What Happened in May 1961

Historical Events

  • May 1 1st US airplane hijacked to Cuba

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 1 Fidel Castro announces there will be no more elections in Cuba

Cuban Revolutionary and President Fidel Castro
Cuban Revolutionary and President
Fidel Castro

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 1 Pulitzer prize awarded to Harper Lee for her novel "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Author Harper Lee
Harper Lee
  • May 1 Tanganyika granted full internal self-government by Britain
  • May 3 Warren Spahn pitches a 2 hitter after pitching a no hitter
  • May 4 1st on-the-road Spacemobile lecture given.
  • May 4 CORE begins freedom rides from Washington, D.C.
  • May 4 Malcolm Ross & Victor Prather reach 34,668 m (record) in balloon
  • May 4 South-Africa ANC-leader John Nkadimeng arrested
  • May 5 Alan Shepard becomes 1st American in space (aboard Freedom 7)
  • May 6 87th Kentucky Derby: John Sellers aboard Carry Back wins in 2:04
  • May 6 Omer Vanaudenhove chosen chairman of Belgium Liberal Party
  • May 7 "Young Abe Lincoln" closes at Eugene O'Neill NYC after 27 performances
  • May 7 Ruth Jessen wins LPGA Peach Blossom Golf Open
  • May 8 1st practical sea water conversion plant-Freeport, Texas
  • May 8 Alan Shepard receives NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Washington
  • May 9 Balt Oriole Jim Gentile hits 2 grand slams (9 RBIs) vs Minnesota Twins
  • May 9 FCC Chairman Newton N Minow criticizes TV as a "vast wasteland"
  • May 9 Jim Gentile is 4th to hit grand slams in consecutive innings
  • May 10 "Beyond the Fringe" premieres in London
  • May 12 Mikhail Botvinnik wins world chess championship for 3rd time
  • May 14 Bus with 1st group of Freedom Riders bombed & burned in Alabama
  • May 14 Mickey Wright wins LPGA Columbus Golf Open
  • May 14 Stirling Moss wins the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix
  • May 15 "Bonanza" by Al Caiola Orchestra hits #19
  • May 15 36 Unification church couples wed in Korea

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 15 Pope John XXIII publishes encyclical Mater et Magistra

  • May 16 13th Emmy Awards: Jack Benny Show, Raymond Burr & Barbara Stanwyck win
  • May 17 Castro offers to exchange Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers
  • May 18 "Donnybrook!" opens at 46th St Theater NYC for 68 performances
  • May 18 14th Cannes Film Festival: "The Long Absence" directed by Henri Colpi and "Viridiana" directed by Luis Bunuel jointly awarded the Palme d'Or
  • May 19 New pier opens in Scheveningen
  • May 20 86th Preakness: Johnny Sellers aboard Carry Back wins in 1:57.6
  • May 20 Henzes opera "Elegy for Young Lovers," premieres in Schwetzingen
  • May 20 Mauritania adopts constitution
  • May 20 White mob attacks "Freedom Riders" in Montgomery, Alabama
  • May 21 Governor Patterson declares martial law in Montgomery
  • May 22 "Mother-In-Law" by Ernie K-Doe hits #1
  • May 22 "Touchables In Brooklyn" by Dickie Goodman hits #42
  • May 22 1st revolving restaurant (Top Of The Needle in Seattle) opens
  • May 24 27 Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson, Mississippi
  • May 24 NASA Explorer Ionosphere research mission fails to reach Earth orbit
  • May 24 Cyprus joins the Council of Europe.

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 25 JFK announces US goal of putting a man on Moon before the end of decade

35th US President John F. Kennedy
35th US President
John F. Kennedy
  • May 25 NASA civilian pilot Joseph A Walker takes X-15 to 32,770 m
  • May 26 Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee establishes in Atlanta
  • May 26 USAF bomber flies Atlantic in a record of just over 3 hours
  • May 27 1st black light is sold
  • May 27 Fiorentina of Italy win 1st European Cup Winner's Cup against Glasgow Rangers 4-2 in Florence (2nd leg)
  • May 27 Ralph Boston of US, sets then long jump record at 27' ½"
  • May 27 60th Men's French Championships: Manuel Santana beats Nicola Pietrangeli (4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2)
  • May 27 60th Women's French Championships: Ann Haydon beats Yola Ramirez (6-2, 6-1)
  • May 28 Amnesty Intl founded (Nobel Peace Prize 1977)
  • May 28 Last trip (Paris to Bucharest) on Orient Express (after 78 years)
  • May 28 Record 27 HRs hit in 7 AL games
  • May 30 Dutch DC-8 crashes after takeoff at Lisbon, 62 die
  • May 30 Maris hits his 10th & 11th of 61 HRs
  • May 30 Long time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo is assassinated in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 30 Indianapolis 500: A. J. Foyt wins in 3:35:37.540 (223.908 km/h)

