May 15 is the 135th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (136th in leap years). There are 230 days remaining.
- 1902 - In a field outside Grass Valley, California, Lyman Gilmore reportedly becomes the first person to fly a powered airplane (a steam-powered glider).
- 1905 - Las Vegas, Nevada is founded when 110 acres (0.4 km²), in what later would become downtown, are auctioned off.
- 1911 - The United States Supreme Court declares Standard Oil to be an "unreasonable" monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and orders the company to be dissolved.
- 1918 - Civil War in Finland ends.
- 1918 - The American Post Office Department (later renamed the USPS) begins the first regular airmail service in the world (between New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC).
- 1928 - Release of the animated short Plane Crazy, featuring the first appearances of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
- 1930 - Aboard a Boeing tri-motor, Ellen Church becomes the first airline stewardess (the flight was from Oakland, California to Chicago, Illinois).
- 1932 - The May 15 incident. In an attempted coup the Prime Minister of Japan Inukai Tsuyoshi is killed.
- 1934 - The United States Department of Justice offers a $25,000 reward for John Dillinger.
- 1934 - Karlis Ulmanis establishes an authoritarian government in Latvia.
- 1940 - Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time in the United States.
- 1940 - World War II: German troops occupy Amsterdam and invade Northern France.
- 1941 - Baseball player Joe DiMaggio starts his record-breaking 56-game hitting streak.
- 1942 - World War II: In the United States, a bill creating the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.
- 1943 - Joseph Stalin dissolves the Comintern (or Third International).
- 1948 - Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia attack Israel.
- 1955 - First ascent of Makalu, the World's fifth highest mountain.
- 1957 - Britain tests its first hydrogen bomb in Operation Grapple.
- 1958 - The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 3.
- 1960 - The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 4.
- 1963 - Mercury program: America launches the last mission of the program, Mercury 9 (on June 12 NASA Administrator James E. Webb told Congress the program was complete).
- 1970 - The Beatles' last LP, Let It Be, is released in the United States.
- 1970 - Philip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green killed at Jackson State University by police during student protests.
- 1972 - In Laurel, Maryland a disturbed, out-of-work janitor named Arthur Bremer shoots and paralyzes Alabama Governor George Wallace while Wallace is campaigning to be American President.
- 1978 - Lagumot Harris, having only been elected President less than a month before, is replaced as the leader of the republic of Nauru. He is succeeded by Hammer DeRoburt.
- 1988 - Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: After more than eight years of fighting, the Red Army begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- 1990 - Portrait of Doctor Gachet by Vincent van Gogh is sold for a record $82.5 million.
- 1991 - Edith Cresson becomes France's first female prime minister.
- 1992 - The Genoa Expo '92 World's Fair opens in Genoa, Italy.
- 1993 - In Millstreet, Ireland, Niamh Kavanagh wins the thirty-ninth Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland singing "In Your Eyes".
- 1567 - Claudio Monteverdi, composer (d. 1643)
- 1773 - Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, statesman (d. 1859)
- 1817 - Debendranath Tagore, religious reformer (d. 1905)
- 1856 - L. Frank Baum, author (d. 1919)
- 1857 - Williamina Fleming, astronomer (d. 1911)
- 1859 - Pierre Curie, physicist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics 1903 (d. 1906)
- 1862 - Arthur Schnitzler, dramatist and narrator (d. 1931)
- 1889 - Bessie Hillman, founder, Almalgamated Clothing Workers of America
- 1890 - Katherine Anne Porter, author (d. 1980)
- 1891 - Mikhail Bulgakov, writer (d. 1940)
- 1898 - Arletty, model, actress (d. 1992)
- 1902 - Richard J. Daley, mayor of Chicago, Illinois (d. 1976)
- 1905 - Joseph Cotten, actor (d. 1994)
- 1909 - James Mason, actor (d. 1984)
- 1911 - Max Frisch, author (d. 1991)
- 1914 - Tenzing Norgay, Nepalese sherpa and mountaineer (d. 1986)
- 1915 - Paul Samuelson, economist, recipient of the 1970 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
- 1918 - Eddy Arnold, singer
- 1923 - Richard Avedon, photographer (d. 2004)
- 1926 - Peter Shaffer, playwright
- 1930 - Jasper Johns, painter
- 1931 - Ken Venturi, golfer
- 1934 - Alvin F. Poussaint, physicist, psychiatrist, educator
- 1936 - Anna Maria Alberghetti, actress
- 1936 - Paul Zindel, novelist, playwright
- 1937 - Madeline Albright, diplomat, United States Secretary of State (1997-2000)
- 1937 - Trini López, musician
- 1941 - K.T. Oslin, country musician
- 1945 - Duarte, Duke of Braganza and presumptive heir of the Portuguese crown
- 1945 - Lars Berhagen, Swedish singer/songwriter
- 1948 - Brian Eno, musician, record producer
- 1951 - Jonathan Richman, musician
- 1951 - Chazz Palminteri, actor
- 1953 - George Brett, baseball star
- 1953 - Mike Oldfield, composer
- 1955 - Melinda Culea, actress, The A-Team
- 1956 - Dan Patrick, sportscaster
- 1959 - Kaokor Galaxy, boxer
- 1959 - Andrew Eldritch, singer and songwriter of The Sisters of Mercy
- 1959 - Khaosai Galaxy, boxer
- 1965 - Lizi Rodriguez, psychologist and media psychotherapist
- 1967 - John Smoltz, baseball player
- 1969 - Emmitt Smith, American football player
- 1972 - David Charvet, actor
- 1974 - Ahmet Zappa, musician
- 1978 - Amy Chow, Olympic gymnast
- 1981 - Jamie-Lynn DiScala (née Sigler), actress
- 1937 - Phillip Snowden, British politician (b. 1864)
- 1948 - Father Edward Flanagan, priest, founder of Boys Town
- 1956 - Austin Osman Spare, magician (b. 1886)
- 1967 - Edward Hopper, painter (b. 1882)
- 1971 - Sir Tyrone Guthrie, director, producer, writer (b. 1900)
- 1986 - Theodore H. White, writer (b. 1915)
- 1994 - Gilbert Roland, Mexican actor (b. 1904)
- 1995 - Eric Porter, British actor (b. 1928)
- 1998 - Earl Manigault, basketball player
Holidays and observances
May 14 - May 16 - April 15 - June 15 -- listing of all days
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