Esteban Francés Spanish painter (b. 1913)
- September 25 – Red Faber, American baseball player (Chicago White Sox) and member of the MLB Hall of Fame (b. 1888)
- September 26
- September 27
- September 28 – Raymond Collishaw, Canadian World War I fighter ace (b. 1893)
- September 30 – Paul Dehn, British screenwriter (b. 1912)
- November 1 – Oscar Beregi, Hungarian actor (b. 1918)
- November 6 – David Marine, American pathologist (b. 1888)
- November 7 – Grace Stone Coates, American wrote short stories, novels, poetry and news articles (b. 1881)
- November 9 – Armas Taipale, Finnish Olympic athlete (b. 1890)
- November 10 – Syd Coventry, Australian footballer (b. 1899)
- November 11 – Alexander Calder, American sculptor (b. 1898)
- November 15 – Jean Gabin, French actor (b. 1904)
- November 18 – Man Ray, American artist (b. 1890)
- November 19 – Wayne Millner, American football player (Washington Redskins) and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (b. 1913)
- November 20 – Trofim Lysenko, Soviet biologist and agronomist of Ukrainian origin (b. 1898)
- November 21 – Walter Stuart Diehl, American naval officer and aeronautical engineer (b. 1893)
- November 28 – Rosalind Russell, American actress (b. 1907)
- December 2 – Danny Murtaugh, American baseball player and manager (b. 1917)
- December 3
- December 4
- December 6 – João Goulart, Brazilian politician, 24th President of Brazil (b. 1918)
- December 7 – Frank Forest, American operatic tenor and actor (b. 1896)
- December 9 – Mohamed El-Tabii, Egyptian political writer, journalist and a pioneer (b. 1896)
- December 12 – Jack Cassidy, American actor (b. 1927)
- December 15 – Gregoire Kayibanda, Rwandan politician, 2nd President of Rwanda (b. 1924)
- December 18
- December 19 – Giuseppe Caselli, Italian painter (b. 1893)
- December 20 – Richard J. Daley, American politician, Mayor of Chicago (b. 1902)
- December 21
- December 28
- December 29 – Albert Salomon, German surgeon at the Royal Surgical University Clinic in Berlin (b. 1883)
- December 31 – Teohari Georgescu, Romanian politician (b. 1908)