Racing Driver A. J. Foyt
Racing Driver
A. J. Foyt
  • May 31 Arthur Michael Ramsey appointed the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury
  • May 31 Chuck Berry's amusement park, Berryland in St Louis, opens

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 31 JFK visits Charles de Gaulle in Paris

French President Charles de Gaulle
French President
Charles de Gaulle
  • May 31 Judge Irving Kaufman orders Board of Ed of New Rochelle, to integrate
  • May 31 Union of South Africa becomes a republic, leaves Commonwealth
  • May 31 6th European Cup: Benfica beats Barcelona 3-2 at Bern

Famous Birthdays

  • May 1 Charlie O'Brien, catcher (Brewers, Mets, Braves, Blue Jays), born in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • May 1 Steven Cauthen, jockey (1978 Kentucky Derby-Affirmed)
  • May 1 Marilyn Milian, current judge on The People's Court
  • May 2 Doctor Robert, [Bruce R Howard], rocker (Blow Monkeys-Wicked Ways)
  • May 2 Peter Doohan, Australia, tennis star
  • May 2 Phil Vickery, English celebrity chef
  • May 3 Steve McClaren, English football manager
  • May 3 Joe Murray, American cartoonist
  • May 3 David Vitter American politician
  • May 4 Eugene Daniel, NFL center (Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens)
  • May 4 Jay Aston, English singer (Bucks Fizz), born in Purley, Surrey
  • May 4 Mary Elizabeth McDonough, Van Nuys Cal, actress (Erin-Waltons)
  • May 4 Luis Herrera, Colombian cyclist
  • May 4 Ishita Bhaduri, Indian (Bengali) Poet
  • May 5 Hiro Hase, wrestler (NJPW)
  • May 6 Clay O'Brien, Ray Az, actor (Weedy-Cowboys)

Person of interestPerson of Interest

May 6 George Clooney, American actor (ER, Batman, The Descendants), born in Lexington, Kentucky

  • May 6 Roma Downey, Derry Ireland, actress (1 Life to Live, Touched by an Angel)
  • May 7 Linda Somers, Bitburg Germany, US marathoner (Olympics-31st-96)
  • May 7 Phil Campbell, British musician (Motörhead)
  • May 8 Riaz Poonawalla, cricketer (Indian 12th man/UAE bat 1994 ICC Trophy)
  • May 8 David Winning, Canadian film director
  • May 8 Akira Taue, Japanese professional wrestler
  • May 8 Bill de Blasio, American politician New York City Mayor (2013-), born in Manhattan, New York
  • May 9 Rene Capo, Pinal del Rio Cuba, half-heavyweight judoka (Olympics-96)
  • May 10 Blyth Tait, England, NZ equestrian 3 day event (Olympics-gold-96)
  • May 10 Randy Cunneyworth, Etobicoke, NHL left wing (Ottawa Senators)
  • May 10 Teri Copley, Arcadia California, actress (Mickey-We've Got it Made)
  • May 10 Johanna ter Steege, Dutch actress
  • May 11 Cecile Licad, Manila Philippines, pianist (Leventritt Award-1981)
  • May 11 Diana Lee[-Hsu], playmate (May, 1988), born in Seattle, Washington
  • May 12 Billy Duffy, rocker (Cult-Hell's Kitchen)
  • May 12 Lar Park Lincoln, American actress
  • May 12 Bruce McCulloch, Canadian actor (The Kids in the Hall), born in Edmonton, Alberta
  • May 12 Thomas Dooley, German-American Soccer Player

Person of interestPerson of Interest

May 13 Dennis Rodman, NBA forward (Chicago Bulls), born in Trenton, New Jersey

Basketball Player Dennis Rodman
Basketball Player
Dennis Rodman
  • May 14 Tim Roth, actor (Reservoir Dogs, Vincent & Theo), born in London, England
  • May 14 Ulrike Folkerts, German actress
  • May 14 Alain Vigneault, Canadian ice hockey coach
  • May 15 Anne Kelly, LPGA golfer
  • May 15 Katrin Cartlidge, British actress (d. 2002)
  • May 15 Melle Mel, American musician
  • May 16 Nina Arvesen, White Plains NY, actress (Cassandra-Young & Restless)
  • May 16 Kevin Guidry, NFL tackle (Denver Broncos)
  • May 16 Kevin McDonald, Canadian comedian and actor
  • May 16 Charles Wright, American professional wrestler known as "The Godfather"

