1996 was a leap year starting on Monday (see link for calendar), and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty.
- July - Iraq disarmament crisis: U.N. Inspector Ritter attempts to conduct surprise inspections on the Republican Guard facility at the airport, but is blocked by Iraqi officials.
- July 5 - Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, is born.
- July 8 - Martina Hingis youngest person in history (age 15 years and 282 days) to win at Wimbledon (Ladies Doubles event).
- July 8 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a hand-delivered document, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Security the Realm," spelling out how Israel could abrogate the Oslo Accords, and pursue a permanent annexation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, among other policies. The paper had been prepared for him by Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Doug Feith, David Wurmser and John Bolton.
- July 17 - Off the coast of Long Island, New York, a Paris-bound Boeing 747 carrying TWA flight 800 explodes killing all 230 on board
- July 18 - 21 - Storms provoke severe flooding on the Saguenay River in Quebec, in one of Canada's most costly natural disasters.
- July 19 - The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, is opened by US president Bill Clinton.
- July 27 - The Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics kills one and injures 111.
- July 29 - The child protection portion of the Communications Decency Act (1996) is struck down as too broad by a US federal court.
- July 31 - MIL-STD-1750A was declared inactive for use in new designs.
Year in topic
- January 5 - Yahya Ayyash, terrorist
- January 8 - François Mitterrand, French politician and President of France.
- January 17 - Amber Hagerman, kidnapping, murder victim (b. 1986)
- January 17 - Barbara Jordan, politician
- January 18 - Leonor Fini, Argentinian/Italian artist
- January 20 - Gerry Mulligan, musician
- January 28 - Jerry Siegel, cartoonist, creator of "Superman"
- February 2 - Gene Kelly, actor
- February 3 - Audrey Meadows, actress
- February 6 - Guy Madison, actor
- February 11 - Amelia Rosselli, poet.
- February 11 - Bob Shaw, science fiction writer.
- February 11 - Cyril Poole, English cricket player.
- February 11 - Kebby Musokotwane, prime minister of Zambia (1985-1989).
- February 11 - Phil Regan, actor
- February 16 - Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California
- February 16 - Brownie McGhee, blues singer
- February 20 - Toru Takemitsu, composer
- February 25 - Haing S. Ngor, actor
- March 4 - Minnie Pearl, country music performer
- March 9 - George Burns, actor, singer
- March 10 - Rosse Hunter, producer
- March 13 - Krzysztof Kieslowski, film director
- March 17 - René Clément, French film director
- March 26 - David Packard, engineer
- April 4 - Larry LaPrise, songwriter
- April 4 - Barney Ewell, American athlete
- April 6 - Greer Garson, actress
- April 22 - Erma Bombeck, humorist, writer
- April 26 - Stirling Silliphant, writer, producer
- May 5 - Salli Terri, mezzo soprano
- May 17 - Kevin Gilbert, musician, composer and record producer
- May 20 - Jon Pertwee, actor
- May 24 - Joseph Mitchell, American writer
- May 25 - Brad Nowell, musician
- May 31 - Paul Peter Piech, artist
- June 2 - Ray Combs, game show host, comedian
- June 6 - Damon Routier, son of Darlie Routier
- June 6 - Devon Routier, son of Darlie Routier
- June 15 - Ella Fitzgerald, jazz singer
- June 17 - Thomas Kuhn, philosopher of science
- June 19 - G. David Schine, investigator and businessman
- June 23 - Andreas Papandreou, Greek politician.
- July 28 - Roger Tory Peterson, naturalist, artist, educator
- July 30 - Claudette Colbert, actress
- August 13 - David Tudor, pianist and composer
- September 13 - Tupac Shakur, rapper, poet, actor
- October 4 - Silvio Piola, 83, all-time highest Serie A goalscorer
- November 26 - Paul Rand, famous American graphic designer of corporate logos
- November 26 - Mark Lenard, actor
- November 30 - Tiny Tim, musician
- December 6 - Alvin "Pete" Rozelle, commissioner of the National Football League (b. 1926)
- December 11 - Willie Rushton, UK comedian, satirist, actor and cartoonist
- December 20 - Carl Sagan - US astronomer