Person of interestPerson of Interest

May 17 Enya [Eithne Ní Bhraonáin], Irish singer and songwriter (A Day Without Rain), born in Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland

Singer-Songwriter Enya
  • May 19 Lisa Rathgber Wagner, bowler (3-time LPBT Player of Year, Bowler of Decade), born in Hillsboro Illinois
  • May 19 Gregory Poirier, American screenwriter and director
  • May 20 Clive Allen, WLAF kicker (London Monarchs)
  • May 20 Kit Clarke, rocker (Danny Wilson-Mary's Prayer)
  • May 20 Nick Heyward, guitar/vocals (Haircut 100-Favourite Shirts)
  • May 20 Sally Quinlan, LPGA golfer
  • May 20 Vaughn Jefferis, Matangi NZ, equestrian 3 day event (Olymp-bronze-96)
  • May 21 Tim Lever, keyboard/sax (Dead or Alive-You Spin Me Round)
  • May 22 Dana Williams, singer (Diamond Rio-Meet in the Middle), born in Dayton, Ohio
  • May 23 Dave Babych, Edmonton, NHL defenseman (Vancouver Canucks)
  • May 23 Kevin Romine, baseball player
  • May 25 Hiro Saito, wrestler (All-Japan/NJPW/Calgary)
  • May 26 Stephen Robert Pate, Ventura CA, PGA golfer (1987 Southwest Classic)
  • May 26 Tarsem Singh, Indian film director
  • May 27 Cathy Silvers, actress (Happy Days, Foley Square), born in NYC, New York
  • May 27 Jill Sterkel, US swimmer (Olympics-bronze-1976, 84, 88)
  • May 27 John Lugbill, Wauseon Ohio, US canoeist/kayaker (Olympic-92)
  • May 27 Peri Gilpin, Waco Tx, actor (Roz Doyle-Frasier)
  • May 28 Roland Gift, UK, rocker (Fine Young Cannibals-She Drives Me Crazy)
  • May 29 David Palmer, heavy metal drummer (ABC, AC/DC)
  • May 29 Melissa Etheridge, US singer/songwriter/guitarist (Never Enough)
  • May 29 Todd Boonstra, Minneapolis Minn, cross country skier (Olympics-1994)
  • May 30 Ella Arolovich, Leningrad USSR, model
  • May 30 Ralph Carter, actor (Michael Evans-Good Times), born in NYC, New York
  • May 30 Trey Parker, rapper/actor (Newsies, Hull High)
  • May 30 Harry Enfield, Horsham, West Sussex, English comedian (Dermot-Men Behaving Badly, Saturday Live)
  • May 31 Lea Thompson, actress (Back to the Future, Caroline In The City)

Famous Weddings

  • May 25 King Hussein of Jordan marries Princess Muna al-Hussein (Antoinette Gardiner).

Famous Deaths

  • May 2 J C White, cricketer (49 wickets in 15 Tests for England 1921-31), dies
  • May 3 Maurice [Jean Jacques] Merleau-Ponty, French philosopher, dies at 53
  • May 4 Anita Stewart, dies of heart attack at 66
  • May 6 Lucian Blaga, philosopher/poet (Transcendental censor), dies at 65
  • May 8 James Fairfax, actor (Gale Storm Show), dies at 63
  • May 13 Gary Cooper, 2 time Acad award winning actor (High Noon), dies at 60
  • May 16 George A. Malcolm, American jurist & educator (b. 1881)
  • May 17 Frans van Cauwelaert, Flemish minister/mayor of Antwerp, dies at 81
  • May 17 Henri Gagnon, composer, dies at 74
  • May 18 Henry O'Neill, actor (Lady Killer, Nothing But Trouble), dies
  • May 19 Joe Howard, singer (Gay Nineties Revue), dies at 94
  • May 20 Josef "Pips" Priller, German fighter ace (b. 1915)
  • May 22 Joan Davis, actress (I Married Joan), dies of heart attack at 53
  • May 23 Joan Davis, comedic actress (I Married Joan), dies at 53
  • May 29 Uuno Kalervo Klami, composer, dies at 60
  • May 30 Rafael L Trujillo Molina, dictator Dom Rep (1930-61), murdered at 69
  • May 31 Walter Little, Canadian politician (b. 1877)